Xbox One X review

Xbox One X review

Microsoft announced earlier this year that the Xbox One X would no longer be produced. Instead, the company will focus on the Xbox Series X, the next-generation console launching around the world on November 10.

Although Microsoft has announced the Xbox One X is end-of-life, you may still find the console on store shelves for a little while retailers clear out their inventory (if they have any left). At this point, there is no reason to buy this over the Xbox Series S or X, but if you’re curious about getting your hands on a brand new one, the window is closing.

Actually, no, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad console. Currently, it is the most powerful console on the market.

Furthermore, Xbox One X can play some titles in a native 4K resolution and up to 60 frames per second, so all this power is worth it. HDR10 video streaming and HDR10 game playback are supported on the console. 

It’s the only platform that includes a 4K Blu-ray player and supports Dolby Atmos, a more immersive audio format than 7.1 surround sound.

Because most games now require 4K texture packs, the hard drive of the console, which is currently locked at 1TB, fills up faster. In terms of exclusives, Xbox still doesn’t quite hold its own even with Xbox Game Pass. In addition, the Xbox One S offers a lot of the same functionality at a lower price point (though you’re better off looking at the newer machines if you want a future-proofed purchase).

Xbox One X design

Xbox One X

If you have ever seen an Xbox One S, you can easily imagine the Xbox One X – if not for the different color schemes, the two consoles are almost identical. Microsoft has abandoned this design style for the blockier Xbox Series X and Series S models.

The Xbox One X looks like a large Blu-ray player covered in a matte space grey paint job if you’ve never seen an Xbox One S. In comparison to the original Xbox One’s bulky design, the Xbox One S is slim and covered in a matte space grey paint job.

There are only two noticeable differences between Microsoft’s previous console and its new one (if you can even notice them), the color change from the white sheen of Xbox One S to the space grey of Xbox One X, and the displacement of the disc tray from the top-left to a discreet place lower on the face of the console.

The changes are purely aesthetic, however, and neither add nor subtract functionality… an improvement considering how well-equipped the Xbox One S was.

Additionally, it can play 4K Blu-rays, as well as Xbox One games. For those who aren’t familiar with 4K Blu-rays, this might seem a bit mundane, but considering that Microsoft’s 4K consoles are the only ones on the market that have that feature, you can see why it’s so important.

The One S continues to resemble the One S around the back. There is a power connector, HDMI out, HDMI in, two USB ports, an IR out, an Optical Audio port, and an Ethernet port. It does not appear that the original Xbox One’s Kinect port will return – if you haven’t heard, Kinect (Microsoft’s motion-sensing camera) has been officially dead for quite some time, and Microsoft has even stopped selling adapters that allowed it to work on modern consoles.

In terms of controllers, the new console ships with a darker gamepad that is mechanically identical to the one that currently ships with the Xbox One S. You can’t fix what isn’t broken, it seems.

For some games (Gears 5, The Sims 4, and Metro Exodus, as a few examples), Xbox One X does support keyboard and mouse controls. Although it isn’t the first console to have such a feature (that award goes to the Dreamcast, and even the SNES had its own mouse), it will be welcomed by gamers who prefer more accurate and responsive controls.

Xbox One X hardware specs

You can see the real differences between the Xbox One X and every other console that’s come before it by opening the lid. Even so, it should go without saying that this is no longer the console you want if you’re looking for a top-of-the-line machine in 2022.

The console has an eight-core CPU clocked at 2.3GHz, 12GB of GDDR5 RAM and a GPU clocked at 1172MHz, giving it 6 teraflops of graphical computing power. In terms of specs, the Xbox One X is pretty extensive, and helped usher in a new era of living room 4K HDR gaming.

The Xbox One X’s 12GB of RAM is split between the system and the GPU, so it is not equivalent to a video card’s VRAM. Therefore, a gaming PC that’s better than this is definitely available in 2022.

A custom chip with eight Jaguar CPU cores clocked at 2.3GHz powers the Xbox One X’s CPU. That’s a 76% increase over the CPU inside the original Xbox One and Xbox One S, but it may not compare to a current-gen Intel Core i3 processor (remember, however, that these numbers don’t translate well to PCs).

Microsoft would prefer you to focus on the specifications of the PS4 Pro when comparing the Xbox One X specs. They were both released in the middle of the last generation and are aimed at 4K gaming, so they are directly comparable.

Sony’s system is a decent competitor with 36 compute units running at 911 Mhz alongside a 2.1GHz CPU and 8GB of GDDR5 memory. It still achieves around 4 Tflops of performance, despite a slight bottleneck at the buffer, which is limited to 218GB/s. Well played, Microsoft.

The Xbox One X’s specs are flawed by its 1TB hard drive, which comes standard in every system. Additionally, it’s non-negotiable since Microsoft is discontinuing the Xbox One, and no 2TB model has been announced.

