Xbox Series X Review

Posted on November 5, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Xbox Series X with 43 Comments

Microsoft’s new videogame console promises a generational upgrade in performance and graphical excellence. Does it deliver?

Honestly, we may need some time to fully answer that question: The Xbox Series X doesn’t have any true exclusives and never will, thanks to Microsoft’s new strategy of meeting gamers where they are. And there are currently only a few games available that are optimized for the new console, though that situation should change quickly. As is so often the case, coming game releases and updates should better reveal the true powers of the Series X over time.

But even in its current form, the Xbox Series X is impressive. Let’s dive in.

Design

The design of the Xbox Series X has been somewhat unfairly criticized for being too large, unimaginative, and even ugly. But when you consider the even more gargantuan size and cartoonish design of the PlayStation 5, the Xbox Series X is the clear winner from a design perspective. And I think this console compares favorably to its Xbox One predecessors as well, providing an obvious visual evolution of the design language that started with the Xbox One S. It’s a modern and attractive digital device.

That said, its shape is a bit awkward and could be hard to fit into some home theater racks, especially if you need to orient it horizontally, which is of course possible. My review unit is standing vertically on the floor, but if I were going to put it out in the living room, it would look great next to the TV or, if that wasn’t desirable, even behind the TV, which is sitting on a cabinet and not wall mounted. But no matter: The Series X looks more natural alongside other devices than does the PS5 regardless.

I’m particularly happy with the green accent seen at the top of the unit, which peeks through several round ventilation holes and provides a nice break from the all-black design of the rest of the console. You won’t see it from across the room, regardless of how you orient the console. But if the Series X is positioned out in the open, the green will reveal itself as you approach. It’s a nice effect.

Internal components

The Xbox Series X is a beast: It’s powered by a custom 7 nanometer (nm) AMD Zen 2 processor with 8 cores that run at 3.8 GHz—or at 3.6 GHz when all 8 are used simultaneously—a custom RDNA 2 graphics processing unit (GPU) with 52 compute units (CUs) that runs at 1.825 GHz and delivers 12 teraflops of performance, 16 GB of GDDR6 RAM, and a custom 1 TB NVME SSD. Put it all together and the Xbox Series X delivers up to 560 GB/s of RAM bandwidth and up to 4.8 GB/s of I/O throughput. This is the core of what Microsoft calls the console’s Velocity Architecture.

So what does this mean in practice? A lot.

First, the Xbox Series X should offer roughly double the performance of the console it’s replacing, the Xbox One X. “Double” is a nebulous term, of course, but in this case, it means that where the Xbox One X could generally deliver up to 1440p graphics at 60 fps or 4K graphics at 30 frames-per-second (fps), the Xbox Series X can generally deliver up to 4K graphics at 60 fps, with a peak framerate of 120 fps. That’s borne out by my early gameplay experiences, which are described below.

Second, one of those processor cores is dedicated solely to the operating system, solving one of the biggest problems with the previous two generations of Xbox consoles. So one of the best things about owning an Xbox Series X is the alacrity with which everything happens. On all three Xbox One consoles and dating back to the Xbox 360, the Xbox Dashboard was most notable for its sluggish performance, but Microsoft finally fixed this with the Series X. Screens jump into view immediately, as does activating the Guide. This is a most welcome change.

Third, the tiny 7 nm manufacturing process used by the processor, combined with an excellent internal design with a split motherboard, a nearly silent fan, and amazing thermal control, means that the Xbox Series X runs cooler and quieter than any previous Xbox console despite offering next-generation performance. The console never gets hot, ever. Even after several hours of continuous gaming, I can rest my hand on the large outtake vent on Series X’s top without worry. It’s warm, for sure, for not uncomfortably.

Folks, that’s amazing. By comparison, my Xbox One X sounds like a jet turbine after a short period of gaming, and the console gets quite hot. But you’ll never even notice the Xbox Series X running, assuming it’s properly ventilated, of course. (I’ve been using it in its default vertical orientation, just as I did with the Xbox One X.)

Ports and expansion

While some diehard fans will mourn the passing of the passthrough HDMI port and Kinect features from the Xbox One, the Xbox Series X provides what I think is the correct combination of ports and expansion capabilities. There’s a single HDMI 2.1 port, three full-sized USB 3.1 ports (one on the front, two on the back), and a storage expansion slot.

