Xbox One X is the most powerful console ever made.
There’s a new member of the Xbox family of consoles: the Xbox One X. When it’s released on later this year, it’ll be the most powerful 4K console on the market. But don’t mistake it as the start of a new console generation; Microsoft is calling this a mid-generational upgrade. This means that the One X won’t have any hardware-exclusive games, and 4K-supported games that are created for it will also have to be playable on the current Xbox One S.
If it plays all the same games, what’s the point in choosing the Xbox One X over its predecessors? Well, it’s significantly more powerful and that brings benefits. The most lauded feature of the Xbox One X is that it’s capable of rendering top-end games at a native 4K resolution, rather than upscaled 4K.
Though they look good, games upscaled to 4K aren’t truly 4K. Instead, they’re games being rendered at near-4K resolutions, and stretched using clever techniques to look like 4K. This results in something incredibly close to a 4K resolution. However, if you were to place an upscaled 4K game beside native 4K game, the visual quality and level of detail in the latter would be noticeably higher. Microsoft has promised that from now, any first-party title it releases will support native 4K, but it’s also made it possible for game developers to patch older games so that they can take advantage of the Xbox One X’s power and bulk out the console’s 4K game library.
One older title receiving a native 4K upgrade is Gears of War 4. When we got the chance to see it running natively in 4K we were impressed by the level of detail visible on the protagonist’s armour.
The sharpness of the game’s background was actually as impressive as its foreground. Where distant rock faces would usually be blurred, earthy clumps, they were now distinct against the sky and we could even pick out breaks between rocks.
When it comes to raw specifications, the Xbox One X is much more powerful than any other console. With 6TFLOPS of processing power and 12GB of GDDR5 RAM, Microsoft promises all games should look and perform better on the Xbox One X than any other console, with sharper visuals, more consistent frame rates and faster load times.
The Xbox One X’s additional power means it’s likely to have more native 4K titles, while the PS4 Pro will probably continue to lean towards upscaled releases. The PS4 Pro’s checkerboard upscaling method is undeniably excellent, and with the chaos of most games in full swing, we expect the vast majority of people won’t get hung up on the difference. What is likely to be noticeably better on Xbox One X, though, is the sharpness of these visuals and the speed and consistency of frame rates.
As well as 4K, the Xbox One X boasts High Dynamic Range (HDR) capabilities. This means the console is capable of showing more colour contrast, which provides a more accurate image and brings more depth to two dimensional images. The benefit of HDR was really noticeable when we tested Assassin’s Creed Origins. The sun was incredibly bright in the sky and the shadows of buildings and the protagonist stood in sharp contrast to it, creating a much richer, more three-dimensional game world.
The Xbox One X also offers a high-quality audio experience with Dolby Atmos support. This object-based surround sound is useful when it comes to gaming because you can more accurately determine which direction sounds are coming.
If you’re buying an Xbox, though, primarily you want great games. New consoles normally suffer from limited launch libraries, but Microsoft’s commitment to backwards compatibility means the Xbox One X is able to play all Xbox One games as well as a large number of Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles.
It should be noted that not all of these games will run at 4K – not every developer will add 4K support to their game. At this year’s E3, Microsoft revealed 42 games that would support the console’s 4K capabilities, 22 of which would be exclusives.
PS4 Pro or Xbox One x?
The Xbox One X is more expensive than Sony’s PS4 Pro, and more than twice the price of the Xbox One S. It’s the X’s cost that will make it hard for many to justify the upgrade. To make the most of it, you’ll need to have other high-end visual and audio equipment. If you’re already entrenched in the 4K revolution, it’s a worthwhile upgrade. If not, you might want to upgrade other areas first.