This is the second part of my acquaintance and experience of using Microsoft’s next-generation consoles. Today we will talk about the older model in this line – the Xbox Series X. As you can remember, at the end of the article about the Xbox Series S, I wrote that it would become a transitional option one day I will switch to Series X. Now it happened, albeit earlier than I bargained for. I wanted better graphics quality and full 4K support. And here, Series X did not disappoint, but first things first. I note right away that this article will not be an overview in the usual sense, but an experience of operating a personal console. In Xbox Series X review, we will talk about the differences between the older and younger models. And I hope that this material will allow you to make the right choice.
Xbox Series X Review – Foreword
It would seem that changing one console to another after a month and a half after purchase is, to put it mildly, strange. Yes, I agree. The reason why I didn’t buy the Xbox Series X right away, I already described in the article about Series S. At the end of November 2020, the junior console from Microsoft was already worth good money for me. However, the older one was still downright indecent. The price for the Series X has become relatively adequate, and I decided to replace it. As for the PlayStation 5, after getting to know the Series S, I didn’t think about it anymore. In short, why not a Sony console? The main reasons are the cost of games and the more familiar shape of the gamepad.
Xbox Series X Review – Equipment
The package is the same as the Series S: console, gamepad, a pair of disposable Duracell batteries to power the gamepad, HDMI 2.1 cable, and power cable. Despite the difference in size, the boxes from Microsoft consoles are almost identical in size. I don’t cite the kit photos since it is similar to Series S, and the console came to me in a very shabby box.
Xbox Series X Review – Gamepad
The same gamepad comes with both models of the console, and the only difference is in colour. Series S comes in white, and Xbox Series X comes in black. These are identical models. But, as it turned out, there may be a difference in quality between the same gamepad. For example, after several weeks of using the Series S, its gamepad crunched perceptibly in the hands when the grips were firmly gripped. The Series X copy doesn’t have this problem.
Overall, these are very comfortable gamepads, and the presence of textured surfaces and triggers has made them more grippy than previous generations of Xbox gamepads. In addition to the changed plastic texture, the gamepad got a new button for quick screenshots and, in general, that’s it. I should note that in dynamic games, the sticks and buttons are quite noisy.
Still, the gamepad doesn’t come with a rechargeable battery. The choice of power source remains with the owner of the console. These can be disposable batteries, rechargeable batteries, a proprietary Microsoft battery with the ability to charge via a Type-C cable. On the one hand, a gamepad from Microsoft requires additional financial investments, and on the other hand, it provides more choice to its user. In turn, I previously perceived this negatively, but having purchased a set of rechargeable batteries, I changed my mind on this matter.
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Xbox Series X Review – Design and layout
It may seem strange, but even in the younger Series S, there is more design than in the Series X. If the Series S looks at least partially attractive due to the combination of white and black, then Series X surpassed everyone in terms of minimalism.
On the other hand, we are interested in how the set-top box works, and not how it looks. Thanks to this most neutral design, it will fit into any interior and will remain invisible. By the way, the design was ridiculed by all and sundry, and Microsoft reacted to this with humour, releasing a full-fledged version of the refrigerator in the Series X design, albeit in limited quantities.
In appearance, Series X is the complete opposite of the PlayStation 5, which draws attention to itself both in design and size. Series X is about twice as thick as Series S and is just as heavy. It is less portable than the younger model, but if desired, it can be put even in a small backpack with a volume of 20 litres.
Despite the minimalism, there is something about the design that attracts attention – the vents under which the cooling fan is located. The green tint in the central part is just a colour, not a backlight, although, on the Internet, you can already find those who have replaced the fan with one with a backlight.
Compared to the Series S, the X is now oriented toward a vertical position, as hinted at by the circular base on one side of the box. Formally, the console can be put on its side, but this way it looks even worse, as for me.
In general, I have no complaints about the design of the Xbox Series X. The console is on the floor, I don’t notice it there, and it doesn’t attract attention to itself. In my opinion, it has another drawback – the soiled plastic of the case. Imprints on the case are not only easy to remain but also difficult to remove from it. Unfortunately, for the photoshoot for this article, I was not able to completely clean the box.
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Xbox Series X Review – Port set
Same as Series S. The rear panel houses a power connector, HDMI 2.1, a gigabit network port, two USB 3.0 ports, and a memory expansion slot.
There is a Blu-Ray disc slot, a disc eject button, another USB 3.0, and a gamepad quick-connect button on the front panel. It is also an infrared port for the remote control, which is purchased separately. The latter is not necessary since your smartphone can perform remote control with the Xbox application.
There is Wi-Fi of the 802.11ac standard and a radio channel for connecting a gamepad among the wireless interfaces. To connect accessories via Bluetooth, you will have to buy a special USB adapter.
Xbox Series X Review – Equipment and memory
The main difference between Xbox Series X and Series S is higher performance, native support for 4K (versus 1440p), and twice as large SSD-drive.
Xbox Series X starts up as quickly as the younger ones, and I didn’t notice any noticeable differences. The menu format is also the same, and it is now unified for all Microsoft consoles, which is still not the most intuitive menu (sometimes finding the settings item is another quest). Unfortunately, it is technically impossible to take a screenshot in the Xbox menu, but these are the same tiles familiar from Windows and previous generation consoles. The operating system allows you to install additional applications like YouTube, Netflix, or VLC player. Microsoft Edge is preinstalled for browsing.
