We got the chance to get up close and personal with the new Xbox One X. From the outside, there’s precisely nothing new to excite you. But inside, if you’ve got a 4K TV, you should be very, very interested.
The new Xbox looks almost identical to the Xbox One S. Around the front you’d be hard-pressed to differentiate it from the S and around the back, it’s effectively the same: a single HDMI output and a single HDMI input at the rear, two USB 3.0 ports on the back and one on the front, an infrared repeater and SP/DIF digital audio output, and an Ethernet port for wired internet. It’s under the hood that matters.
In a lot of ways, the One X is identical to the One S: it has a 4K UHD Blu-ray drive, for example, so it’ll make a good movie box for anyone that wants a single device that can also play games. The controller, we’re told, is a “very slightly different shade of black” to the One S, but otherwise it’s physically and electronically identical.
The One X may only be slightly slimmer and smaller in footprint than the One S it displaces at the top of Microsoft’s console hierarchy, but it has a lot more power under the hood. It’s over four times as powerful as the original Xbox One, which had an 853MHz GPU pushing 1.31 teraflops. The One X is a 1172MHz chip with a full 6 teraflops of graphics horsepower.
And that translates into the same games looking better, at higher frame rates and resolutions, with graphics overhead to spare. The Forza Motorsport 7 team, for example, said that the Xbox One X bumped their title up from 1080p60 to 4K60 with HDR, still with a 30 per cent overhead left to spare.
Watching a demo of Gears of War 4 enhanced for Xbox One X, it’s clear that game devs have used the extra grunt to good effect even on existing titles. Five — GoW4, Forza Horizon 3, Minecraft, Killer Instinct and Halo Wars 2 — will be updated to suit the One X’s extra graphics for free, and that’s good news if you’re an existing owner planning to upgrade to the new console.
Gears looks genuinely impressive for a console game — especially such a small console — with 4K and HDR (HDR-10) and a wide colour gamut. Forza Motorsport 7 looks just as good, and developers were rightly boasting about the fact that it’s a solid 60 frames per second thanks to that graphics overhead.
Anyone who watched Microsoft’s live stream will tell you that the company isn’t shy about calling it the most powerful console ever. That much is clear. And the games that Microsoft demoed on it were similarly some of the best looking console games I’ve seen.
A visually stunning title like Horizon Zero Dawn on the PS4 Pro is always going to look good, but it’s that extra iterative level of fidelity — things like extra lighting and shadow effects in a game like Forza — that will have to set the One X apart. Whether that’s enough to draw you away from a competition remains to be seen.
It’s interesting how similar the One X is to the One S, actually — it has an identical interface, nearly identical design, identical controller, and identical game library. It’s what the One X does on top of its console sibling, though, which is what will sell it to buyers who have 4K HDR TVs that they want to play games on.
Gizmodo travelled to E3 as a guest of Xbox.