That latter item speaks to an issue that some Xbox fans are going to run into, and probably very quickly: 1 TB of internal storage almost certainly won’t be enough for hardcore gamers. The operating system alone takes up roughly 200 GB of space, leaving just 802 GB of available space for games and apps, and some next-generation titles will take up 100 to 200 GB of storage.

You can solve this problem in one of two ways, only one of which is ideal: That storage expansion slot currently accepts a 1 TB Storage Expansion Card that matches the performance of the internal custom SSD and effectively doubles the available storage. Or, you can use USB 3.0-based storage, as with Xbox One, but not for Xbox Series X-optimized games: This storage can only be used for OG Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One games, or for what Microsoft calls “high-capacity storage for Xbox Series X titles,” whatever that means.

This isn’t ideal, as the only available Storage Expansion Card is expensive. But I expect prices to come down and capacity choices to go up over time.

Connectivity

The Xbox Series X includes dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, but not the faster and more efficient Wi-Fi 6, which is curious, plus 1 Gbps Ethernet. There’s also a dedicated dual band Xbox Wireless radio for controller connectivity.

Power management

Power management is dramatically improved over previous generation Xbox consoles.

If you own an Xbox One of any kind, you know that Microsoft introduced the concept of power modes, where you can choose between Instant On mode and Energy-saving mode. With Instant On, the Xbox remains powered on at all times so it can trickle-download and then install system and game updates in the background, remotely install games from the Xbox mobile app, and, as important, power up from sleep very quickly. Energy-saving mode, by contrast, literally powers down the console, which saves power but makes everything else happen more slowly.

Xbox Series X still supports these two power modes, and if you’ve been using Instant On mode with your Xbox One, you may be inclined to configure this new console identically to receive the obvious benefits. But here’s the thing: Xbox Series X powers up (from sleep) almost immediately while in Instant On mode, so it’s even faster now; indeed, my display takes longer to power on. But if you choose Energy-saving mode now, it works about as fast—from a boot time perspective—as did Instant On with the Xbox One X. That is truly impressive.

Audio and video

The Xbox Series X supports 720p, 1440p, 1080p, and 4K/UHD displays with HDR10, Auto HDR, and Dolby Vision capabilities, and variable refresh rates, and it can output at 24, 50, 60, or 120 Hz, the latter of which is required for game frame rates above 60 fps. As you might expect, the console will auto-detect the capabilities of your display—mine is 4K with variable refresh rates up to 60 Hz with HDR10 for gaming, but without Dolby Vision capabilities—but you can also calibrate the console to your display, HDR for games, video fidelity, and even the color space manually if you wish.

Thanks to its HDMI-CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) support, you can also use the Xbox Series X to control the power and volume of a compatible 4K TV and/or receiver. That is, when you turn on your Xbox using the controller, the TV/receiver will come on automatically as well. This is a familiar feature from living room set-top boxes like Roku, Apple TV, and Fire TV, and while I don’t think an Xbox Series X is the most efficient way to watch streaming video services—the Xbox Series S is a different story—this is still a very nice capability, even for those who are simply using the console to play games.

From an audio perspective, the Series X supports uncompressed stereo, and uncompressed 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound, plus uncompressed stereo, Windows Sonic, Dolby Atmos, and DTS for headphones. My display has sad stereo speakers, so I’ve switched to using headphones with Windows Sonic; Dolby Atmos needs to be purchased separately and the immersive nature of audio in games in startlingly real. I waited too long to make this change.

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that the Series X—unlike the Series S—includes a 4K/UHD Blu-Ray drive for installing disc-based games and playing Blu-Ray and DVD video content. I’ve not tested this feature yet, but I’ll be looking at the Xbox Series X|S media experiences soon.

Software experience

If the Xbox Series X experience suffers in any way right now, it’s from familiarity. Once you get past a streamlined new out-of-box experience, which lets you more easily configure the console using the Xbox app on your smartphone, you’re dumped into the exact same Dashboard found on Xbox One. And as you navigate around this user interface, you quickly realize that it isn’t just similar, it’s identical. That’s understandable, of course, and to be fair, it was communicated by Microsoft ahead of time. But it also removes the sense of newness that the Xbox Series X might otherwise bring.

