It’s time to get a little nerdy and talk about a spiffy little feature coming with the Xbox Scorpio. Screen tearing. It’s a thing. (There’s a T-shirt for you, huh?) When it happens, you notice every time. Only you may not notice that you noticed.
Tearing is one of those things PC elitists lose sleep over, but that everyone else experiences as just a little screen jitter. Nevertheless, it is an eyesore and a visible flaw that can impact a powerful moment during a cutscene. And we all know how important that can be.
So, Microsoft is looking to address this with the Xbox Scorpio. As it turns out, the machine will feature variable refresh rates. In most TVs, refresh rates are generally fixed. When a game is rendered by a GPU, sometimes the refresh rate can jump around. You see this difference in frequency as two competing frames fighting for screen space. The result is a distorted line that “tears” through the video.
Variable refresh rate technologies, like AMD Freesync and Nvidia G-Sync, can account for changing refresh rates, which effectively eliminates the issue. Microsoft’s upcoming console already features AMD’s tech. They’re working with as many Television manufacturers as they can to ensure as few customers experience tearing as possible.
You’ve probably heard of V-Sync, which is an old Nvidia technique that accomplished the same thing, but at a significant impact on performance. Microsoft attributes the built-in anti-screen tearing tech to the addition of HDMI 2.1 support in Scorpio. Incidentally, HDMI 2.1 can output at up to 8K resolution. The company may be future-proofing the Scorpio with this feature.
Microsoft just showed off dev kits for Project Scorpio, which were designed based on feedback from developers. These Scorpio prototypes are actually even more powerful than the ones consumers will get their hands on when it launches. This will allow developers to go nuts when designing their games before dialing back the graphics to work for the various Xbox consoles.
The Scorpio is looking more and more like the product that high-end gaming enthusiasts would want to see. Nvidia just announced their latest graphics cards, so the Scorpio is already behind in terms of raw power. That said, no other console currently comes close to what the new Xbox will be able to do.