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If you don't already own an Xbox One, and have a 4K TV, it's worth getting. Otherwise, you should wait and see what 4K enhanced games come out as time goes on – it's not a worthwhile upgrade, yet.
It’s really starting to feel like we’re in a new era of video games. Instead of a major console release every five to six years, both Sony and Microsoft are opting to go with a more smartphone-like model of incremental upgrades.
Sony already released its PS4 Pro, and Microsoft put out the HDR capable Xbox One S, but now it’s is taking the big step forward with the Xbox One X. This is the console that’s packed with both 4K and HDR capability. And it’s not just marketing on Microsoft’s part — this actually is the most powerful console on the market.
Does that power translate to a must-buy device, even with the $500 price tag? That’s exactly what we’re going to figure out today.
Compared to the PS4 Pro (And PC)
While I don’t want to add to the console war, we really need to start this off by looking at the head-to-head battle between the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. Microsoft is quick to remind you that the Xbox One X is the most powerful console on the market, and that’s not hyperbole.
Let’s take a quick and dirty by the numbers look at the two consoles:
- Xbox One X: Eight custom x86 cores clocked at 2.3GHz
- PS4 Pro: 2.1GHz 8-core AMD custom “Jaguar” CPU
- Xbox One X: Integrated AMD graphics with 6 teraflops of performance
- PS4 Pro: Integrated AMD Polaris graphics with 4.2 teraflops of performance
- Xbox One X: 12GB GDDR5
- PS4 Pro: 8GB GDDR5
- Xbox One X: 1TB HDD
- PS4 Pro: 1TB HDD
- Xbox One X: 4K/HDR Blu-ray drive
- PS4 Pro: Blu-ray drive
Outside of the internal storage being the same, the Xbox One X is ahead of the PS4 Pro in every category. However, the Xbox One X loses in the price realm, as the $399 price tag of the Pro is a full $100 cheaper. If you’re the type of gamer who’s worried about having the best of the best, then that $100 probably isn’t a deal breaker for you, but for others, it’s something to consider.
To put it simply, that $100 difference buys you an extra 0.2GHz of processing power, 1.8 teraflops of graphics power, 4GB of RAM, and 4K/HDR Blu-ray playback support.
Now, moving onto the PC, you’re going to open a whole new can of worms. For $500, you’re not going to get a PC that can run native 4K games. However, you can get one with specs that are fairly close to that one the One X. According to PC Gamer, they built a rig for $500 with 8GB RAM, a 3GB GeForce 1060, an Intel Pentium G4560, and an SSD. However, as outlined in the article, it’s not going to play 4K games, which is where the One X pulls ahead.
Of course, with a PC, you’re getting versatility of a full computer and all the other stuff it can. The Xbox One remains a closed platform. That offers some convenience, too, as every game you buy will run without issue, you can more easily play on the couch, and you don’t have to worry about upgrades later.
I don’t want to debate the pros and cons of console and PC gaming, as they both have plenty. I’m just looking at the differences between the two to help you decide if where your $500 is better spent. Personally, if you’re looking in that price range, I’d go with the Xbox One X.
To put it simply, when you look at it head-to-head with the other gaming platforms (the Switch is in a different category as it’s not trying to compete directly with the 4K powerhouses), the One X offers the most bang for your buck, at least from a power perspective. Do the games and hardware stack up? That’s what need to dig in deeper to figure out.
The main selling point behind a new console like this is the games. After all, it’s a video game console, and not having lots of stuff to play will certainly hold it back. In the case of the Xbox One X, the launch lineup is rather disappointing. Yes, every game you run will see some benefit from the more powerful hardware with slightly improved performance and loading times, however, the list of actual 4K and HDR games is fairly small.
As for showpieces, Forza 7 is definitely the big one, as cars tend to push the limits of graphics quite well. Some other newer releases that feature upgrades for the One X are Call of Duty WWII, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Gears of War 4, and Shadow of War. Microsoft has a full list of games that are already updated and games with updates in the works.
Microsoft is actually enhancing some Xbox 360 games, and the difference there is quite noticeable. The list of games is small, but Skate 3 is supported, and it looks ridiculously good. You’ll forget you’re playing an Xbox 360 games altogether, which is quite crazy.
