So, it’s finally here. After months of speculation and big claims from Microsoft (most powerful console ever, smallest console ever etc etc) we finally have access to the Xbox One X. It’s definitely an impressive little beast – but is worth the price tag?
The actual specs of the hardware would indicate so. Those who aren’t interested in the actual hardware specs should skip the next paragraph. With an eight-core CPU at 2.3GHz and 12GB GDDR5 RAM the new box certainly lives up to the claims Microsoft has been making. 6 teraflops of computing power and a custom chip with 8 Jaguar CPU cores means that you’re getting significantly more computing power than in any previous iteration of the Xbox. More importantly it’s also more power than the Xbox One X’s main competitor – the PS4 Pro. Of course, it has the price tag to prove it, but this is a luxury console and no one’s denying that.
These technical specs are impressive but won’t mean a lot to quite a few people reading this. What’s more important (to me anyway) is how the hardware feels and looks. The unboxing moment was special. The Xbox One X is very small. Much smaller than the One S and original Xbox One. I even posted a picture a picture on Twitter with banana for scale – showing that they are pretty much the same size. Another wonderful thing about the XOX is the ease of set up. Again, gone is the power brick from the original Xbox One and if you have the One S you just need to unplug the wires from the back of the console and put them into the new Xbox. The saddest part of setting up the new box is losing my Kinect (which I never use to be fair). The console will comfortably sit in the same place as your last Microsoft console and you even get a ‘free’ vertical stand if you prefer the console to be stood up.
— n3rdabl3. (@n3rdabl3) November 7, 2017
The setup of the software is straightforward too. I backed up my last console to my external hard drive so everything was ready to go when I plugged in. I only need to insert my password for my account once. Everything from the colour of my home screen to the Wi-Fi was already prepared thanks for the backup I set up just before starting up the Xbox One X. Even the update the console needed to start was only 700mb and took about 15 minutes in total to download and install.
The price will likely be an issue for a lot of people. Sitting at £450 this is definitely the most expensive console to grace store shelves. It compares to around £230 for an Xbox One S and around £350 for a PS4 Pro. So, it’s more expensive than its main competitor. Microsoft always said this wasn’t a console for everyone though so I’m not going to mark it down for its high price point. The likelihood is that if you’re buying a One X you’re already going to have a 4K TV to make the most of it – which currently rock in at £600+ – so it’s safe to assume most people know this is a luxury console. This is a console for those that want the very best gaming experience and have the cash to make that happen.
I’ve seen a lot of people getting frustrated with the Xbox One X’s lack of internal storage. Off the shelf you’re starting with 1TB of storage, which in fairness isn’t a lot when your already large games are downloading even larger 4K assets. That said, I find it hard to believe that after the Xbox One has been around for four years that most people wouldn’t have some sort of additional storage which could be used to increase it. I’ve got two hard drives currently totalling 5TB of storage (which yes, excessive) and I wouldn’t expect people to have that much storage but even if you don’t – if you’re willing to drop £600+ for a 4K TV and £450 for a luxury console I think most people would pay the extra for additional storage if they needed it.
Now onto the good stuff. Does the Xbox One X actually make a significant difference to the picture quality of your games? Unequivocally yes. This is the first time a home console has ever delivered native 4K HDR home gaming and the uplift is stark. If I didn’t know better, I’d say it looks like an entirely new console generation. Assassin’s Creed: Origins, Shadow of War and Rise of the Tomb Raider (despite the latter releasing in 2016) all look exceptional. The lighting, framerate and graphical dexterity all improve substantially and run in 4K. You won’t just benefit if you have a 4K TV either – the Xbox One X improves 1080p too by a process known as super sampling. It takes all the data that makes an image 4K and scales it down to 1080p. This means that you see some benefit even without a super expensive TV.
Even games without graphical improvements run much better than they would on previous consoles. The horsepower behind the XOX results in games with no dedicated patch (such as Overwatch) running much more smoothly with less noticeable latency. While the list of the games with full 4K support is relatively small now (but growing) it’s good to see some improvement to games that aren’t supported. That said, ultimately, this console will live or die depending on how many games do get graphical upgrades.
The Xbox One X is a powerhouse of a home console. All the improvements it delivers are worth the hefty price tag and more. Sure, the storage should be a little higher and yes, the games library needs some work to get more games running at the best they can but all in all, this is a step forward not just for the Xbox but for home gaming more generally.