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How important is 4K gaming on the Xbox One X to you?

Microsoft's upcoming Xbox One X console is being touted as the world's most powerful console. Sporting an 8-core CPU, 12GB GDDR5 graphic memory, and a 6 Teraflop GPU, it's hard to argue that fact. All that power means true 4K gaming at 60 frames per second, which is no small feat. To achieve the same experiences on PC, you'd likely be spending a pretty penny over the Xbox One X's retail price of just $499.

But I can't help but wonder how important 4K gaming is for console gamers in 2017. A lot of gamers are still rocking 1080p televisions in their homes because 1080p is still the mainstream resolution for nearly everything. Most broadcast television, online video, games, movies, and TV shows are most commonly available at 1080p, so for a lot of people there isn't really a need to splash out the extra cash for a 4K premium TV.

Although the Xbox One X is a 4K console, it will work perfectly fine on 1080p televisions. Microsoft uses something called supersampling, which will detect the resolution of your display, and downscale/upscale a game depending on whatever maximum resolution your TV supports. For example, a 4K game can downscale to 1080p on a TV that doesn't support 4K, while still retaining the same enhanced visuals such as higher quality textures, better draw distances and more.

So even if you don't own a 4K television, you will still see enhancements in games on the Xbox One X. Games will load faster, and perform better overall on 1080p displays. Based on this alone, I don't find 4K gaming to be important at all in 2017. I do own a 4K TV, but if I didn't, I'd be perfectly happy buying an Xbox One X for use on a 1080p display, because I'm still going to see improvements in games.

Then comes the question as to whether developers will even aim for 4K on Xbox One X. Games shown off at E3 will, but developers aren't required to hit 4K on Xbox One X. Some developers may decide to lock in their game at 1440p for example, and use the rest of the extra horsepower from the Xbox One X to add more AI, better textures, or higher frame rates instead. In that scenario, owning a 1080p is more beneficial than a 4K TV anyway.

So if you are a gamer who's interested in the Xbox One X, but don't own a 4K TV, there's still a reason to get the Xbox One X. You may not be able to experience 4K gaming, but you will be able to experience better looking and higher performing games. The overall experience should be much more smooth and faster, especially on the dashboard.

Of course, 4K will soon become the new 1080p; it's just a matter of time. However, I'm not convinced 4K gaming is all that important for console gamers in 2017. I'd much rather see developers target a lower resolution and enhance other elements of the game instead, such as textures, frame rates and more. I may be in the minority for this, so I'm curious as to what you think. Let us know!

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

95 Comments
  • Very ...
  • Very... Already shopping for 4k TVs and 4k Projecters. On the TV front the current front runners are all LG which include the OLED55C7P(2017 Model) and the OLED55B6P(2016 Model). The projector side of things is just starting to heat up with the only player currently being the EPSON 5040UB, which upscales to 4k. Native 4K projectors are due out this year, hopefully before Nov 7.
  • I'm looking for an affordable native 4K projector. Considered the 5040UB for a while but waiting for 2 reasons.... 1) I'm hesitant on the "4K Upscaling" since its not actual 4K and 2) HDR compatibility is extremely limited and from everything I've read, the XB1S doesn't recognize the HDR of that projector. Can you point me in the direction of something within that price range that's expected this year?
  • Really? Why? Not only couldn't I care less... I think it's counterproductive! In terms of computational resources, achieving UHD (I'm not a fan of the marketing buzzword "4k") is expensive. I'd much rather developers invested those computational resources towards better lighting, photorealistic materials (skin, finally getting believable smoke and fire, water), special effects and higher/more consistent framerates! All of those things will have a much higher impact on overall visual quality than upping resolution to UHD. As it stands now we can't have all of that (unfortunatley), so we must choose. Sacrificing any of the later just to achieve UHD seems like a terrible choice to me. I can only suspect people have just bought into the marketing hype who will, as is often the case, steer the industry towards solutions that are easier to sell rather than actually being better. Am I wrong? I absolutely understand wanting UHD for movies, where the higher resolution can be achieved without sacrificing anything, but that can't be said of video games, for which UHD comes at a price that IMHO isn't worth it. I'd say HDR rendering is also WAY more important than achieving UHD. I wish there was more focus on that too. Of course it doesn't always matter. A video game simulating a pinball machine might as well go for 4k, since there really isn't much else to spend computational resources on. For most console games there are usually visually more impactful things to go for. Resolution isn't always everything.
