DirectX 12: Will It Be Microsoft’s Salvation?


Scheduled to be released in the Fall of 2015, DirectX 12 has created a lot of buzz in the gaming world. Why? Because it presents a legitimate opportunity for the Xbox One to achieve a true HD 1080p gaming experience. Sony has dominated the console sales over Microsoft with a difference of over 4 million units. Can DirectX 12 be the salvation that Microsoft needs?

DirectX Logo

The problem that Microsoft has when compared to Sony is that the hardware just isn’t the same. The PS4 can do more naturally simply because it has more horsepower. There’s only two ways for Microsoft to fix this: make the current configuration more efficient to go from 900p to true HD for most games or upgrade the console.

How Does the Xbox One Compare?

As you can see below, the Xbox One struggles to compare to the PS4 in a number of key areas.

Comparison Chart

What Will Microsoft Choose To Do?

With millions of units sold, upgrading the console will alienate more people and potentially drive the brand completely out of business. That’s why the focus is on DirectX 12. This software graphics platform has helped computers and consoles and now mobile devices for over a generation maximize the graphics output of the CPU and GPU. Many of today’s computers have it directly installed upon purchase because it is so effective.

What Microsoft has repeatedly said is that there shouldn’t be any expectations about what the benefits of DirectX 12 will be and that HD capabilities aren’t likely to happen. Intel, however, might just have something different to say about the situation.

In demo testing, Intel paired up the DirectX 12 software upgrade with their new CPU/GPU configuration. The results were impressive. With a simple change from DirectX 11 to DirectX 12, Intel showed that 50% power consumption savings could be instantly achieved. There was also a 15%-20% drop in GPU usage. What does this mean? That even if it won’t provide better graphics, you’ll save enough power that you could potentially purchase a new game for your Xbox One.

It’s the change in graphics output, however, that was most exciting in the demo that Intel presented. When the CPU and GPU were unlocked so that a maximum graphics level could be obtained, the output went from 19 frames per second to 33 frames per second instantly.

What Does This Mean For Future Gaming?

When DirectX 12 is released next year, it means that your computers that are already 12-24 months old will be able to potentially triple their actual output. That means this upgrade could be a salvation for older computer and tablet users who are resisting a hardware upgrade because of cost or comfort.

It also means that for modern, current systems, the changes might not be profound enough to get the HD gaming experience that people want. For the time being, this means that a core group of users will directly benefit from what DirectX 12 is able to provide, but not the intended audience.

Doesn’t the eSRAM of the Xbox One Prevent True HD?

In a simple word… no. There are a few games that do run at 1080p right now on the Xbox One, so it is possible for it to be done. Forza V is one of the best examples of this. This means the issue is more coming from a difficulty developing games that utilize the hardware configuration of the console more than anything. The PS4 isn’t a straight up games machine like Microsoft tries to claim it is, but the Xbox One is more of a hub network than the PS4 and the could potentially create limitations.

There’s still a year to work out the bugs. There could be changes to the software that make it even better than what is expected. If things stay as they are, however, DirectX 12 isn’t going to be Microsoft’s salvation. It’s just going to be another upgrade.

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Graeme Sandlin
A theologian of the odd. I love all things tech, especially if there's a sci-fi element to it. You'll find something special I've created every day... and not just on the internet.