XBox One X Review: Your 4K TV’s best Friend
Is this the best 4K experience for your living room?
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
As a card-carrying member of the PC master race, I must admit that the current generation of gaming consoles are making compelling value propositions.
The performance gap between consoles and gaming PCs will always be there, but it is narrowing quickly with great strides made in hardware development. The “peasants” are revolting, and they are armed with toasters that can handle solid 4K gaming at half the price of a GTX 1070.
Spearheading the charge for dominance over our living rooms is Microsoft’s Xbox One X. Being touted as the most powerful gaming console ever made, will it be a literal game-changer in the console wars? Read on to find out.
Moving from the Xbox One S to the One X, upgrades to the internal components may seem incremental at first glance, but they are by no means unsubstantial. The new 8-core AMD Jaguar CPU and AMD Polaris GPU far outperform the old ones. You also get 12GB of GDDR5 RAM, which makes the 8GB DDR 3 stick on the One S look like an antique.
The most obvious benefit you get from the spec bump is the ability to natively run games in 4K 60 fps. As a PC gamer running a GTX 1080Ti rig, which by itself costs several times what you’d pay for the One X, I must say again how Impressed I am at the value you’re getting here.
Yes, my water-cooled PC still produces better details at more stable framerates on AAA titles that I’ve tested, especially with more graphics settings at my disposal. The One X however comes within spitting distance and handles itself with aplomb. The advanced vapor chamber cooling on the One X kept temperatures cooler than most gaming laptops at full steam and did so relatively quietly. I must say however, that the difference in gaming performance between the One X and its core rival, the PS4 Pro, is hard to visually discern.
I’m quite pleased that the Xbox One X comes stock with a 1TB hard drive. It certainly helps in maintaining a decent library of games and the high-resolution assets that come with them. Microsoft also claims that the HDD is 50% faster. While I was unable to verify such claims, load times were bearable in the open world games I played.
Being the only console on the market with 4K UHD Blu-ray playback support and with a whole host of 4K streaming apps you can download, the Xbox One X also brought a great cinematic experience to my living room. HDR 10 and Dolby Atmos support allowed me to make full use of my home theater hardware, bringing me a visual spectacle that also sounds great.
What really sets the Xbox One X apart from its console competitors though is the Xbox Play Anywhere feature which basically brings your entire Xbox game library to your PC. Xbox One X users benefit from the prevalence of Windows on gaming PCs by not having to repeat a game purchase for each platform. Sony and Nintendo are unable to offer the same feature for the foreseeable future.
Big performance in a tiny package.
For all intents and purposes, the Xbox One X looks almost identical to the older One S save for differences in color scheme and disk tray position. This is despite Microsoft marketing the One X as a more “premium” gaming console.
When you consider all the additional horsepower and cooling that the new model has, the tremendous engineering feat that went into the One X immediately becomes apparent. In terms of performance and design, it has come a long way from the original Xbox One. The relatively small footprint and new matte black finish ensures the One X won’t stand out in your living room.
In terms of ports, the One X is once again perfectly identical to the One S. This makes upgrading from the older model a breeze. You get an HDMI out, an HDMI in, three USB-A ports, an IR blaster, an audio port and an Ethernet port. You don’t get Kinect support out of the box though, if you’re into that sort of thing. I personally am not. What I did miss though was USB-C. At least one type-C port would have been nice to have, but the One X is basically par-for-the-course for gaming consoles.
Glad to say the Xbox One X did not redesign the wheel with its included controller. The stock Xbox One controller remains one of the most ergonomic on the market, especially for shooters. I like it so much, I even use it for PC gaming. Yet another thing that the Xbox One X has over its competitors is the seamless compatibility of its controllers with Windows devices. You can literally plug and play. The reverse is also true, with full keyboard and mouse compatibility planned for the very near future on all Xbox One variants.
Should you buy it?
As a pure gaming console, the Xbox One X is a decent quality of life upgrade, especially if you are on the first generation of the Xbox One. Apples to apples, the One X cranks out near identical gaming performance as the PS4 Pro. Unless you have 4K display, there’s little reason why you should buy this over the Xbox One S either.
Looking at the bigger picture though, the Xbox One X blazes a trail for the future of gaming consoles. It is not enough to simply rival PC specs, as the PS4 Pro does that too.
What earns the Xbox One X its place in my living room is how it synergizes with the other appliances in my home. It provides the largest selection of 4K content for my home theater in a single box especially at its price point. There are Blu-Ray players out there that aren't half as good but cost twice as much.
It also does not take away from my PC gaming, rather complementing it with a solid game library, especially with the excellent backward compatibility.
In a nutshell, the the Xbox One X is pound for pound, one of the best devices to own in your living room and it has made good the promise Microsoft made years ago to turn the Xbox One into the hub of your entertainment console experience.