Microsoft officially unveiled the Xbox One X at E3 2017, calling it “the most powerful console ever”. That may be – you’d expect it be better than everything before it – but is it actually be any good? We’ve some time playing 4K games on the Xbox One X before release next week, and here’s what we think about the console.
Separately, we’ve compared the Xbox One X to the PS4 Pro, and also the Xbox One S, so we won’t spend too much time mentioning those comparisons here.
|Xbox One X|
|Release date||7 November 2017 – pre-order now|
|Price||£449.99 / US$499.99|
|CPU||2.3GHz custom octacore processor|
|GPU||AMD chip with 12GB GDDR5 RAM and 6 Teraflops of performance|
|Wireless||Bluetooth + Wi-Fi|
|Wired||3x USB 3.0, optical audio out,|
|Optical drive||4K Blu-ray drive|
|Dimensions||300 x 239 x 61mm|
Xbox One X: Pricing and availability
Microsoft announced the launch of pre-orders during its Gamescom live stream, but only for the limited edition ‘Project Scorpio Edition’ of the console, which includes an exclusive vertical stand and has ‘Project Scorpio’ inscribed on both the console and the included controller. Unsurprisingly, it sold out almost immediately.
Fortunately, you can now pre-order the Xbox One X regular edition. If you’re in the UK, head to GAME, Amazon and the official store; in the US check out GameStop, Best Buy, Amazon, and the Microsoft store. Act fast though – we don’t know how much stock Microsoft will have ready for launch.
Xbox One X: Features and design
Looking at the hardware to begin with, this is the smallest console Microsoft has ever made. And even though it’s only a little smaller than the One S, it’s remarkable considering it’s by far the most powerful console on the market. Compared to Sony’s bulky PS4 Pro, the Xbox One X looks sleek.
That grunt comes from an AMD APU, which is basically a CPU and GPU on one chip. The custom-built eight-core CPU is like that used in the PS4 Pro, but at a higher clock rate (2.3GHz vs 2.1GHz). It may not be ground-breaking, but it’s required to power the biggest change in hardware – the GPU.
The custom AMD GPU boasts 40 compute units, each running at 1172MHz. This is a considerable bump in speed, especially when compared to the PS4 Pro’s 911MHz across 36 units, and confirms Microsoft’s claim of six teraflops of GPU power. The custom GPU is backed up by a whopping 12GB of GDDR5 RAM (vs 8GB in PS4 Pro), 9GB of which is dedicated purely to gaming – the other 3GB is dedicated to the system.
But what does that mean to us at home? Essentially, the graphical power should be a bit better than the new Radeon RX 580, which costs between £250 and £300.
And like any decent PC GPU, the Xbox One X needs a decent cooling system to keep everything performing optimally – especially when powering 4K gameplay. To that end, the Xbox One X features a vapour chamber heat sink with a custom fan, helping to keep the console cool, even with it’s incredibly small dimensions.
The aim of including all that tech is to deliver superb 4K graphics at 60fps (but not in all games), and that’s really the main selling point of the One X. 4K gaming on the console is nothing short of phenomenal, and it’s something we come to in a little more detail below.
4K gaming also goes a long way to justifying that £449 price. And don’t forget there’s a 4K Blu-ray drive as well – the PS4 Pro doesn’t have one of those. And for those without super-fast internet connections that support top-quality 4K streaming (which, let’s face it, is most people) this could actually be useful.
Plus, the relatively slim dimensions mean you should be able to pop the console in your TV bench without it being particularly noticeable. And, as you’re probably spotted, it’s black rather than the more conspicuous white finish of the Xbox One S.
There’s no real change to the design of the controller, which too, is now black.
Unlike the PS4, the Xbox One X doesn’t appear to support VR. Microsoft hasn’t mentioned anything VR-related at the moment, but it’s the perfect console to provide high-end VR experiences. Could we see an Xbox VR headset, or support for existing VR headsets like the Oculus Rift in future? We can only hope.
We do know, though, that the One X supports AMD FreeSync 2 and 1440p resolutions, which could be appealing if you were planning to buy a new monitor and game on that rather than a big TV.
Xbox One X: Performance
Let’s get down to the reason why the Xbox One X is so popular: the performance is phenomenal. We’ve used the 4K-enabled PS4 Pro since it was released at the back-end of 2016 and it simply cannot compare to what the Xbox One X offers, especially with graphically demanding games like Assassin’s Creed Origins.
We’ve played a handful of games on the Xbox One X, including the likes of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Forza Motorsport 7, Middle-earth: Shadow of War and Gears of War 4, and we were hypnotised by the gorgeously detailed environments and smooth [email protected] playback. It’s true 4K too, and doesn’t rely on many of the upscaling tricks that Sony uses to provide 4K gaming on the PS4 Pro.
Whether it’s exploring dusty ruins as Lara Croft or tearing up Brands Hatch in Forza 7, the difference between what’s offered by the Xbox One X and existing consoles is night-and-day. It really is an impressive feat when you consider the size (and price!) of the PC or laptop required to provide that kind of performance!
It enhances the overall gaming experience, bringing it in line with what high-end PC gamers experience when playing the latest titles. And much like your PC brethren, Xbox One X-supported games can offer multiple graphical options to give you the experience you desire.
Xbox One X: Do I need a 4K TV?
Microsoft has marketed the One X as a console for 4K gamers so, unsurprisingly, if you don’t have a 4K TV, you won’t get the full experience.
That’s not to say you won’t notice improvements in your gameplay, though: those with standard 1080p HDTVs are granted other enhancements like faster frame rates, quicker loading times and even the possibility of supersampling the 4K output down to 1080p for higher quality textures.
But as is the case with 4K owners, the focus may vary between games and developers – some may prioritise visual quality while others will enhance framerate.
The One S also has Dolby Atmos sound and a 4K Blu-ray drive, so they’re not new or unique to the One X. But if you do have a 4K TV and you’re still on an Xbox 360 or Xbox One, the One X should be very tempting indeed – so long as you’re excited by the launch titles, and don’t mind paying a little extra for the premium gaming experience.
Microsoft has realised that gamers want backwards compatibility, and you’ll be able to play older titles on the One X (as you can on the One and One S). Indeed, for 360 games it’s as simple as inserting the disc.
But it’s the new games, and those existing titles getting the Enhanced treatment, which will be the real reason to splash out on the One X.
Xbox One X: Launch titles
Forza Motorsport 7 is one of the 4K launch titles, and it does look fantastic running on the console. In fact, we mention the Xbox One X performance in our Forza 7 review. Assassin’s Creed Origins and Middle-Earth: Shadow of War will also launch with the console and support 4K.
In fact, there will be free 4K updates for Halo Wars 2, Forza Horizon 3, Minecraft and Gears of War 4, with more than 130 games in total receiving the ‘Xbox One X Enhanced’ treatment – you can see the full list on Microsoft’s site.