Xbox One X Review

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Posted November 8, 2017 by Sean Capri in Video Games

Xbox Canada kindly supplied We The Nerdy with a trial console for review. The writer has purchased his own Project Scorpio edition after reviewing the trial console.

The Xbox One X is undeniably the most powerful console ever made. It blurs the line between consoles and PC in terms of its iterative approach to hardware improvements. But in doing so, the X highlights just how much differently games are made for PC. Console games are made for a closed system and running extra power through them results in varying degrees of improvement, not always in direct correlation with the exponential output capacity enabled by the 2.3 GHz processor, 6-teraflop GPU, and 12GB high-speed GDDR5. For games without the Xbox One X Enhanced updates, I really had to look closely for improvements. But games like Call of Duty: WWII, Shadow of War, Gears of War 4 and others that had received new 4K/HDR assets were much, much more obvious.

No Shame in X

Purely from a design perspective, the Xbox One X is a masterpiece. It is densely packed with power and exudes a true sense of modernity. There’s no need to hide this Xbox behind a couple game cases or in an entertainment cabinet – this is a piece of tech to behold and show off to friends and family. That, and the Xbox One X generates so much heat that I made a distinct effort to ensure proper ventilation at all times. Still, its Vapor Chamber Cooling system is whisper quite and shoots hot air out the back. Everything else about its design is familiarly Xbox One. Even the power cord is the same, which is a technical marvel in and of itself. If the power brick were ever to make a comeback it would’ve been with the Xbox One X. It may be safe to say that the power brick is gone for good.

Transferring games from my Xbox One S was made extremely simple thanks to my external hard drive connected to the rear-facing USB 3.0. Also, to compare games between the Xbox One X and Xbox One S, I was able to quickly transfer games back to my S via network transfer. I then played the same games, at the same time, on two different consoles, using two different user accounts – flipping between inputs for the Xbox One X and Xbox One S. My time was spent on a 40″ Samsumg MU6300 4K LED LCD TV.

Final review additions: This seems like a no-compromises console but the 1TB 5400 rpm hard drive presents a glaring bottle-neck and a frustrating storage problem. Games load much more quickly but 30 second load times still don’t feel as snappy as, say an SSD drive on PC or even some of the load times on Nintendo Switch.

Halo 5, Gears of War 4, just for starters, require more than 100GBs so we’re ostensibly in the same situation as 2013 with games requiring half the space but with half the storage. As more updates dropped, this became more of a double-edged issue. More Xbox One X Enhanced games to play but more micromanaging on the storage side.

Game by Game Comparisons

Easily the most dramatic, and immediately noticeable graphic improvement was Gears of War 4. Rocketing from 30 to 60 fps in the campaign instantly makes for a recognizable, modern update and the additional details in the weather effects and character models compelled me to play more than just a few minutes to evaluate the visuals. The enhancements made me want to play through Gears of War 4 again – and I didn’t even like the campaign much – but that’s a conversation for another day. Start up and load times were marginally better on X but with such a massive impact on visuals, the trade-off is palatable.

Forza Motorsport 7 just shows off on the Xbox One X. In comparison, cars on the Xbox One S look flat and mass-less. The power is put to good use by making the cars even more lifelike and sprinkling incredible detail across the asphalt. Flat black roads on the Xbox One S reflect various shades of grey, color, and lighting on the Xbox One X. And any (rare) framerate hiccups on the Xbox One S are non-existent, even in the resources-heavy cockpit view. Plus, the Xbox One X gets you racing literally twice as fast as the S (30 seconds on X; 58 seconds on S).

For an older game, Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition holds up well on the Xbox One S thanks to its 1080p 60fps console port from the PC. And while it still looks like an old game on the Xbox One X, various environmental effects such as fog, lighting, flames, and explosions are noticeably smoother and look more naturally occurring than on the Xbox One S. Admittedly, both look good. Comparing Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition illustrates how some older, already aging games can only be enhanced to a certain degree. In other words, even with six teraflops, the Xbox One X isn’t necessarily going to save your favorite ugly games by any stretch of the imagination [this is not meant to imply that Diablo 3 is ugly].

Final review additions: Over the past week, a barrage of games have received their Xbox One X Enhanced updates – presenting a glutton of goodness to jump into each evening. Call of Duty: WWII, Shadow of War, Titanfall 2, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Madden 18, and many, many more high-profile games have dropped 4K/HDR updates and it has been exhilarating to experience these games in their full-powered glory. As my collection of Xbox One X Enhanced games grew, I felt truly rewarded for being an Xbox fan for so long. This also gave me a new appreciation for EA Access and Xbox Live Gold/Games with Gold.

Another Console Launch

Most consoles launch with a handful of new games and no backwards compatibility to flesh out the launch window’s shortcomings. Xbox One fans who already have a library of games can jump right in to this brand new console without leaving their old games behind. On launch day, more than 50 Xbox One X Enhanced games were available with dozens more promised in the next week. Meanwhile, players who’ve taken some time away from the Xbox ecosystem can explore a vast library of games, should the Xbox One X be their first Microsoft console of the generation.

Microsoft deserves recognition for essentially launching a brand new console without alienating its dedicated fans. In fact, this launch has me wondering what makes a console. The DNA, or software, draws a connection but the hardware is drastically different from the 2013 Xbox One. It’s arguably as different as the Xbox One was to the Xbox 360. Processor, GPU, RAM amount and type, cooling system, and so on. The internal organs are so drastically different on this, it occurred to me that the Xbox One X is actually a next-generation console with full backwards compatibility for Xbox One. All three generations require the game to be downloaded or otherwise installed directly on the hard drive and I would argue that Microsoft has made backwards compatibility so seamless that the Xbox One X is, in a way, performing backwards compatibility for the Xbox One and paving the way for what’s next. But I digress.

Buying the Xbox One X means learning a new language. You must be fluent in TV specs and how different manufacturers brand their versions of HDR and 10-bit color. You also should bookmark the continuously updated list of Xbox One X Enhanced games and sort your games library to show the latest updated. I spent an inordinate amount of time downloading updates and checking on the status for new updates all week. This isn’t anything extraordinarily difficult or time consuming but it’s an added dynamic that console gamers haven’t typically had to worry about in the past.

Pro Tip: check Windows Central for details on activating HDR10 on your brand of 4K TV.

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Final Thoughts

The Xbox One X is pure power. Packing so much into such a confined space, it is a master class of industrial design that shows few, if not for the hard drive, signs of compromise. Visual enhancements vary from game to game and certainly from display to display. However, the cadence of Xbox One X Enhanced updates is incredibly encouraging and offers a unique experience for players to (re)discover their favorite games.

Those without a 4K TV will see a noticeable benefit in colors, draw distances, and game-by-game improvements in addition to, finally, rock-solid frame rates across all Xbox One games in the backlog. Xbox One X provides the confidence that there is no better version of the third-party, cross-platform games anywhere and this is the highest honor this writer can bestow.

Head over to www.youtube.com/wethenerdy for more load time comparisons between the Xbox One X, Xbox One S, and PS4.

Xbox One X



499.99 USD

Xbox One X

9

Final Score

9/10

Pros

  • Next-gen power disguised as curren-gen console
  • Vast library of Xbox One X Enhanced games
  • Third party games are now "best" on Xbox
  • Significantly faster load times
  • Remarkable difference on 1080p screens

Cons

  • Setup can be difficult/tedious
  • 1TB HDD is not enough and slow



About the Author

Sean Capri

I am a beady-eyed Canadian. I play video games and feed/walk my three dogs.