Xbox One X: Hands on with Microsoft’s powerful new games machine
Microsoft is pitching the Xbox One X as the world’s most powerful console; a souped-up take on the Xbox One angled at graphically minded gamers with 4K TVs and deep pockets. Very deep pockets: while you can buy an Xbox One S with a game for £229.99, you’re looking at £450 for an Xbox One X. That’s significant, because the PlayStation 4 Pro – which promises similar things – costs £100 less.
The Xbox One X lands on 7 November, and we’ll have a full review in time for that, but for now we have a few initial impressions thanks to a hands-on session with Assassin’s Creed Origins.
Xbox One X hands on: Design
The original Xbox One was a bulky black thing, closer in appearance to an old school DVD player than a modern games console. Microsoft tightened this design substantially with the Xbox One S, offering a console that looked lighter thanks to its white colour and lower profile. More importantly, Microsoft dispensed with the external power brick at the same time, and gave it a performance boost to deal with HDR and 4K Blu-ray playback.
Microsoft has gone back to black with the Xbox One X: and it looks as good as the One S with a few minor changes. The design philosophy has been carried on from the Xbox One S with a few minor changes. The main body of the console appears to almost float above a slightly smaller plinth while the X-shaped, backlit power button still resides on the right side.
The optical disc slot has moved slightly and is now hidden slightly in the crease between the console’s top and bottom parts, and the USB port and infrared receiver have swapped sides, while at the rear nothing at all has changed. You get a pair of HDMI ports – one input, one output – two USB ports, an IR blaster connection, optical S/PDIF and Gigabit Ethernet.
It’s marginally bigger than the Xbox One S, too, but you’d need to have them side by side to notice. Overall, it’s nice enough, but you’re not going to spend all that much time looking at it. It’s also worth noting that Microsoft hasn’t changed the design of the controller either. The Xbox One X will come with the same, redesigned Bluetooth controller that the One S came with.
Xbox One X hands on: Specs and performance
Look over a spec sheet, and the Xbox One X blows Sony’s PS4 Pro out of the water. Microsoft’s new console is capable of running at 6 TeraFLOPS, compared with the PS4 Pro’s 4.2 and is equipped with an octa-core 2.3GHz CPU and custom GPU capable of running at 1,172MHz. That’s essentially double what the Xbox One S can manage. There’s also 12GB of GDDR5 RAM in the Xbox One X with an impressive 326GB/sec bandwidth.
It’s hard to tell exactly how well this will hold up across multiple titles and media apps, but from our hands-on with the console, Assassin’s Creed Origins looked precisely detailed and ran smoothly. As with the PS4 Pro, though, you’re only really going to get the most of this graphical advantage if you have a 4K TV or projector, but it’s worth noting that the Xbox One X can produce 8-million plus pixels required for native 4K, whereas the PS4 Pro mainly does this through intelligent upscaling.
In terms of how this translates to gaming, the blistering yellows and lush greens of Assassin Creed Origins’s take on Egypt looked very nice indeed while HDR – which increases the dynamic range and thus the available colours – lends scenes a noticeable sense of depth, with shadier areas having more detail to them.
Like the Xbox One S, the console will support Ultra HD Blu-Ray, so you should see a similar image quality for movies as well as games. Crucially, this is something that the PlayStation 4 Pro doesn’t offer.
Xbox One X: Early verdict
The Xbox One X is undoubtedly a powerful console, and it manages to make its 8 million HDR pixels dance beautifully. Throw in Dolby Atmos support, and – with the right setup – you have a console that’ll make eyes and ears snap, crackle and pop with pleasure.
All of this hinges on having the right 4K home rig. If you have the display and speaker hardware then the Xbox One X is likely to be the choice console for games. If not, then its £450 price is steep for what you’ll ultimately get from the machine.
We’ll have a full review of the Xbox One X in the coming weeks.