The process of installing games is, likewise, identical to that on Xbox One, as is the act of launching and playing them. The non-optimized Xbox One games that I’ve played so far look, work, and act identically to the way they do on Xbox One X.

That said, UI performance, as noted, is a game-changer, and if you’ve suffered at the hands of the Xbox One Dashboard, this may be reason enough to upgrade.

Gameplay

Games—or, more accurately, the act of getting into a game—benefit hugely from the new Velocity Architecture and its performance-tuned SSD storage providing much faster load times. And then there’s Quick Resume, which lets you, yes, quickly resume recently launched games, providing even faster initial load times. The idea here is that many users will cycle between some number of games on a regular basis, and those should all start as quickly as possible. And it works: You’ll see a “Quick Resume” banner in the upper-right of the game’s splash screen when this feature is enabled for that title.

I will be writing more about the Xbox Series X gaming experience as more optimized games become available; this was a bit of a sore spot during the initial review process. But I was able to test a few optimized titles already, and while they’re not the games I’d normally seek out, they are nonetheless impressive, both graphically and from a performance perspective.

For the optimized titles, let’s consider Gears 5, the latest installment in the Gears of War series. I’m not a big fan of the most recent Gears titles, and while I had completed all of the previous games, some multiple times, I had given up on Gears 5 pretty early in the lackluster campaign last year. But on my 4K/UHD/HDR display, this newly optimized version of Gears 5 offers the high-resolution, contrasty, and performant experience that we should expect on the Xbox Series X.

How amazing is it? Digital Foundry has a nice video comparison on Gears 5 running on both an Xbox Series X and the previous-generation Xbox One X, and they note that the game utilizes dynamic resolution scaling throughout, with most action sequences working out to about 1728p, while the most intense scenes fall back to 1080p and the quieter, less busy parts of the game hit full 4K. This type of comparison is useful because I can’t play the game on both consoles side-by-side and moving from console to console on the same display, while possible, is a bit tedious.

As for non-optimized titles, well, I play a lot of Call of Duty, and so I tested both Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, the game I played most often this year, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019), the most recent COD title (until next week). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the experiences are identical to playing those titles on the Xbox One X. And though the act of launching the games happens more quickly, once you’re in the game, you need to deal with whatever slowness is built-in to each with regards to loading screens and the like. That makes sense, and the overall experience—including the graphical quality—seems identical to that on Xbox One X, at least to my eyes. That’s still a win.

I’ll have more on Xbox Series X gaming soon.

Controller

The new Xbox Wireless Controller is a subtle evolution of the previous-generation Xbox One Wireless Controller that provides a few Xbox Elite controller-like embellishments, including a refined d-pad that I really like and grippier handles. It also helps with performance thanks to its new latency-reducing technology.

And then there’s the new Share button that, when pressed, will save a screenshot without having to navigate to the Guide first. I like this addition a lot, since screenshots were a bit tedious on Xbox One. But I’ve also triggered it by mistake a few times. I mean, the button is right there in the middle of the controller.

(On a related note, I wish that Microsoft would let users take screenshots and record video clips of non-game content like the Dashboard. If you try to press Share while navigating the Dashboard, however, you get a “Screenshot failed” message with an obtuse error code.)

You can also use the Share button to “record what happened,” meaning to save a video recording of the most recent 30 seconds of gameplay: Just press and hold to do so. This happens instantly, unlike on Xbox One X, which often needs time to report back that your shot was taken.

If you’re interested in a bit more flexibility, you have some choices. You can configure the length of video clips recorded in Settings, for example. Or you can use the Xbox Accessories app to configure that button to trigger “Start/stop recording” when held down, so you can instead capture arbitrary amounts of video. That’s fantastic.

(Oddly, there’s one downside to the new Share capability: Because it will save screenshots in 4K by default, I’ve run into a problem I’ve never seen before: I’m running out of storage space in the Xbox cloud, and the console advised me to delete some of this content as a result. Huh.)

Beyond those changes, the new controller looks and works much like its predecessors. Which is great: Microsoft has had the best controller in the video game world since the S controller launched for the OG Xbox, and this is a nice refinement to a classic. It feels great in my hands, with a grippy texture than previous Xbox One controllers, and has that familiar Xbox button layout.

