After several weeks in the company of the Xbox Series X, the new high-end console from Microsoft, we give you our impressions. And the least we can say is that they are positive.
The model we tested includes software that is not definitive but close to that available at the time of release. Microsoft will be releasing updates regularly by November 10, and the current state of affairs is not necessarily indicative of the final quality of the retail software.
A console cut out for the future … without neglecting its heritage
It will not have escaped you, Microsoft communicates a lot on two very distinct axes: the power of its console on the one hand, and the possibility of playing several thousand games of previous generations of Xbox. Indeed, the Xbox Series X will offer the most efficient backward compatibility, and if the subject interests you.
But it is above all on the power of its new console that Microsoft is putting the package, positioning it as the most powerful next-generation home console ever. Indeed, the Xbox Series X ticks all the boxes concerning modern techno related to the game:
- HDMI 2.1
- HDR 10 / Dolby Vision
- Dolby Atmos
- 4K up to 120 frames per second
- VRR (Variable Refresh Rate)
- Ray tracing hardware
Of course you will need to have a compatible TV to enjoy the refinements related to HDMI 2.1: 4K120 and VRR.
Powered by the Xbox Velocity architecture, based on AMD’s Zen2 (CPU) and RDNA2 (GPU) platform, the Xbox could theoretically develop up to 12 TFLOPS, compared to 10.28 TFLOPS for the PlayStation 5. A phenomenal power that is equivalent on paper to twice that developed by the Xbox One X (the different architectures do not allow a direct comparison). Remember that the latter remains the most powerful console of the previous generation.
- Processor. 3.8GHz 8-core custom Zen 2 processor (3.66GHz with SMT)
- Graphic card. 12 TFLOPS, 52 CU at 1.825 GHz, Custom RDNA 2 GPU
- Size of the SOC matrix. 360.45 mm
- Treatment. 7 nm improved
- Memory. 16 GB GDDR6 with 320-bit bus
- Memory bandwidth. 10 GB to 560 GB / s, 6 GB to 336 GB / s.
- Internal storage. Custom 1TB NVME SSD
- I / O throughput. 2.4 GB / s (raw), 4.8 GB / s (compressed, with custom hardware decompression block)
- Optical drive. 4K UHD Blu-ray
- HDMI. 1 HDMI 2.1 port
- USB. 3 USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports
- Wireless. Dual band 802.11ac
- Ethernet. 802.3 10/100/1000
- Dimensions 15.1 × 15.1 × 30.1 cm
- Weight 4.45 kg
- Price € 499.99
- Availability 10/11/2020
Finally, Microsoft communicates a lot around Smart Delivery, a feature that allows compatible games to buy the game once and play it in the best possible version depending on the console you will use, from the Xbox One S to the Xbox Series X. Thus, a player who bought Assassins Creed Valhalla on Xbox One S, will be able to upgrade for free to the optimized Xbox Series X version when Santa Claus has delivered his brand new console. This is clearly good news, hoping the publishers play the game, as they are the ones who will decide which games will be Smart Delivery compatible.
A new controller that does not revolutionize the game
Microsoft is offering a new version of its Xbox controller which once again evolves smoothly. First observation, a button dedicated to sharing screenshots or video sequences directly to friends, or on social networks, appears. A feature that is reminiscent of Sony’s famous “Share” button already present on its DualShock 4 since 2013. On the other hand, Microsoft does not offer adaptive triggers like Sony does with the DualSense of the PS5.
The ergonomics of the controller have been revised and offer surfaces with a new “grip” coating that falls just under the fingers and allows a more pleasant grip over time. The edge buttons have been rounded, and the handles reshaped to slightly reduce the size of the controller and make it accessible to as many people as possible.
The directional pad has also been redesigned to be closer to what Microsoft’s Elite controller offers, with the aim of improving player performance.
Controller in hand, let’s be honest, the differences with the previous generation are very slightly noticeable… and so much the better! Microsoft has in mind the love that PC and Xbox players have for its controller, and has captured the essence of the latter to make it evolve in the right direction without creating a break with its community.
Finally, a quick word on connectivity since the new controller has a USB-C port, Xbox radio protocols for backward compatibility, and low-energy Bluetooth with the possibility of memorizing several devices simultaneously (ex: PC, smartphone , Xbox).
A revised and corrected interface
Before going into the details of the new Xbox interface, we invite you to read our article below on Quick Resume, the quick resume feature allowing you to switch between 4-5 games launched in less than ten seconds. In summary, it works very well and the functionality will delight gamers who like to play several games in parallel, perfect for the Game Pass so highlighted by the Redmond company.
For its new consoles, Microsoft has decided to continue its momentum with its “Metro” system, based on tiles to be pinned by group or not, depending on the user’s preferences. Little new therefore compared to the recent update proposed by Microsoft, if not the dynamic themes and the new video options related to modern TVs, HDMI 2.1 in mind.
Ditto for the capture options, they remain identical to what Microsoft offered on the Xbox One X. It is therefore possible to capture video clips up to 30 seconds in 4K HDR on the internal storage of the console, and if you wish capturing longer sequences will require an external hard drive or a USB 3.0 key. For our part, we found that the video compression was too important in 4K, very far from what we were able to capture with an external camera. That being said, the quality will be more than sufficient to share these sequences on Twitter or upload them to Live and OneDrive. As for live broadcasts, you will need to install an application like Twitch to stream your games on the platform.A screen allows you to know in detail the options compatible with your TVWe regret an option to limit the bandwidth of HDMI 2.1, problematic on some TVs
Controller in hand, the interface is very fluid. Supported by the console’s CPU and SSD, the experience remains enjoyable on all screens. Once your tiles are configured, you can access all of the content quickly, and that’s the most important!
A final word on console streaming, as we tested the functionality through the new Xbox app on an Android smartphone paired with the Series X controller. To say the least, it works perfectly. On the optimized version of Gears 5 for the X Series, we could play at 60fps with negligible latency on our Pixel 4 XL.