Self-professed as the "fastest" and "most powerful" games console ever made, the upcoming Xbox Series X is designed for high performance, high-speed gaming.
On paper, the console has better technical specs than its rival PS5, which makes it challenging to understand why analysts think that it will lose out in selling only half the units of the PS5.
Let's dive into everything the Xbox Series X has to offer.
Table of Contents
- 3rd Party Titles
- Indie Games
- Xbox Games Pass
- Backward Compatibility
- Backward Compatibility of Peripherals
- Xbox Series X UI
- Stepping into VR?
- Xbox Series X Ready TVs
- The Future of the Xbox One
- Pre-orders and Price
- How Does it Compete?
Microsoft has set out to sell the Series X through its specs, and rightfully so. The console boasts the highest specs ever seen in a consumer console, bringing slight competitive edges across the board when compared to the PS5.
The official specs are as follows:
- CPU: 8x Cores @ 3.8 GHz (3.66 GHz w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU
- GPU: 12 TFLOPS, 52 CUs @ 1.825 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU
- Die Size: 360.45 mm
- Process: 7nm Enhanced
- Memory: 16 GB GDDR6 w/ 320mb bus
- Memory Bandwidth: 10GB @ 560 GB/s, 6GB @ 336 GB/s
- Internal Storage: 1 TB Custom NVME SSD
- I/O Throughput: 2.4 GB/s (Raw), 4.8 GB/s (Compressed, with custom hardware decompression block)
- Expandable Storage: 1 TB Expansion Card (matches internal storage exactly)
- External Storage: USB 3.2 External HDD Support
- Optical Drive: 4K UHD Blu-Ray Drive
- Performance Target: 4K @ 60 FPS, Up to 120 FPS
Before diving into what these mean for our gaming experience, it's worth noting that there will most likely be two versions of the console being released. There will be a smaller, less powerful, and likely cheaper Series S launched alongside, which won't have a disc drive.
This smaller model will cap some technical specs, from resolution to frame rate, compared to the Series X. However, less is known about the all-digital Series S, so we're focusing on the Series X.
With its incredible eight-core Zen 2CPU clocking 2.8GHz and 12 teraflops of GPU power, the Series X will provide, pretty much, unrivaled graphical performance on a consumer console. This means hyperrealistic lighting, reflections, and incredibly immersive sound, along with the possibility of raytracing, photo-realistic environments, and immense draw distances. All of which will blow current generations entirely out the water.
The 4K resolution at 60FPS will provide a crisp image for high frame rate thrills, with the potential for even 120FPS in specific titles. This will make everything play that much smoother, particularly enhancing the fast-action of shooters and racing sims.
The upgrade from last generation's HDD (hard disc drive) to an SSD (solid-state drive) will allow for lightning-fast loading, which Microsoft has already been quick to flaunt in a tech demo against current-gen load times. With the SSD holding up to 1TB, it's refreshing to see the addition of an expandable storage slot, but you'll want to make sure to upgrade with a compatibly fast component to keep those speedy load-times.
The Series X's 'Quick Resume' feature is made possible with these quick load-times from the SSD, allowing you seamless switching between multiple titles from a suspended state. It will be similar to switching with one application on current generation consoles, just expanded to many.
This system works so well, thanks to the SSD easing the load on the RAM. The beefy 16GB of GDDR6 RAM is no slouch, topping the Xbox One's RAM spec by 4GB.
The design was criticized by some as a video-gaming 'fridge', but Xbox took the joke in stride, responding with the Series X next to a real-size fridge. Jokes aside, there is a real appeal to the Series X sleek, black, boxy design. Coming in at 151x151x303mm the Series X is going to be a neat console that will hide well in any environment.
It's boxy black chassis paired with a tastefully placed Xbox logo, and disk drive will allow for easy stacking, or hiding of the console. It could easily be a discrete, tasteful object sitting next to a TV, with its friendly green glow emanating from its upward-facing air vents.
This black design is an exciting move for Microsoft, in an entirely different direction from the PS5, shifting from a mostly white aesthetic to a predominantly black one.
Its design may be controversial, but it provides a great counterpoint to the bold, futurist design of the PS5 instead favoring calm, zen-like minimalism.
