Xbox’s entry point into next-gen, codenamed Xbox Lockhart, has been heavily rumoured to the point it seems the reveal is imminent. Multiple insiders in the know on Microsoft have shared tidbits of information on the system to the point we have a pretty good idea of what it is.
For anyone unaware, Xbox Lockhart is the cheaper, less powerful next gen Xbox aimed to appeal to those who are put off by the steep price of the most powerful next gen console, the Xbox Series X. Whilst Lockhart is its codename, it’s speculated that the console will be named Xbox Series S.
Similar to what we see in the mobile phone space, the rumours point to Microsoft releasing both simultaneously as a means of providing more options. For instance, iPhone can release an iPhone X and iPhone SE in the same year to provide a high-end and an entry-point device into their ecosystem.
Most recently, Windows Central’s Jez Corden added more fuel to the flames on the Lockhart rumours when he commented on how Microsoft employees have taken the system home:
We heard Lockhart is entering take home stages for Xbox employees to get their hands on the system and begin providing feedback and testing. The timing would indicate to me that rumors of upcoming showcases in early May are likely accurate.
Earlier rumours revealed that Lockhart will target either 1440p or 4K (this is yet to be confirmed) and will share most next-gen upgrades (CPU, GPU, Memory, SSD etc.) just less-so than the Xbox Series X.
Former Kotaku employee Jason Schreier shared his knowledge on the system during an episode of Kotaku Splitscreen:
The way it was described to me by a couple of engineering folks is because the CPU and SSD are there, and the RAM, I think it’s going to have less memory, less RAM–[Lockhart] will have significantly less RAM.
The Verge’s Tom Warren shared similar knowledge:
Lockhart has less RAM, and CPU isn’t clocked as high as Anaconda.
So, what we potentially have with Lockhart is a 4TF entry point to the next generation. What we can assume is the SSD and the CPU will be the most important ‘next-gen feeling’ improvements made to Lockhart versus say the Xbox One X which looks like a similar console based on the teraflop number alone.
However, the SSD and CPU upgrades in particular will represent quite a drastic change from the Xbox One X. The Xbox One X has a powerful GPU but it is bottlenecked in areas such as CPU and its use of a HDD. We might not see higher resolutions on Lockhart, but the way it will justify it’s experience is what I coin a “next-gen lite” experience.
If it does indeed feature an SSD as rumours suggest, we could even see Microsoft’s next-gen Quick Resume feature which allows players to continue playing multiple games from a standby state almost instantly. An upgrade on the severely dated CPU of the Xbox One X will represent a more “next-gen” experience due to more stable frame-rates.
To understand why Xbox Lockhart exists, we must discard our obsession with teraflops. Yes, the rumours suggest Lockhart won’t beat the Xbox One X by much in terms of the teraflop number, but it’s the other metrics of performance that show us why Lockhart is a great option for those not ready perhaps financially to jump into the next generation with the powerhouse Xbox Series X.
However, with Xbox Lockhart, that sector of the market can enter the new generation of consoles with a cheaper option (speculatively I’d say $200 less) whilst enjoying some next-gen features such as ultra fast loading times, better frame-rates and all the other benefits brought about by upgrading those components that bottleneck the Xbox One X.