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In any case, Microsoft is touting the new device as “the world’s most powerful console.” Based on its internal specs, Microsoft probably isn’t wrong!
But since this kind of iterative release is a bit untraditional for game consoles, you might have questions about what exactly this new Xbox is, and where it fits into the larger gaming market.
We’re here to help. Here’s everything we know about the Xbox One X, now that it’s officially been unveiled:
The Xbox One X is, fundamentally, another Xbox One.
This is not a “next-generation” device like the leap from the Xbox 360 to the Xbox One.
Instead, it’s more like Microsoft’s version of the PlayStation 4 Pro – it takes the existing Xbox One and makes it stronger.
That means it plays all the same games you can play on the original Xbox One or Xbox One S. There is no deviation in any of the three devices’ game libraries.
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In other words, there are no games that are exclusive to the Xbox One X. If you’d prefer the cheaper Xbox One S, you won’t miss out on that next “Halo,” “Crackdown,” or what have you.
That said, Microsoft is promising that games on the Xbox One X will look and run better than they will on other Xbox One devices, provided that those games are built with the Xbox One X’s extra horsepower in mind.
About that horsepower: On paper, the Xbox One X is the most technically capable home gaming console in existence. Here’s a look at the nitty-gritty specs:
• Eight custom x86 cores clocked at 2.3GHz
• 6 teraflops of graphics performance. By comparison, the PS4 Pro has 4.2 teraflops, the standard Xbox One has 1.31 teraflops, and the standard PlayStation 4 has 1.84 teraflops.
• 12 GB of GDDR5 RAM. By comparison, every other current Xbox and PlayStation console has 8 GB.
• A 1 TB hard drive for storing all your games. It’s appears this will not be upgradeable, however.
If all of this sounds like gibberish to you, that’s okay! The differences here are largely in maximum computing power – most eyes aren’t going to notice dramatic differences all of the time, the way you would going from a PlayStation 2 to a PlayStation 4.
Still, the Xbox One X should have less trouble with heavy-duty games than its peers, and Microsoft is promising faster load times than usual.
The Xbox One X’s headlining features, though, are its support for 4K and HDR gaming at up to 60 frames per second. If a given game supports all of that, it should be sharper (via 4K), look more lifelike (via HDR10), and run smoother (via the higher FPS) than it does on other consoles. There are a few things to note here, though:
The most obvious is that you’ll need a TV that actually supports 4K and/or HDR playback in the first place.
From there, it’s worth reading our explainer on what exactly 4K and HDR do. In short, HDR is the more substantive upgrade – it can bring better contrast and more lively colors, which generally leads to a more compelling image.
The sharper resolution that comes with 4K is great if you have a big-enough TV – or just sit too close to that TV – but it’s almost impossible to see those extra pixels in many living room setups.
If you can take advantage of it, though, Microsoft is promising various games that will be built from the ground up to support 4K, instead of using display tech tricks to create the effect of a higher resolution, as the PS4 Pro sometimes does. And it is easier to see the difference in smoothness when a game runs at 60fps.
The point of the Xbox One X’s stronger specs is to run these kind of high-spec games more consistently – though it remains to be seen how capable it actually is at doing that. To compare, the Xbox One S also supports 4K, but only through video streaming and Blu-rays, not gaming. It does support HDR10 games, however.
Microsoft also says that those with 1080p resolution displays — still the majority of people — will be able to get smoother images on older Xbox One games through a display technique called supersampling.
Again, we’ll have to see how well this works in testing. It’s unlikely to be a massive change to most eyes. For what it’s worth, the PS4 Pro can also visually improve some older games, but not all, as Microsoft is promising here.
Along these lines, Microsoft said on Sunday that more than a few dozen games – including hits like “Rocket League,” “Minecraft,” and “Final Fantasy XV” – will receive patches to gain 4K support for the One X in the future.
At the same time, Microsoft hasn’t announced any virtual reality support for the Xbox One X, whereas the PlayStation 4 works with Sony’s PlayStation VR headset.
Another difference between the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro is that the former will support Ultra HD Blu-rays, which support all the resolution, color gamut, and frame rate upgrades noted above.
If you’re the type that wants to watch movies and TV shows in their highest quality, Ultra HD Blu-rays are for you. The Xbox One S also supports these, but the PS4 Pro does not.
All of this comes in a package that’s a hair smaller than the Xbox One S. It is built very similarly to that slimmed-down console, too — it looks the same, and the various ports are all in the same places. The controllers are just about the same as well.
The Xbox One X is a couple pounds heavier than the One S – or any other console – but it’s not like you’ll be carrying these things around often, so it shouldn’t make a big difference in day-to-day use.
It’s coming out on November 7, and it’ll cost $499.
That makes it the most expensive console on the market. As of Monday, the Xbox One S costs $249, the PlayStation 4 Slim costs $299, and the PlayStation 4 Pro costs $399.
The Xbox One X seems like good value for what it’s packing, but it’s hard to say who exactly it’s for.
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Games built to take full advantage of the Xbox One X will probably look great, and the whole machine should feel snappy. You’d be hard-pressed to fit this level of horsepower in a $500 PC. So it’s not surprising that Xbox boss Phil Spencer told Business Insider’s Ben Gilbert that Microsoft isn’t making money off each console’s sale.
But the kind of gamers who care deeply about these sort of graphical upgrades usually just buy a PC. That PC may be pricier, but it’s stronger, and it’ll also be upgradeable into the future, piece by piece.
The number of people who have the setup to see the difference between 4K and non-4K isn’t huge, and the more affordable Xbox One S already does HDR.
Microsoft’s decision to not make any games exclusive the One X is noble, but also strips the incentive away from many players to make the upgrade.
And the PS4 still has a far larger install base of players, which means there’s a higher likelihood that your friends are playing their multiplayer games there. It also continues to win the ever-dwindling war for must-play exclusive games, and will get some of the graphically updated titles as well.
Microsoft wants to mix the ease of use of a console with the higher fidelity of PC. That’s great, but if wouldn’t be a shock to see it struggle as a practical product. If there really is a middle ground of “hardcore console” players, though, it may stand a chance. Time will tell.