Continuing with their classic analog-stick layout and button placements, the Xbox Series X controller has one significant change and a whole swath of incremental improvements over previous generations. These come as:
· A dedicated 'Share' button: PlayStation users will be well acquainted with the concept of a rarely used share button. Microsoft has added one to promote a more community-led sharing experience.
· Hybrid D-Pad: Inspired by the D-Pad of the Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 (that's a mouthful), this D-Pad adds a deeper crevice in the center which allows for more comfortable and accurate movements when using it. This benefits motions like diagonals, as they were notoriously tricky on previous-generation controllers.
· New Ergonomics: Microsoft has gone to great lengths to promote the comfort of the controller for a much wider range of hands than ever before.
· Reduced Latency: Using dynamic latency input will reduce the usual 8ms latency on analog controllers, cutting down on those response times.
Beyond these developments, there's not much else to up the ante against Sony's promise of their new DualSense having some sort of Haptic technology.
That said, the controller does benefit from being very compatible as a result, allowing the Series X controllers to work on Xbox Ones and PCs. The Xbox One controller will likewise be compatible with the newer Series X, meaning you won't have to dish out on a bunch of new controllers.
This is perhaps where Microsoft falls short, particularly when compared to the PS5. Playstation made a concerted effort to acquire as many exclusives as possible for launch season and beyond. Still, Microsoft's lineup coming at, or soon after, launch looks solid based on what we learned from the Xbox Games Showcase. You can find all the games announced for the Series X (so far) below.
Microsoft keeps its long-running console exclusives close to its chest, with Halo being the leading franchise. Unfortunately, Halo Infinite was delayed and will no longer be a launch game and is now slated to arrive in 2021.
· Halo Infinite – A “spiritual reboot” of the legendary franchise.
· Forza Motorsport – Race in 4K, 60FPS through Turn 10 Studios’ realist racing sim.
· State of Decay 3 – Sequel to the open-world zombie series from Undead Labs.
· Fable –Another reboot, of the Fable franchise, with very little being given away.
· S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 – Bringing back the exciting and terrifying survival horror shooter franchise set in the Zone. A personal favorite.
· Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II – A sequel to the hugely influential original psychological thriller.
· Avowed – Set in the Pillars of Eternity universe, this Obsidian Entertainment first-person RPG is one of the console’s greatest draws.
· Tetris Effect: Connected – Building on the original with new co-op and competitive modes.
· Everwild – A new IP from Rare “inspired by the beauty of the natural world”.
· As Dust Falls – An adult narrative “multi-generational story set in the American Southwest”.
· Psychonauts 2 – A refresh of the family-fun franchise
· Warhammer 40,000: Darktide – Taking Vermintide into the 40th millennium for more co-op action adventuring.
· The Gunk– A new puzzler set on a forgotten planet.
· The Medium – A psychological game featuring music from the Silent Hill composers.
· CrossfireX – A new IP from the studio behind narrative classic Alan Wake
· Scorn – A bleakly atmospheric FPS horror.
With some of these games likely coming at launch, others later, and some being timed console exclusives (which will later release on other consoles), the majority of these games can also be found on other Microsoft platforms: Xbox Games Pass or the Xbox One.
3rd Party Titles
Of course, consoles aren't all about 1st party exclusives.
· Balan Wonderland
· Braid: Anniversary Edition
· Cyberpunk 2077
· Demon Turf
· Dragon Age Sequel
· Earthlock 2
· Echo Generation
· Far Cry 6
· FIFA 21
· Hello Neighbour 2
· Hitman 3
· Hood: Outlaws and Legends
· Marvel’s Avengers
· Metal: Hellsinger
· NBA 2K21
· Overcooked! All You Can Eat
· PES 2021
· PhantasyStar Online 2: New Genesis
· Planet Coaster: Console Edition
· Resident Evil Village
· Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One
· Untitled People Can Fly project.
· Watch Dogs: Legion
· Yakuza – Like a Dragon
Of course, a handful of previous-generation titles will also receive Xbox Series X releases, but including them would make this list far too extensive. You can check them out here.
