Xbox Series X: Two Weeks Later – The Best Console You Should Not Buy, Yet

Posted on November 25, 2020 by Brad Sams in Games, Xbox, Xbox Series X with 19 Comments

It’s a bit hard to believe that the launch of the Series S and X was more than two weeks ago and during that time, I have done a significant amount of research into the performance of the console. And by performance, I mean playing games on the matte new hardware.

If you are looking for a more technical review of the console and its features, you can find Paul’s post here or the first impressions post here that has a few more bits of info. At this point, we all know the specs, the size of the hardware, and the primary other details – there’s no reason to dive into those.

So, if all the above is true, then why am I here writing this post? The reason is that this is the best console that you should not buy…right now.

There is no doubt that the console is incredibly fast and it is also really dang quiet. Seriously, you cannot hear the console running, even during intense workloads – Microsoft did an incredible job of maximizing performance and cooling.

The dashboard loads instantly, games that support quick resume work incredibly well, and the visuals and performance when supported also look fantastic. The new controller is comfortable, and the sharing button is fast too.

Following the First Ring Daily podcast yesterday, I did plug my One X back in to compare the two devices and the changes are painfully obvious once you realize how much faster the new console is than the older device. But in-game, because all games on the Xbox are cross-platform right now, while there are visual differences and performance enhancements, it’s not a $500 difference.

The point here is that if you are fence about buying a Series X, you should absolutely wait a little bit. And fortunately, you don’t have much of a choice. At this point, if you want a Series X or S, you will need to have lady luck on your side as the new consoles are selling out as soon as they hit digital storefronts.

If you are looking for entertainment, take $50 and toss it at a Game Pass subscription and you will have more fun playing those 100+ games (including EA titles too) than you would with a next-gen console.

As I hinted above, it’s the support that’s lacking – or truly ‘next-gen’ titles. And by next-gen, I mean titles that support 120FPS, HDR, and crucially Quick Resume functionality because as of right now, that’s a very limited selection of titles all of which can also be played on the One X right now – albeit at a slightly lower visual experience.

Based on the launch of the Xbox One, the first price cut should come in about a year after launch, and during that time, a couple of games should be released that are truly ‘next-gen’ titles. When those games hit the shelves (including Halo Infinite) and the dashboard has more than 1 dynamic background, and there are many more optimized titles for Series S and X, you will get a much better ‘next-gen’ experience out of the box.

Right now, the launch is an early adopters playground which means you get about half the expected features that are listed on the side of the box when playing games. At best, gaming on the Series X/S is inconsistent with some of your favorite titles taking advantage of enhancements while others are stuck in the realm of yesterday.

For many, that’s perfectly acceptable; after all, being able to play games from any generation on Xbox is a fantastic benefit but if you are going to be playing those older titles, why not stick with your existing console and save a few bucks this holiday season? Because as of right now, there isn’t a single game on the Series S or X that isn’t available on the Xbox One.

There may come a time when titles will not work on the Xbox One but that day is not going to be anytime soon.

The Series X is a fantastic console, and the S is likely an even better console than the X for the vast majority of consumers. Of course, if you want the best, you will get the X but for the price of an S, you can buy roughly two years of Game Pass and an S and not be forced to buy another game during the first two years of ownership. Another option this holiday season, buy an Elite Series 2, the peripheral will enhance your gaming experience instantly and they are much easier to find than the new consoles.

The long-term outlook for the Series X is optimistic but time will be the true test to see if the promise of high-performant games lives up to the hype. But today, the promises of the Series S and X are still mostly that, promises. Yes, you can find a sampling of the experience in a couple of games but do you really want to pay $500 for that experience or would you rather pay $450 in about twelve months and know that you didn’t miss out on much during the first year?

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Comments (21)

21 responses to “Xbox Series X: Two Weeks Later – The Best Console You Should Not Buy, Yet”

  1. Avatar

    StevenLayton

    Thanks for saving me £500 :)

  2. Avatar

    ghostrider

    It seems like Microsoft's claims about the XB1SX being the most powerful console purely based on TFlops are now starting to unravel. Most games so far when compared side-by-side with the PS5 run (and look) better on the Playstation. Maybe Sony were right - pure TFlops isn't the be all and end all.


    Both consoles are very powerful though, but still lag behind a descent gaming PC. PS still has way more exclusives though, and it doesn't seem like that will change - even with MS spending $$Billions buying game studios to compensate.

  3. Avatar

    sevenacids

    IMHO, a perfect example of why dedicated gaming hardware doesn't make much sense. It's all about exclusive titles and for everything else I doubt optimization for game developers is making such a huge difference because most engines are cross-platform and the same on PC anyways. A gaming PC also has the advantage that it is easier to upgrade. A memory or storage expansion is a lot cheaper and not depending on proprietary hardware interfaces.