Although it wouldn’t be a huge issue if we knew Microsoft was incapable of installing larger hard drives in its systems, the existence of the 2TB Xbox One S proves that this is indeed possible and the company willingly chose not to include one here.

Xbox One X game performance and library

It goes without saying that this extra power should result in a better gaming experience. We’re glad to report that the Xbox One X performs exactly as advertised: Games look great on every platform. Whether you’re using a 1080p TV with the Xbox One X or playing in 4K HDR, games look beautiful on the most powerful console of the last generation.

With a 1080p TV, the Xbox One X will use something called supersampling to create better-looking images. A supersampling game is one that renders itself in 4K thinking it is connected to a 4K screen, which means objects are four times more detailed. Even though it can’t be displayed, since it is still displayed on a 1080p TV with a limited number of pixels, the resulting image is more detailed.

This means images will look sharper in practice. With an Xbox One X, trees, branches, and foliage, in general, won’t look jagged, for example, and basic fog on an Xbox One can become thicker and more realistic.

When you see a game running in 1080p with supersampling, it’s very obvious that it looks better than a game running in standard 1080p. For those who cannot appreciate a fine edge on a shrub or a dense, rich fog in the morning, Xbox One X is not going to impress them.

The Xbox One X’s full power is unleashed on a 4K HDR TV. Native 4K games render at up to four times the detail of regular 1080p games. Still better, some of these games will offer a wider range of color options, thanks to a technology called high dynamic range. Grass appears greener, skies look bluer, and colors seem to drip from every scene. There is no question about it.

There are also other types of upgrades available on the Xbox One X. In addition, a game’s performance is measured by the number of frames it runs at.

I’ll spare you yet another long explanation on the subject, but the gist is that when scenes become highly detailed and filled with a large number of objects, the console becomes overwhelmed. As a result, it is only capable of delivering 55 or even less frames per second instead of 60 frames per second. Under all but the most extreme circumstances, the Xbox One S seemed to solve this problem that plagued the Xbox One original.

Microsoft’s Xbox One X tries to output games at a frame rate of 60 frames per second, an industry standard that matches the native refresh rate of most TVs and mainstream monitors. Even on Xbox One X, the results are noticeably better, but games still don’t always hit 60 frames per second – there are occasional dropped frames and slower response times.

How do you interpret all of this? If you’re connected to a 1080p TV or not, Enhanced for Xbox games do look better on an Xbox One X console. Also, performance is generally good. Most of the time, though, games do not run at a perfect 60 frames per second like you would on a high-end gaming PC.

That’s why you should really consider a newer console in 2022 such as the Xbox Series’s or Series X.

It looks and plays great on Xbox One X when enhanced. How does a game become enhanced? Are there many of these games?

Developers are using three broad categories of Enhanced for Xbox One X titles: enhanced 4K visual assets, HDR visual processing, or higher frame rates. You need to choose just one of these.

At that point, it’s possible for a game to support HDR or 60 frames per second, but not native 4K, and vice versa. They can choose which enhancements make sense for their games and implement them accordingly.

To make matters all the more complicated, Microsoft’s Xbox Chief, Phil Spencer, has gone on record saying that new games aren’t necessarily required to support the new hardware, i.e. there was no mandate for developers to take advantage of the Xbox One X’s capabilities.

The uproar would be even greater if developers didn’t embrace the Xbox One X the way they have – but, thankfully, that hasn’t happened. Nowadays, most games released have an Enhanced version. Thus, there are plenty of Xbox One X games to choose from.

Xbox One X interface

Before we wrap up this review, let’s have a look at the Xbox One’s interface.

In the past, the Xbox One interface was a hybrid of the Xbox 360 blade design and Windows 10’s blocks-and-pins layout. With its recent update, the latter still holds true, and switching between games and apps is relatively easy.

One of its most distinctive features is the ability to pin games or apps you are really attached to on the Home screen. In this row, you may mention DLC, your progress toward a particular achievement, or something else that is relevant to you. Whenever we saw it, we appreciated the way it kept you thinking about the game even after you’d quit.

Pros Cons
Improves 1080p experience Skewed price-performance ratio
Native 4K HDR gaming Games aren’t always 60fps
4K Blu-ray player built-in 1TB HDD fills up fast

Xbox One X final verdict

Towards the beginning of this review, we said that the Xbox One X was developed for a specific type of gamer. You can decide after reading our review whether or not that gamer is you – or, to put it another way, whether you would appreciate and take advantage of the extra processing power and graphical improvements the Xbox One X offers.

The Xbox One X is still a fine machine by itself, but there’s no real reason to buy it over an Xbox Series X now if you’re looking for power – unless you can get the older console at a deep discount.

After the launch of the original Xbox One, Microsoft has finally gotten back on track with the Xbox One X. But if you want a console that will last the distance, it’s been surpassed by more powerful machines.