At E3 2016, Microsoft revealed a new console that would be joining the Xbox One cycle and in just a few days, on November 7th, this console will be released to the gaming public. Originally named Project Scorpio and later changed to the Xbox One X, Microsoft fully intends for the most powerful console in existence to change gaming as we know it. Despite this, the console is fully intended to sit alongside the Xbox One and Xbox One S by playing the same games as the other two consoles, using the same dashboard interface that Microsoft intends to unify on all of its devices, and supporting the same accessories and devices. What exactly does that mean for you?
What’s In The Box?
Before we dive into the Xbox One X’s tech specs and our analysis, let’s take a look at what comes with the standard edition of the console. In addition to the Xbox One X you will receive:
- One Xbox One controller and two AA batteries
- HDMI cable
- AC power cable
- One month Xbox Game Pass code
- 14 day Xbox LIVE Gold code
The only notable thing missing from the box is a headset, which won’t be too much of an issue for those of you upgrading from the Xbox One but will potentially mean an additional purchase for any newcomers. That being said, the Xbox One controller does come with a 3.5-mm port that will work with any compatible headsets.
What Does it Do?
As you’d expect from a new console, the Xbox One X is more powerful than those that came before. For those of you that own a 4K TV or monitor, there are over 100 existing games that will be enhanced for the Xbox One X, over 50 of which - including Forza 7 and Middle-earth: Shadow of War - will be available in their improved form by the end of the console’s launch window. Not only that, the console is the only one on the market with the capability to play 4K blu-ray discs, meaning your favourite films can be seen in a much higher resolution.
If you’ve not yet upgraded to a 4K TV set, there are still visual benefits to be found on a 1080p TV thanks to super-sampling, dynamic resolution scaling and anisotropic filtering. The Xbox One X will scale down the 4K image to fit your existing screens, meaning improved textures as well as higher framerates. You’ll also still get all of the non-visual benefits, such as the quicker load times that the additional power of the console brings.
Perhaps best of all, Microsoft has also made it really simple for you to bring all of your existing peripherals and games with you when you do choose to upgrade. All of your existing Xbox One controllers, mics and other peripherals will work with the new console, and you’ll also be able to play all of your existing Xbox One games, plus any original Xbox and Xbox 360 titles that are backwards compatible.
In terms of the Xbox One X’s overall design, it is much more attractive than the original Xbox One and similar in appearance to the newer Xbox One S. At launch, the standard edition will be available in space grey, while the Project Scorpio edition comes in a more traditional black.
Like the S, the Xbox One X’s buttons and some inputs can be found on the front of the console, unlike on the original Xbox One where the controller sync button and the third USB port were located on the left side of the console. Like on the newer Xbox One S, the X also uses a physical power button over the touch-sensitive button on the original, and includes an IR receiver and blaster in place of the Kinect, which can be used with the Xbox One remote or to send signals to devices controlled through One Guide.
One of the first things you’ll notice about the Xbox One X when you get it in your hands is that it feels heavier than your existing Xbox One or Xbox One S console, weighing in at 2 lbs more than the S and 0.6 lbs more than the original Xbox One. Given that additional weight, you might expect the Xbox One X to be the largest of the three, but you’d be wrong. Compared to the Xbox One S, the X is only 1 cm3 larger than the S, and is considerably smaller than the original Xbox One.
|Spec||Xbox One X||Xbox One S||Xbox One|
|Size||30cm x 24cm x 6cm||29.5cm x 23cm x 6.5cm||34.3cm x 26.3cm x 8cm|
To make it easy for those of you that are upgrading to the X from the S, Microsoft has placed all of the connections on the back of the console in the same order as before, aside from the lock port that is now missing completely. Unlike the S, the ports are now evenly spaced and seem to make much more efficient use of the space on the back of the console. Meanwhile, if you’re upgrading from the original Xbox One, there are more noticeable differences, the biggest being the lack of a Kinect input. If still wish to use your Kinect, you’ll have to pick up an adapter that utilises one of the USB ports on the back of the console.
Much more important than how the console looks and how much it weighs is what’s inside the Xbox One X to make it “the world’s most powerful console”, and that is where most of Microsoft’s development time has gone. The CPU in the X is faster than the PS4 Pro and offers nearly a 50% improvement on that of the Xbox One S and original model. Graphically, the 6 teraflop GPU is also a nigh-on 50% boost on Sony’s flagship machine.
On the RAM front, 12 GB of GDDR5 in the Xbox One X is, again, 50% more than found in both of the previous Xbox models and the PS4 Pro. The 1 TB internal hard drive means a sufficient amount of space for storing your downloads and installed games — a good thing considering the size of modern games — although this is slightly disappointing bearing in mind that the S can come in 2TB varieties. More memory can be easily added using an external hard drive that uses a USB 3.0 connection and has at least 256 GB of storage capacity, something that keen gamers will likely require.
