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Everything you need to know about Xbox Series X

How much does it cost? What kind of improvements will old games get ? Do you need HDMI 2.1 to play games?

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Microsoft will launch two new consoles on November 10. These will, unlike Sony's alternatives, be significantly different from each other in terms of power. This article will contain all the information you need to know about the strongest one: The Xbox Series X. Please let me know if you have further questions, and I'll continually update it with answers to those as well. Now, let's start with one of the aspects Microsoft understandably has been boasting the most about: power.

Specifications

CPU: 8 cores at 3.8 GHz (3.66 GHz with SMT) custom AMD Zen 7nm
GPU: 52 CUs at 1.825 GHz Custom RDNA 2, so approximately 12 Teraflops of computing power
RAM: 16GB GDDR6 (10GB at 560 GB/s, 6GB at 336 GB/s.)
Storage: 1TB NVMe SSD where 802GB of it can be used by you
Optical disc drive: Yes
HDMI: 1x HDMI 2.1 port
USB: 3x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports
Wireless: 802.11ac dual band
Ethernet: 802.3 10/100/1000

To put these details into layman's terms, the Xbox Series X is on paper at least twice as strong as the Xbox One X and around eight and a half times as powerful as the Xbox One. Microsoft says that this will make the console capable of running games at 4K resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels on the screen) and up to 120 frames-per-second. Don't go in expecting to see new games combine the two, however, as both of these require quite a large amount of power. Instead, several developers have promised that their games will run in 4K at 60fps, while others will give you the option to lower the resolution in exchange for 120fps. It's important to note that the large majority of displays that support 120fps have the new HDMI 2.1 input while only a few with HDMI 2.0 can deliver that, so those of you who have a TV from 2019 or earlier should definitely check to make sure before buying games that support such high framerates.

Another impressive feature few console gamers haven't experienced before is what the inclusion of a solid-state drive can lead to. Having a SSD instead of a hard-drive means that the games and their assets can load way faster, which generally will lead to much shorter, if any, load times and assets suddenly popping in. We've seen a whole bunch of examples of these already, including Red Dead Redemption 2 going from over two minutes on the current generation of consoles to around 40 seconds on the Xbox Series X. That's without any kind of update. Just from the original game being installed on the SSD.

Quick Resume

Being installed on the SSD is definitely something you should take note of, as it does more than improve loading in games. One aspect that has gotten quite a bit of attention lately is the feature called Quick Resume. Quick Resume will let you go directly to where you were in up to five suspended games in mere seconds instead of closing the one you're playing and waiting for a new game to boot up. It even works after shutting down the console, so gone are the days where you were able to make a meal before playing games after turning on system. It even works when using an external storage device.

External Storage

The operative system and other core components means that only 802GB of the built in 1TB NVMe SSD can be used by us to store games, save files, applications, and stuff like that. Many of you have blown past that limit on today's consoles and might think that having an external hard drive will save you. I have good news and bad news. The good news is that you can store your games from previous generations on an external hard drive and play the "oldies" via that, but there are several caveats to that. First of all, playing your Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One games off an external hard drive means that you won't get the visual enhancements, shorter load times, etc. Your Xbox Series games can't be played via an external hard drive either. That's where Microsoft's proprietary solution for expandable storage comes in.

The Xbox Series consoles will only support the custom 1TB Storage Expansion Cards Microsoft has made in collaboration with Seagate and that's not cheap. You'll have to pay €239,99/£219.99/$219.99 at the time of writing, so it's important to note that games might become smaller next generation because some developers will let you delete individual modes and have smaller files due to not having to lower loading times by copying code. Storage is also something that is known for dropping in price fairly quick, so it might be smart to wait until you actually reach the limit before opening your wallet. Especially when this kind of power won't be given away from free.

Price

Because the Xbox Series X will cost €499/£449/$499, it's definitely not something everyone can afford, which is why several retailers around the world will let you buy the console and pay for it in monthly installments across two years with the Xbox All Access program. In the UK, the program is available at GAME and Smyths Toys. Both of these will give you the Xbox Series X and 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (Xbox Live Gold and Microsoft's subscription service that gives you access to hundreds of games on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series and streaming on Android devices) for £28.99 a month. I highly doubt that you'd pay any of this just for a powerful console to use as a paper weight or watch movies and TV shows on though, so what about those games?

Launch games

While we won't be getting Halo Infinite this year, you'll have more than enough to choose from anyway. Let's start with the list of games made specifically for next-gen:

Smart Delivery

While it might have a new name, Smart Delivery is fairly similar to the Xbox Play Anywhere program. This means that you'll get the Xbox Series X version of a game for free if you already own the Xbox One version, letting you continue where you left off with better graphics, shorter load times and other next-generation improvements.

Speaking of improvements and continuing where you left off. The aforementioned 32 games aren't the only ones you'll be able to play on your new console either, as the Xbox Series X will support every single Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One game that is playable on Xbox One and doesn't require Kinect from the get-go. You might even find them better this time around.

Backward compatibility

I say that because installing these games on the SSD will make them run directly on the new hardware. This means that they'll get better resolutions, more stable and even double the framerate in some cases, improved image quality, far shorter load times and better colours and lighting thanks to special high dynamic range (HDR) reconstruction techniques. All of this without making the developers lift a finger.

Games aren't the only things from this generation that will work on Xbox Series X. Accessories will as well. Any officially licensed Xbox One accessory that connects to your console via USB or the controller's 3.5mm port will work on Xbox Series X. I don't mention optical because the Series X doesn't have an input for it, but that doesn't necessarily mean you're out of luck. Both Astro, SteelSeries, Turtle Beach and several other major brands have said they're working on firmware updates and other solutions for headsets that use optical cables.

New controller

Still, having your old controller(s) work on the Xbox Series X isn't all that important when a new one obviously is included with the console, is it? The Xbox Series controller isn't a copy of the Xbox One either, as it has several nice changes. Two of these are very apparent by just looking at it. Let's start with the new button in the middle. Microsoft has taken a page from the DualShock 4's book and added a Share button that makes it a lot easier to take screenshots and capture gameplay. By default, a single press will take a screenshot, while holding it will capture video.

Then we have the change on the left; the new directional pad aka D-pad. It's now what you might call a hybrid of the traditional sharp-edged cross and the faceted dish, which makes it easier to swap between games that only use four directions and game that includes diagonal inputs and such.

Some changes are difficult to see in images, including the size. This new controller is slightly smaller than the previous iteration and has rounded bumpers, slightly reduced and rounded parts around the triggers, and sculpted grips. Hate it or love it, one thing that hasn't changed is that the new controller uses two AA batteries and can be used on the Xbox One as well.

Dimensions

If all of this sounds good it's time to check where you're going to place your Xbox Series X after getting it home. Standing up the console is 30.1 cm tall, 15.1 cm long and 15.1 cm wide, so it takes up less volume than the original Xbox One. It's possible to put it on its side as well, so don't worry if you have a media center under your TV or something. These kinds of things might be easier to see than read about, which is why we compare the size to other consoles in the video below.

Review

These are all the details you need to know about the Xbox Series X right now, but what do we actually think about it? Kieran is using the console pretty much 24/7 these days, so come back later this week for his review. Any answers to questions you might have (just share them in the comments or to me directly by private message here or direct message on Twitter) and other updates will be added to this article for the foreseeable future.



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