Whether you’re a seasoned professional gamer or simply an avid technology enthusiast, there is something for everyone to admire in Microsoft’s latest console, the Xbox One X. The console has the most powerful hardware a gaming console has ever seen. Designed to have hardware close to that of dedicated gaming PCs, the One X can handle 4K and HDR enhanced gameplay and video playback, which naturally looks gorgeous if you own a compatible TV to view it on. Despite being the most expensive video game console to date, its beautiful design and capable hardware are worth the cost for gamers who are ready to invest in a high-end, immersive gaming experience.
The console’s predecessor, the Xbox One S, made a splash with its svelte appearance; with the One X, it feels like Microsoft opted for minimalism over flash. The X is the smallest Xbox console so far, but it’s also the densest, weighing roughly 2 pounds more than the S. The small perforations that enveloped the One S and doubled as visual texture and ventilation now only wrap around the sides of the One X, leaving its top plain matte black. Note that if you’re wanting to stand the console on its side, doing so will effectively halve its air intake. Nonetheless, it is designed to run silently and stay cool, thanks to its liquid cooling system and supercharger-style centrifugal fan.
On the inside of the Xbox One X is where things get really exciting. The impressive AMD Polaris GPU with 6 teraflops of computing power gives you additional power for playing your favorite 4K titles. Backed by its 2.3GHz eight-core AMD Jaguar processor, 12GB of GDDR5 RAM, 8GB of flash memory and a standard 1TB of HDD storage, you can bet it’ll keep up with intensive 4K gaming sessions – better than any other console ever made.
The front of the device has a clean look and has a disc slot along with all the standard buttons for power and remote syncing, along with the IR blaster and a USB 3.0 port. On the back of the console, you have the power port, the HDMI out and in ports, two additional USB 3.0 ports, IR out, S/PDIF and an Ethernet port. It has dual band wireless with Wi-Fi Direct, so you can easily connect it to your home network.
The console’s interface is pretty and gives you plenty to customize and browse through. Its layout is intuitive and organized for the most part and, despite feeling a bit cluttered at times, provides a polished user experience overall. The X’s powerful processor makes switching between pages (or programs) smooth, unlike the lag-ridden transitions of previous consoles. All of this comes together, of course, creating a premium machine that’s always up to the task.
The included wireless controller resembles its previous version, maintaining the textured grip, Bluetooth connectivity and solid wireless range. If you want an upgrade, the Xbox Design Lab lets you create a personalized controller from over a billion custom color combinations. Or, if you’re a pro gamer (or simply like to pretend that you are), consider the Elite wireless controller, which gives you improved performance and comfort, interchangeable paddles and buttons, extensively customizable button-mapping, and high-grade construction that can withstand use by competitive gamers.
Xbox consoles have never been known for their plentiful collection of exclusive game titles, especially in comparison with other major consoles like PlayStation. Despite this, the few exclusives they do have are popular, time-tested favorites such as Halo, Gears of War, Forza and Titanfall. You’ll even have access to new 4K exclusives, which include Crackdown 4, Forza Motorsport 7, Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2 and Super Lucky’s Tale. However, since Microsoft has failed to produce a VR component for its consoles, you won’t have any access to VR gaming with this console. Other manufacturers, like Sony, have had VR units out for some time.
It’s worth mentioning that whatever Microsoft’s consoles lack in exclusives, it more than makes up for with its impressive catalog of backward-compatible titles. You’ll have access to popular older titles like Red Dead Redemption, GTA IV, Bayonetta and Skate 3, alongside hundreds of other AAA and indie titles. The list includes games like retro arcade classics, puzzles, shooters and dungeon crawlers, letting you and your family build your own ideal game library. Also keep in mind that 4K titles and other standard-definition games with huge file sizes will quickly eat into the single-terabyte hard drive. Though that’s plenty of storage for most users, serious gamers may want to invest in extra storage.
When you want to take a break from gaming, or if you just aren’t the gamer in your family, there’s still plenty to do with an Xbox. There are tons of downloadable apps you can choose from, including ones for streaming video – such as YouTube, Netflix, Crunchyroll and Amazon Video – and others for listening to your favorite music, like Spotify, Pandora or SoundCloud. Of course, you’ll also have access to tons of apps for sports, gaming streams, premium TV, news and Skype.
Despite the Xbox One X being the priciest premium console on the market, it’s also the most powerful and futureproofed option available. It’s well-balanced in its gaming and multimedia functionality and packs impressive top-notch hardware into a minimalist console with a slim footprint. Though the One X’s main selling point revolves around its impressive 4K and HDR capabilities – which requires you to have a compatible TV and other accessories in order to fully realize its potential – it is also extremely fun for serious gameplay.