Pricing and configurations

There is only one Xbox Series X configuration and it costs $499 here in the United States. But good luck finding it: Preorders sold out in about 30 minutes last month, and while Microsoft promises to have additional units for sale for the launch next week, it has also warned customers that it will not be able to make enough to meet demand during the 2020 holiday season. This problem is particularly acute because Xbox fans are expected to snap up this more expensive console upfront, while the less expensive and less capable Xbox Series S will likely become the volume seller over time. Point being, if you want an Xbox Series X right now, you’re going to need to work for it. And maybe get lucky.

Recommendations and conclusions

The Xbox Series X combines the simplicity of traditional videogame consoles with the power of gaming PCs and it does so in a form factor that it utterly silent and never gets hot. That all constitutes a miracle of sorts, but I know what you’re looking for is the answer to a very important question. Should you get an Xbox Series X?

That depends.

If you’re using an Xbox One X, I recommend waiting, and not just because the Series X will be in short supply for the rest of 2020. There are few optimized games available for the new console right now, and while I expect that situation to improve over time, Xbox One X owners should wait until at least early 2021 before considering the upgrade. But those with OG Xbox One or Xbox One S consoles will see immediate and dramatic improvements and should upgrade as soon as possible.

There is, of course, a new kind of Xbox gamer emerging as the cloud gaming era begins, too: Those with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate can now play games across Xbox consoles, PCs, and even Android, thanks to Cloud Gaming. And if you’ve embraced this heterogenous new world, you may have enough gaming choices now to compel you to wait on Xbox Series X. It depends on which games you play, and where: Obviously, not all Xbox One/Series X and Game Pass titles are available via Cloud Gaming.

But if you’re a diehard Xbox fan, I don’t see how you can wait, assuming you can find one. The Xbox Series X is the ultimate Xbox console. And it is highly recommended.

Looking ahead, I’ll be posting my Xbox Series S review later today and I’ll have more articles about the game play and media experiences on both, along with a set of tips for getting started on the new consoles. This is just the beginning of our Xbox Series X|S content.

At-a-glance

Pros

  • Gaming PC-class graphics, sound, and performance with console simplicity
  • Runs cool and nearly silently
  • Impressive power management
  • Industry-best controller
  • Xbox ecosystem

Cons

  • A bit pricey
  • Availability will be a problem for the short term
  • Software experience is perhaps too familiar

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Comments (54)

54 responses to “Xbox Series X Review”

  1. thretosix

    I personally love the fact that the UI will be the same. Nothing irks me more than making changes that make it unfamiliar or hard to find a commonly used setting. You aren't buying one of these to be in the UI all day, it's about getting into games and playing them and it does that well. Great review by the way.

  2. Jeremy Turnley

    I fully expect there to be a 3rd party M.2 adapter that fits into the expansion slot within a couple of months - after all, from a hardware perspective it's just a PCIe 4.0 x4 slot with a custom pinout. That is, if MS hasn't done some software tomfoolery that requires a licensed peripheral to function (aka they "pull an Apple").

    • waethorn

      In reply to illrigger:

      It's x2, not x4.


      seagate.com/ca/en/consumer/play/storage-expansion-for-xbox-series-x/


      Since they say it's the "same performance as the internal SSD", the internal SSD is also PCIe 4.0 x2.


      The Xbox Series X SSD is the same speed as current PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe drives because PCIe 3.0 x4 is the same speed as PCIe 4.0 x2, just that PCIe 4.0 lanes have double the bandwidth of those of the previous generation.


      Just to note, the PS5 SSD gets a typical throughput of 8-9GB/s through compression, but the storage subsystem in its entirety can get up to a peak of 22GB/s due to their custom architecture.

      • Jeremy Turnley

        In reply to Waethorn:

        And yet the reviews still show games loading much slower on the PS5 vs the Series X - on average 8-10 seconds faster on the games they can test on both platforms .This is likely due to the higher clock speed of the CPU, which is tied directly to the PCIe bus - the bus has enough bandwidth to handle pretty much any request on either platform, so the bottleneck becomes how fast the CPU can ask for the data.


