The Xbox One X: The Gizmodo Review

Here's a fact rarely discussed outside of super nerdy gaming circles. The guts of your video game console actually matter. Once upon a time games were designed to run the same on every console and, in some cases (like the massive multiplayer first person shooter Destiny 2), games are still designed that way. But most games have what is called a "dynamic resolution" with the resolution shifting on a spectrum from as 720p to 4K depending on the scene.

Thus the more powerful the console the higher and more consistent the resolution of the game you are playing will be. Want something close to consistent 4K without spending a grand on a PC gaming rig? You need a powerful console.

That's where the new $649 Xbox One X comes in. This is the most powerful gaming console built thus far, and because of that you will, without a doubt, get the closest experience to PC gaming you can get without spending all your time and money on an actual PC rig.

It's even got a lot of PC games! Thanks to Microsoft's Xbox Play Anywhere program, there's a whole slew of great games you can play on your Xbox or your PC (I'm personally addicted to Cuphead). The Xbox has also secured some decent console exclusives, like the aforementioned Cuphead, Life is Strange: Before the Storm, and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. If you can ignore that fact that all your friends probably have a PlayStation and enjoy PS exclusives like Horizon Zero Dawn and Uncharted 4, then the Xbox One X is nearly perfect gaming console.

Besides being the most powerful console made to date, and it's smaller than both the Xbox One S and the Playstation 4 Pro. If you play on PC because you want the prettiest possible experience, then the Xbox One X will give you a hassle-free version of that experience most of the time (PC gaming has an uncapped framerate, while an Xbox One X won't go above 60fps -- which could be a problem if you play fighting games where a single frame is the difference between winning and losing).

If the game you're playing is "Xbox One X enhanced" -- it will say on the box when you buy it -- it will play back at up to 4K at 60 frames per second and with HDR. And if the game isn't Xbox One X enhanced, then the Xbox One X will upscale it very nicely, giving you an experience almost as crisp and vibrant as if it were being played back natively.

Some how despite being the most powerful, it's also the smallest of the three consoles.

Besides delivering nearly as good a picture quality as a high-end gaming PC, the picture also looks a little nicer than what I get out of my Playstation 4 Pro. That console is Sony's 4K HDR box, and it's not quite as powerful as the Xbox One X. They both handle HDR well, which means better graphics -- in Assassin's Creed Origins light reflects of water more naturally and seems to drift through the open weave of my cloak more realistically. But the PS4 Pro simply doesn't appear to upscale content to 4K as nicely. You might not even notice unless you're a nerd who likes to sit close to the screen and flip between the same scene in the original Destiny on both consoles over and over again, but yeah, there's a little blur to the playback on the Playstation 4 Pro. The graphics just aren't as crisp ones the Xbox One X.

But, again, neither the $559 Playstation 4 Pro nor the $649 Xbox One X plays back content as nicely as my PC with its $600 CPU and $800 video card. If you want the very best visual quality then spending a grand or more on a PC will do the job. But people don't buy consoles for the very best visual quality! They buy a console because they want a perfect blend of a price, quality, and ease of use. Consoles are cheaper and faster to set up, and, for most people, the visual quality of the games is good enough. That's why your console doesn't give you a static 4K resolution, but instead dynamically adjusts up to 4K depending on the scene.

Big black box.

And when you consider dynamic 4K resolution, and the power required to get as close to 4K as often as possible, then the Xbox One X is easily the best blend of price to quality you can find in a gaming console right now.

Particularly as it isn't just a console. Besides handling video games and most of the major streaming apps (including Netflix and Amazon Prime), the Xbox One X, like its cheaper sibling the Xbox One S, also plays 4K Blu-rays -- Blu-rays that support 4K, HDR, and an ultrawide colour gamut. Blu-rays might not be the coveted media format DVDs and VHS were, but when I play back Star Trek Beyond on a UHD Blu-ray the picture is far better than when I stream it. I feel like I can make out every single star as the Enterprise zooms by, and, thanks to the wider colour gamut even the Star Trek Beyond logo pops more on Blu-Ray. It's kind of crazy how much better a UHD Blu-ray is than streaming.

As with all other Xbox One consoles, there's and HDMI In port for connecting to your cable box.

But the Xbox One X isn't just the fastest console with the best graphics, it's also the most expensive console available right now. Hell at $649 it's twice the price of the $329 Xbox One S, which also supports UHD Blu-rays, 4K, and HDR. The big difference between the two is that the Xbox One X can upscale media to 4K and it can hit 4K more consistently on newer games.

So should you actually buy this pinnacle of game console design? If you're Xbox obsessed and need the best quality playback than yes, go buy it right now and marvel at how much prettier light reflects of water and blood splashes onto walls. If you're dedicated to the PlayStation, clearly, do not. You've made your choice already.

