Xbox One X
THE PREMIUM 4K HDR GAMING CONSOLE WITH A SLIGHT STORAGE ISSUE.
THE XBOX ONE X is the powerful premium console Microsoft first promised gamers over a year and a half ago. It’s capable of driving games along at 4K HDR at 60 frames per second — at least on a handful of titles — and, as part of Microsoft’s Xbox family, it doesn’t force you to throw out the games you already own for new ‘enhanced’ editions. In some cases, Xbox One games you might have played a year ago will now look absolutely stunning when fired-up on the One X. Those might be the only Xbox-exclusive games you’ll be playing for a while, though, with few big name first-party titles currently on the horizon. Thankfully, all of the major holiday 2017 releases, including Call of Duty: WWII, Assassin’s Ceeed: Origins and Wolfenstein II, are available with One X patches.
Beyond higher-res gaming, the console is also perfect for media junkies — there’s 4K Netflix and Stan on-board alongside a 4K app for YouTube, Amazon’s Prime Video app is now Ultra HD compatible and, when all else fails, there’s also a reasonably good 4K Blu-ray player built into the box — a feature that no other console maker has at the moment, and a few early bugs with disc playback were quickly fixed by Microsoft. The new console also supports Dolby’s Atmos audio, among other premium surround audio formats.
However, while you can make a strong case for the One X based on its specs, buying one right now isn’t quite an open-and-shut case. While powerful, sleek and wonderful, it’s essentially a souped-up version of the $399 Xbox One S. The X can play certain games in native 4K while the S only does upscaled 4K, sure; but the Xbox One S arguably does upscaled 4K so well that you might not even be able to notice the difference. That said, having the option to choose buttery-smooth performance over native 4K resolutions in certain games, or vice versa, is something that we heartily endorse in console gaming going forward.
The One X is a fairly neat and unobtrusive rectangular box that’s the same size as a larger Blu-ray player, coated with an attractive matteblack colour. It’s a far cry from the bulky VHS player-stylings of the original Xbox One.
In terms of ports, round the back, you’ve got a power connector, HDMI out, HDMI in, three USB ports, an IR out, an optical audio port and an Ethernet port. The console will also not see the return of the original Xbox One’s Kinect port — if you haven’t heard, Kinect (Microsoft’s motion-sensing camera) is officially dead.
Controller-wise, the new machine is packing a new darker gamepad, which, for all intents and purposes, is exactly the same mechanically as the one that currently ships with the One S.
SHOW ME YOUR MOVES
The console comes equipped with an eight-core CPU clocked at 2.3GHz, alongside 12GB of GDDR5 RAM. It features a GPU clocked at 1,172MHz leaving the console with 6 teraflops of graphical computing power. That RAM is split in between the system and the GPU, however, so don’t go jumping on the PC Gamer forums to tell them how consoles have finally surpassed PCs in terms of value performance.
On the CPU side of things, the X is running a custom AMD chip with eight Jaguar CPU cores clocked at 2.3GHz. That’s a 76% increase compared to the CPU inside the original Xbox One and One S.
Where the One X falters is on its hard drive — the small 1TB drive that comes standard is the only configuration Microsoft plans on selling for the immediate future. Consider the fact that all these new ‘Enhanced for Xbox One X’ titles use 4K image assets — Gears of War 4 alone takes up 100GB — and you begin to realise that 1TB isn’t nearly enough.
If you’re a 1080p TV owner, the console will do something called super-sampling to create better-looking images. The idea is that the game renders itself in 4K thinking it’s connected to a 4K screen, which means objects are rendered with four times the detail. All this data can’t be displayed because, at the output end, it’s still being shown on a 1080p TV, but the resulting image is one that is more detail-rich. In practice, that means images are going to look a little bit sharper. FHD TV owners will still need to download those huge 4K assets to take advantage of super-sampling, though.
On a true 4K HDR TV, the Xbox One X can really unleash its full potential. Games render at up to native 4K, offering four times the detail of regular 1080p. Better still, some of those games will have a wider array of colour options thanks to high dynamic range (HDR) support. In our experience, One X games have so far offered deeper HDR settings than their PS4 Pro equivalents, allowing users to tweak white balance for better contrast.
I’D TAB THAT
The new redesigned Xbox One interface is a sort of mash-up of the Xbox 360 blade design and the Windows 10 block-and-pin-heavy design. Like the blade design of yore, the interface is separated by purpose: there’s Home and Store, but also tabs for Community, Entertainment and Mixer, a Microsoft-owned Twitch competitor. One of its most unique features is turning the idea of pins — games or apps that you are really attached to — into full rows on the Home screen. This row might call attention to DLC, note how close you are to a particular achievement, or show you a highlight from Mixer. It’s a marked improvement. What we’re less appreciative of, however, is how deep Microsoft buries things like friends lists and settings. These sections are usually relegated to the small Xbox Help Bar.
ALL IN ALL
Coming into this review, we had some concerns that this premium console’s performance, however good, might not be able to justify its price. We were wrong. When hooked up to a decent 4K HDR screen, it plays games at an astoundingly high level of detail. Throw on a 4K Blu-ray player with Dolby Atmos sound, and you’ll be treated to the best cinematic experience this side of movie theatre.
The Xbox One X is the pinnacle of console gaming. But while it has claimed the new top spot, its closest competitors — the PS4 Pro and the much cheaper Xbox One S — aren’t that far behind. Despite not being able to play games in native 4K, the latter consoles are around half the price and often produce images that look nearly as good. Their better balance between price and performance will make them a better pick for the vast majority of gamers out there.
So is an Xbox One X for you? The simplest question you can ask yourself is: ‘Will I appreciate the extra horsepower?’ If you’re the kind of gamer who stops to look at the scenery in games like The Witcher or Dragon Age, or a streamer who can point out a 4 frame-per-second difference between videos, the One X will be a worthwhile investment.
But if you’re a gamer who just wants a console that plays great-looking games without digging too deep into your savings, the One S might be a more sensible option.
IT COMES EQUIPPED WITH AN EIGHT-CORE CPU CLOCKED AT 2.3GHZ, ALONGSIDE 12GB OF GDDR5 RAM. IT FEATURES A GPU CLOCKED AT 1,172MHZ LEAVING THE CONSOLE WITH 6 TERAFLOPS OF GRAPHICAL COMPUTING POWER.