Launching later this year, Microsoft’s next-gen Xbox Series X promises to “power our dreams”.
In layman’s terms, it probably means that games running on it are going to look bloody good indeed, and that other advancements are going to lead to us being immersed in digital worlds more than ever before. In any case, we’re very excited about it, and we just can’t wait to get our hands on one when it launches.
Honestly, concrete info about the Xbox Series X is pretty thin on the ground at the moment, but there are some things we know about it. Want to know more about the console you might possibly have under (or by the side of) your TV later this year? Read on…
If you were expecting the Xbox Series X to look like a traditional console, think again. Instead of the traditional horizontal slab, the Xbox Series X is a rectangular device that’s ideally meant to be stood up, though you can lay it horizontal if you wish. Exact measurements haven’t yet been provided, but expect it to be about 15x15x30cm judging by images.
It’s compatible with your Xbox One peripherals…
Got a load of Xbox One controllers that you’re fond of? Just invested in a pricey Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2? Don’t worry, they’ll work perfectly with the Xbox Series X. Other Xbox One peripherals such as steering wheels should work too, but don’t count on it 100% because there are always caveats. Hopefully though, everything will indeed just work.
…But it does come with a new and improved controller
Just because old controllers are compatible, it doesn’t mean that Microsoft hasn’t rested on its laurels. A new Xbox controller that is slightly smaller than the existing Xbox One controller will be bundled with the Xbox Series X. It features an improved d-pad inspired by the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2, and has a dedicated share button so you can take and share screenshots and game clips easier than ever before. The new and improved controller will be compatible with Xbox One, too.
It’s backwards compatible with four generations of Xbox software
Like with the Xbox One, backwards compatibility is a major selling point of the Xbox Series X. Microsoft is aiming for everything that plays on Xbox One to work on its next-gen console at launch, including Xbox 360 and original Xbox games. After that, while nothing has been announced, we suspect that the backwards compatibility team will continue to work to make more legacy games playable on the console. After all, there are still many classics that players would love to revisit.
It has a disc drive
Worry not disc lovers, the all-digital future isn’t here quite yet. The Xbox One Series X does have a disc drive, meaning you can continue buying games on physical media. You’ll still need to install games to the console’s hard drive though, but it shouldn’t take quite as long because…
It benefits from SSD
That’s right, the Xbox Series X has a snazzy SSD inside instead of an old mechanical hard drive. It means that games should install quicker, loading times will be shorter than ever, and asset streaming issues should be eliminated or at least massively reduced. The only question we have is what does this mean for external storage? Will we have have to buy expensive external SSDs if we want more storage capacity? Will be even be able to use external storage at all? These are things we want to know.
It’s the most powerful Xbox ever
Being next-gen, of course the Xbox Series X is more powerful than anything that has come before it. What’s promising though, is that on paper it really does sound like a massive leap in capability. Powered by the latest AMD Zen 2 technology, the Series X has four times the computing power of the processor found in the Xbox One range. And in addition to that, an AMD Navi-based GPU gives it over eight times the GPU power of the standard Xbox One, and twice the GPU power of the Xbox One X. That means it has about 12 TFLOPs of power, which is a lot.
Supporting resolutions up to 8K and a max refresh rate of 120Hz, Xbox Series X isn’t all just about raw power though. The system’s architecture makes use of the new innards, resulting in an input/output (I/O) speed around forty times quicker. And new and existing technologies such as Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Variable Rate Shading (VRS), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), and Dynamic Latency Input (DLI) have been implemented to make the Xbox Series X the most efficient and responsive console ever.
It’s likely not the only next-gen Xbox
While the Xbox Series X is the only console Microsoft is talking about right now, it’s likely not the only next-gen console it has in the pipeline. Rumours have been abound for a while that the company also plans to have a cheaper, lesser-powerful console available. Probably made for those who don’t have 4K TVs or simply aren’t so power hungry, it’ll likely still provide a next-gen experience but not have all the bells and whistles of the Series X model. In fact, the name Xbox Series X gives Microsoft’s plan away a little: ‘Xbox’ is simply the name of Microsoft’s next-gen console range, and the ‘Series X’ is the name of the model. Presumably the Series X is the high-end model.
All the services
Xbox Series X will of course support Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold. That means at launch, if you’re an Xbox Game Pass subscriber, you’ll have access to hundreds of games on day one. Any Microsoft-published launch titles should be included in Xbox Game Pass, too, unless the company changes its policy before then. We doubt it will though. And expect xCloud to play a role. We wouldn’t be surprised if you’re able to stream games to your console rather than have to play them locally. It’ll be handy when you’ve just purchased a game and want to play it immediately while it downloads in the background.
Up to now, only Halo Infinite has been announced as a launch title for the Xbox Series X. There’s bound to be many more though, and expect many of 2020’s big game releases to also support the Xbox Series X. Titles such as Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs Legion have already been confirmed to take advantage of the machine’s capabilities. While it probably won’t be available at launch, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 has also been announced. Check out the trailer below, which is stunning.
How much will it cost?
So, the Xbox Series X sounds good, huh? We bet you’re eager to throw your cash at the thing. Unfortunately you can’t pre-order it just yet, and its price hasn’t been revealed. Judging by the hardware it’s packing, it’s likely not going to be cheap though. The Xbox One X launched with a retail price of £449.99/$499.99, so bear that in mind. Maybe the Xbox Series X will be a little more expensive. Power doesn’t come cheap, after all.