        It always pays to take specs with a grain of salt, especially when the specs are being played up to distract from other shortcomings of a product. The PS5 specs are lower across the board than the Series X, with the exception of the I/O bus, so of course they played up that aspect. What else were they going to say? "No, really, I know we are clearly the slower console here, but not by much!"?


        In the end, it won't really matter. People will buy both eventually, which is one of the things the Series S is all about - it's the "crap, I really wanted that game and it's not coming to my PS5" console. MS doesn't really care which hardware you buy, they just want your $15 a month for GamePass, forever.

  3. guygamer

    With the launch version of the console has the UI been updated to render in 4K? That lack of sharpness in the text/UI and low res of tile images / art has always looked terrible to me on a 4K TV with the Xbox One X. I read in the early previews that this hadn't changed which I think would be an extraordinary lack of polish/quality if they haven't fixed it up for the official launch.

    • orbsitron

      In reply to guygamer:

      From what both IGN and Digital Foundry mentioned in their reviews, it sounds like the 1080p UI is a design choice for two reasons:

      1) Maximize performance of games (or read another way, minimize RAM usage of the system itself)

      2) Minimize OS footprint to leave as much room for game / app content as possible


      I could also see the team wanting to minimize differences between Series S and X to simplify the development and testing overhead given how much there was to test (thousands of backwards compatible titles, new HDMI 2.1 hardware standards, optimizing the XBOX Velocity Architecture, Ray Tracing APIs etc.).

      • guygamer

        In reply to orbsitron:

        That's a great shame if they don't add that. On a console with that amount of power and after they've worked on shrinking and streamlining the OS you wouldn't think rendering the UI in 4K vs 1080p would be anything more than trivial. To be honest I had never contemplated it being sub 4K until these reports came out. I guess it won't bother most other people as much as me (I'm autistic - UI inconsistencies [seriously why are they mixing the old font with the nice new one everywhere in the UI] and non-sharp text drive me mad. Also very sensitive to bitrates and res on video). As the UI is the bridge between the user and the device to me it shows a lack of quality. I'm Xbox main, have It pre-ordered but do think Sony have addressed a long standing weakness they had and provided an improved, modern UI rendered at 4K.

  4. aengineer

    Is it possible to turn off the speaker in the box? I have an Xbox one S and have not been able to do so, thus annoying others within hearing. I wear a headset so I want only the sound there.


    FWIW, I'm holding off on purchase until MS releases the new Flight Simulator for the X. I "assume" it will work well, but want to see a positive review before springing for the hardware.

    • Paul Thurrott

      What do you mean by the box? When I use headphones with the Xbox Series X|S, connected to the jack on the headset, I have to turn the display's speakers off. Otherwise, sound comes out of both.
  5. ken10

    I wonder where they got the idea to do a split mother board design and use the device as a vertical heatpipe for venting heat. Oh right... Mac Pro 2013.

  6. davidl

    The Xbox logo orientation looks correct when the Series X is vertical and Series S is horizontal...or can the logos be rotated?

  7. LT1 Z51

    I'm excited for faster load times, even with older titles. Forza (Horizon not as bad) has terrible load times (I rarely play 5, 6 or 7 because of this).

  8. pstansberry78

    The lack of the pass-through HDMI means I’m going to lose my live TV/Antenna support from my XBOX doesn’t it?


    Though I don’t use it often, it IS something I use for live storm and political coverage from OTA local stations. That’s just gonzo?

  9. madthinus

    200Gb for the OS seems excessive. I bet mid life cycle refreshes will see consoles with more space.

  10. adam.mt

    Paul, Is there definitely no Kinect support, have they removed the option from the UI?

    (it's still there for the One S/X, meaning it works with a hardware adapter. I was hoping that might be the case for the Series S/X too).

    • orbsitron

      In reply to adam.mt: The XBOX team has commented publicly that all XBOX One peripherals *other* than Kinect are supported and all XBOX One games are backwards compatible other than those XBOX One games that required Kinect.
      I take that to mean that Kinect is not supported in any way.
      I also take that to mean that games tha offered Kinect as an option but not a requirement, will still be compatible, without their Kinect functionality.


