Unless you’ve made like Tom Hanks and spent a lot time on a deserted island talking to a Volleyball then you’ll know that last week the Xbox One X was released around the world. If you’re one of the people that have happened to venture onto this try-hard, wanna-be website known as Culture Jam, then you’ll know that I didn’t publish a review of the Xbox One Xwhen it was first released. Believe me, I wanted to get a review published but I also didn’t want to do anyone looking for a review of the console a disservice by doing a half-assed job and then just when I was about to finish up the review my left eye decided to pack up and require some s. Whilst I assure you I’m quite good at doing a half-assed job, there were some fantastic Xbox One X enhanced games that hadn’t received their “Xbox One Enhanced” update until release day. So I decided to take the extra time to play a few more games that have been enhanced in order to do full-assed job and determine whether the Xbox One X really is the “world’s most powerful console” or whether just like me it is full of hot air. Then just when I was ready to write this review my left eye decided to contract a problem that needed a lot of medical treatment. Thankfully I can now see properly again and I’m pleased to let you know that the only hot air in the Xbox One X is the air that passes through the cooling chamber and that this really is the world’s most powerful console. Half-assed Ben might be inclined to end it right there, full-assed Ben is now going to tell you a bit more about the beast that is the Xbox One X.
Inside the box you’ll find the console itself which sports 1TB of storage, a Black Xbox One controller, high-speed HDMI cable, a power cable (no power brick thank goodness) and an Xbox Game Pass subscription for one month of access. The Xbox One X is capable of 4K gaming so 1TB of storage is on the skinny side but the console does support external USB storage so I plugged in my 2TB external drive which is probably what a lot of people will do.
The console itself features a design that resembles the Xbox One S in a lot of ways. The biggest difference being a small shift in position of the disc drive which is now further down the left side of the console hiding itself more so than the higher position on the One S. The One X is a sleek machine that is considerably smaller than the PlayStation 4 Pro, hiding its powerful innards remarkably well.
If you don’t know just how powerful the Xbox One X is then the spec sheet will fill you in pretty damn quick. Inside this small piece of hardware is an eight core 2.3GHz CPU that is backed up by 12GB of GDDR5 RAM. The GPU clocks in at 1172MHz that smashes out 6 teraflops of graphical processing power which is enough to output true native 4K HDR gaming for those with a 4K HDR capable TV. The disc drive, just like the One S can play 4K blu-ray movies, something that PlayStation left out on the PS4 Pro.
We all know that Microsoft talked the Xbox One X up as being the world’s most powerful console so to test that theory out I played a whole bunch of games (who would have thought, I’d play games to test the console out?!). Not all games have been enhanced for the Xbox One X but to check what games in your library have been updated you can go to my games and apps and filter by Xbox One Enhanced games. The only annoying thing here is that not all games are enhanced in the same way. Some are 4K HDR, some are at around 2K with higher frame rates, some have just gone with more stable frame rates and unfortunately there is no quick way to find out what game offers what enhancements other than doing your own digging online. It would be great if we got to the point where there was a nice summary of what each enhancement patch does to add some transparency to the process.
I have a 4K HDR 55 inch Curved Samsung TV so almost all of my gaming with the Xbox One X has been done on this screen. If you don’t have a 4K TV then you still get some benefits from enhanced 4K assets thanks to the ability of the One X to use Supersampling. For the non-tech nerd Supersampling is a process whereby the console still renders images in 4K so you it is processing with 4 times more detail than at Full HD. What this means is that if you are playing on a Full HD TV you can’t get all of that extra pixel detail but the down-scaled image from 4K to 1080p does make things more sharper with some added detail thrown in there too. There is a definite up tick in quality when you play a Supersampled game at 1080p with the Xbox One X vs just playing the game at 1080p with a One S. Of course to milk every last piece of fine detail and graphical fidelity out of the games and truly appreciate what the Xbox One X can do then you really do need a 4K HDR capable TV.
I was skeptical pre-release about just how well the Xbox One X could do 4K. I was thinking that instead of native 4K we’d see more subtle 4K tricks like checkerboarding but after extensive use I’ll happily admit I was wrong and the Xbox One X truly is capable of producing native 4K images that burst off the screen in rich vivid colours with detail that goes right down to the most minute level. Images are crisp, sharp and incredibly rich. It doesn’t just stop there though, load times are generally faster on the Xbox One X and the thing that really blew my away is how quiet the machine is even under heavy load you just don’t get any noise from the console, it’s something that you have to not hear to believe.
