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Clarification: Does Xbox One have 10% more horsepower without Kinect?


Here's the short answer, right up front: no. The long, more explanatory answer is more complex of course.

Last week at E3 2014, GameTrailers host and well-known video game dude Geoff Keighley tweeted this:

The "Xboxp3" Twitter handle he referenced belongs to Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox at Microsoft (we interviewed him last week as well, right here), and the "new Xbox SDK" he referenced is part of the June update that the Xbox One received. In said update, developers received a new software development kit that -- according to a statement Microsoft released at the time -- "allows access to up to 10 per cent additional GPU performance." So that solves it, right? Not quite.

Microsoft's Ken Lobb, longtime Xbox team member (and namesake of GoldenEye 64 weapon, the Klobb), explains the situation more thoroughly in an interview with Eurogamer. "Lots of people ask, 'so, you're taking back the GPU reserve for Kinect. Well, does that mean I can't say, 'Xbox, record that?' No. You can always say that," Lobb says. In so many words, some folks worried that, with the new SDK, much of the Kinect functionality they've come to love accept will be taken away. Not so, says Lobb.

The SDK update does take advantage of the originally reserved CPU for Kinect, but it's a variable system that allows Xbox Ones with and without Kinect to use the extra horsepower. "You have to count for that whether you're using Kinect or not. But you get the full memory and the full bandwidth," he explains.

So, does Xbox One get 10 percent more CPU performance without Kinect? No. The answer is still no. But the Xbox One did get an update in June which enabled developers -- including Bungie, as we previously noted -- to use more of the Xbox One's horsepower reserves. Everyone wins! We think!

Update: Kotaku also has a piece with a few more details on one Kinect feature that's potentially affected by the change: gestures. If a developer flags their game as Kinect-free, you lose the ability to use gestures while in said game, or to identify new players via camera; voice commands still work. For more details, check out Kotaku's piece right here.

Update 2: Just in case you have any questions left, Microsoft has posted its own Q&A regarding the developers kit changes. It confirms the information we've laid out above, but if you want to hear the story straight from the horse's mouth, just click here.

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