  • I would say very, but my TV already upscales everything so its already 4K. This would be clearer however not relying on the TVs hardware and software.
  • That's a marketing thing and a mindset.
    Playing non-4k content on an UHD TV doesn't change the resolution.
    If you press info on the TV you'll see that it remains 1080 if that's what the source was.
    Its different if you insert the content into a PC or UHD BD, in this case its output at 4k.
    the HDR colours look good on anything though regardless of resolution, that's where I'd say a noticeable change happens
  • I agree. The info button gives us the real time resolution.
  • The One X is really about the raw horsepower. If devs use it for 4K, awesome. If they choose to use it for other purposes, that's cool too. I just care that they use it wisely to bring out the best in their game. 
  • Well said!
  • Microsoft are trying to jump ahead and not be last in-line to 4k gaming. Only good can come out of this. They can't be copying and pasting like they did in Mobile.
  • I agree for now till i can get a new 4k tv with that hdmi 2.1 freesync I'm sticking with my 1080p tv for Xbox one x
  • Edit*duplicated post
  • *edit duplicated post #2
  • I am not sure TVs will ever support freesync. 
  • I don't doubt it
  • Variable refresh rate support baked into the next-gen HDMI 2.1 spec.
  • 4K is cool, but not that important to me. I'm more interested in what else can be done with all that power.
  • While it is important to me and I will definitely be giving the games that do use 4k gaming more attention, I still want to see how other developers use the One X for enhance the games in different ways. Like Ultra settings on 1080p with super stable frame rates, or even higher than 60fps.
  • Its not important to me but the Xbox one x is highly important to me
  • 4k would be the only reason I'd even look at getting this console. Microsoft is in a bit of a pickle with this system IMO.   Most people who want to own an Xbox already have one (or more, I have 2).  Outside of being able to play in 4k (if you even have a TV for it) there is no real reason for Xbox One owners to reinvest.  
    No new architecture so all the current and future games will play on the existing Xbox One. I feel there will be a lot of people, like myself, who hold off on purchasing to see if this console can actually do 4k gaming properly.  If it cannot then there is no point in buying it.
  • This is how I feel. There's not really enough 4k games to make the jump and I don't think many developers are going to go out of there way at first to make 4k games
  • 4K gaming is the only reason for the One X existence in the first place. So I'd say anyone insane enough to waste 500€ on it either does it because they really want 4K console gaming or are Microsheep. As someone who owns a 4K television (and doesn't watch television because programming is absolute sh*t), I am now used to watching pretty much everything in high resolution. So I do notice that the games aren't that crip on a 55" or 65" 4K TV, even with LG's excellent upscalling engine (a 720p film on the other hand looks like a 1080p or 2K film with that upscalling so I know the TV can do great upscalling). However, I'm not THAT much into 4K gaming to justify wasting 500€ on the One X, specially when the HDD space is miserable AND it's likely developers will follow Ubisoft's lead and only release games in 2K while leaving the rest of the upscalling to the console. And if I'm playing upscalled games anyway, I rather keep the Xbox'es I already have.
  • As a pc gamer who spent £1000 on a 1080 p system, £500 for amazing 1080p sounds very appealing, it will be loading times and texture quality that will decide it for me
  • Having built a Scorpio VR reference PC(1070,i5,24GB, 512 Samsund SSD,HTC Vive) last year in anticipation for Project Scorpio, the Xbox One X is a steal at $499 considering my build out was $1200 and that doesn't include a UHD Blu-ray player AND the One X is 60% smaller than my Scorpio VR mini-tower...
  • Exactly Also a 1070, however amazing, cannot play 4K without compromises
  • Let's not forget the Xbox one sold for 500 at launch. It didn't sell well but they sold. Why would the Xbox one x be a bad deal with more for the same price?
