Xbox Series X review: a next-gen PC

By | November 5, 2020
Xbox Series X review: a next-gen PC

Xbox Collection X overview: a next-gen PC

Microsoft’s new Xbox Collection X console is designed to usher in a brand new period of gaming. We affectionally name it the “subsequent gen” each time a giant leap in console {hardware} arrives, promising new video games and issues we’ve by no means seen earlier than. The Xbox Collection X will undoubtedly ship these in time, however for now, the large launch video games, flashy new graphics, and next-gen video games are nonetheless on their means.

Within the meantime, Microsoft has constructed what looks like an thrilling PC improve expertise in a console kind. The Xbox Collection X comes the closest I’ve ever witnessed to re-creating the superior PC expertise of taking part in video games, because of SSD storage, a much more highly effective CPU, 120Hz assist, and spectacular backward compatibility options that enhance present video games. That is all inside a $499 field that’s quieter and much simpler to make use of and preserve than the $3,000 gaming PC I constructed just a few weeks in the past.

There’s a motive the Xbox Collection X even seems like a PC — it’s as a result of it typically looks like one.

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The Xbox Collection X seems finest standing vertically.

Cool and quiet {hardware}

Microsoft has squeezed all the parts of the Xbox Collection X right into a boxy, rectangular, tower-like case. It seems like a compact PC however with an unassuming design that appears much better standing vertically than it does laying horizontally (identical to most PCs). The bottom of the Xbox Collection X isn’t detachable, and (not like the PS5) the console isn’t designed to be opened up. When positioned horizontally, it’s honest to say that the Xbox Collection X seems prefer it fell over with the bottom completely hooked up. I’m not in love with the design, however I’m additionally not bothered by it. It’s a black field you stick below your TV and overlook about, so long as you’re capable of match it below your TV.

There are two USB ports on the rear alongside an Ethernet port, a storage growth slot, and HDMI 2.1 out. On the entrance, there’s a single USB port and the 4K Blu-ray drive. Microsoft has additionally added raised Braille bumps subsequent to the ports on the Xbox Collection X, a pleasant contact for accessibility. I might have appreciated to have seen USB-C right here and even the intelligent HDMI passthrough system from the Xbox One days, however neither is a significant omission. Sadly, the Xbox Collection X doesn’t assist Wi-Fi 6, which might have been nice future-proofing for a lot of.

I haven’t observed any points with warmth or noise on the Collection X. Microsoft has positioned the Xbox Collection X exhaust fan on the prime, flanked by a inexperienced coating within the plastic cowl that makes it appear to be there’s an LED up prime. I’ve by no means as soon as heard this fan, which is stunning since my Xbox One X can get fairly loud in sure video games. But, the Collection X has remained silent all through the weeks I’ve been utilizing it. The warmth exhausting from the highest is similar to what I’ve felt on the Xbox One X, and it has by no means been too scorching to the touch.

It’s tough to evaluate mud buildup, noise, and followers in only a few weeks of use, however I don’t have any speedy causes for concern. I’ve largely been utilizing the Collection X exterior of a TV stand the place air can stream simply, so it hasn’t been squeezed inside a unit. I feel most individuals are going to want to consider positioning and airflow with these next-gen consoles, identical to you’d with an enormous gaming PC.

The one different {hardware} that’s new with the Xbox Collection X is the controller and the storage growth playing cards. (Extra on these within the subsequent part.) The up to date controller is similar to the Xbox One model, with an up to date D-pad, textured grips, and the addition of a brand new share button and a USB-C port. The share button permits you to rapidly share clips or screenshots with pals, very like on a PS4, whilst you’ll have to buy a chargeable play-and-charge equipment individually ($24.99) if you happen to actually wish to benefit from USB-C — the controller runs on AA batteries by default.

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The Xbox Collection X has a inexperienced impact up prime.

Storage and cargo occasions

Load occasions are extremely good on the Xbox Collection X in comparison with what we’re used to on present consoles. The Xbox Collection X makes use of a enormously improved CPU that works in tandem with the SSD to assist video games load far sooner than the present Xbox One X.

