Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro 4K jargon demystified
A term guide for the technobabble that Microsoft and Sony use to sell their high-end console refreshes.
It can be easy to get lost amid the jargon that flies around with new tech. CPU clock speeds, GPU teraflops, and memory bandwidth are all well and good if you know what they mean in practical terms.
The bigger numbers associated with these terms are easy enough to decipher, but what does it all mean? And when it comes to the all-important gaming front, what relevance do these terms have?
We have answers to these rhetorical questions and more below in our jargon buster.
Short for "central processing unit", the CPU is the brain of a gaming console. It’s good at handling multiple tasks, such as running the operating system in conjunction with the dashboard and whatever game you’re playing at the time. These days, CPUs are separated into cores – the more cores, the greater performance (at least, on paper).
Short for "gigahertz", this is used in relation to CPUs and is used to measure a CPU's clock speed. The higher the number before GHz, the faster the CPU. The faster the CPU, the more room developers have to make games with better features (larger levels, more enemies on screen, etc.).
Short for "graphics processing unit", the GPU is the heart of a gaming console, in that it’s very good at doing a single task. In the context of Sony and Microsoft’s latest consoles, this means making games look prettier and, where applicable, at 4K resolutions.
Short for "megahertz", this is used in relation to GPUs, and it measures a GPU's clock speed. The higher the number before MHz, the faster the GPU. The faster the GPU, the more room developers have to make games look more appealing.
Short for "teraflops", this is a performance measure. In the case of the Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro, it’s used in relation to GPU performance and the larger the number, the faster the GPU. Like megahertz, the faster the GPU, the more room there is for developers to boost the eye candy.
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This term is short for "graphics double data rate" and is usually slapped in front of "memory". For the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X (which both use GDDR5) the term refers to the most recent type of double-data-rate memory.
This refers to "random access memory" (RAM) in a console. The larger the number, the more powerful the hardware. Also, more memory means more system resources a developer has to work within adding more active elements to their game.
This has been used recently in relation to the Xbox One X’s marketing, but is also relevant to the PlayStation 4 Pro. Game addressable refers to the leftover memory that’s available for developers to dedicate towards games. Since all modern consoles are running operating systems and other services in the background (such as the dashboard), system memory has to be shared meaning a console's memory cannot be solely dedicated to a single game.
This refers to memory, and is represented in GB/s, which is short for "gigabytes per second". Bandwidth refers to the speed at which data can be read and stored on memory. The higher the number, the better the result for game developers.
This one may seem self-explanatory, but it can be misleading. For the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One, 4K refers to the maximum resolution of 3840x2160 pixels. "4K native" refers to this resolution, whereas "4K upscale" refers to content that has lower-resolution textures that are boosted for a 4K display.
Short for "ultra-high definition". In the context of the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X, UHD refers to 4K resolutions. It can also be used to refer to resolutions beyond 4K, such as 8K.
Supersampling is relevant for Xbox One X (at a system level) and PlayStation 4 (at a game level) owners playing on 1080p (2K, Full HD) displays. The console uses 4K textures, which are automatically downloaded to the Xbox One X or PlayStation 4 Pro (where available), but displays them at a 2K resolution. The result is greater detail, potentially higher frame rates, and less-pixelated images at lower, non-4K resolution.
Short for "high dynamic range", this is a feature that requires a compatible screen. Both the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X support HDR, but it also requires an HDR-compatible game (or video content) and screen to display. In basic terms, HDR significantly expands the range of colour and contrast to add more depth to the images by enhancing parts that are lighter or darker.
The current standard both PS4 Pro and Xbox One X use is HDR10.
Short for "wide colour gamut", this is often lumped in with HDR, but they’re not the same. Where HDR increases the range of pictures, WCG boosts the colours.
This term is shorthand for "checkerboard rendering". It refers to the ability for the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X to render games at resolutions higher than what the respective systems should be capable of creating. This term is contrasted with "4K native", where the textures are natively rendered at 4K, instead of upscaled, as in checkboard rendering.
Short for "frames per second", this refers to the rate at which frames are displayed per second for a game or video. The standard is for console games to run at 30fps but certain titles on PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X can be played at 60fps.
Short for "hard drive", this refers to the storage used for the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X. Both consoles feature internal storage and can use compatible external USB hard drives to expand total storage.
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This is an in-game software technique that reduces the occurrence of jagged lines (or "jaggies", for short) from appearing on the screen to help maintain a smooth image.
Images that are used to create game worlds. In terms of the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X, these textures can extend up to 4K resolutions, which means they look prettier than their 2K (1080p, or below) counterparts on older PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles.
This refers to audio tools that let developers control the exact direction of an in-game sound source. In terms of the latest consoles, this includes protocols like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
This is specific to Gears of War 4 on the Xbox One X, and other developers use different names for it. Basically, terms like this let players choose between prioritising better visual fidelity (aka 4K resolutions) over higher fps. For fps, it means games that run at 30fps on older versions of the respective console may have the option to run at 60fps (which is the case in Gears of War 4), where supported.
This is specific to Horizon: Zero Dawn. Selecting "performance" over "resolution" won’t make Horizon: Zero Dawn reach 60fps, but it will always prioritise maintaining a smooth 30fps, whereas selecting "resolution" will favour higher-resolution textures over frame rate.