Xbox One X Review
We all know about the power packed under the hood of the Xbox One X. Microsoft is boasting that their latest console has 40% more power than any other console on the market, with a 2.3 GHz clocked 8-core Custom AMD CPU, 12 GB of GDDR5 of graphics memory, and 6 Teraflop GPU enabled 4K for outstanding picture quality. For your hardcore technological expert, all of this data means something; for the rest of us, it’s a lot of numbers and acronyms that sound great, although we aren’t entirely sure what they mean. But at the end of the day, what does the Xbox One X have within it, in layman’s terms, and should you buy one? Let’s dive in!
What You Want Out of a Console
Everyone wants something in a console and determining what you want is paramount to having a great experience. For example, if you don’t care what the games look like and never seem to have a problem with load times and frame rate – or are willing to accept what the current selection of consoles offer – than perhaps the Xbox One X isn’t for you. In Canada, this system will run you almost 700 dollars (after taxes), which is an incredibly steep price to pay for some major, although niche, upgrades.
If you are looking for a better graphical output, the Xbox One X has you covered; the same can be said for those looking for more consistent frame rate and better, faster load times. It should be noted that for the 4K HDR graphical improvements, a compatible, quality 4K television will be necessary, which will easily run you another $1500+. The Xbox One X is a huge investment for any gamer, but one we think is ultimately worth it if you are looking for the above mentioned features.
Xbox One X on a Non 4K HDR Television
The number one question I’ve received since beginning my review of the Xbox One X was whether or not there are reasons to purchase one if you don’t own a 4K television. I own a great, LED Sharp TV which is currently my families second television, and for a day or two, I set up the Xbox One X on that television to see what improvements – if any – translated to a non-4K television.
Of course, if you are looking for a major graphical enhancement, you won’t see one as pronounced here. If you are going from the original Xbox One to the Xbox One X, there will still be a few graphical improvements, but for those going from the Xbox One S to the Xbox One X, that difference is very muted. That isn’t to say there is no benefit to upgrading to the Xbox One X if you don’t own a 4K television, however. First, there is always the possibility that you will get a 4K TV in the future, as price will ultimately begin to fall rather quickly, but secondly, the Xbox One X does provide other great quality-of-gaming improvements, which is not reliant on 4k to be seen and appreciated.
Improved Load Times
Microsoft has drastically improved load times on their flagship games, but as games get bigger and more involved, load times get longer and much more frequent. With the Xbox One X, these load times get drastically reduced; in an earlier article on Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Edition, I lamented that load times were still fairly long on the Xbox One X, pushing 45 seconds in some instances. For the sake of this review, I loaded the same save file on an Xbox One X and an original Xbox One, and the load times were reduced by 20-25 seconds on the Xbox One X. While 45 seconds is still a long time to wait in today’s standards to play a game, there is still a nearly 50% reduction in load times on the newer system.
It should be noted that this load time reduction was the same on both a 4K television as it was on my older model LED. Load times are not locked to Television capabilities, which seems to be a constant point of misinformation online.
Improved Frame Rate
Another reason why an Xbox One X makes sense if you don’t own a 4K television is because of improved frame rates. This is a fairly important upgrade for me as the quality of the gameplay is what keeps me playing games, not necessarily the graphics. If the game I’m playing cannot retain a solid frame rate during graphically heavy moments, it can ruin the entire game. Of all the improvements in the Xbox One X, I put a solid frame rate at the top when it comes to priorities and the Xbox One X delivers.
While many Xbox One games will run at a solid 60 fps, there will be constant and frequent dips down to 30 fps and in other situations, much lower. With the Xbox One X, Microsoft has been able to harness the power of the console to maintain that 60 fps in almost all situations and even when there are slight dips, it still sits well above 30 fps, which is often considered ‘OK’ for most console gamers.
Here is where your wallet will get hurt the most, as to really appreciate the graphical enhancements of the Xbox One X, you’ll need a compatible, quality 4K television. Again, if you are jumping from the original Xbox One to the Xbox One X on a regular, LED TV, you will see some improvements, like you would had you gone from the original to the Xbox One S. They won’t be as pronounced as Microsoft has been touting in their press conferences – remember, they are demoing on 4K sets – but there will still be some minor improvements that the average fan might appreciate.
On 4K, however, things drastically improve in ways I wasn’t expecting. In reality, I’m always skeptical of console demos at trade shows because you never know what was done behind the scenes to make sure the best possible scenario was playing out to show off the power of the console. Once the set was in my home, however, I saw that Microsoft wasn’t kidding when they touted 4K resolutions and outstanding picture quality. The trade shows were true and the experience in your home, with a compatible quality 4K television, is also true.
Over 100 titles have been ear marked for graphical enhancements and some of those patches that have already rolled out are taking some outstanding games to the next level. While many have been impressive, my three personal favorite enhancements are for Gears of War 4, Quantum Break, and Assassin’s Creed Origins. All three of those titles were impressive when loaded up in 4K on the Xbox One X. Other titles, however, are equally as impressive, although the graphical jumps might not be as pronounced. Forza Motorposrt 7, for example, looked impressive when it first launched. Although the enhancements are bit more muted – as it is a fairly recent title when compared to Quantum Break and Gears of War 4 – there are still noticeable differences all around.
The Small, Although Figuratively Large, Problem
Almost everything on the Xbox One X is perfect, it’s hard to nitpick the most powerful console ever released, but I did find one small – although figuratively large – issue: the hard drive size. Enhancements for most games are huge, and although some might be small – Assassin’s Creed Origins for example is less than 3 GBs – the majority are not. Quantum Break, for example, clocks is over 150 GB when you factor in both the game download and the 4K movie downloads. Most games seem to be clocking in around 50-75 GB, with the first party titles seemingly coming in at the highest. To keep the costs down, Microsoft has opted to only put 1TB of storage in the Xbox One X and this storage fills up VERY fast.
For some people, this won’t be an issue as they only play a few games at a time anyways and are OK with deleting older games to make room for new releases. Others, however, like to be able to play whatever they own, whenever they want, which will require an external hard drive in excess of 4 TBs. In Canada, for a quality hard drive, that will run you anywhere from $150 or more. Add that expense to the $599.99 console, a 1499.99 TV, and you are looking at an investment at over #2500.00 after taxes.
If you want the improvements Xbox has offered, you are going to pay for it. Costs, as well as a small hard drive, are the biggest things holding back the Xbox One X.
While I’d argue that the Xbox One X is a worthwhile investment and upgrade, regardless of whether or not you own a 4K television or not, I also recognize that not everyone has the available funds to take this dive. With so many other, more important aspects of life to finance, the Xbox One X – as any video game console is – should be considered a luxury. For what you could spend on a new Xbox One X, TV, and hard drive, you could purchase the base model of every current game system available at retail, with a few games, and be able to enjoy all of what the video game world has to offer.
But for those who love Xbox – of which I include myself – and have a plethora of games already on their older systems, this is a worthwhile purchase. The improvements made by Microosft are having, and will have, a huge impact on all future titles. With this power, it’s only a matter of time before developers harness that power and release something truly extraordinary. If you want to be in on the ground floor of that type of development, getting the Xbox One X now is must.
I can’t speak to anyone else’s finances, or their current gaming situation, but for what it’s worth, I’d make the plunge on this phenomenal system.