The Xbox Series X includes a fast 1TB NVMe drive in terms of memory for storing games. But 802 GB is available to the user, which is noticeably higher than the 364 GB in Series S. The memory can be expanded with a special 1 TB card from Seagate. But its price is still quite high, on the other hand, judging by the tests, it works at the same speed as the built-in drive.
Capacity aside, the next-gen consoles SSD is commendable. Games start as fast as possible, load as fast as possible, even in games that have not yet been optimized for the new architecture. What is just the ability to quickly switch between games Quick Resume, when you can literally switch to another game within a few seconds, and you do not need to go to brew tea for this.
Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X have based on AMD Zen 2 architecture, including RDNA 2 graphics. In both cases, the CPU is equipped with 8 cores with a maximum frequency of 3.8 GHz (vs 3.6 GHz in Series S). The RAM/graphics memory is higher – 16 GB (versus 10 GB in the Series S).
The RDNA 2 graphics subsystem for the older console has become more powerful and consists of 50 computing units instead of 20 for the younger model. Their frequency is also higher – 1.8 GHz, versus 1.5 in Series S. The total graphics power is three times higher – 12 TFLOPS versus 4 in Series S. Accordingly, there is much more potential for 4K here.
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Xbox Series X Review – Xbox Remote Play
There is also a function for streaming games to mobile devices. For example, if you have the Xbox app installed on your smartphone or tablet, you can launch the game on the console, connect the controller to your smartphone, and play on the smartphone itself. But that’s in theory, as there has been an issue with the Xbox app on iOS for several months now that it doesn’t see the next-gen Microsoft connected controller.
Formally, the gamepad connects, but the application itself does not see it, so full-fledged remote gaming on the iPhone or iPad is impossible until Microsoft resolves this problem. In part, you can play remotely, but only if the gamepad is connected directly to the console, that is, in the field of view for the radio channel. In principle, it works, but the gameplay’s quality will directly depend on the channel’s speed to which the console and smartphone/tablet are connected.
Xbox Series X Review – Xbox Series X for 4K
I should note that if you are considering buying a console from Microsoft and are planning an upgrade to a 4K TV, or you already own one, then the Xbox Series X is by far the best option for this. Series S is not suitable for 4K, and when connected to a 4K monitor on the Xbox Series X, it felt like I was wearing glasses or using a Retina display – before that, everything was clear. Thanks to the full support for the 4K resolution.
If you have a FullHD TV or monitor, then the Series S is enough for this. It is worth remembering that the difference between the consoles is not only in the supported resolution but also in power, which allows you to process graphics with greater details and frame rates. And as the owner of both consoles, I can confidently say that this difference is often noticeable with the naked eye.
Xbox Series X Review – Performance
For example, in Forza Horizon 4, in addition to the higher resolution, the increased detail of the game world immediately catches the eye. As for the frame rate per second, I did not notice any drawdowns on the younger or even more on, the older model. This applies to graphically intensive projects such as Forza Horizon 4 or Gears 5. And during the game, there was no feeling that the console was working at the limit of its capabilities.
If the developers have displayed images at 60 fps, you can be sure that this is how the game will go. Xbox Series X can technically display up to 120 fps, but I could not verify this since there was no suitable monitor at hand. Of course, both graphics and performance in a particular game depend on how the developer has adapted it for the new generation. But the potential for the Xbox Series X is huge, and it can be felt.
The only thing is that adapted games for more powerful hardware need to continue to wait because updates of big hits are announced, basically, only for the second half of 2021. If the game was released for the Xbox One generation, you can be sure that it will launch in the maximum graphics for that generation and, often, very good.
A complete list of games adapted for the new generation of games can be found here.
Xbox Series X Review – Game pass
I decided to tell you a little more about Game Pass, as there were questions about this service in the comments to the Series S article. So, Game Pass is a subscription that allows you to play the games included in it without additional investments. Almost like Netflix. The cost at the moment is almost 300 UAH when converted from the Argentine currency.
That is, you don’t need to buy games to play them, but you don’t own them. To do this, you will already need to buy it at full cost. Game Pass is constantly updated with games, there are already many hits for older generations of the console, but you should not expect the most popular games to appear in the subscription.
For example, Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War, Assassins Creed Valhalla, Cyberpunk 2077, GTA 5, Red Dead Redemption 2 are still sold separately. There are many AAA projects among the games by subscription, such as Gears 5, Halo, Forza Motorsport 7, which are available for download. Game Pass also features many games from the Xbox 360 and even the original Xbox, thanks to backward compatibility. A list of backward compatible games can be found here.
Xbox Series X Review – Xbox Series X Noise and Heat
As with the Series S, Microsoft’s flagship console is almost completely silent in operation. The fan can be heard in operation only when switching on, and during operation – at a distance of up to 15 cm from the console, even after 8 hours of gaming sessions.
The Xbox Series X draws in cold air from the bottom on either side of the connectors, while hot air exits from the top. It seemed to me that the ventilation grill on top lacks a dust filter because the holes are large enough, and the fan is not protected by anything. Therefore, sometimes, but you will have to clean the cooling system. Also, avoid placing the console on a high pile carpet, which may partially block the cold air intake.
Xbox Series X Review – Conclusion
Now I can confidently say that I have Xbox Series X for a long time. I have no sense of compromise in using the console, as I did with the Series S. Excellent performance, graphics, complete silence, relatively inexpensive games, and a comfortable gamepad – what more could you ask for? I want game developers to adapt projects for the new generation of consoles quickly, but even without this, there is something to play. Everyone will answer the question “PlayStation or Xbox” for himself, but I made my choice and am delighted with it.