Xbox Series X units are finally starting to hit reviewers, and with that comes performance tests. There aren’t any next-gen titles to test the systems with yet, but that hasn’t stopped Digital Foundry, since the Xbox Series X makes strong efforts towards backwards compatibility, with Microsoft continuously reminding Xbox owners that they’ll have “thousands of games at launch,” some with more performance than before. Digital Foundry’s now put those claims to the test, and shown just how well the Series X runs older titles.
Very impressed by Xbox Series X backwards compatibility, especially since these games haven't even been fully optimized for the new hardwareScreengrabs from Digital Foundry's video: https://t.co/fm00UjLzLO pic.twitter.com/HLHRsNPitSSeptember 28, 2020
The results? Pretty impressive. Regardless of mode and whether or not Microsoft has gone out of its way to enhance the title to better leverage Series X architecture, the next-gen console ran most of the Xbox One X games Digital Foundry tested at a mostly stable 60 frames per second (fps).
Take Final Fantasy XV, which usually runs closer to 45 fps on its 1080p Lite mode on Xbox One X. The Xbox Series X bumped that up to a stable 60 fps, according to Digital Foundry's tests.
Hitman 2, meanwhile, usually hits around 40 fps in its 4K mode on Xbox One X, but only occasionally dropped below 60 fps on the same mode on Xbox Series X, the testing found.
According to Digital Foundry, Monster Hunter: World also hit a mostly stable 60 fps in its 4K resolution mode on Xbox Series X, while it runs closer to 30 fps in the same mode on Xbox One X.
There were some sub-60 fps exceptions, but nothing too glaring. Rise of the Tomb Raider showed a 30 fps cap on its 4K mode on both the Xbox One X and Xbox Series X, though swapping the game over to 1080p resulted in a more reliable 60 fps on the Series X, while the Xbox One X tends to vary between 40-55 fps.
Sekiro, meanwhile, consistently dipped between 55 - 57 fps on Series X, which is still much higher than its 36 - 40 fps standard on Xbox One X.
On the other hand, Gears of War: Ultimate can now run at 4K on Xbox Series X at twice the frame rate as it does at FHD on the Xbox One X (though Digital Foundry didn't provide numbers for this game). This is a pretty drastic improvement over everything else Digital Foundry tested. The channel attributed this to Microsoft’s compatibility team, saying “work is being done there for select titles.”
Games that aren’t being enhanced by hand to take full advantage of the Series X’s hardware still fared pretty well. Digital Foundry discovered that this is probably because they can take full advantage of the Xbox Series X’s GPU power (though not all of its architecture), meaning that most of the lost performance comes from either the CPU or certain options not being available.
As the Xbox Series X matures, we’ll have to see how much developers, or Microsoft itself, support backwards compatibility. For instance, like Rise of the Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy XV’s Resolution mode caps the game at 30 fps, even though the Series X could probably well exceed that even at 4K, (which the Resolution mode also doesn't quite hit on consoles). Square Enix or Microsoft would need to patch the game to allow it to pass the 30 fps cap on Series X.
That’s actually not too unlikely, though, as Microsoft’s backwards compatibility efforts have only grown over time, and the existence of Game Pass only gives the company more incentive to keep expanding its compatibility efforts. Still, even out-of-the-box, the Series X seems to almost double performance across numerous games.