G etting gamers excited for a new console less than four years into the current generation of systems is a hard sell, and so far Microsoft hasn’t made the strongest sales pitch for the Xbox One X. As with its predecessor, the Xbox One X reveal was undermined by vagaries and mixed messaging, leading to confusion among consumers. Microsoft has ﬁlled in many of the gaps in the ensuing months, but one big question remains: Do you really need to upgrade? While we won’t be able to judge the merits of the Xbox One X until it’s out in the wild, we can provide you with a clear picture of what the system does and doesn’t do, so you can begin weighing your options. You can still expect a full hardware review in a future issue, but in the meantime, here’s everything we know about the Xbox One X. Power Play Microsoft has been lauding the Xbox One X as the world’s most powerful con-sole, and by all accounts that appears to be true. From CPU and GPU power to RAM memory bandwidth, the Xbox One has a significant advantage on both the stock PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro, as well as Microsoft’s own Xbox One S. While crunching raw specs practically requires a degree in computer science, one stat that gamers can and should understand is floating point operations per second, or FLOPS. Simply put, FLOPS is a measurement of computer performance that provides the best general idea of how each system on the market compares. The original Xbox One had a peak perfor-mance of 1.31 TeraFLOPS, while the Xbox One S redesign edged up to 1.40 TeraFLOPS. On the Sony side, the PlayStation 4 rates in at 1.84 TeraFLOPS, which still makes it the most powerful “base” system on the market. That dynamic flips when it comes to the mid-gen consoles, however. The PS4 Pro vastly overshadows its predecessor with a peak performance of 4.2 TeraFLOPS, but still pales in comparison to the Xbox One X, which clocks in at a flat 6 TeraFLOPS. On paper, that amounts to the Xbox One X being roughly 40-percent more powerful than the PlayStation 4 Pro. What will that look like in the real world? There are few more aspects to consider. connect The Fuss About 4K Much of the “mid-gen refresh” sales pitch has centered on 4K, which remains the bleeding edge of gaming performance. A 4K display features roughly four times the number of pixels of a 1080p display, but there are several ways a developer may choose to present a game at this resolu-tion. As you might guess, these options all comes down to performance. Upscaling is the most basic process, and isn’t really considered “true 4K.” Instead, it takes a lower resolution and blows up the image to fill in the additional pixels of a 4K display. Depending on the tech-nique, upscaling to 4K can make a game appear sharper, but it still lacks the detail of other methods. Both the Xbox One S and PlayStation 4 Pro are capable of upscaling games to 4K. Checkerboard Rendering is another half-step to true 4K rendering, but yields more impressive results compared to upscaling. This technique renders half of a 4K image (in a checkerboard pattern), then uses a filter to extrapolate the miss-ing pixels. The method is generally con-sidered indistinguishable from true 4K by the naked eye. The majority of 4K-enabled PS4 Pro games, as well as some Xbox One X games, use checkerboard render-ing – though you’d be hard-pressed to tell which ones. Native 4K is the genuine article, output-ting games at the full 3,840 x 2,160 pix-els. All of Microsoft’s upcoming first-party games will run in native 4K, though few third-party developers thus far have claimed that distinction for their 4K-enabled titles (leaving the door open to techniques like checkerboarding). A handful of PlayStation 4 Pro games also support native 4K.