  • Comparing launch systems you have no Kinect, no multitasking, no Xbox fitness, no video chat, no video broadcasting (Twitch/Mixer), no controller tracking or gesture control. The Xbox One at launch did more things out of the box. That's why I purchased multiple consoles at launch in 2013. Xbox One X really only does one thing which I really don't care about at all. There is very little 4K content so a 4K TV isn't worth the investment yet.
  • Actually the X1x does most of that if you already have your Kinect from your original purchase, or for a small fee to get a new one. So your point is kind of invalid.
  • Or because they don't have a smart TV and want the media consumption features of an Xbox/Dislike the media consumption of their 4k TV. Funny how you think you can speak for everyone in a certain group.
  • All devs should take the Rise of the Tomb Raider route. Options! 1080p60
    1080p30 with enhanced visuals
    4K30 with base console visuals
  • and hopefully we'll get those options on the X for Tomb Raider (Rise) - it hasn't been confirmed for an X update yet.
  • Well with the 1X, they should be able to do better than that no? At least 1440p60.
  • As long as it doesn't take the place of quality story and good play control, I'm cool with 4k.  However, if the game studios go with the "make it look great over everything else" approach like they've done so many times where you get an amazing looking game with a crap story and garbage play control then I don't want it.
  • I have an HDR 4k TV, so I am greatly interested in the increased fidelity, but more important to me is stable framerates > 30 fps.  Even if I only had a 1080p TV, the supersampling feature and better framerates of XB1X would still be a compelling reason to upgrade. I'm curious if the release of XB1X steals back any of the gamers that abandoned XBox for the more powerful PS4.  Also curious if the large number of coming game titles that normally appeals to asians even makes any sort of impact on Japan XBox sales. PS.  I will likely be purchasing the XB1X this holiday
  • 60MHz is much more important than 4K in my opinion.
  • Yes they are just trying to go ahead in 4k gaming. There is a high probability that it works since nobody has that feature in the market. Still the mainstream is 1080 in gaming. I would get it tomorrow if I could afford it. However need to be a game I like in order to give it a try.
  • There are so many articles like this saying the same thing. MS has said that devs can use the horse power to do whatever they want. It's almost like authors are threatened by 4k televisions. You will be fine.
  • Not really. It will be a couple years before I make the plunge into 4K and so high quality 1080p60 games work for me.
  • Same here. I think the vast majority falls into this category. 4K displays are still a bit pricey compared to 1080p displays. As I mainly play shooters, 60fps is more important than 4k @ 30fps for myself.
  • Very....I want the best of the best of the best! "Will Smith"
  • How important is 4K gaming on the Xbox One X to you? It's not important to me at all, if you are investing the money to buy a 4K TV just to play games on it, there's something really wrong with you. Television Networks effectively killed 3D, and they are doing the same to 4K don't care how Ultra or Extreme High-Def Television Makers produce them, the Networks aren't supporting them, buying a 4K TV to just play games, is really rather stupid, but this is just my opinion. What would make the Xbox One X even better is, if it were capable to play games in Virtual Reality, using Samsung Gear VR or Oculus Rift. When that happens, then the Xbox One X will be worth it. VR puts you inside the game.
  • While I agree with most of what you said I just want to point out a few things.  1) Many people are cutting cable cords and as a result get 4k content from Amazon and Netflix.  2) Spending $500 on an XB1X and $500-800 on a 4k tv to do a hobby you are passionate about isn't that much money. I mean it is for me but for many its not.  3) VR while taking you into the game also takes you out of reality. Its kinda strange putting headphones on when someone is over much more so a full headset. So VR to people with a significant other its burdensome and has limited availability. And I think it's a stop gap to AR or MR.  And a side note, I think Microsoft agrees that oculus and vive would be great if it worked with the Xbox and I think they are working on getting those connected to Windows/XB1X as well :)
  • I agree that VR is a much better use of the available power. Upscaling old games is really not very exciting or noticeable to me. I honestly can't even tell much difference between 720p and 1080p. 4K will be lost on the average person. Most people think DVD becomes high definition when you buy an HDTV. They should use the power of the system on something that is much more noticeable and exciting to the average person.