That said, Microsoft's Smart Delivery system will be an invaluable addition to the console. If you purchase a Smart Delivery listed Xbox One game in the next few months, you will receive a Series X version of the game completely free.
This feature also promises to carry over progress and save games from allowing your gaming experience to continue seamlessly across console generations. This is vital for people who can't wait to try out games like Cyberpunk 2077, but don't want to miss out on its true next-gen glory.
With Xbox's ID @ Xbox program still in full force, promoting indie development for the platform, there are 15 timed console exclusive indies lined up for the Series X.
- 12 Minutes
- Dead Static Drive
- Exo One
- Last Stop
- Mad Streets
- Song of Iron
- The Artful Escape
- The Ascent
- The Big Con
- The Falconeer
- Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer's Legacy
Beyond exclusives, there are also a handful of other indie games which have been announced, such as:
- Cris Tales
- Chivalry 2
- Paradise Lost
Beyond all the games themselves, Microsoft aims to indicate which games will benefit, specifically, from playing on the Series X with a new quality assurance badge denoting the game is "Optimized for Xbox Series X". These will perform markedly better on Microsoft's impressive hardware, as they will take full advantage of the incredible specs on offer.
Xbox Game Pass
Notably, the Xbox Games Showcase was more about the Xbox Games Pass than it was the games, which made it pretty underwhelming. Microsoft's marketing strategy for next-gen isn't so much to peddle as many Series X consoles as possible (which is Sony's strategy for the PS5), but instead to sell users of all Microsoft systems the Xbox Game Pass. At around $10 per month, the Game Pass creates an ecosystem to play and enjoy gaming regardless of your system—as it works with the current-gen Xbox One S.
This focus on selling a subscription game-pass may also be why Microsoft is gearing up a smaller Xbox Series X, currently codenamed "Lockhart", which will be able to access the same games at lower-spec 1080p/1440p resolutions.
With talks of Microsoft's xCloud system being attached to the Xbox Game Pass, it looks even more enticing. xCloud, in short, is Microsoft's answer to Google Stadia. Bringing cloud-based gaming to Microsoft's users allows full cloud streaming of games to devices, mobile or console.
With the introduction of xCloud, this may also be why Xbox isn't choosing to go all-in with next-gen console sales, as they are clearly looking to move gaming away from the traditional, and somewhat archaic, games consoles format we have had for the last 20 years.
This innovation may, of course, come around to bite them due to lost profits but, in my eyes, this is a bold move worth keeping an eye on as it's one of gaming's most prominent players attempting to move players not to next-gen, but to an entirely new species of gaming.
Microsoft has always been big believers in backward compatibility, and the Series X continues this. Amazingly, it allows you to experience the last 20 years of Xbox console titles on one machine. Supporting games all the way back to Microsoft's first big success on the console market. Meaning you can play four generations of games on one console, no problem.
Not only this, but there will reportedly be "thousands" of titles available to play on the new console on launch day, thanks to the backward compatibility of the new console. Plus, due to Microsoft's HDR reconstruction technique and the Series X's incredible hardware, the games will reportedly "play better than ever before". Thus bringing new life to a treasure-trove of original Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One titles all to the new generation of console.
These features, combined with the Smart Delivery system mentioned above, make the Series X a unique console which will embrace the previous generation of Xbox, instead of merely superseding it.
Backward Compatibility of Peripherals
Just like it will be the fastest and most powerful console, it will also be the most compatible console in history, according to Microsoft, with official accessories from past consoles working on the new generation.
Although these haven't been wholly confirmed, it's relatively safe to suggest that pretty much all current-gen tech should continue over to the Series X, given the fact that the new Series X controller will also work on the Xbox One.
Xbox Series X UI
This may be a considerable relief or a great disappointment. But the new console has been confirmed to run the same system UI as the Xbox One. Meaning the dashboard will be the same, with a few timely additions on the new console features.
This draws the Series X's feel much closer to the One, but means that exciting unboxing thrill of booting up a new UI won't be there. One the flip side, One's interface is already loved by many users, so why change what isn't broken?
Stepping into VR?
