Next-gen is finally here after months of waiting. Both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X have launched, introducing players to a brand new generation of gaming. That means that players can finally experience the faster load times, higher frame rates, and better resolutions. Of course, the Xbox Series X also comes with a variety of additional features like ray tracing and Quick Resume.
But just how much of a step forward is the new console? The truth is, Microsoft’s system is a huge improvement over the Xbox One. Yet, it might not be worthwhile for everyone to upgrade right now. Most players will probably be able to wait for developers to really get to grips with the new hardware.
Full specs for Xbox Series X
The Xbox Series X boasts slightly more impressive specs than the PlayStation 5. It also comes with a 1TB solid-state drive, although players will only have around 800GB free to use. That’s because 14% of the total space is reserved for the operating system and features like Quick Resume.
The full specs are as follows:
- Custom AMD Zen 2 CPU (8 cores @ 3.8GHz)
- Custom AMD RDNA 2 GPU (12 teraflops)
- 16GB GDDR6 RAM
- 1TB SSD
- 4K UHD Blu-ray drive
- 4K at 60fps, up to 120fps or 8K
Design and shape
There is no getting away from the fact that the Xbox Series X is a big console. It’s almost twice the size of the original Xbox One and comfortably larger than the Xbox Series S. But it is also not quite as big or heavy as the PlayStation 5. In my opinion, it also has a better design than Sony’s new system.
The black coloring and minimalist style makes it an easy fit into most home setups. Especially when compared to the rather controversial design of the PlayStation 5. The shape also allows the Xbox Series X to run whisper quiet. Even during extended play sessions, the console does not seem to get hot or become excessively loud. It can also easily lie on its side without any modification.
The Xbox Series X also comes with a brand new controller. There’s no question that the wireless gamepad is an improvement over the standard Xbox One controller. Despite the fact it is not as advanced as the Elite controller, it feels good and works well. The most obvious enhancement is the d-pad, which now has a much better feel.
Of course, the Xbox Series X also comes with a major advantage in that it supports older peripherals. Players can connect Xbox One accessories and controllers to the Xbox Series X without issue. This is a great decision and ensures customers won’t have to invest extra money.
Dashboard and user interface
For the most part, the Xbox Series X interface is pretty much what users will be familiar with. The dashboard and menus are very much the same as in the Xbox One. At least, that’s true for the most part. Microsoft seems to have aimed for a policy of continuity and evolution rather than revolution. While this might disappoint some players it does make a lot of sense. After all, Microsoft is embracing things like Smart Delivery and Game Pass. The company wants to build an Xbox brand that encompasses PC, mobile devices, and of course dedicated consoles. So, sticking with the familiar dashboard makes a lot of sense.
Although the interface is more of the same, it has some notable improvements. Switching between the different sections, such as the Microsoft Store, is significantly quicker. The menus feel snappier and there is less loading. Another addition is the fact that the console can be set up using a mobile device. That makes inputting your account details and getting the settings sorted far easier than ever before.
Microsoft’s other big improvement in terms of system features is Quick Resume. This essentially lets you have several different games open and ready to play. Game states are saved to the SSD and can be launched from where you last left off. This is a great tool for when you have multiple different games that you play regularly. However, it is not a perfect feature and can sometimes fail to work properly. But when it does perform flawlessly, it is a very welcome addition.
How the games play
Perhaps the most noticeable performance gain in terms of the games themselves is the load times. The Xbox Series X is incredibly fast, with titles loading in a fraction of the time they normally would. In some instances, the new system can reduce load times by dozens of seconds. It means that players can jump into the action quicker and spend less time waiting around.
Although the Xbox Series X is capable of supporting frame rates of up to120 fps, this is not common. For the vast majority of players, the best mode will be playing at 4K resolution at 60fps. Most of the time, the console manages to achieve this without any issue.
The console does give users lots of options. Those who prefer a smoother gameplay experience can switch to 120fps in certain games. This sacrifices the resolution, though, so it’s a toss-up between visual quality or performance. Meanwhile, ray tracing is a high-quality inclusion that can be immediately seen in games.
Ultimately, the Xbox Series X feels like a significant improvement over the Xbox One. It has faster load times and better performance when running games.
But the package can feel a bit underwhelming. This is largely a result of the system simply lacking any great first-party exclusive. So, despite the fact that it is a brilliant next-gen console, the best of the Xbox Series X is yet to come.
Gaming enthusiasts who want to get the very best out of their library will want to upgrade. Yet, everyone else might be better off waiting until 2021 until moving into the next generation of gaming.