Now that the Xbox one X is available for pre-order I wanted to put together a short piece to discuss what we can expect from the most powerful console ever released.
I decided the best way to do this would be to go through the promotional content on the website and discuss each part that is an improvement on the previous generation and what this means for the gamer.
The ability to drive 4K games on a console is a big deal. On the PC the advantage of 4K is very much debatable seeing as the sharpness of the content the user is consuming comes down to the pixels per inch rather than the the total resolution. On the PC where you typically have a monitor between 20 and 27 inchs the resolution of 1440p+ will give you equivilant if not better sharpness than a 40+ inch TV at 4k.
This increase in resolution and resultant increase in the sharpness of the image is a graphics upgrade all by itself, and a big one at that. With almost all new TVs above the 32inch mark being 4K ready this step absolutely makes sense and will have a huge difference to the quality of content being consumed.
The second part of the marketing on their website is slightly less exciting. This is still a custom 8-core CPU that has just been clocked slightly faster. Now this isn’t a bad thing per-say, graphics depends heavily on the GPU and traditionally on the PC games have always been GPU bound rather than CPU bound when it comes to increasing graphical fidelity.
Long story short the CPU in the Xbox One X isn’t bad news it is just boring news. It would have been nice to see the new Zen cores by AMD in this console but they had to keep the costs down somehow and this CPU is one that devs are familiar with from the Xbox One and PS4.
The memory in this console is good news for Xbox fans. It is now all GDDR5 rather than DDR3 meaning that there is no chance for the GPU to be memory bandwidth starved in any way. The increase in total available RAM is likely mainly to store all those high resolution 4K textures. Don’t expect masses of performance from a RAM spec bump alone but connected to the new GPU this is all good news.
So we make it to the star of the show. A 6 Teraflop AMD customised GPU. This is far beyond anything that has been in consoles before. It should be noted that Teraflops aren’t directly related to total gaming performance but in comparison the PS4 pro trails behind with a 4.12 teraflop GPU. In comparison to the PC market the AMD 580 is rated as 6.17 teraflops and costs just over half the price of the Xbox One X alone.
I take slight issue with this next piece of information. The faster memory will make no difference to your loading times. The loading times of a game are dependent on the slowest part of the chain and the slowest part of the chain will always be your hard drive. So lets just skip on to the next bit.
This is where Microsoft have obviously still learnt from the Xbox 360 red ring of death. The Xbox One was huge to accommodate lots of cooling. The Xbox one X is cooled by a Vapor chamber cooling system that has existed on high end graphics cards for a while and tends to do a good job.
My only concern with this cooling mechanism is noise. The technology here tends to be found on ‘blower style’ GPUs on the PC that are very good at removing hot air from the case, probably what Microsoft was going for, but not so good at staying quiet. We will have to wait and see on this one.
Last but not least, memory and video output support. Microsoft has gone for a SHDD as it is called in the PC market for storage. These has 8GB of SSD storage on the 1TB hard drive and the drive decides what you use most regularly and keeps it on the fast storage. While it is no substitute for the speed of an SSD it is certainly a lot faster than a standard HDD. This is where you will get your decreased loading times from.
Video outputs are as described previously. HDR10 support is also a big deal as this can provide better contrasts between light and dark in a single image due to more colour data being handed to the TV for each image without effecting performance in any way.
The Xbox One X seems to be the best console for your money that we have seen since the PS3. It has very obviously been made from the ground up as a Xbox One for 4K content and games with greater graphical fidelity while the PS4 Pro is just a slight spec bump and some software trickery to get it to the 4K resolution.
What really matters next is exclusives. Microsoft has been backed into a corner ever since the PS3 in terms of sales and popular exclusives. The Xbox One X seems to be the first sign of them really fighting back and we can only hope that this includes in there exclusive content as well over the coming year.
Sony will need to up there game with the PS5 or release an interim PS4 Pro 2 if they want to compete with what Microsoft are putting out here.
The Xbox One X will release for £449.99 on the 7th of November 2017.