Xbox Project Scarlett price – how much will the new Xbox cost and when will we know more?

Xbox Project Scarlett
Image Credit: Microsoft

It's time to start saving for Xbox Project Scarlett, folks. We are sat on the eve of the next generation, and while it's certainly an exciting time to be alive we are a little worried that the cost of entry to actually experience it is going to be pretty astronomical. Are you wondering what the Xbox Project Scarlett price will be? That's something we're questioning as well. Microsoft has already gone into some detail on the Xbox Project Scarlett specs and it's clearly a powerhouse – while that's great for the future of gaming it'll no doubt be bad news for our bank accounts. Let's get into why that might be, and attempt to determine what the Xbox Project Scarlett price could actually be when it launches in 2020.

With Microsoft aiming to retain the "most powerful console" moniker that it adopted following the release of the Xbox One X back in 2016, it is packing Xbox Project Scarlett with some impressive tech. Impressive, but expensive. This time around, however, that cost isn't settling solely on the shoulders of the Central processing unit (CPU), Graphics processing unit (GPU), or Random-access memory (RAM) capacity. As detailed in the Xbox Project Scarlett presentation at E3, this new system will include a 'next-generation' high-speed solid-state drive (SSD) which is set to fundamentally improve game performance (wave goodbye to long load times). That could also be the factor that pushes the Xbox Project Scarlett price up through the proverbial roof, given that the current crop of premium NVMe 1TB SSDs for PC retail for upwards of $250. 

How much will Xbox Project Scarlett cost?

Xbox Project Scalett

Image Credit: Casey Rodgers/Invision for Xbox/AP Images

(Image credit: Casey Rodgers/Invision for Xbox/AP Images)

We'll ignore (for a second) that Microsoft is effectively promising to launch its new console with an SSD that outperforms current solid-state drives for PC, as that's impossible to anticipate. Instead, we'll be making an informed/speculatory guess that the hard drive inside of Xbox Project Scarlett will be based on a high-speed NVMe drive. If we were to look at something like the Samsung SSD 970 Pro as a reference point, the 1TB version comes in at £299/$350 alone. Now, given that Xbox Project Scarlett needs to be future-proofed for installing and reading 4K and possibly 8K assets – not to mention equipped to deal with an increasing push towards a digital-first ecosystem, thanks to services like Game Pass – and that 1TB hard drive (standard on an Xbox One X) doesn't look like enough space to appropriately deal with the challenges of the next generation. Not by a long shot. 

Factor in a 2-4TB high-speed SSD to mitigate the strain of ever-increasing install sizes and we are immediately looking at a premium rig, and that's before we factor in any other integral components or the particular shade of metallic-black Microsoft decides to spray the box in. Of course, Microsoft will be working to cut costs where it can, looking to make its manufacturing process as cost and resource efficient as possible. Still, even as SSD prices slowly begin to tumble on the road to 2020, the fact remains that PCI-E-based NVMe drive – which Project Scarlett's 'next-generation' SSD will no doubt be modelled after – aren't so quick to fall, still coming with a 20-50 percent premium over their slower, SATA based brethren. 

Project Scarlett Ray tracing

Where to turn our attention next? Well, we know that Xbox Project Scarlett comes equipped with an SoC, a custom system-on-chip platform that integrates the CPU and GPU together. The GPU has yet to be properly detailed but it is essentially a purpose-built AMD Navi chip – this is in an effort to support new initiatives like hardware-accelerated real-time ray tracing. While AMD is yet to reveal its latest Navi chips and Ryzen 3000 CPU range, we are probably looking at something like an RTX 2080 or a Radeon VII as a standard bearer for comparison. Factor in native 4K resolutions at 60 frames-per second (not to mention potentially future proofed for 8K resolutions, and 120Hz refresh rates) and you're looking at a GPU that would cost no less than $800 for a PC build equivalent. Then you've got the AMD Ryzen Zen 2 CPU core built with Radeon RDNA architecture and… look, it gets real expensive, real quickly

