Xbox One X



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.


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.


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.


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.


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