The original Xbox One console found it hard to compete with the Sony PlayStation 4 because it came with a heavy price tag and specifications that weren’t very powerful, while the bundled Kinect accessory (for hands-free motion control in some games) only pushed up the price tag.
Kinect has since been shelved. And when Sony launched the slimmer PlayStation 4, Microsoft responded with its own slimmer variant of the Xbox One, the Xbox One S. It’s fair to say the One S didn’t turn too many heads.
But with the new Xbox One X, Microsoft has come up with by far the best response to Sony’s PlayStation line-up, including its direct rival, the PlayStation 4 Pro (Rs41,990).
It has so much power that the PlayStation 4 Pro isn’t a match on the specifications sheet. Microsoft uses a 2.3 GHz 8-core AMD Jaguar processor to power the Xbox One X, pairing it with 12 GB of GDDR5-type RAM. In comparison, Sony has used a processor that clocks a little lower at 2.1 GHz, and has 8 GB of GDDR5-type RAM.
The real comparison would actually be in terms of graphics hardware. Here, the Xbox One X packs in AMD graphics with 6 teraflops of graphics horsepower and 326 GB per second (GB/s) of memory bandwidth. Teraflops (also known as TFLOPs, which stands for trillion floating point operations per second) is the simplest way of measuring graphics power. At the same time, the memory bandwidth, rated in GB/s, tells you how quickly the graphics hardware can transfer the rendered frames through memory and out to the connected display. And the performance is fast. In comparison, the PlayStation 4 Pro has an AMD graphics chip rated at 4.2 teraflops and 218 GB/s of memory bandwidth—nearly 2 teraflops less than the Xbox One X.
It is incredible that Microsoft has managed to pack in so much power into a form factor that is even smaller than the Xbox One S, which was already compact in comparison to the original Xbox One. The One X is available only in black at the moment, unlike the white finish on the One S.
The other big design change is the positioning of the cooling fan. It is now at the rear instead of the top of the console. This means you will need to leave some space at the back of the Xbox One X for ventilation. During tests, the cooling fans were not noticeably loud, which is creditable given that many gaming PCs tend to struggle with fan noise as they ramp up to higher speeds in the midst of a game. The top panel of the Xbox One X does heat up, so it would be better not to put any gadgets or accessories on this.
True 4K gaming
The Xbox One X comes with the promise of “true 4K gaming” and HDR capabilities. At present, some of the games that tick off the true 4K and HDR checklist include Sea Of Thieves, Forza Motorsport 7, State Of Decay 2, Crackdown 3 and Super Lucky’s Tale. This console also supports Dolby Atmos sound technology, if you happen to own a home theatre system which supports it too.
Needless to say, the games designed specifically for the Xbox One X look great on a 4K TV with HDR support—for instance, Forza Motorsport 7 ticks off 4K with HDR and the smooth 60 fps frame rate. Many games—still not updated by developers—might boost the resolution artificially to 4K with HDR. These definitely look better and the visuals seem sharper than on the older Xbox One, which makes it a perfect partner for a 4K TV. We did not notice any frame rate or performance dips, though game loading times are not significantly faster than the Xbox One S.
The 4K Blu-Ray drive helps Microsoft position the Xbox One X as something more than just a gaming console. The PlayStation 4 Pro also has a Blu-Ray drive but that will not work with 4K Blu-Ray discs. The Xbox One X supports the HDR10 standard, which makes sense since it is more widely supported on the TVs we may now go in for. Streaming apps such as Netflix and Amazon Video fully support 4K and HDR on the console—though it may be akin to switching on a supercomputer to binge-watch the newest season of Santa Clarita Diet.
The Xbox One X has 1 TB storage space, which may seem a lot. If you are a hard-core gamer, however, or someone who has subscribed to the Xbox Game Pass service, the 4K textures and more mean games will take up a lot of space (Forza Motorsport 7, for instance, is a whopping 90 GB download). You’ll probably run out of storage space quicker than you expect.
Yes, the Xbox One X comes almost a year after the PlayStation 4 Pro, but it is a case of sweet redemption. Original Xbox One owners should queue up for an upgrade to the new Xbox, to complement their 4K TVs. For the Xbox One X is really setting the benchmark.