While Microsoft does have a deep-rooted interest in the medium, through their Windows Mixed Reality headsets, they are yet to have VR on any console. This can be seen as them lagging behind since PlayStation's VR headset has been around for a long time.
A newly discovered patent does suggest that Microsoft is working on a VR headset along with motion controllers, a boundary mat, and a stylus. This may signal that we could expect VR on the Series X. Regardless, the raw power of the Series X, should be able to support a genuinely cutting-edge VR experience if it comes.
Xbox Series X Ready TVs
As with the PS5, the Xbox Series X will require an HDMI 2.1 connection to make full use of its 4k, 8k, and high frame rate setting.
As this feature was only finalized in 2017, many modern TVs don't offer the port, even when bought new today. Most of Sony's current TV lineup will not support this feature (oops), but if you're on the market for a next-gen ready TV, there are many alternatives. The LG CX or Samsung QLED ranges are an excellent place to start.
If you're looking for a new TV and plan on getting the most out of your Xbox, keep an eye out for that HDMI 2.1 input.
The Future of the Xbox One
Microsoft is doubling down on the Xbox Game Pass and systems such as Smart Delivery, which promote cross-generational play and will help support the Xbox One for a few more years.
In conversation, the Game Pass's head, Matt Booty, made it clear that they want to approach the various Xbox consoles as a "family of devices" where "content scales to meet the device". This holistic approach means that we may see cross-generational releases that continue to keep the Xbox One alive.
That said, there's no hard evidence about Xbox's plan for the One. It will be a previous generation device, meaning it is likely to be lower on their list of priorities. But given that the Series X peripherals will reportedly work on the One, and with Microsoft's move towards cloud gaming, it's tough to believe that the previous generation will be left in the dust.
And, with Microsoft's two previous generations having a life cycle of around 10 years, we'll probably have the One being supported until 2023, if not longer.
Pre-orders and Price
The Xbox Series X has been confirmed to release on November 10, 2020 – two full days before its competitor, the PS5, is set to launch. The Xbox Series X console will retail for $499. You can also purchase the console bundled with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for $34.99/month for 24 months. Pre-orders at most retailers (including Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy) have already sold out, but don’t worry – when the Xbox Series X hits the market in November, you should be able to get your hands on one.
What do you think of the price of the Xbox Series X? Will you be purchasing Microsoft’s newest console? Or will you be spending your hard-earned cash on one of its competitor’s consoles instead? Keep in mind that if you’d like to stick with Microsoft but the price tag of the Xbox Series X is just too high for you, the all-new Xbox Series S retails at $299 for the standalone console and $24.99/month when you include 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
While the Xbox One stuck very close to the logo of the 360, and Sony is sticking to its classic minimalist typeface for the PS5, Microsoft has thrown us a curve-ball with the Series X Logo.
It's definitely a departure from their traditional Xbox symbol (which is still featured on the console) by channeling a sleek, modern, and minimalist design.
How Does it Compete?
"Which is better?" It's a boring answer, but it's complicated.
The Series X does have a handful of advantages, for sure. Given it's better specs across the board, commitment to compatibility (both software and hardware), and promise of a robust future ecosystem with the Xbox Game Pass and xCloud, the Xbox may be a long-running victor. Valve boss Gabe Newell is definitely on board because of all of this.
But the PS5's new DualSense controller, day-one VR capability, and more extensive and star-studded library of exclusive games may be a deal-breaker. After all, we are here to play games, not gawk in awe at the technical specs without the games themselves to experience them on.
With all this in mind, Forbes has reported that analysts believe the PS5 will outsell the Series X by a 2-1 margin, which is directly in line with the previous generation (although the Xbox 360 and PS3 directly competed at around 80 million units each).
It's a game of specs, aesthetics, games, and peripherals. For specs, the Series X wins hands down. For games and peripherals, the PS5 most likely wins. And for Aesthetics, well, I sway towards the Xbox, but this is far more subjective.
In short, the PS5 will likely give you a bit more on day one, but the Series X may play the long game, especially as you will become part of Microsoft's growing ecosystem.
That said, don't let us tell you which to get. Take a look at everything we know about the PS5. After all, this is an era where the consumer is empowered to make these choices.
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