  • Heres the thing.  They aren't making it for the average consumer and they've been pretty blunt and clear about that through its whole marketing.  A lot of people are viewing the One X as just the next new system.....its a new system option for premium/hardcore gamers. With that said, as a high end owner (i have a 65" 4K tv, 5.1 surround sound system etc.)   Hell yeah, bring on the One X.   But if you don't want 1440p or 4K gaming, then the $250 One S is a steal imo given it has a UHD blu-ray.
  • Critical feature for me.
  • Wow, all those redundant articles making the same point, looks like someone had a talk with their ContentFarm overlords that they really want to score the Top Google Result and PageRank for the XBX searchterm. This is some interesting SEO in action.
    Well, at least it is slightly more relevant than Android or iOS articles since the console runs a form of Windows.
  • Gamers are always about having the BEST.  The most realistic graphics are immersive and best framerates.  Xbox One X will help with this. There is a cost tradeoff to get this, but having choice is also good - you can play on a regular Xbox One S for a great price or the X for best experience. Over time the X price will come down and more will choose it, but it's becoming like the PC market... you can run Photoshop on any laptop, the more you spend the better the experience.
  • The most "immersive" gaming experience is VR, not 4K. The law of diminishing results hits with pixel density at fixed screen sizes. If you only have room for a 40" TV then 4K will never have any value to you. If you have a 70-100" TV then 4K makes more sense.
  • Gamers want the "best". But best doesn't necessarily mean better resolution. It's subjective but history has shown us that power doesn't count for much when it comes to sales and number of exclusives and game library is what influence sales. The NES (bigger library) beat the Master System (more powerful)
    The GB (bigger library) beat the Game gear (more powerful)
    The SNES (bigger library) beat the Genesis
    The PS1 (bigger library) beat the N64 (more powerful)
    The PS2 (bigger library) beat the Gamecube (more powerful) and XBox (more powerful) 
    The DS (bigger library) beat the PSP (more powerful)
    The Wii (bigger library) beat the PS3 (more powerful) and XBox360 (more powerful)
    The 3DS (bigger library) beat PS Vita (more powerful)
  • No too
  • Not at all, but 60 frames and improved visual features I'm very keen for.
  • I'm floored to play in 4k. Frame rate isn't as important to me as it is to others.
  • How much would a decent 4k tv cost to run games on this? Who wants to spend a couple of grand on a tv. I don't think the cheaper 600-700 tv's will give you the full advantages of this console: ie true 4k hdr
  • You can get TV's in Australia for a grand that have all the features. You just have to not buy the exorbitantly priced brands like Sony and LG.
  • You may want to glance at Amazon one of these days.  4K got affordable last year.  Bought my 65" vizio for $1500 on black friday.    Example: https://www.amazon.com/VIZIO-D58u-D3-Class-Full-Array-Smart/dp/B017HEQZS...   Of course it varies, that TV doesn't have HDR, but spend a few hundred more and there you go.
  • Very.
  • I have 2 4k TV's that honestly don't do much better to my movie experience than 1080p. It's not as impressive as 480 to 1080. That said, it's still better. But I'd rather see more texture and effects than resolution. Best example for me is mw2 vs forza. Mw2 wasn't even 720p but offered a rich environment while forza offered a crisp look with bland textures in comparison. Both offer a different experience but my preference if given a choice is more texture and effects over just resolution.
  • It's THE reason for me to get it. So looking forward to Forza 7 and F1 2017 in 4K/60 fps...!
  • I remember people making this same argument about 1080p before. The difference is that 4k TV adoption rates are on track to be greater than that slow transition to 1080p. And while it may be for enthusiasts now, over the next 4 years or so of this generation, it won't be as small a niche. Their bill of materials will drop in price, they can reduce the price of the One X, and 4k TV prices will drop in price at roughly the same rate. It's a smart play. Does everyone need it? No. Not everyone needs a $500 video card either, but there's still a strong and passionate enthusiast market for it. Personally, I picked up a 50" 4k HDR set in anticipation of the One X. I'm excited for it. Day one purchase for me. But it shouldn't surprise anyone that most of their sales will be the One S for now, just as most of Sony's are the regular PS4.
