Throughout console gaming we have seen a large gap between generations of consoles, sometimes waiting eight years to get our hands on the latest tech. Sony wanted to change that with the PS4 Pro, and now Microsoft wants to join the 4K party with its newest Xbox juggernaut - the One X.
The One X is Microsoft’s attempt to bridge the gap between not only between console generations, but also between the compromised experience those of us who prefer consoles receive and the higher-end one enjoyed by those who prefer the PC. It brags six teraflops of computing power, HDR and 4K Blu-Ray support, all in a package that’s somehow smaller than the already impressive One S.
This is the second iteration of Microsoft’s new found talent for hardware design, and it is worlds apart from their original console.
They managed to achieve this through an advanced vapour chamber design, typically found in higher end graphics cards. The increased cooling capacity not only allows for the size, but for much quieter operation. Throughout my first couple of days, I haven’t managed to get the fans to be any louder whilst playing Forza Motorsport 7 at 4K, than the old One S console was at idle.
Within a few seconds of booting the console for the first time, you really see just how much they want to push this to the extreme, with a new bright, loud introductory sequence. As soon as you get past this, you couldn’t be blamed for not realising you’re using a new console. The dashboard is the same as its cheaper counterparts, including its resolution. This is the last place where you’ll see the older experience, as from here on in you’re treated to beautiful high-fidelity visuals that belong on much pricier computers.
The One X is Microsoft’s attempt to bridge the gap between not only between console generations, but also between the compromised experience those of us who prefer consoles receive and the higher-end one enjoyed by those who prefer the PC
Provided a game has been 'Xbox One X Enhanced', you’ll be treated to enhanced visuals throughout. For the games that have this, including Forza Motorsport 7, the experience is breath-taking. It has the fabled 60 frames per second, whilst retaining picture-perfect renditions of a shockingly large number of cars. In the rain, with 24 Formula One cars wrestling around Silverstone, it somehow maintains this.
Last year’s attempts to hit this level of details fell short, with Project Cars 2 struggling to keep above 40 frames per second in similar situations. There’s a large list of games that have been enhanced, with surprise entries from old titles like Halo 5, you can read the full list here. These enhancements even manage to improve original Xbox games, from back in 2001. But it’s not quite enough, not yet. An addition of a boost mode, like that found in the PS4, would help to improve the experience whilst the rest of the console world catches up.
In general, the One X lives up to expectations. It supports the 4K 60fps experience, but there’s a pretty large caveat to this - developers must add the support themselves. For old games, its questionable if this will happen beyond the launch titles we’ve seen this week. For new games, it looks as though developers will just match the sub-par PS4 Pro experience and call it a day, which is disappointing at best.
When the games catch up, and Microsoft manages to create enough first party content to support a system like this, it might be worth it. Even then, that’s only true if you already have a 4K TV, as otherwise you won’t really notice the differences, especially not enough to justify a £449.99 console and a TV that costs about the same if you’re looking for anything average.
In short, it's the best console ever made. But you probably shouldn’t buy it.