    Cloud gaming, on the other hand, is not an option for me because I doubt it's as energy efficient as a local gaming PC because the whole networking infrastructure, from the computing center to the home, and a client device, comes on top of it. Plus, I can't play if there are outages. Plus, latency will always be worse due to physical laws. And I bet it's not that much cheaper over the years compared to buying your own hardware.

  4. Avatar

    yoshi

    While I’ve loved the Series X since getting it on release day, there have been some issues as of late. First, my screen kept going black for a few seconds at random times. Mid-game, Home Screen, it would just go black. Did a factory reset, and so far it fixed that issue. But now, while in the middle of playing Valhalla, the entire console turned itself off. I don’t know if a bug in the game caused it, but I’ve never had a console just power off like that. So now each time I turn it on I’m apprehensive. With no stock, I can’t just exchange it.


    Anyway, as long as that doesn’t happen again, I love the Series X.

  5. Avatar

    daveevad

    It's my guess that, for this generation, the first year discounts will come in the form of bundle pricing. Now, that is perfectly fine if the bundled items (controller, games, etc.) Are something you would have been purchasing anyhow. I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see a price drop until mid gen, when they announce a disc-less XSX for $399 (which, BTW, is the console I really want).

  6. Avatar

    tonchek

    Brad, is it not overheating enclosed on a shelve (your picture)? Asking for a friend... :)

  7. Avatar

    reformedctrlz

    For me those faster load times are worth well more than a $50 price cut in 12 months. I am trying to wait until I can grab the all access plan so I’m not throwing money out all at once 😅

  8. Avatar

    sammyg

    In reply to Dan:

    If you have a 1080p TV, and there are millions upon millions of them out there, setup in a room for entertainment or kids, then the Xbox Series S is just fine. It crushes the Xbox One/S.


    I would like to see a comparison of the Xbox One X vs the Xbox Series S. The X1X has a weaker CPU, slower RAM and a spinning drive. However it has more RAM 12 vs 10 and it is rated at 6TFlops vs the XSS at TFlops. I ran my X1X with and external 2TB SSD and the games loaded pretty quick. I wonder if you could get a deal on a used X1X do you go that route or XSS?

    • Avatar

      wunderbar

      In reply to sammyg:

      The Series S is in an interesting spot. It doesn't play Xbox One X enhanced games, it'll play those games with the settings of the One S. It'll load them faster, but it's GPU isn't as powerful as the One X. The CPU is way more powerful, but not the GPU.

      • Avatar

        MikeCerm

        In reply to wunderbar:

        The GPU in the Series S is around 4 teraflops, which means it's much closer to the One X's 6 TF than it is to the One S's 1.4 TF. Many "enhanced" titles are able to hit 4K on the One X. With pretty simple tweaks to the emulation code, the Series S could easily play those games at 1440p, if Microsoft wanted them to. 1440p is less than half as many pixels as 4K, so with a GPU that's 2/3rds as powerful as the One X, there's no reason that the Series S couldn't be doing all the same stuff as One X, but at 1440p instead of 4K.

        • Avatar

          wunderbar

          In reply to MikeCerm:

          There is a ton of reporting about how the Series S will not run the Xbox One X enhancements, and will instead run the One S versions of games, just better to varying degrees. So instead of taking the higher resolution textures and specific assets from the One X version of games and adapting them to work on the Series S, it will take the version of the game that runs on the original Xbox One and One S and try to enhance those assets.


          https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2020-this-is-how-xbox-series-s-back-compat-really-works


          So yes, the One S will run Xbox One games better than the One S can, but it won't be working with the higher resolution assets that the Xbox One X has. I'm going to guess that means it'll be somewhere in the middle. There will probably be cases where a game still looks better on the One X than the Series S, though the Series S has the benefits of the faster load times, etc.


          This is also just for purely backwards compatible games that do not receive optimization patches for the Xbox Series consoles. Those that do will obviously receive specific targeted improvements for the Series S that will give it more tangible benefits.

      • Avatar

        Paul Thurrott

        Games are optimized specifically for the Series S and they'll always be better in some way than on an Xbox One S.
  9. Avatar

    sammyg

    Before getting the XSX, I had a gaming PC (Ryzen 7 3700x, 2070 Super, 32gigs,NVME drives) and a Xbox One X. Both plugged into my 27inc 1440p IPS gaming monitor. I would change the input from DP to HDMI.


    I was on both platforms for a mix of speed (PC was just faster) and groups of friends, most of them are on Xbox. When I bought a SP focused game, like AC Orgins, I did it on the PC because it was faster. My PC was an expensive gaming console, since that is all I used it for.