  11. panjjj

    One of the pluses for the Xbox option was the inclusion of a ultra 4k DVD player (for those of us who still prefer watching movies thru that best of all options). However, I have read that while the Series X supports Dolby Vision for games and streaming apps it does not do so for the DVD player. Do you know if that is true? If so it diminishes one of my rationalizations "reducing" the purchase price of the series X as it covered my need for playing some movies at the best quality. The combo of a stand alone DVD player supporting Dolby Vision and the Series S matches the cost of the X series but one loses some quality output for games and streaming. Oh well.

  12. nbplopes

    This thing as previous gens does so many things at launch, great specs. But I can’t really figure out what it does REALLY WELL beyond what is expected in a next gen! This leaves it in a situation that if does not hit that 4K HDR at 60K with amazing graphics .... puff. Because that the only thing that stands out and its kind not of a certain ... it will depend.


    Everyone is banking on Cyber Punk for that fresh note, but its not even an exclusive. You know, what? Even if it plays a tiny bit better than PS5 ... it does not matter. Kind of like Red Dead Redemption, its a tiny bit better on XBOX One and ... it did not matter.


    So its kind of down on if one likes the 20 year old Microsoft gIgs ... HALO, Gears of War, Forza once again. People that don’t care for those will probably hit the PS5. Especially outside of the US where the SONY distribution channels are so so strong. In big tech surfaces comparatively, the XBOX area, is kind of a side note as MS never really bothered.


    PS: Heck my Apple TV displays the UI in 4K, Dolby Vision ... lolol.

  13. rh24

    Finally got my Series X and found out in the first hour that Remote Streaming to a Windows 10 machine is not a supported feature! How lame! I can't tell you how much of my weekends were spent in No Man's Sky on one monitor and a spreadsheet on another! C'mon Microsoft... So I can play remotely on my small screen Android device, but not Windows 10? Ridiculous.


    • Remote Play on Windows 10 Known issue: Console streaming to a Windows 10 device from an Xbox Series X|S will not work through the Xbox Console Companion app. 
    • Workaround: This feature is only supported through an Xbox One generation device. You can currently stream from an Xbox Series X|S console to an Android or iOS device via the Xbox app. Keep an eye on news.xbox.com for any updates on further support for additional platforms like Windows 10 devices.


  14. waethorn

    I think if you're looking for a best-bang-for-the-buck budget TV for this new generation of gaming, the two things to make sure it has are Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. At least this way you get the usual HDR10+ support and a certifiably-good picture quality, along with likewise certifiably-good audio with 3D surround support without the need for a separate surround sound system, if you don't have one already (a single HDMI cable is a simpler setup for minimalistic home AV setups).


    High refresh rates and special LED lighting/dimming technologies is going to put the TV price into the multiple-thousand dollar price range. Sony's main TV that they're pushing for the PS5 is a modest LED TV with both Dolby techs, and without the 120hz refresh rate, listing at ~$999 for the 55". A HiSense TV of 55" with both Dolby techs was listed on Amazon not that long ago for half that price too, and expect Christmas and New Year's sales to have more price drops on other brands. OLED TV's still have screen burn-in issues. I don't get why people are still buying those.


    I really don't feel that 120hz refresh rates are warranted given that most next gen games with decent graphics quality won't hit that kind of frame rate - certainly not in 4k. Indie games might, but you're talking about lower overall graphics quality with low polygon counts or low-resolution textures in comparison to cinematic triple-A titles. Even the competitive multiplayer titles like Fortnite and Rocket League are locked at 60fps and the developers are talking about favouring visual quality over frame rates for those. Generally-speaking, it's mostly just old backwards-compatibility titles that'll support 120hz.

    • Jeremy Turnley

      In reply to Waethorn:

      From a gaming perspective, the tech that makes the biggest difference is actually VRR. Eliminating microstutters that consoles are infamous for will make things feel smoother even at low framerates, which is something everyone will immediately see and appreciate, vs HDR which is something that pretty quickly becomes something you don't even notice.