  • Very important to me...I just bought my first 4k tv(replaced an 8yo 48"plasma) and the difference in visuals with the One S is absolutely astounding! I can see details in game that I never knew existed. The One X will definitely be on my list to Santa(wife). :)
  • Agre
  • I have to confess I am not at all interested in it. I am much more interested in the content than the visuals and the quest for resolution ( within certain limits). On the other hand better Xbox consoles will probably bring more developers and that means more and better games. I hope :)
  • 4k is awesome but sometimes I rather have 60fps instead of 40 especially when it comes to shooters. Why would anyone would want to play that new metro games at a lock 30fps? That's just crazy
  • Totally not important for me. Sitting on my couch in the livingroom, look from 2-3 meters, I don't think I could see a difference. So 4K is not important to me, I much rather see something about VR.
  • I will buy the XboxOneX on day1, but that means new 4K HDR TV and new A/V receiver capable of 4K HDR. Knowing I want 65" TV, I am sure it will be pretty damn pricey, but what can I do? 😊
  • That was me last year.  Worth the investment.  UHD blu-ray's look amazing.
  • Preordered 2, one for me and my lady. Since we use 4K screens for PC gaming atm. Xbox One X is just perfect. Btw, devs should not "target 1080p60" ehm... XB1X is capable of doing Native 4K60, kinda silly to not target its potential, it is there for a reason. I would only agree and most likely say the same thing if it had a 0.5 power bump like the PS4 pro, but it is more powered so.. 1080p60 should be made an option or something to fall back on for every game but should not be THE target on XB1X, the better made the game the more the other Xbox One consoles will benefit from it.
  • Don't much see the point. It's all about viewing distances. If you are playing/watching from a REASONABLE viewing distance, good luck seeing much of any benefit playing in 4K. I can hardly tell the diff between watching a movie at 720 or 1080 on my 120" setup. Now if you are sitting like 2ft in front of a 27"+ monitor, then yeah, you can see a difference. Still not worth it to me, but at least it is detectable. You gotta remember that textures are constantly scaled; they are NEVER shown at 1:1 native resolution. And anything dynamically scaled will never be as clear and crisp as an optimized image at 1:1 pixels. And then you throw anti aliasing on top, which further smushes fine detail, and then add motion blur effects, which purposely BLURS all movement out, you'll be hard pressed to really enjoy that 4K "advantage". Same goes for movies. Many don't know this, but movies are purposely shot to be motion blurred. It's called the 180 degree shutter rule. That's why when you pause a movie, the picture almost never looks super crisp and clear, unless neither the camera or the actors are moving, which is very few and far between since "handheld shaky cam" style is all the rage in Hollywood nowadays. All you're getting is 4K resolution of a bunch of blur. I really don't see much benefit of going over 1080, even on my 120" screen.
  • "However, I'm not convinced 4K gaming is all that important for console gamers in 2017." There's only 6 months left in 2017....just sayin....
  • Not important in the least. First off, we don't have a 4K TV and there's not enough movie/tv content in 4K that my wife and I are interested in.  Dish doesn't transmit 4K content yet.  And until Xbox actually FULLY support keyboard, mouse and joystick control (simultaneously) for games, there's no universe where I play games on a console.  There's just nothing about the new Xbox that's worth it for us.
  • Last time I checked 4k tvs have come down in price quite a bit. Not to mention all the sales going on.
  • Yes 4k is important to me because I have a 4k TV. However, second to that is fixing the fugly interface on Xbox one. I like the new start menu, but games are still not front and center enough for me
  • I would like to utilize my 4K TV to the fullest, and the XBOX One X will do that.  Yes I stream Netflix and Amazon movies direct from the TV for 4K movies and shows, but to me where it will shine is 4K gaming.  I won't be buyng the One X on launch, but will see how it works and make sure there are no issues.  If all seems well, then I will be getting one during tax time and pass my old XBOX One to my daughter.
  • Completely excited about it. Bought a 4k tv last year and a One S, ready for the One X this fall!
