**An Xbox One X review unit was provided.**
Any PC gamer will tell you the importance of having a powerful machine for gaming purposes. In fact, they’ll take every opportunity to shout “PC Masterrace” in the comments section of every blog and social media post they can, calling console gamers inferior.
Last year, Sony pushed out the PS4 Pro, which aimed to bring a more powerful gaming experience to console players. Unfortunately, that didn’t turn out how it should, with the PS4 Pro feeling like a micro step above the original PS4.
For the past year, Microsoft has been touting the Xbox One X as the most powerful video game console to date, shouting from the rooftops something about 6 teraflops. The Xbox One X launches next week, and I’ve had an Xbox One X review unit in my home for the past week to kick the tires. So, how does Microsoft’s new beastly console stack up against the competition (and the original Xbox One)?
First, the Xbox One X definitely brings the processing power, and it’s immediately noticeable right on the home screen while flipping through menus. In comparison to the original Xbox One, there’s less stutters and less technical issues with the One X.
Of course, you’re not going to buy a $499 console just to have a better experience with your old games. Luckily, as I’m sure your aware, Microsoft announced that your old Xbox One games will be enhanced on Xbox One X at or shortly thereafter launch, with nearly 70 titles said to have enhancements right at launch. Unfortunately for our review purposes, there were only 7 Xbox One X enhanced titles available to test as of Thursday evening. These titles included Disneyland Adventures, Gears of War 4, Killer Instinct, Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure, Quantum Break, Super Lucky’s Tale, and Zoo Tycoon Ultimate Animal Collection. We also know that Forza Motorsport 7, Halo 5, Halo Wars 2, Minecraft, and ReCore are getting enhanced very soon, with many other games (both first and third party) to follow shortly after launch.
Gears of War 4 adds HDR, true 4K resolution, and Dolby Atmos support (which we’ll get to later on in the review). Campaign and Horde modes get a 60fps boost, and there’s a noticeable change to how shadows and lighting are presenting. Quantum Break, which is one of those games that is criminally underrated, looks the best it ever has, thanks to its 4x increase in resolution and 4K texture upgrade. Super Lucky’s Tale, which is a surprise family-friendly hit that our very own Eli Becht loved, is a colorful platformer that brings true 4K ultra HD visuals along with it, with a visually vibrant world that can be best appreciated by the Xbox One X’s capabilities. Yes, it’s also 60fps. Killer Instinct’s visuals are also a highlight, as it brings gameplay to not only a full 4K but also a fluid 60FPS — essential for the fighting games genre.
And then, there are other Xbox One games that have gotten a boost already just from having the faster processor and quicker hard drive. Load times with Assassin’s Creed: Origins are significantly shorter on the Xbox One X than on the regular Xbox One. Also, I recently made the switch from playing Fortnite Battle Royale on my PS4 Pro to my Xbox One X, and there is a noticeable performance boost when switching to the newer console. While it’s not currently noticeable in its visuals (and I honestly have no idea if there’s a 4K Fortnite Battle Royale in the cards or not), there’s a lot less framerate issues on the Xbox One X in comparison to the PS4 Pro. I’d imagine that if and when Fornite gets an actual Enhanched for Xbox One X patch in the future, it’ll boost performance and visuals even more, but Microsoft wasn’t lying when they said your old games will run better.
All too often we get hung up on exclusive games, and the conversation swings from who has the better console to who has the better games. How many exclusives does PlayStation have? Well, how many does Microsoft have? Honestly, with the Xbox One X, it’s clear that Microsoft doesn’t have to care about any of that anymore (not that they aren’t still going to put out some exclusives). My point is that if you want the best console experience for this year’s Madden game, you’re going to want to play it on Xbox One X. If you want to play the best version of this year’s Call of Duty, you’re going to want to play it on the Xbox One X. And, that’s really the point that Microsoft should be trying to hit home right now; the Xbox One X will provide the best gameplay experience for a console.
Another notable upgrade is the inclusion of Dolby Atmos sound (which I was able to test with my Plantronics Rig 800LX headset). It provides crystal clear audio for 3D spacial sound, allowing you to pinpoint exactly where your enemies are at.
With the Xbox One X, there are also some new additions to the Game DVR. Most importantly, you’ll be able to natively capture 4K HDR to an external drive without having to hook up any capture card. Any recorded game clips will also stay 4K HDR, even when shared to OneDrive (there’s no downsampling). Unfortunately, you’re still limited to just 5 minutes of recording. Bummer.
And for those 4K media enthusiasts out there, you’re able to stream your 4K Netflix stuff on the Xbox One X. In fact, I watched the entire second season of Stranger Things in 4K using my Xbox One X, and there wasn’t a single hiccup. On top of that, of course, the Xbox One X (like the Xbox One S) has a 4K blu-ray player that works like a charm.
So it might sound like it’s all sunshine and rainbows with Microsoft’s new beast, and for the most part, it is. I have very little to complain about, but here goes: first, your games are virtually doubling in size with the 4K enhancements. For example, Quantum Break now sits at 123GB, and Gears of War 4 now sits at 104GB. It might not seem like much to those who haven’t been paying attention to their hard drives, but I can see even the 1TB drive filling up sooner rather than later.
But those are just minor gripes for what is otherwise clearly the new standard for video game consoles in 2017. I remember unwrapping my PS4 Pro and it being a bit of a letdown, and even now when I look at it in comparison to the standard PS4, I’m not too impressed with the upgrades. But the Xbox One X feels much different, and the jump from the standard Xbox One to the Xbox One X feels more like a major leap as opposed to a shuffle forward. With the promise of nearly 70 games getting their Xbox One X enhancements over the next couple of weeks, and many more game upgrades already in the works, it’s clear that third party developers are getting excited about bringing new visual upgrades to Xbox One X owners.
Overall: 9.0 out of 10
+True 4K HDR Gaming
+Old Games Run Better, New Games Run Better
+Dolby Atmos Integration
+4K Media Streaming