It's understood that Microsoft's upcoming Xbox One X will be the most powerful gaming console to date, but how well it performs at 4K resolution is still in question. Digital Foundry, which Microsoft collaborated with to reveal the new console's specifications, published a detailed report on some early performance benchmarks. And while it doesn't answer all our questions, it does give us a better idea of the console's power.
One thing is proved for certain, it's incredibly difficult for games to run 4K at 60 FPS. As a consequence, we're likely to see graphically demanding games use dynamic resolution or checkboarding techniques to achieve higher resolutions, as is the case with the PlayStation 4 Pro. Not every game will run full native 4K, and fewer games will do so at 60 FPS.
There are several important parameters to keep in my mind as you peruse the information provided. Games were tested as straight ports of standard Xbox One versions, but with the bump in resolution to full native 4K. No additional optimizations for the specific hardware or graphical changes were done to the games for these tests, so the results are just a rough estimate of the Xbox One X's capabilities.
The test results do not name the specific games outright, though with the details provided, we can say with confidence what some of them are--Title A: ReCore, Title B: Forza Motorsport 7, Title C: Gears of War 4, Title G: Halo Wars 2, Title H: Star Wars Battlefront. As for the others, we can only speculate, though the benchmarks indicate how well the Xbox One X scales with higher resolutions.
All charts are from Digital Foundry.
Furthermore, details such as render times, framerates, and GPU load were given in the report. Take note that framerate numbers are derived from the render time and presents an accurate translation. GPU load at the target framerate indicates how much more power the console has to spare.
Title B: Forza Motorsport 7
The first performance benchmarks given during the hardware reveal in April were from Turn 10 Studios' Forzatech engine. And here with Forza Motorsport 7, we can see that the Xbox One X indeed has room to spare at native 4K, which will probably be dedicated to other improvements to textures and lighting.
Title C: Gears of War 4
Gears of War 4 tells a slightly different story. As the game shoots up to native 4K, performance improves slightly but still sits below 40 FPS. Again, it's hard to say how close these metrics will be to the final build since the game will have higher resolution textures and better lighting. Further optimizations will be made, but the balance between that and better graphics is yet to be determined.
Title H: Star Wars Battlefront
Digital Foundry discusses Title H as Star Wars Battlefront which runs at 720p on Xbox One. The header on the Xbox One column is a typo.
Star Wars Battlefront is a trickier situation. As the Xbox One X runs the game in native 4K, framerate drops below the game's 60 FPS target. However, take note that the new console is being asked to go from 720p to full 4K, which is a jump of nine times the pixel count. This represents a situation where dynamic resolution or checkboarding would be used to reach ultra high-definition while maintaining the target framerate.
How all titles perform on Xbox One X at 4K relative to Xbox One at target resolutions
Across the nine titles benchmarked, we see Xbox One's 1080p games perform better on the new hardware while cranking up the resolution to full 4K. It shouldn't be a surprise that 900p and 720p titles take a performance hit when jumping to 4K in light of how demanding the task is. Microsoft stated that as a rule of thumb, games should generally get four times the resolution while maintaining target performance, which aligns with all the results shown here. So, we should expect games that run 900p and 720p on the standard hardware to use dynamic resolution or checkboarding as a 4K solution on the Xbox One X. Ultimately, how games run and the specific graphical improvements when played on the new console is in the hands of the developers.
Further details on every game's performance are laid out in the Digital Foundry article. For more on the Xbox One X and competition between consoles, check out GameSpot's discussion with Head of Xbox Phil Spencer.