Xbox Series X ISN'T aiming for 8K, admits Xbox boss – but that's fine, here's why

Don't expect much 8K content on your new Xbox Series X, but do expect higher frame and refresh rates

Xbox Series X
(Image credit: Microsoft)

While the Xbox Series X is technically capable of displaying 8K gaming goodness, you may want to hamper your expectations somewhat, according to Xbox chief Phil Spencer.

“I think 8K is aspirational technology,” Spencer told Wired (opens in new tab) in a wide ranging interview about Xbox’s gaming vision. “The display capabilities of devices are not really there yet. I think we’re years away from 8K being – if it ever is – standard in video games.”

On one hand, this is an announcement that should disappoint very few people. 8K television sets are ludicrously expensive, and our favourite models will set you back between £3,000 and £20,000. If you have that kind of money to burn, you’re probably better off getting a RTX 3900-powered gaming PC, bluntly.

On the other hand, it’s somewhat disappointing that the most powerful console in the world is already behind the world’s most powerful television tech – even if 4K and even 1080p TVs are still the norm in the majority of the world’s living rooms.

Instead, Spencer emphasized that TVs supporting higher frame rates are going to be the best hardware for this generation. 120Hz TVs are still pretty rare, but they’re more accessibly priced than 8K, and will make a very real difference, allowing high performing games to break the 60fps barrier. That’s quite a big deal, given we’re leaving a generation where 30fps was far more usual.

Elsewhere, Spencer conceded that ray tracing – a technology supported by both PS5 and Xbox Series X, where each ray of light is dynamically rendered for ultra realistic light and shadow – has yet to live up to its potential in the world of PC gaming. “When I think about games where ray-tracing has had a dramatic impact on my experience as a player, it’s kind of spotty,” he said. 

Though of course, with ray tracing cards adopted by just 10% of Steam users, there hasn’t really been an incentive for game developers to make titles where the feature is essential. That won’t be the case forever, and with Xbox Series X and PS5 pre-orders seemingly breaking sites every time they come available, hopefully the hardware will soon be commonplace enough to make the feature really shine.