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Xbox 720: Release Date? Specs? Better Than PlayStation 4?

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Xbox 720: Release Date? Specs? Better Than PlayStation 4?

Can the Xbox 720 wow the gaming world? We may soon find out…

Editor's Note: Please take a look at our roundup on the PlayStation 4 here.

The PlayStation 4 has been announced somewhat recently, and the console’s overall hardware specifications have been revealed (to a certain extent). The Diplomat has reported on PS4′s features, and as such, enthusiasts had the opportunity to find out more about what to expect once the PS4 will go on sale. Nevertheless, we haven’t forgotten about the PlayStation 4′s biggest competitor: the elusive Xbox 720 – code name ”Durango.”

Microsoft has not yet unveiled its next-generation gaming console, but the clock is ticking and the unveiling event draws nearer by the day. Until then all we have are rumors regarding the console’s feature and specifications. As always, official information is much more satisfying, but our curiosity got the better of us and we can’t simply disregard the latest buzz.

With that in mind, let’s delve into the “unholy” land of rumors in order to learn what the Xbox 720 might have in store for us.

Xbox 720 – Hardware

Interestingly enough, Microsoft’s next-gen console is expected to have a similar “beating heart” as Sony’s PlayStation 4. In other words, according to reports from TechRadar, the Xbox 720 might end up being powered by an AMD Jaguar-based processor running at 1.6 GHz. The CPU inside the Xbox 720 might be identical to the one found under the hood of the PS4, which means that game developers will have a much easier time developing new titles for both platforms.

In terms of graphical capabilities, the Xbox 720 might feature an AMD GPU that allegedly has its roots in the 7000 series, same as the PlayStation 4. However, reports have explored the possibility that the graphics chip inside Microsoft’s console would benefit from 12 processing clusters instead of 18 (featured by the PS4), indicating that the GPU inside the Xbox 720 might be slightly less powerful.

Furthermore, the Xbox 720 is rumored to pack 8 GB of general system memory as well as separate graphics memory. This would once again differentiate Microsoft’s console from the PS4, as the latter uses 8 GB of unified GDDR5 memory. The end result would be that, theoretically, the Xbox 720 would be a better all-rounder and could handle other tasks besides gaming with more ease, while the PlayStation 4 would be a slightly more powerful gaming-oriented machine.

Xbox 720 – Backwards Compatibility

One of the rumors out there that is the idea that the Xbox 720 will not be backwards compatible.

Since the Xbox 720 shares a number of hardware similarities with the PlayStation 4, and keeping in mind that the PS4 will not be backwards compatible with older titles due to the different hardware architecture, the idea that the Xbox 720 might not be compatible with older titles makes a certain amount of sense.

Nevertheless, rumors have pointed out that Microsoft is working on a solution. Allegedly, the company will commercialize an add-on for the 720 which will pretty much be a stripped-down Xbox 360. Supposedly, this add-on unit will lack its own disc drive, but physical discs will be readable by the Xbox 720, assuming that the console is hooked up to the add-on.

Rumors have also indicated that this minimalistic Xbox 360 unit would cost around $149, or even less.

Xbox 720 – Always-Online Requirements (or not)

The idea of an always-online component for the Xbox 720 was one that has stirred the most controversy in the gaming word. Basically, several rumors have suggested that the 720 will not work for more than a few minutes unless the console is hooked up to an internet connection. This theory was corroborated with the idea that Microsoft intends on making the next-gen console incompatible with second-hand games, thus the presence of an internet connection would be required in order act as an “unholy” DRM system.

However, new rumors have emerged indicating that the Xbox 720 will indeed have an always-online functionality, but despite all this, users will not be prevented from using second-hand games. Furthermore, reports have also claimed that owners of the 720 would still be able to play local content even if the console would not be connected to the web. How exactly this always-online, yet somehow offline, component would work remains to be seen (if there is any truth to these rumors).

Xbox 720 – Expected Release and Titles

No exact unveiling or release date for Microsoft’s Xbox 720 console have been announced thus far, but reports claim that the gaming rig might be unveiled on May 21st.

As for what games you can expect to be released for the Xbox 720, so far a good number of titles have been already officially confirmed to arrive on Microsoft’s next-gen gaming rig. The list contains titles such as: Rainbow 6: Patriots, Watch Dogs, Beyond Good and Evil 2, Cyberpunk 2077, Dragon Age 3, Battlefield 4, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Thief (the reboot, not the original title), Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, Sniper Elite 3, Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 and Halo 5.

What do you think about the rumored specs and features of the Xbox 720? Based on what we (think) we know would you go with the PlayStation 4 or does Microsoft’s upcoming console sound more like your cup of tea? Don’t hesitate to share your opinion via the comments section.

Vlad Andrici is editor for and writes about technology issues.