I’ve observed load time enhancements throughout each recreation I’ve used on the Collection X. Some are dramatically sooner when it comes to minutes saved ready for a recreation or a degree inside a recreation to load. Others are just a few seconds saved right here and there, however all of them add as much as extra time spent taking part in video games as a substitute of ready for them to load.

Xbox Collection X load occasions

Sport Xbox Collection X Xbox One X
Sport Xbox Collection X Xbox One X
CoD: Warzone 16 seconds 21 seconds
Crimson Lifeless Redemption 2 52 seconds 1 min, 35 seconds
The Outer Worlds 6 seconds 27 seconds
Evil Inside 2 33 seconds 43 seconds
Sea of Thieves 20 seconds 1 min, 21 seconds
Warframe 25 seconds 1 min, 31 seconds
AC: Odyssey 30 seconds 1 min, 7 seconds
No Man’s Sky 1 min, 27 seconds 2 minutes, 13 seconds
Future 2 43 seconds 1 min, 52 seconds

I’m used to the speedy load occasions from PC SSDs, however I’m nonetheless impressed with the Collection X load occasions. Video games like Sea of Thieves and Future 2 load in lower than half the time they do on the Xbox One X. Even older video games like GTA V load quite a bit sooner than earlier than.

Whereas the Xbox Collection X comes geared up with 1TB of storage, you possibly can solely use 802GB of it. That’s really barely greater than the 780GB of usable area on the Xbox One X, even with Microsoft reserving area for the OS and new Fast Resume characteristic that permits you to swap between video games in round 10 seconds or much less.

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Xbox Collection X storage defaults.

Microsoft can be utilizing a proprietary storage growth slot on the Xbox Collection X, and thus far, solely Seagate has been confirmed as a companion for the $219.99 1TB playing cards that slot into the rear of the console. The usable area on these playing cards is 920GB as, as soon as once more, area is reserved for Fast Resume.

Video games which have been particularly up to date for the Xbox Collection X make use of Microsoft’s new Velocity Structure to get essentially the most efficiency out of the system’s SSD, so you possibly can’t run them off USB storage. The overwhelming majority of backward-compatible video games, nevertheless, don’t use Velocity Structure, which means they are often performed straight off a USB drive — until they get a Collection X replace sooner or later.

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Warframe load time enhancements.

Which means plenty of the speedy load time enhancements are because of the SSD and CPU alone, not the brand new APIs Microsoft has carried out that ought to enhance load occasions much more sooner or later. It additionally signifies that if a few of your older video games don’t get up to date for the Velocity Structure, then you may simply run them freely from USB storage. You’ll see loads of load time enhancements this manner — offering you’re utilizing quick USB SSD storage drives — and a few could even come very near the occasions you’ll see utilizing the inner drive.

Optimized video games and 120Hz modes

These load occasions and CPU enhancements, alongside a giant bump to 12 teraflops of GPU efficiency, all contribute to an expertise in present video games that feels quite a bit smoother. That would imply a soar from 30fps to 60fps in video games like Fallout 4, or menus and planet load occasions in Future 2 instantly being on par with PC.

These enhancements additionally imply that almost all titles with poor efficiency on an Xbox One ought to hit a secure 30fps on the minimal. Quite a lot of body charge drops that I’ve seen in video games on the Xbox One X have merely disappeared with the Xbox Collection X, because of the {hardware} increase. I’ve observed Apex Legends, Warframe, and Future 2 all dipping much less at demanding factors.

Various Xbox Collection X optimization patches can be out there when the console launches on November tenth, and I’ve had an opportunity to check each Sea of Thieves and Forza Horizon 4. Each video games are remodeled by these updates, transferring from 30fps to 60fps. Sea of Thieves looks like a brand new recreation because of this, or such as you’re taking part in on a PC. That’s how dramatic the shift from 30fps to 60fps feels.

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The brand new 120Hz choice on the Xbox Collection X.

Even backward compatibility assist will get a powerful increase. The Xbox 360 model of Grand Theft Auto IV now runs tremendous easily on the Xbox Collection X locked at 60fps, whereas the Xbox One X typically struggled to take care of that 60fps efficiency. Grand Theft Auto IV additionally advantages from the auto HDR characteristic that Microsoft is transport with the Xbox Collection X, that can work on most video games to make them look even higher.