    After getting the XSX, I am done with PC gaming. (and Windows, personally)


    Every part of the XSX is improved, CPU, RAM, GPU disk speed. I now cant tell a difference between the console and the PC (my PC) in terms of performance. Example I can't tell the difference between COD MW on the PC running at 1440p/144/Gysync and the XSX running at 1440p/120h/VRR. They look the same graphically, to me. I am sure there will be older games that on the XSX, will have less textures or have a lower quality look, compared to the PC simply because they were never given the same stuff when it came out.


    I have already given away the 2070 Super in my gaming PC to a friend (he gave me his 1060) and its now down in the basement at my workbench as spare computer in the house. I have turned it on once after I moved it.


    Now I am patiently waiting for my M1 based Mac Mini to arrive to replace its older Intel brother. XSX with Game Pass for gaming, Mac for computing!

  10. Avatar

    falbert

    I was lucky enough to get a series X and OMG I am so pleased, we had a one X and with two kids, I didn't get much "alone" time with it . In my case I think it's a great purchase, it's speedy, less noisy, 4K and as with all other consoles releases it will get better with time. In situations like mine or if you have a wbox one or older, it's time, the one X was a bad purchase for me.

  11. Avatar

    madthinus

    I had a One X, actually the only Xbox One I owned. The series X to me is worth the upgrade. We just bought Assassins Creed Origins and Odyssey on sale and both is Amazing on the X. They run 60fps and looks amazing. Almost no load times and that to me makes this worth it. I have limited time to game and not having to wait for the game to load is a truly next gen experience.

  12. Avatar

    wunderbar

    I much prefer console gaming to PC gaming these days, since when I do have a day job that job is sitting in front of a computer, and after sitting at a desk for 8+ hours in a day there are days that I really just want to sit on the couch and play on a TV, not at a desk.


    that being said I had been gravitating more towards PC games the last couple years because load times on modern SSD’s are a game changing experience, especially in certain types of games where loading is frequent.


    The Series X was worth it to me literally just for the fast SSD’s, even on games that aren’t 100% optimized for it yet. games that would take literally 2 minutes to load on the One S take 5-10 seconds on the Series X. Forza Horizon 4 is a great example of this. I barely touched that game on console, because the frequent 90 second load times really took away from the experience for me, but I did play it on PC quite a bit because I have a good SSD in there.


    On the series X, races in Forza Horizon 4 load in 5 seconds instead of 90. I actually change cars quite often now just to drive around in them because that process takes 5 seconds instead of a minute.


    Eliminating load times completely changes the game for consoles, and that alone is worth the cost of the Series X or Series S. It will open up gaming on a fast SSD to millions of people who don’t play PC games, and will make the experience significantly better for everyone, at a very reasonable price. I know people are annoyed at the price of the expansion card for the Xbox Series consoles, but the price of that card is right in line with what a retail PCI-e 4.0 SSD for a PC costs.


    For me, the value of the Series X is insane for what you get. You get a CPU that’s roughly equivalent to a Ryzen 7 3800X, which is about a $300 CPU, a GPU that’s a slightly cut down version of the $580 RX 6800, and a $230 SSD. All of that in a $500 package. It really is a great value proposition.... if you can find one.

  13. Avatar

    LT1 Z51

    I bought it just for the speed.


    I didn't play some of my One X Games (Forza 7) because they used to load SO SLOW. I grew up on 8-bit and 16-bit systems so to me if I'm not playing a game in under 60 seconds, then it has taken too long.


    Series X is the first modern system that I don't detest in terms of load times.

  14. Avatar

    waethorn

    Series S looks like a poor choice. Developers are starting to say that ray-tracing isn't happening on that model.

  15. Avatar

    naro

    I rarely play games on my Xbox One X, but am super excited to get the Series X this week. Netflix, hulu, disney+ all load slow as hell. I enjoy using 1 device for everything on the TV: games, movies, youtubeTV. Load screens have been ridiculous this last generation.


    My favorite games are Final Fantasy numbered series....a ton I haven't played. FF13 on the One X looked and played amazing, but with some serious load times. I can't wait to play through some of the older games library (which is much expanded now) in 4k and auto HDR. I'm more excited about load times being a thing of the past and the AI improved older games.


    Only thing I'm disappointed by is the Kinect no longer working with Series X. We skyped my neices and nephew on the Kinect on Thanksgiving, smart zoom and 1080p video is great. I suppose it may just work with any Webcam that is windows 10 compatible? Don't use the smart sign in via kinect anymore anyways.


    $500 for a brand new console that will work great for years is well worth it, even if the price drops $100 in a year that means I don't get those nice perks the next year....less than $10 a month for convenience and the experience...And I can pass the One X down to the next TV in the house. Multiple upgrades in our house from one purchase!

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