      By next year every new TV, even down to the low end, will support all of the new gaming features, so I would not recommend anyone who is looking at doesn't need a new TV immediately buy now, unless they are looking at a mid-range or higher that already has HDMI 2.1, VRR, ALLM, HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG - HDR10+ is Samsung proprietary and nobody is licensing it from them, so not worth pursuing. If you really want the best gaming experience you should also look for either FALD with a LOT of dimming zones or OLED. 120Hz support is pretty niche if you are only using a console (most games, even with this hardware, will barely creep above 60FPS in 4k), but if you are planning on connecting a gaming PC, it should move up into the "must have" category, and you should be looking for GSync and/or Freesync as well depending on your GPU.


      FWIW, the LG CX series OLEDs are pretty much the perfect TV right now. They support every new feature, and they go all the way down to 48" in size, which is pretty much the most sought-after gaming monitor on the market right now. They aren't super cheap, but the 65" can be had for well under $2000.

      • waethorn

        In reply to illrigger:


        I didn't mean to refer to HDR10+. I just meant HDR10 + other formats. HDR10 is the minimum HDR format that anyone should accept in a new TV. Lots of TV's are going to support an extended format and Dolby Vision seems to be the one that's on most brands now. Since both game consoles support it, it's a smart choice.



        Besides that, what are you talking about? HDR10+ has a whole list of adopters here:


        en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HDR10%2B


        Panasonic has it on their TV's too.


        It's also royalty-free, as is HDR10, and both are considered "open" specifications. The license to become an adopter isn't free though, as this pays for certification tests and logo usage. The fees go to the HDR10+ LLC company, not Samsung. Samsung, Panasonic, and 20th Century Fox are all founders of the standard.



        There's lots of features gamers can add to their list in buying a new TV, but the intent to add a laundry list of expensive bullet points wasn't the purpose of my comment.


        OLED's have nice pictures, but their reliability is about as bad as DLP projection TV's. If I'm paying 4x (literally. the 55" 2020 CX with anti-screen burnin tech is 4x the price of the non-OLED HiSense mentioned before) as much for a TV with OLED, I'd want it to last more than a couple years. This one isn't new, but it couldn't last more than one:


        youtube.com/watch?v=GX78-Bw9lKM

        • Jeremy Turnley

          In reply to Waethorn:

          There are hardware adopters, yes, but in order for a per-frame metadata based HDR schema to work, the MEDIA must be encoded with the format in mind. I don't know of any actual content encoded with HDR+ metadata outside of the demo videos Samsung provides, although because of the way Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are licensed, I just might not be seeing it because I am not using an HDR+ ready player - until I got my OLED I couldn't see the Dolby Vision listing on content either despite having a HDR10 TV. I hope it does catch on considering what Dolby charges for a license, but until companies are willing to invest the time to provide content en masse, Dolby Vision will remain the only per-frame schema worth having.


          As someone into year 3 on my 55" C7 LG OLED being used as a PC monitor for 12-14 hours a day (pretty much the worst case scenario outside of it running headline news 24/7), I can absolutely confirm that the burn-in isn't as big an issue as the doomsayer reviewers say it is.

          There is zero sign of any screen burn from the static desktop icons or windows task bar - and I even disabled auto-dimming in the firmware so brightness is always set pretty high. All you really need to do is keep the backlight setting at a reasonable level, your desktop set to black and use dark mode it goes a long way towards making burn-in a non-issue so long as you don't turn off pixel rotation and screen renewing. I've still got two years of extended warranty if it ever does become one.


          For all your talk of the importance of HDR, you obviously don't get just how much impact the lack of good FALD or OLED has on it. You basically can just turn HDR off on a TV that doesn't have them, because the light bleed you get from an edge- or full-lit panel will wash out all of the blacks and colors you gain from turning it on anyway. As is always the case, you get what you pay for, and it's especially true with TVs - ever since HDTVs hit the market, the low-end sets have had features they say they have, but in reality are little more than words on the box. In the current market, that trend applies to HDR.

  15. Mike_Peluso

    It's a split motherboard, not keyboard.

  16. campbell

    I'm eagerly waiting my Series X arriving next week in the UK. I've been using an original Xbox One, and waiting to get the HDR and 4K graphics. I'm still not convinced on the shape of the console, but I prefer its simplistic look compared to the PS5.

  17. wright_is

    Looks good. Were you able to test, whether Microsoft have found a workaround for the HDMI 2.1 chipset bug that affects pretty much all current HDMI 2.1 compatible AV receivers, when using 4K 120Hz & HDR?

