Video Games

Xbox One X—My thoughts and impressions

5 Dec , 2017  


Written by: Jon Scarr
The next level in console gaming is finally here! First teased at E3 2016 and officially revealed as the Xbox One X at E3 2017, this console was built from the ground up to primarily play games at 4K resolution. Touted as the world’s most powerful console, and it is, I’ve spent the last few weeks with Microsoft’s new mid-generation update and I am here to share my thoughts and impressions on the console.

The Specs

Let’s talk about the Xbox One X’s specs first. The Xbox One X is no slouch; it is over 4.5 times more powerful than the original Xbox One. Even when compared to its closet console competitor the PlayStation 4 Pro, the Xbox One X ‘s specs are superior in every single category.

Xbox One X specs

• Integrated AMD graphics with 6 teraflops of performance running at 1172MHz
• 12GB GDDR5 RAM of which 9GB of RAM is available for games
• 326GB/s of memory bandwidth
• 2.3GHz 8-core custom Jaguar processor
• 4K UHD Blu-ray optical drive
• 1TB hard drive
• Full 4k 2160p resolution with HDR and wide colour gamut

PlayStation 4 Pro specs

• Integrated AMD Radeon based graphics with 4.2 teraflops of performance running at 911MHz
• 8GB DDR5 RAM of which 5.5GB of RAM is available for games
• 218GB/s of memory bandwidth
• 2.1GHz x86-64 AMD Jaguar CPU with 8 cores
• Blu-ray/DVD optical drive
• 1TB hard drive
In addition to the increased graphical processing power, one of the most notable advantages that the Xbox One X has over the PlayStation 4 Pro is the amount of available RAM to game developers. The Xbox One X has a full 9 GB of RAM, where as the PlayStation 4 Pro only has 5.5GB of RAM available for game developers to use.
With state of the art components, you might think that the Xbox One is bigger than the original Xbox One and runs extremely hot. Thankfully, Microsoft’s engineers incorporated vapour chamber cooling, which is normally used on high-end gaming PCs. I can tell you that after 6-8 hours of constant gaming, the Xbox One X stayed quiet and cooler than my PlayStation 4 Pro. Unless you looked to see, you would never know that the Xbox One X was even on.

Xbox games play better on Xbox One X

The Xbox One X is has a lot of horse power under the hood, and with that horse power, it’s capable of delivering some of the most stunning visuals ever all in true 4K. Though, I must tell you, not every game on the Xbox One X is rendered in full 4K resolution. Microsoft has stated that it is up to the developer how they want to use the power of the Xbox One X.
Additionally, any game that you play on the Xbox One X will be improved in some fashion. For example, Grand Theft Auto V takes approximately one minute seven seconds to load on an Xbox One S. One the Xbox One X that time is cut down to 24 seconds. Comparatively, Shadow of War takes 49 seconds to load from an Xbox One S and on the Xbox One X it takes 35 seconds. Obviously it varies per game, but the speed different adds up.
Other improvements you’ll notice are improved texture filtering and better framerates. It’s a significant upgrade that you will notice immediately. This applies not only to Xbox One games, but also backwards compatible Xbox 360 and OG Xbox games.

Xbox One X enhanced games

I game on a 65” Samsung KS8000 SUHD TV and I was more than eager to hookup my Xbox One X to it. I immediately started to download my games to the console and noticed that with 4K gaming, you are going to need a lot of space. The Xbox One X comes with a 1TB hard drive, which will allow you to install somewhere between 10-15 games on it.
Games that are Xbox One X enhanced include 4K assets which takes up a lot more space than traditional Xbox One games. Enhanced games such as Halo 5, Gears of War 4, Quantum Break and Forza Motorsport 7 take up roughly 100GB of hard drive space each. On the other hand, enhanced games such as Assassin’s Creed Origins, Shadow of War, Call of Duty World War II, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Star Wars Battle Front II take up between 43-55GB each.
Unless you like to juggle which games are installed, I highly recommend adding at least a 2TB external hard drive to your Xbox One X. I opted for Seagate’s 4TB Game Drive, and promptly started to install my games and patches. Microsoft maintains a list of Xbox One X Enhanced games which you can see right here.

Real-life gaming experiences with the Xbox One X

Now that I had games and patches installed, it was time to see what the Xbox One X was capable of. One of the first games that I played was the Xbox One X enhanced version of Halo 5. To achieve 60fps, Halo 5 used dynamic resolution scaling. Ultimately, to achieve this goal it meant that draw distances were short, details were missing, and textures appeared blurry.
Playing Halo 5 on the Xbox One X with the patch installed is a world of difference. On the Xbox One Halo 5’s resolution dipped to 810p during intense battles. On the Xbox One X, the game targets full 4K and achieves it, or close to it, the majority of the time. Essentially, it’s a 500%-600% increase in the resolution on the Xbox One X, which removes blur, brings out detail, and increases draw distances.
The next game I wanted to play was Assassin’s Creed Origins. This was a game that was shown off at Microsoft’s E3 2107 press conference and pushed heavily. The game employs dynamic resolution and the Xbox One X’s resolution is noticeably higher than the PlayStation 4 Pro. More over, I found that the Xbox One X was able to produce a more constant frame rate over the PlayStation 4 Pro, and the textures on the Xbox One X were more detailed.
Rise of the Tomb Raider was won of my favourite games of 2015, so when I heard that it was getting the Xbox One X enhanced treatment I had to see what it was all about. As you can see from the screen shot below, textures are more detailed, texture filtering is improved, and the game looks more polished overall on the Xbox One X.

Finally, I wanted to see what differences if any that could be seen in Monolith Productions’ Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. One of the biggest differences that I could see between the Xbox One X and the PlayStation 4 Pro was the texture quality. The textures on the PlayStation 4 Pro when compared to the Xbox One X appeared to look muddy and blurry. Moreover, the Xbox One X version has a higher resolution, and slightly better draw distances.
While these are just some of the games I played, the benefits from the Xbox One X’s power varied by game. However, I must say that at this early stage, it’s clear to see that the Xbox One X is clearly more powerful on paper and in real-life compared to the PlayStation 4 Pro.

What does the Xbox One X mean for the eSports scene

The Xbox One X very well could play an important role in the realm of eSports. Hardware that is able to produce a consistent game experience with less frame drops and a more stable frame rate, is ideal in the competitive scene.
Furthermore, the Xbox One X supports Dolby Atmos that gives you more precise directional sound. These audio upgrades will help you improve your game by being able to locate enemies long before making visual contact and give you the upper hand.
It remains to be seen if the shift from PlayStation to Xbox hardware in the competitive scene will be influenced by the Xbox One X. Only time will tell.

Final Thoughts

There is no doubt about it, the Xbox One X is the most powerful console on the market today. It’s a premium product for those that are looking for the absolutely best performing and looking games. In my opinion, it all comes down to the games and performance, which the Xbox One X has covered in both categories.
I am excited to see what game developers will do with all the power under Xbox One X’s hood and how the eSports scene will react. The future for Xbox One X looks bright!

About the Author: Jon Scarr

Based in Toronto, Jon is a proud Canadian who loves all things gaming. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry who has been in love with technology and gaming for over 20 years. Come say hi and join the conversation with Jon on Twitter.

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