4K will be delivered across both gaming and other media, with a UHD Blu-ray drive allowing you to watch films and TV shows at a resolution at which most actors probably aren’t comfortable. The machine also supports high dynamic range imaging — or HDR as it is widely known — meaning more realistic lighting effects, while everything’s kept whirring by that new internal power supply.
|Spec||Xbox One X||Xbox One S||Xbox One||PS4 Pro|
|CPU||Custom CPU @ 2.3 GHz||8 cores Custom Jaguar CPU @ 1.75GHz||8 cores Custom Jaguar CPU @ 1.75GHz||2.1GHz 8-core AMD Jaguar CPU|
|GPU||Custom GPU @ 1.172 GHz, 40 CUs, Polaris features, 6.0 TFLOPS||Custom GPU @ 914 MHz, 12 CUs, 1.4 TFLOPS||Custom GPU @ 853 MHz, 12 CUs, 1.3 TFLOPS||4.2 TFLOP AMD Radeon (36CU, 911MHz)|
|Memory||12 GB GDDR5 @ 326 GB/s||8 GB DDR3 @ 68 GB/s, 32 MB ESRAM @ 218 GB/s||8 GB DDR3 @ 68 GB/s, 32 MB ESRAM @ 204 GB/s||8GB GDDR5 + 1GB @ 218 GB/s|
|Internal Memory||1TB HDD 500GB||1TB, 2TB HDD 500GB||1TB HDD||1TB HDD|
|Optical Disc Drive||4K UHD Blu-ray||4K UHD Blu-ray||Blu-ray||Blu-ray|
|HDMI Resolution & Framerate||2160p @ 60Hz AMD FreeSync HDMI Variable Refresh Rate (when ratified)||2160p @ 60Hz||1080p @ 60Hz||2160p @ 60Hz|
|PSU||245W||Internal 120W||Internal 220W||External Internal 310W|
Speed and Noise Analysis
Those numbers are all well and good, but how does it translate in terms of load times, and will all that powerful tech sound like Concorde is taking off from your living room every time you turn on the console? We’ve looked at how quickly the Xbox One X can get to the menu screen from both energy saving and instant on modes, and also game load times, versus the original Xbox One.
Booting From Cold to Dashboard
We booted up both the Xbox One X and the original Xbox One when they were both completely turned off and had automatic account sign in turned on and the results were as you’d expect. The Xbox One X took 57 seconds compared to the original Xbox One that took 70 seconds. That means you can be looking at your dashboard and be ready to play around 20% sooner.
Booting From Instant On Mode (standby) to Dashboard
In our tests, the X booted from instant on mode in 1.75 seconds — that’s actually a quarter of a second slower than our old Xbox One. It’s worth mentioning that this slight difference could be down to network traffic during the automatic account login.
|Time to Boot||Xbox One X||Xbox One|
|Off||57 Seconds||70 Seconds|
|Instant On||1.75 Seconds||1.5 Seconds|
Booting Up a Game
Whilst the new Xbox One dashboard is lovely, we’re all here to play games, so just how much faster can the Xbox One X get you into a game? We tested loading times from both the internal hard drive and an external drive using a variety of different games. On an external drive, the Xbox One X was faster by up to 10%, with Killer Instinct taking 39 seconds on the X and 43 seconds on the Xbox One, and Gears of War 4 taking 52 seconds on the X compared to 55 seconds on the One.
The results from games tested from the internal hard drive offered a much bigger speed boost in favour of the Xbox One X — up to 44% faster in the case of Limbo.
What about noise? We found that the fan noise on the Xbox One X was slightly louder when the console was under load — 50 decibels compared to 46 — but conversely quieter when the fan wasn’t running at 42 decibels compared to 44. The fan is not constantly running during gameplay, so there’s an initial period of noise for the first couple of minutes of a game, but as soon as that stops then the console is relatively quiet.
Across all of those tests, the Xbox One X maxed out at 56.4 decibels, compared to 55.5 decibels for the old console. However, over a ten-minute period, we recorded a slightly lower average decibel score on the new console: 47.3 decibels against 48.4 on the original Xbox One.
The console may be quicker, quieter on average, and even prettier once you’ve loaded up, but how much prettier is it? Well, that varies from game to game, as different titles are able to make use of the improved hardware to different extents. Games such as Forza 7, FIFA 18 and Gears of War 4 all run at 4K and 60fps, and utilise HDR, while others like Shadow of War and Assassin’s Creed Origins are not locked to 60fps. However, this still means that the console actually produces the millions of pixels required for a native 4K output rather than relying on upscaling like the PS4 Pro.
The thing that millions of pixels allows a developer to do is to show off more detail. Take Gears of War 4 for example. The blue lights on the character’s armour and the sights on a weapon like the longshot no longer have as much glare. Finer character details are more distinct and shaded in a far more realistic manner. The environmental draw distance is improved and distant objects are more clearly visible.
It isn’t just in graphics that improvements can be noticed, though. When playing Assassin’s Creed Origins, players could transition between the game’s protagonist, Bayek, and his scout eagle Senu smoothly and seamlessly on the X, whereas players will experience some loading on the original console. Like GOW4, the draw distance here is much improved too thanks to there being no need to compensate for a smaller amount of pixels.
As ever with a new console, developers will get to know the hardware better as time moves forward, so expect future titles to make even better use of what’s inside Microsoft’s new box. The good news is that, while it may vary, pretty much everything will look at least a little bit better should you choose to upgrade.
Should you buy this console? The answer really comes down to two things: affordability, and your existing setup. There’s no doubt that £450 or $499 isn’t cheap as far as a new console goes, but then the most powerful console ever made was never likely to be. For anyone upgrading from a vanilla Xbox One but who already owns a 4K TV, you’ll instantly see a huge difference — it will be like going from a CRT to HD all over again.
If you’ve not got a 4K set yet, you might want to hold off until you do; likewise if you’ve recently upgraded to an S and don’t want to shell out again. For everyone else, or anyone who just has to have the latest piece of shiny kit sat below their TV, this is a significant step up, the benefits of which will be immediately obvious. Plus, Christmas is just around the corner, and what would you really rather have instead?