XBOX SERIES X

xbox series x

Xbox Series X is the new console from Microsoft to replace the aging Xbox One X which was the last model released. MSRP is $499. $599 in Canada, ¥3899 in China.

  • Zen 2 CPU 8 cores 16 threads, 3.8 GHz
  • RDNA 2 GPU 52CU 1.825 GHz 12TFLOPS
  • 16GB GDDR6 with 320-bit bus, 560 GB/s bandwidth
  • BDXL drive
  • HDMI 2.1
  • 3x USB 3.1 Type-A ports
  • 802.11ac plus Ethernet
  • 4K UHD BD drive
  • 1TB M.2 SSD
  • Xbox Carbon Black Controller
  • Dolby Atmos
  • DTS
  • 4K HDMI cable included
  • IEC C7 power cord

The console is not that large but the picture makes it look bigger. The size is driven more from the need for a cooling system that earlier consoles lacked. The console is 151x151mm and its 301mm tall when set on end.

The logic board is split into 2 parts that are stacked to allow better cooling. The vapor chamber cooling system (heat pipe) carries heat away from the CPU/GPU and the fan then removes the excess heat from the console through the vents. The fan that for the most part will not be noticable outside the warmest summer days. Air is drawn from the bottom and it is exhausted on the top.

Some of the new features include 3D spatial sound. Few have the space for a complete Dolby surround sound system. The BD drive can handle the new 4K Blu-Ray media now in stores. With support for BDXL the larger capacity blu-ray media should be visually great. Support for DVD and BD movies is included but 3D is not presently available.

Backwards compatibility with the original Xbox is limited while the Xbox 360 fairs slightly better. Backwards compatibility with Xbox One is excellent. Game disks are rather expensive which is why backwards compatibility is vital for any console. The 1TB SSD is the same capacity as the Xbox One X but there is an expansion slot to add more SSD storage. USB hard disks can be connected but games will be copied to the SSD before they can be played.

The Xbox Series X is at home with the 4K television. It can handle games at 3840×2160 which is what it is designed for. Existing games from the Xbox One are all immediately playable and many will run at 3840×2160 so that the game is at its best. Some games may have updates for the Xbox Series X. Check with publishers for specifics.

With upcoming games, packing will now include the green Optimized for Series X logo to allow consumers to select the best quality games for the console. The new category for gaems will not likely be ready until 2021 which gives game developers some time to update their game engines. Xbox Games said the company is preferring a “soft” transition more in line with PC gaming, where developers can target optimal play on high-end hardware (such as Series X), but still allow the game to be played with reduced fidelity on lower-end hardware (such as older Xbox One consoles).

Backward compatibility is a launch feature, with Microsoft having put more than 500,000 man-hours in validating thousands of games from the supported Xbox One library.

The new model 1914 controller has been redesigned. It has a refined build with a slightly smaller body, a “Share” button, a circular dished D-pad similar to the Elite Controller, and a USB-C connector. It is compatible with Xbox One, Xbox Series S, and Xbox Series X consoles. The third revision can be distinguished by the faceted D-pad and share button, which is between the two system (menu and view) buttons on the centerline of the controller.

Setting up the machine is very quick with fast internet. The game disks load very quickly and are ready in seconds.

Checking all of the retailers shows them to be out of stock fast. $499 consoles are likely to sell fast. Some fear that supplies will be outstripped forcing consumers to wait until 2021 to get a new console.

SSD SLOT

The Xbox Series X|S have a custom NVMe slot for expanding the internal storage. The SSD units simply plug into the slot and they are immediately recognized. Even better is that they are hot swappable.

The image shows a 1TB expansion SSD installed on the Xbox Series X console. Future expansion options may offer larger 2TB capacity options in 2021.

Beware that the Xbox Series X|S cannot use USB SSD products to load games. The slow speed of the USB hobbles the performance far too much. USB disks however can be used to move unplayed games for general storage.

Existing games from the Xbox One on USB disks can be played but they need to be copied to the primary SSD before they can be run.