The most powerful gaming console ever – this is Microsoft’s tag-line for the new One X, and it’d be easy to dismiss it as another industry buzz phrase designed to generate hype. Designed to be the most technology capable 4K HDR console available on the market, Microsoft intends to deliver on its promise with the One X. We can safely say the One X is objectively the most powerful console ever; whether or not that fact matters to you will depend on what kind of gamer you are and what you value most in your console purchases.
To validate Microsoft’s claims of console hardware supremacy, they’ve been sure to tout the One X’s major hardware specs to anyone that will listen. The One X includes eight x86 cores clocked at 2.3 GHz. Unsurprisingly both the processor and the GPU are custom-built specifically for the One X, and despite the CPU’s relatively low clock speed when compared to desktop PCs, this chip can be expected to keep up with 60 fps gameplay. When paired with the system’s GPU, another custom-built piece of hardware clocked at 1.172 GHz and producing 6 TFLOPS of graphics processing, the One X is poised to tackle 4K HDR with ease.
The One X’s memory is handled by 12 GB of DDR5 with 326 GB/s of bandwidth, and an additional 8GB of flash memory. It’s worth pointing out that some of the 12 GB of RAM is dedicated video memory, but that’s not going to slow down console games.
The least impressive, and potentially detrimental, piece of the One X is the 1 TB hard drive that is it’s only available option. This is a console designed and marketed as a 4K HDR platform, and games that take full advantage of that scaling have textures that are enormous. Games that we’re seeing come out listed as One X enhanced can have install sizes as large as 100 GB, and more cinematic games with uncompressed video will go even beyond that. This severely limits the number of games you’ll be able to store on the console that are fully taking advantage of the system’s new capabilities.
Lastly, the One X is Dolby Atmos ready, and will produce fantastic sound from just about any setup. It will take full advantage of home theater buffs’ carefully selected speaker placement and quantity to give a dynamic audio experience. It includes a 4K Blu-Ray UHD player.
In terms of raw hardware, it’s not far off from a high-end PC, and costs half as much when doing online shopping.
The One X isn’t an entirely new console, at least not in the way we usually think of them. It’s more of an upgrade for the One S aimed squarely at tackling 4K HDR gaming in the best way possible. Games that already exist on the Xbox platform will play on the One X, as well as any titles already prepped for backwards compatibility on that family of systems.
When we’re looking at the new One X and how it affects your gameplay, there’s really two categories we want to look at: Games that were designed for enhanced One X gameplay, and games that were not. Right now, there’s a huge number of titles that can take advantage of the One X’s enhanced hardware, with more on the way. How developers choose to use the console’s hardware, however, is up to them. They may want to take full advantage of 4k resolution, or it may just mean running at a smooth framerate.
Games that are flagged as Xbox One Enhanced, and take advantage of the 4K capabilities of the console, look amazing – it’s a noticeable difference between a 1080p Gears of War and a 4K one. Even on games not running in 4K, but instead just taking advantage of the console’s powerful hardware, look sharper, run smoother, and feel better than they do on the One S. In a side-by-side comparison between the PS4 Pro, a PC, and the One X, there is virtually no distinguishable difference between the PC and the One X, and in performance heavy scenes, the One X keeps a high framerate where the PS4 Pro will sometimes dip. The One X maintains the high graphic fidelity that can be found on the PS4 Pro while keeping up with the high framerates available on the PC. It’s the best of both worlds and is the clear winner for cross-platform titles that could be played on either the PS4 Pro or the One X.
For games that are not flagged as Enhanced, gamers will still notice an improvement in both graphics and frame rate, thanks to the more powerful hardware and HDR supersampling.
If you want the absolute best in console performance and detail, there is no other better option than the One X. Despite our complaints about the hard drive size, overall Microsoft has hit it out of the park with the new One X, creating a powerful console in a small package that legitimately rivals even powerful PCs in terms of performance and graphics fidelity. It also costs half as much as a high-end PC, even if you bought all the parts through online shopping.
It really doesn’t get any better than that.