Does all of this mean that the Xbox Project Scarlett price is going to cost upwards of $1000? Of course not. While these individual components may be unfathomably expensive when looked at in isolation, the truth is that Microsoft is still trying to finalise the details – hence the lack of concrete info or the inevitable touting of teraflops and other meaningless power-measurement figures. Truth is, as Microsoft attempts to work out how many of these integrated CPU/GPU chips it can manufacture, there's a good chance that elements of the chip's design may be disabled as the kinks in the chain are worked out, helping to bring that initial cost down. The same was true of the Xbox One, which also featured a SoC design, that saw some of its processor cores initially disabled to mitigate the early problems in the manufacturing process. 

Ultimately, the more aggressive Microsoft wants to make this process, the more complex it wants to make the internals of the system at launch, the more expensive the console will be initially – growing cheaper over time as the manufacturing process improves and Microsoft, in collaboration with partners such as AMD, work out how to streamline the entire process. The Xbox Project Scarlett price will be high, of that there is no doubt, but it isn't going to push the $1000 barrier. 

How does the Xbox Project Scarlett price compare with Xbox One and Xbox One X? 

Looking at Microsoft's track record with pricing, there's a pretty good chance that Xbox Project Scarlett price will come in at just over $499. That was the launch price for both the Xbox One in 2013 and its more powerful predecessor the Xbox One X in 2016. While the Xbox launched at $299 in 2001 and the Xbox 360 hit shelves at $399, adjusted for inflation those numbers can scale up to $399 and $499, respectively. $500 is the Xbox sweet spot.

Given the kind of custom, bleeding-edge technology and components being packed inside Xbox Project Scarlett, believing that the system will come in at less that $499 would seem like a foolish endeavour. Microsoft is yet to properly detail its launch plans, but Jason Ronald, Microsoft's Partner Director of Program Management, told our sister site Windows Central that: "We understand what reasonable price points are for a console and kind of what customers expect about that. At the same time to you, we are innovating we are pushing the boundaries of some of this… We're not sharing any details on price, or, you know, more detailed specs at this point. But I will say that we're very confident in what we're building, something that will set a new bar for expectations of console gaming." Read into that what you will.

Xbox Project Scarlett price – don't worry about accessories, peripherals, and games

Right now, a $499–599 price point would seem likely and the same goes for its closest rival, as we laid out in our overview of PS5 vs Xbox Project Scarlett. The leap to this new generation isn't going to be cheap, but that's the price of true evolution. The sting of the Xbox Project Scarlett price could well be softened by virtue of Microsoft putting so much stock into supporting Project Scarlett backwards compatibility

Think about it, you pay $499 for a console but that only escalates when you factor in a couple of launch games purpose-built to sell the system – engineered to showcase all of the new flourishes and features that the new console brings – along with new controllers, subscriptions, and whatever other extras the publishers are pushing. With Xbox Project Scarlett, all of your existing Xbox One peripherals and services are forwards compatible; achievements, progression, controllers, service subscriptions, and accessories move forward to Scarlett, while the console will also let you play existing games via (we assume) both the optical disk drive, digital download, or through Game Pass. You could be able to save a couple of hundred dollars right off the bat.

This console cycle isn't going to be about the pursuit of power alone – of chasing better resolutions when 4K adoption is still minimal, of trying to obtain frame rates of 120hz when developers still struggle to hit a stable 60fps at 1080p. Instead, it's about improving the baseline experience of console usability and game stability, hence the inclusion of an expensive SSD to the mix. 

Still, with Xbox Project Scarlett launch date set for 2020 alongside Halo Infinite, it surely won't be long before Microsoft is ready to offer up new details and give us a solid understanding of what the Xbox Project Scarlett price will really be. Of course, when the company does we will be sure to update this page, so keep your eyes locked to GamesRadar for any and all next-gen details as they happen.