One of the games that I’m sure a lot of Xbox owners will go to straight away is Forza 7 which has been upgraded with 4K HDR graphics and boy is it impressive. Forza has always been a genre that pushes the graphical boundaries but one the One X in 4K it is something else. Car and environment modelling is sharp and gives off impressive realism. The HDR output is particularly noticeable with dynamic weather, shifts from bright sunshine to doom and gloom clouds that proceed to burst with rain make fantastic use of HDR’s wide-colour gamut. Frame rate is smooth and stable which is a feat in itself when the machine is pushing out 4K HDrR whilst trying to process an insane sense of speed while racing at the same time.
Assassin’s Creed Origins is another title that is simply stunning on the Xbox One X. This is a game that looked REALLY good in trailers and one the One X is brings Ancient Egypt to life. The desert is the perfect environment to show of HDR which rich, bright, vibrant colours that contrast perfectly and show off fine detail in their 4K glory. This detail extends right down to the things you normally don’t pay too much attention to like shadow detail that is more natural and sharper.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 is another game that blew me away. What got me was just how sharp and clean everything looked. The quality the graphics on my 4KTV blew me away, this was by far the best looking Star Wars game I have played. Character models were rendered beautifully and the environments simply stunning, it really brought this universe to life. Frame rates, even online were stable across the board, this is no stuttering experience, this is a buttery smooth piece of gaming wizardry that the Xbox One X is pumping out.
Call of Duty WW2 is another fine example of what the Xbox One X can do to a game. It is rendered in native 4K with HDR support and it looks and plays bloody well! The WW2 setting is just about the perfect place to show off every little piece of dark arts magic that the Xbox One X can conjur up. The battlefields and trenches, along with their little pools of muddy water are rendered in flawless detail, explosions burst into rich, bright fireballs that feature dark layered smoke clouds that recreate the world’s most deadly conflict in the detail the likes of which you’ll have never seen before in a video game.
Halo 5 was an interesting one on the Xbox One X. It has been upgraded with 4K but doesn’t support HDR. You still get a rich detailed world but in my opinion it’s the use of HDR that adds the perception of extra detail due to HDR being able to take advantage of a wider colour-gamut so shading in textures is more detailed, colour accuracy is higher and the overall perception of graphical upgrade is higher when HDR is paired with 4K than when 4K is used without HDR. That is evident in Halo 5 which doesn’t pop as much as th games that take advantage of both techniques.
That’s just a small sample of games that have been enhanced for the Xbox One X. There is a massive library of enhanced titles like Shadow of War, Titanfall 2, Gears of War 4 to name a few. For every game I’ve played not one has been a struggle for the Xbox One X.
The big question that a lot of us reviewers have been trying to answer is is the Xbox One X worth the price ($749NZD) if you already own an Xbox One S and don’t have a 4KTV? That is a tough one, ultimately everyone is going to have slightly different needs but I sit on the side of the fence that yes it is worth the price to upgrade whether you have a 4KTV or not. Supersampling is going to bring out additional detail that the Xbox One S cannot and getting your hands on the Xbox One X means that with 4KTV prices continuing to plummet, you will probably be in a position to upgrade that TV set sooner than you think. Plus if you have the Xbox One X you then have a pretty damn good excuse to upgrade your TV set.
The flip side is that anyone who does have a 4KTV and loves gaming should have the Xbox One X. The console is a beast and is capable of handling anything and everything you throw at it (gaming wise of course, don’t take that literally and try and throw a brick at the console because it will break).
Microsoft touted the Xbox One X as the world’s most powerful console and they have delivered in a way that well exceeded my expectations. Native 4K gaming on a console has come to the living room like never before and it is quite simply spectacular! And in the ultimate endorsement for the console, once this console goes back to Xbox I’ll be going straight out to buy one. Going back to an Xbox One S from the Xbox One X would be like being upgraded to First Class on a flight only to have to go back to Economy for the return trip home.
Xbox New Zealand provided an Xbox One X review unit for the purposes of this review.