  18. north of 49th

    Paul, do you notice a difference with the Auto-HDR in backwards compatible games now that you have an HDR monitor?

    • Paul Thurrott

      No, not yet, but the games I've played so far all support HDR natively. I did notice a lot of color pop in COD: Black Ops 4 that wasn't there before when I went to an HDR display, but that was in the game already, I just had never seen it before.
  19. davidl

    Thanks to its HDMI-CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) support, you can also use the Xbox Series X to control the power and volume of a compatible 4K TV and/or receiver.


    Can you control the volume from the controller? How?

    • davidl

      In reply to davidl:

      I was able to control the volume via Kinect/voice previously. Not sure what the answer is now.

    • north of 49th

      In reply to davidl:

      I don't know for sure, but I can make some assumptions. If you look 5 pictures down at the pairing button - apparently that is also an IR window for receiving IR commands (they removed the sending function from the previous gen) from a remote.

      If you were for example using the Microsoft Xbox media remote and it had a volume IR command that the Xbox IR window understood, could that request be passed via CEC to the TV to change the volume? That is my assumption...

    • Paul Thurrott

      I didn't say you could use the controller for that directly. Xbox Series X (and S)'s support for HDMI-CEC has two functions: Power and volume. To control the volume with a controller, you need to go through the Xbox Settings app. (Plus, whatever volume controls individual games provide.) Settings > General > Volume & audio output. Obviously, this is not ideal for watching video content. I was going to save this info for a coming article about the media experiences, but the existing Xbox Media Remote works: There's an IR port for it hidden in the controller pairing button on the front of the consoles. (And you need to enable HDMI-CEC first.) Hopefully there will be newer/better first/third-party remotes as well.
  20. daveevad

    I wish they'd bring back the option to automatically use your OneDrive storage instead of the limited (is there a number?) Xbox Live storage. Bet they'd sell a few O365 subs as the free 5gig limit filled up.

  21. RobertJasiek

    It is strange: RTX 3000, RX6000 and XBox are all extremely short on stock. Nobody wants to take advantage of competitors' failures.

    • SWCetacean

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      I think it's more that everyone is supply-constrained right now. There are a limited number of advanced fabs in the world, and all of these products use advanced silicon processes (7 nm, 8 nm). I think the new AMD CPUs that released today sold out in the US in minutes. And worldwide in around an hour. All AMD products (including Xbox) use TSMC 7 nm chips, while the RTX 3000 is using Samsung's 8 nm process which is having significant yield issues. There just aren't enough good chips to go around right now.

  22. lezmaka

    There's a rounded "slot" on the rear of the console, near the top. Any idea what that's for? Is it a air inlet, something so you can hang it on a hook or mount on the wall like a picture?

    • Paul Thurrott

      That's a good question. It's not a Kensington lock slot, that's down by the stickers. Shining a flashlight into it, it's just empty space so I assume it's ventilation-based.
  23. diamond575

    Thanks Paul! It was exciting to read this great review today!

  24. thomas45

    can't you use fast usb 3.1 storage to "park" Xbox Series X-optimized games, that you're not playing right now, so that you don't have to download them again? just copy them back to internal storage at usb 3.1 speed should take very little time, when you want to play them again.

  25. sammyg

    Great review!


    I am sitting on a Xbox One X right now with a Samsung 2TB SSD plugged into it via one of those Amazon USB to SATA cables. When I got this setup on launch day, it was a huge boost over my Xbox One S /USB HDD setup.


    I have a pre-order and I can't wait to get it, but after watching the Digital Foundry storage review video I know that for current games, like COD MW, I basically will only see a minor bump in loading speed. That is only because the XSX can use my USB SSD setup quicker with its more powerful CPU. The only new game that I want right now that will use this new box is AC Vahalla and Cyber Punk. Cyber Punk I will wait on because they will be adding a new gen update later on. I only want to play it maxed out.


    The hardware updates are fantastic on this thing. Basically a AMD 3700xt with a AMD RX 6800 (with 52 vs 60 CU's) and fast SSD all for $499. In the end I think the CPU and SSD are going to be the biggest gains over the Xbox One X. The last Xbox One/PS4 were always impacted by CPU performance more than GPU, even after the mid life upgrades.

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