Alongside the optimization patches, essentially the most thrilling video games I’ve examined thus far on the Xbox Collection X are Filth 5 and Gears 5 — not as a result of they’re essentially technical showcases for the console, however as a result of each supply a brand new 120Hz choice.

That is the place the Xbox Collection X actually began to really feel much more PC-like to me. I play at 165Hz with body charges that exceed 200fps in video games like Future 2, Valorant, Name of Obligation: Warzone, and CS:GO on my gaming PC. I personally worth body charges over visible high quality, so I recurrently drop settings to get as many frames as potential. Working across the versus multiplayer mode in Gears 5 in 120Hz looks like I’m taking part in on my PC. With body charges hitting 120fps, enter lag is lowered, and the expertise is instantly a lot smoother than what I’ve ever skilled on any Xbox earlier than.

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Gears 5 helps 120Hz in multiplayer.

That very same feeling of PC-like smoothness performs out in Filth 5 with the 120Hz mode enabled. The general visible high quality drops to realize 120fps, however after I’m sliding round corners, the enter latency is lowered, and I worth that over some mud and snow rendering simply that little higher on my 4K TV.

It’s that feeling that’s actually vital with this new Xbox, and I can’t stress it sufficient. Video games really feel higher. Whether or not that’s due to load occasions, higher body charges, or just the CPU, SSD, and higher GPU making issues like menus or character adjustments in video games really feel instantaneous, plenty of the sluggishness has been eliminated with out builders even having to the touch video games.

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Filth 5 video choices.

Larger body charges are clearly a give attention to the Xbox Collection X, however some video games will favor new ray-tracing methods as a substitute. Watch Canine: Legion is an effective instance, as it would run at 30fps on the Xbox Collection X with ray tracing enabled. The Watch Canine: Legion patch for Collection X wasn’t out there in time for overview, so ray tracing continues to be largely a thriller on the Xbox Collection X proper now.

I’m additionally inspired to see {that a} alternative is rising in Xbox video games. That’s one thing we’ve seen in current-gen video games, with video choices like FOV sliders you usually solely discover on PCs. Filth 5 and Gears 5 are good examples of this alternative, permitting you to allow a 120Hz mode for the upper body charges and smoother gameplay or give attention to a 4K goal with picture high quality prioritized.

I’m hoping we see these selections on many optimized Xbox Collection X titles sooner or later.

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The Xbox Collection S and Xbox Collection X.

Fast Resume and the Xbox dashboard

Whereas the {hardware} and expertise of gaming have modified on the Xbox Collection X, the dashboard stays the identical. Microsoft is maintaining the identical Xbox One dashboard that exists at present, with just a few visible adjustments the corporate has been engaged on in current months.

It looks like Microsoft has been tweaking the Xbox One dashboard ever because the disastrous launch of the console again in 2013, and never a yr goes by with out an overhaul. I feel it’s undoubtedly in significantly better form as of late, however I nonetheless discover the information complicated to make use of at occasions.

A lot of the huge points I had with the Xbox One dashboard have disappeared, although. Pace and reliability issues have vanished, and, like video games, the dashboard feels simply that bit extra responsive on the Xbox Collection X. A brand new retailer interface, additionally out there on the Xbox One, has undoubtedly helped. It’s clear Microsoft has taken the suggestions and made some significant adjustments in current months, however I’d nonetheless like to simply be capable of pin my favourite apps and video games on the prime of the house interface as a substitute of seeing lately used ones that rotate ceaselessly. Microsoft may nonetheless do with providing extra customization choices right here and simplifying the interface additional.

You do get the advantages of a dashboard that feels immediately acquainted if you happen to’re coming from an Xbox One, however with out the enjoyable and fanfare {that a} new UI entails. Due to the sooner parts contained in the Xbox Collection X, now you can boot from chilly (not standby) in round 20 seconds. That could be sufficient for some to show off the moment standby choice in favor of some vitality invoice financial savings and the well being of our planet. Additionally, the boot animation now not has an accompanying sound so loud it makes you’re feeling like your own home is falling down.