  • I bet you also bought the first XB1. So if we include gold that's around 1500 bucks!! And they say PC gaming is expensive. lol
  • I'm happy with 1080p, but I wouldn't turn my nose up at 4k either. I'm just not going to go out and purchase a 4k TV just so I can game in 4k though. I'm not even planning on upgrading my original Xbox One with an X either. The article states: "So if you are a gamer who's interested in the Xbox One X, but don't own a 4K TV, there's still a reason to get the Xbox One X. You may not be able to experience 4K gaming, but you will be able to experience better looking and higher performing games. The overall experience should be much more smooth and faster, especially on the dashboard." Which I'm sure is true, but can you use that to justify the purchase of a new console that will play the same exact games that your old console plays? And can you quantify that improvement and put a dollar amount on it? I personally can't.
  • For me the biggest selling point is load times. I get so frustrated on games like Battlefront where it takes 5 minutes to get into a match then it ends a few minutes later so you have to wait another 5 minutes to get into the next match for an average of 10 minutes play time. So due to load times you spend 33% of your time waiting to play and that reapply sucks.  I think 4k is very important and looks fantastic but even at the same price without 4k I would buy it in a heartbeat.
  • The marketing of this console is dumb. 4K is a nice future proof feature, but honestly it is not that impressive on a living room TV screen. PC gamers who hook up their PC to a 4K flat screen do not see anything worth spending a ton of money on. I would bet most dial the resolution down to improve framerate/effects instead. Sitting inches from a monitor is not the same as sitting feet away on a couch. People don't understand that display size and distance matter as much as resolution. A small 720p display can look as good as a 4K display depending on display size and distance. The obsession with resolution assumes everyone has the same display size, seating arrangement and eyesight (some people have better near sight than far). There are huge variables here that are glossed over for marketing hype. Resolution has become a ******* contest for insecure console fanboys. I would rather the game industry focus on innovations with more of a payoff. 4K on a VR headset is much more valuable than 4K on a 55" TV. The head TV reviewer at CNET says 4K on a 55" TV is a complete waste of money.
  • In the future, I would like to use the extra horsepower to run a Plex Server and Kodi on it. Can you add external disk storage to XBX?
  • I'd much rather the dev's priorities be on making a fun and functional game first then work on the visuals. If it reaches 4k realistic looking graphics after the "Fun and functional" criteria are met then it will be that much better. But to each their own. I for one can't justify the price to purchase a new one since the regular xbox one will run all the recently announced games. But again. That's just me. 
  • For me, nothing has changed. Resolution is not my priority. Games are.  For a lot of the XB/MS fans, resolution suddenly became a priority. LOL Anyway, even if resolution was a priority I would just need to get a 1070/1080 on my PC. I saw both these at less than 500 bucks. It will surely be a lot less in 5 months. 
  • Thanks for adding your amazing insight.
  • It's not important.
  • 4K isn't all that important to me, super sampling is.
  • Some PC gamers prefer 120 fps instead of 4k resolution. I wonder Xbox One X can accommodate higher frate rate over 60 fps.
  • Extremely important. That's the entire point of the console.
  • Honesty, give me 60fps. It actually does make games look better. I know 4K is the future, and it is beautiful, but 60fps is a game changer.
  • For me im not bothered about the 4K TV, but for me its about upgrading I have had my Xbox since launch and i would not mind upgrading to the next generation of console in the Xbox family, please dont say "mid gen" its no where near that this beast was rebuit from the ground up and is no where near an upgrade.
  • It's important to me all gaming moves to 4K. Unlike the fad of 3D, it seems as if 4K is the new standard to meet and I believe it will remain so for a few years. To that end, I want all my entertainment devices and software to be 4K.
  • Just bought a One S, not really gaming, mostly Bluray and media streaming and I don't have a 4K TV, but if I did the One S does 4K bluray and streaming.
  • I want to see side by side on 1080p how X is noticably better than S for the same game
  • I think 4k will be nice, but only if they improve the art assets overall. Based on the games presented at E3, the characters still look cartoonish, just now in 4k. I would much prefer the extra processing power be used to render more life like characters. Resolution isn't the only consideration. A red square could be in 4k, but isn't interesting. I want closre to photorealistic for those games that use those types of characters.
  • This was supposed to be a new comment, not a reply. Ignore this.
  • WP commening system is sucking today.
  • Every time I try to post a new top-level comment, it ends up posting it as a reply to this comment. WP, fix your comment system!