The same can be said if all your friends have PS4s, and you're planning on a lot of multiplayer Destiny or FIFA. The Xbox One X is very good, but you can't play friends on the PlayStation or PC, and, as we've noted before, there are twice as many PlayStation 4 consoles out there than Xbox One consoles. So the pool of potential multiplayers is much larger.

Who this system is really for is the PC gamer that is willing to compromise (and doesn't mind playing with a controller instead of a mouse and keyboard). The $649 Xbox One X has the best graphics available, in one of the smallest packages short of the Nintendo Switch. It can play nearly all the same games as a PC, and you usually only have to buy those games once for both systems. This is a dream-like halfstep for a PC gamer looking to wade into consoles or a console gamer pondering the expensive move to PCs. The Xbox One X will never be the most popular gaming console of this 8th generation, but it sure will produce some of the prettiest games.

README

  • It's smaller than the Xbox One S and the Playstation 4, which is very nice.
  • The 4K upscaling is definitely superior to what you get on the Playstation 4 Pro, and it will even play back games sharper on a 1080p set than an older Xbox One or Xbox One S.
  • Unfortunately its not as good for multiplayer as there are twice as many players on Playstations.
  • And it's $649.

Comments

    Much better review than Serrell's offer on Kotaku!! His main issue was not being able to locate the settings menu.
    As I live in Melb, I have to wait until Wednesday to get my Scorpio. 'Effin' horses!!

      Stupid question, but why is Melbourne only getting it Wednesday?
      I'm in Perth and it's out tomorrow (Tuesday) and we never get anything on time!

        Today is Melbourne Cup Day! Public holidays for sports!

    "If you're dedicated to the PlayStation, clearly, do not. You've made your choice already."

    To all but the most hardened fanboy, that's all the more reason to buy a One X - why not have the best of both systems? I own both - couldn't be happier.

      Or, you know, you could own a PC.

      Absolutely kicking myself laughing at how Sony and Microsoft are now having hardware wars in the console market. The whole attraction for console gaming was having a set load out of hardware developers would optimise the games for, setting a low entry barrier for lounge gamers who scoffed at the idea of buying a PC because you had to keep upgrading.

      Welcome to the upgrade boat console gamers, but don't think you'll be considered equal peers by your PC owning compatriots.

        Um, pretty sure people have varying reasons for why they prefer console gaming to PC.

        I don't think any of them cares that they're "not equal peers by [their] PC owning compatriots." I know I don't care, and I've been PC gaming for nearly 30 years.

        Having a new hardware profile (a SINGLE new hardware profile) is about as difficult to accommodate as developers offering multiple graphical detail options for PC users. The ridiculous PC upgrade cycle dropped off with the rise of the 360/PS3 era and hasn't come back - but GPUs are now more expensive thanks to cryptocurrency mining operations, so the console probably still comes out ahead for buy-in price.

        Either way, they target two different types of end user, so nobody really cares about "equal peers".

        As a PC gamer, can I just say that PC gamers like you we do not need. "Considered equal peers" because of what people play video games on? God thats one of the saddest things Ive ever read.

          It was an outsiders perspective pointing out the thing that made consoles great has now been ruined thanks to commercialism. At no point did I say I was either a PC gamer nor felt superior to console users. I'm personally a hearthstone on phone man through and through.

        1) Can't game with a mouse due to injuries, controller on a PC is really a single player experience only
        2) Plenty of console optimised games are still half arse ported to PC anyway (and don't the PC master race froth when street fighter is worse on PC than console?), so if they're the titles you want, PC isn't the platform for you.

        True, we don't have the latest and greatest graphics, but it's a nice mix between performance, quality and easy of use. I cannot stand to play with KB/M. I've always found controllers much easier. Especially for people who just want an easy to use gaming system and already have a pc that does everything they want, gaming consoles do the job.

    Yea Serrell's review was a little off... The current menu system applies to all xbox consoles not just this one, so it was really redundant point to make imo.

    I also live in Melbourne, and have to wait till Wednesday. Not complaining though i still get a day off.

    How exactly is it not as good at multiplayer due to the number of consoles out in the market? If that impacted my ability to find games i would agree but it doesnt. Xbox live as a service is miles better than psn so im not understanding that point.

    AU Editor's Note: edited to comply with our Community Guidelines -- Cam

      Just using BF4 as an example (I play it quite a bit on Xbone!) if you look at this population tracker you can see that there are generally 50-100% more players on PS4/PS3 than Xbone / 360.

      I think the author was saying that if there are twice as many PS4's then there will be more players online and more of your friends on PSN than Xbox live (statistically). Which would in theory make for a better experience.

      I've never used PSN so can't comment on the experience compared to Xbox Live.

      https://battlefieldtracker.com/bf4/population?days=-1

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