The most important new addition to the Xbox Collection X dashboard over the Xbox One is Fast Resume. It’s a characteristic that permits you to change between video games in round 10 seconds or much less. The timing will differ per recreation, as will the variety of video games you possibly can change between and rapidly resume. I’ve been capable of recurrently swap between 5 video games freely, however the quantity will differ on titles.

It even works after reboots or updates, and it’s nice to simply flip a console off and never have to fret about save factors. When Fast Resume works, it really works very well, nevertheless it doesn’t appear to work on all video games. I’ve not been in a position to make use of it with Forza Horizon 4, Watch Canine: Legion, Sea of Thieves, or GTA V. Microsoft continues to be working to allow Fast Resume on numerous video games as a consequence of a “lately found platform bug,” so updates ought to arrive after launch. Whereas most video games ought to assist Fast Resume, it’s nonetheless not clear which lacking ones will get up to date.

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Fast Resume on the Xbox Collection X.

Whereas I bumped into numerous Fast Resume bugs on an Xbox Collection X preview unit, I haven’t had as many issues on the retail {hardware}. Gears 5 has did not resume or the audio has crackled because it resumes, however most video games appear to renew effectively. I’ve had Fast Resume factors simply disappear, although. I feel Fast Resume is the very best a part of the Xbox Collection X, however there are clearly some early bugs that also have to be squashed. I additionally want Microsoft had offered some approach to handle Fast Resume or to know which video games are in a suspended state.

The ultimate a part of the dashboard I wish to contact on is sharing clips and screenshots. Microsoft made a giant deal a couple of new share button on the Xbox Collection X controller, nevertheless it’s completely let down by the dashboard. It nonetheless takes far too lengthy for clips and screenshots to be uploaded to Microsoft’s Xbox Reside service so that you can share them.

It is a drawback that exists on the Xbox One, and I’ve needed to wait minutes for clips to be out there regardless of having a quick 1Gbps add at house. On my gaming PC, I can immediately stream clips or my display to pals on Discord, and the Xbox course of simply feels previous and sluggish compared.

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The Xbox Collection X additionally has a 4K Blu-ray drive.

The texture of a PC

Microsoft’s intention with this new technology is to deliver a PC-like expertise to a console. You possibly can really feel it all through the Collection X and even the smaller Collection S. Should you upgraded from a GTX 1060 gaming PC to an RTX 3080 PC proper now, you’d get the identical Home windows 10 and entry to the identical video games you’ve been taking part in for years. Every part would simply really feel sooner and look higher, and also you’d be prepared for the most recent and biggest video games.

That’s precisely what you get with the Xbox Collection X. Not solely does it really feel such as you’re upgrading your PC if you happen to transfer from an Xbox One to an Xbox Collection X, nevertheless it feels and appears prefer it. (Hi there, PC tower design.) You’re taking every little thing you already personal, even present {hardware} equipment, and also you deliver them together with you, identical to you do on a PC.

It’s a special strategy to Sony with the PS5 and its devoted unique next-gen video games, new dashboard UI, and new controller. Microsoft has targeted on the fundamentals that actually matter: excessive body charges, a quiet and funky console, sooner load occasions, accent assist, and backward compatibility. In my three weeks of utilizing an Xbox Collection X, it’s honest to say it has delivered on these fundamentals.

However the very best half concerning the Xbox Collection X is that it’s not really a PC. I don’t have to fret about drivers, copious recreation launchers, or Home windows updates ruining how my PC works. You flip the Xbox on, and also you play video games. If builders embrace the selection and efficiency choices I’ve skilled on the Collection X, I’d actually be tempted to play way more on an Xbox with crossplay, cross-save, and keyboard and mouse assist all changing into extra outstanding on Xbox.

There’s one huge query that continues to be for me with the Xbox Collection X: when will Microsoft’s 23 first-party studios ship the next-gen video games to really present what this console is able to? Highly effective {hardware} and a glossy person expertise are solely a part of the combo. Microsoft will want the video games to essentially make the Collection X really feel like one thing brand-new.

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