To save you a click, here’s the list of games that are enhanced at launch so you know what you can play day one:
- Agents of Mayhem
- ARK: Survival Evolved
- Ashes Cricket
- Assassin’s Creed
- Assassin’s Creed Origins
- Assault Android Cactus
- Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
- Call of Duty: WWII
- Conan Exiles
- Danger Zone
- Dead Rising 4
- Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition
- Dishonored 2
- Dishonored: Death of the Outsider
- Disneyland Adventures
- EA Sports FIFA 18
- EA Sports Madden NFL 18
- EA Sports NBA Live 18
- Elite: Dangerous
- F1 2017
- Fallout 3
- Farming Simulator 17
- Final Fantasy XV
- Forza Motorsport 7
- Gears of War 3
- Gears of War 4
- GRIDD: Retroenhanced
- Halo 3
- Halo 5: Guardians
- Halo Wars 2
- Homefront: The Revolution
- Injustice 2
- Killer Instinct
- L.A. Noire
- Mafia III
- Mantis Burn Racing
- Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite
- Middle-earth: Shadow of War
- Mirror’s Edge
- NBA 2K18
- Outlast 2
- Path of Exile
- Portal Knights
- Project CARS 2
- Quantum Break
- Raiders of the Broken Planet
- Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure
- SKATE 3
- Slime Rancher
- Sonic Forces
- Star Wars Battlefront II
- Super Lucky’s Tale
- Super Night Riders
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- The Evil Within 2
- The Surge
- Titanfall 2
- Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands
- Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide
- Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
- World of Tanks
- WRC 7 FIA World Rally Championship
- WWE 2K18
- Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Collection
It’s a big list with more than 70 games, but when you dig in and look at the titles it’s a little underwhelming for a $500 console. There’s a lot of smaller games on the list that you’ve probably never heard of, and when you look at the number of big AAA releases with graphical styles that’ll really take advantage of the improvements, the list shrinks further.
Those are the games available as of this writing, and games like Crackdown 3, Sea of Thieves, Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, and plenty of others are still coming, and they’ll add a lot more value.
When you look at Microsoft’s page with all available and upcoming games, some of the listings are very vague. There are columns for 4K, HDR, and Xbox One X enhanced, and some games only have the last one filled in. If it’s not 4K or HDR, then what exactly is enhanced? Presumably, it’s bumps to performance and loading times, but it’d be nice to know exactly what kind of boosts a game is getting without having to just try it for yourself.
My last issue with the lineup is the lack of big launch games. It would have been nice to have the console launch with something new that makes it feel special. As it stands, you’re going to get some improvements to games you already own, but it doesn’t feel like there’s any game that makes you stand up and say “this is why I just spent the money on this new console.”
Okay, now it’s time to get into the good stuff and talk about actually playing games on the Xbox One X. After all, that’s what we all want to know: does the Xbox One X deliver the experience you’d expect from the most powerful console on the market?
The performance of the console is closely linked with the games, as most of the benefits don’t come from the automatic power boost, but rather they come from developers getting in there and actually making upgrades to their games.
As such, performance is all over the place. In almost all cases, games look and run better than on the original Xbox One, Xbox One S, or any PS4 model, but in many cases the differences are very small. With Forza 7, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a game that looks better on any platform (yes, that includes PC). Looking at Call of Duty WWII, there are improvements, and you can see a difference between the original Xbox One and Xbox One X, but you need to really look to see these differences.
One place I definitely noticed an improvement in most games is with loading times. Every game I played saw at least a couple seconds faster loads. While it doesn’t sound like much, quite a few Xbox One games had unwieldy waits, and anything you can shave off is a good thing. It does make me wish Microsoft included an SSD with the One X, as it’d be easy to imagine loading times that rival PC games.
All in all, I have to say that the Xbox One X does live up Microsoft’s claims, but it’s really early in it’s life to say whether this will change games too much. Once developers have had more time to create games with the One X and PS4 Pro in mind, we’ll be able to form a better judgement. It’ll also be interesting to see if Microsoft leverages the power of the Xbox One X to bring virtual reality that rivals the PC to it.
As far as the physical console itself, I have nothing but positives to say about it. It’s smaller than the original Xbox One, the PS4 Pro, and of course, most PCs. It’s dimensions are 11.8×9.5×2.4 inches (compared to the PS4 Pro’s 12.8×11.6×2.1 inches). In spite of the smaller form factor, it actually has an internal power supply, meaning you can do away with that giant brick.
It’s a very heavy and dense feeling console, coming with a weight of 8.4 pounds (compared to the PS4 Pro’s 7.2 pounds). When you first pull it out of the box, its weight feels shocking because the console is so small.
As for the look, Microsoft went with a very minimalist style. It’s just a low-profile black box. Personally, I like the look of the Xbox One S better, as it popped a little more, but that’s all a matter of personal preference.
The controller is more or less the same as it’s always been, but it does have a slightly rougher texture than the launch one, and that provides a bit of extra grip. I also found that the material of the controller caused less hand sweat, which is always a welcome improvement.
I feel so conflicted when it comes to making a recommendation on the Xbox One X. On the one hand, there’s literally nothing wrong with the console itself. As advertised, it’s the most powerful console on the market. It runs nice and cool, games look great, and it’s a damn nice looking box. On the other hand, there just aren’t enough showpiece games on it to make spending $500 a smart investment right now.
I fully expect that when I look back on this review a year from now, I’ll be singing a completely different tune on the game issue (or at least, I hope I will be).
If you don’t already have an Xbox One, and you own a 4K TV, then consider the newest model as a way of future-proofing your gaming. If you only have a 1080p TV, you will see some benefit from the One X, but probably not enough to justify the fact that it costs twice as much as the Xbox One S. If you already own an Xbox One, you should just stick with the one you have until we see what other games come and what they look like. It’s just not worth upgrading at this point.