A Look at the Xbox One X

Last year at E3 2016, Microsoft made headlines by announcing not one, but two revisions to the Xbox One, their slow to launch console that had been slowly building up momentum leading up to E3. The first revision, the Xbox One S, was well received by both gamers and critics for its smaller size, 4K UDH Bluray player, and HDR support, even though it did not provide a significant boost in game performance.

For gamers wanting a performance increase, second hardware revision, code named Project Scorpio was planned for a 2017 release and was touted to be a substantial upgrade in power. Microsoft dubiously stated that performance increase of Project Scorpio would be so substantial that it could have been the start of a new console generation for Xbox were it not for Microsoft’s strategy of never again abandoning a console to begin a new generation from scratch.

It's now 2017 and never content to let Nintendo lead the industry in confusing console names, Microsoft is set to release the Xbox One X this November. No longer Project Scorpio and carrying a hefty price tag compared to the Xbox One S, does the X1X live up to the hype?

Design and Form Factor

Design and Form factor

After the Playstation 4 Pro debuted at nearly double the size of the slim, it was a bit of a shock to everyone at E3 2017 to see that the Xbox One X was roughly the same size as the Xbox One S, although Microsoft has touted the Xbox One X to be the smallest Xbox console ever produced. With the Xbox One X measuring 11.81-in. x 9.45-in. x 2.36-in., Microsoft is technically correct about it being smaller than the Xbox One S, which measures 11.61-in. x 9.06-in. x 2.56-in., but one would be hard pressed to pick the smaller of the two by looking at them side by side. I could only confirm this assertion by calculating the volume of the two 263.4-cu. in. the Xbox One X vs 269.3-cu. in. for the S, so while it is smaller, don't count on the X1X to free up real estate in your entertainment center or media cabinet. Despite its modest loss in cubic inches, the Xbox One X is substantially heavier than the S, weighing in at 8.4-lbs, a 2-lbs. weight gain!

Although you probably cannot eyeball the two and pick the smaller you can definitely notice a major design change in the Xbox One X, and that is the absence of the tiny ventilation holes that proliferated nearly every surface of the Xbox One S and helped conceal a large cooling fan on the top of the console. This might make those who remember the red ring of death that plagued the Xbox 360 a bit nervous, but the Xbox One X is actually liquid cooled in the form of an onboard vapor chamber that keeps the system from overheating.

Aside from the missing vents, the look itself of the Xbox One X is not radically different than any other console, and has a design that is sort of reminiscent of a Playstation 2. Around back you'll find the usual suspects in connectivity including HDMI in and out, three USB 3.0 ports, and ethernet, but the Kinect faithful should take note that the dedicated Kinect interface is still MIA and will require a USB adapter, available from Microsoft, to work with the Xbox One X.

Under the Hood: Performance Upgrades

Under the Hood: Performance Upgrades

If the design changes in the Xbox One X left something to be desired, the performance upgrades not only make up for it, but leave no room for complaint. To get the technical specifications out of the way, the Xbox One X features a custom 8-core 2.3GHz AMD CPU with a 6-teraflop 1.17GHz GPU, and 12GB of GDDR5 video RAM.

What does that all mean? Shockingly enough it means that 4K gaming on a home console is actually a reality in 2017. No, it doesn't mean that 4K gaming is theoretically possible, it's here, it's real, and it's spectacular with games like Forza Motorsport 7 launching alongside the Xbox One X running at 4K and 60fps with full Dolby Atmos support to boot!

Forza isn't the only title slated to run in 4K, in fact there are games covering just about every genre, including Madden 18, Assassins Creed Origins, and, yes, even Minecraft will be available in 4K on the Xbox One X. Many developers of games that are already on store shelves have pledged to release patches around the Xbox One X launch that will take advantage of the added horsepower, including Doom, For Honor, The Witcher 3, Titanfall 2, and Halo Wars 2 just to name a few.

For those without a 4K UDHTV, the Xbox One X promises to deliver more detailed textures, improved framerates, and faster loading times for games running at 1080p, but just as with the 4K upgrades, existing games will require a patch from the game developer.

Which Xbox One is right for you?

Which Xbox One is right for you?

All this power comes at a higher price tag, and when the Xbox One X launches on November 7th, 2017, it will bring with it a MSRP of $499.99, double that of some of the recent Xbox One S offerings! This time of year these deals are sure to be sweetened around Black Friday, and since all three versions of the Xbox One run the same games, which is the best choice?

I don't own an Xbox One and have no plans of purchasing a 4K UDHTV – Gamers without a 4K UHDTV in their homes will benefit from some graphical upgrades and improved framerates, but the Xbox One S will still play any and all Xbox One games for half the price of the Xbox One X. Unless you demand the highest framerates possible, Xbox One S is the choice for you.

I currently own a 4K UHDTV and don't have an Xbox One or own the original Xbox One – If you are using the original Xbox One with a 4K UHDTV you are missing out on many features that your UDHTV could take advantage of such as HDR support, 4K Bluray, and 4K streaming, and now true 4K gaming. If you have a 4K UHDTV and no Xbox One X, you obviously want the best in picture quality, and in that case, it only makes sense to spring for the Xbox One X if you are already thinking about shelling out money to purchase or upgrade your Xbox One.

I already own both a 4K UHDTV and an Xbox One S, should I upgrade? - This is the toughest scenario for upgrades and depends entirely on your demands as a gamer. Remember, your Xbox One S already supports 4K Blu-ray, 4K streaming, and HDR, so the only benefit to you would be the massive graphical upgrade the Xbox One X delivers. Yes, the difference will be substantial, but is it worth the $500 price tag? It's a matter of personal preference and how greatly you demand the best graphics money can buy on a home console. If you're on the fence, it does no harm to wait for a sale, a price reduction, a great bundle offer, or look for trade-in deals at retailers to help subsidize the price.

Of course, if there are any Xbox One X deals to be found this Black Friday, BFAds will be at the forefront of the very best in gaming deals. Be sure to check back throughout the holiday season for hot deals, price breaks, ad scans, store opening times, and of course our signature buying guides!

September 30, 2017
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