Although Microsoft announced a 4K games console during E3 2016 last June it was Sony that beat it to the punch, releasing its mid-generation upgrade a full year before the Xbox equivalent.
The PS4 Pro has been available since the end of last year and provides 4K gaming - sometimes natively - so it holds the mantel of the most powerful console on the market. Until Project Scorpio, that is.
With official specifications for Project Scorpio being revealed by Digital Foundry, who got them straight from the horse's mouth, it's worth having a look at the two top-end machines to see which will ultimately come out top.
- Xbox Project Scorpio: Release date, price, specs and everything you need to know
- Sony PS4 Pro: Price, specs and everything you need to know
- PS4 Pro review
PS4 Pro vs Project Scorpio: Graphics
It has been confirmed that Project Scorpio will offer 4K HDR gaming, like the PS4 Pro.
Xbox promised as much during its press conference at E3 2016 and the GPU will be capable of natively running games at 4K 60fps. This is something the Pro finds hard to achieve.
The Scorpio system on chip (SoC) will have 6 teraflops of computing power just to render 4K graphics - that's high-end PC graphics card stuff. And it is optimised to ensure they run as smoothly as possible.
The PS4 Pro has 4.20 teraflops of graphics processing power, using an AMD Radeon-based GPU. It looks less powerful on paper, but is capable of rendering games in 4K and with High Dynamic Range (HDR) colour and contrast processing. They just seem to stick to 30fps, however, at least when run in native 2160p.
Both consoles are expected to play back 4K HDR video via streams, although the PS4 Pro does not have a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player. It has been confirmed that Project Scorpio will have a 4K BD deck.
PS4 Pro vs Project Scorpio: CPU and memory
Project Scorpio will have an octa-core processor, with eight custom x86 cores running at 2.3GHz.
The PS4 Pro also has an octa-core CPU, the x86-64 "Jaguar", but runs slower at 2.1GHz.
An important differentiator is that the Scorpio will offer 12GB of GDDR5 RAM. The PS4 Pro has 8GB.
In addition, the memory sported by the Project Scorpio will have a bandwidth of 326GB/s. The Pro, in comparison, is restricted to 218GB/s.
This might not make much difference in general gaming, at least initially. The higher the spec though, the more developers will be able to eek out of it in the future and the better the overall console experience will be.
PS4 Pro vs Project Scorpio: Virtual reality
One of the aimed digs Xbox sent PlayStation's way during its E3 press event was about virtual reality.
While Sony is already in the VR space with the PSVR headset, Microsoft delights in revealing that Scorpio will be capable of running better, higher-res VR devices. This was a claim backed up by Bethesda during E3, which said Fallout 4 is likely to be available through it.
One train of thought is that Microsoft will ally with Oculus for Rift support, which even today is a better spec'ed headset than PSVR. The PlayStation VR uses a single 1920 x 1080 OLED panel to serve 960 x 1080 to each eye, while the Oculus Rift (and HTC Vive) has an overall resolution of 2160 x 1200, so 1080 x 1200 for each eye.
To be honest, from our experiences with all three headsets, that doesn't matter that much when a game is good enough. It matters more that an experience is smooth than high resolution.
Microsoft has confirmed that Project Scorpio will be compatible with its own Mixed Reality headsets in future. Devices like Microsoft Hololens and third-party augmented reality equivalents could end up being compatible with the console as well as PC.
PS4 Pro vs Project Scorpio: Price and release date
This is where Sony wins hands-down. The PS4 Pro is already available.
The Project Scorpio on the other hand will be coming "Holiday 2017", giving Sony a clean run by almost 12 months.
The PS4 Pro also has the upper hand when it comes to price. It costs £349. Considering the top-end Xbox One S is similarly priced, it's amazing that Sony has managed to squeeze the cost down enough to make its market-leading console affordable.
Perhaps that will also force Microsoft's hand in ensuring its next machine is comparatively priced. Although we know it will be higher spec'ed, so maybe not.
PS4 Pro vs Project Scorpio: Backwards compatibility
One of the things current-gen console owners will be most worried about is what the two new consoles mean for their machines.
Thankfully, both manufacturers have already stated that while their new consoles are better and higher spec'ed, all games released going forward will be compatible with the standard consoles too.
Think of it like a PC. Some people have the ability to play games at 4K, others in Full HD, and others still are capped at lower resolutions depending on their graphics card. They can still all buy the same games though, which scale at a software level to offer the best experience possible per computer.
The PS4 Pro is even able to play many archive games in higher resolutions and with HDR, thanks to a swathe of patches either applied now or coming soon. We expect the same to be true of Project Scorpio.
To be honest, at this stage it is impossible to judge which of the two consoles will be "the most powerful ever" thanks to only one of them being officially released. The spec list released by Digital Foundry would certainly suggest the Scorpio will be, but we've not seen it in the flesh yet. That's coming at E3 2017.
The PS4 Pro is certainly the most powerful console currently available.
One thing's for sure; it's an exciting time to be a gamer.