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Xbox One X
Who it’s for: 4K TV owners who want to get the most out of their Xbox
Last year Microsoft released the Xbox One S, an upgrade to the original Xbox One, which added 4K streaming and UHD Blu-ray playback, as well as some gaming improvements for 4K TVs. Also, the redesigned console was smaller, sleeker and much better looking, making for a compelling overall package.
Now, just a year later, gamers have another choice: the Xbox One X.
Similar in stature to the One S (and confusingly similar in name) the One X is a much more formidable system, one that provides significant added horsepower for all games and supports true 4K HDR gaming for the first time.
Now, this may not seem terribly significant. The PS4 Pro can pump up resolution and all PS4 consoles support HDR, the most significant factor in ultra high-definition visuals. But the Xbox One X has enough power under its hood that it truly makes other consoles cower in the corner. The One X features a faster processor, a blazing graphics processor (6-teraflops) and a full 12GB of DDR5 memory. For those less technically inclined, just know that these things make the Xbox One X about 40 percent more powerful than its closest competition, the PS4 Pro. The practical implications are smoother framerates, better texture detail and, of course, true 4K HDR support for games that offer it.
There’s the rub. To really make the new console worthwhile, one must have games to play. And fortunately, that isn’t a problem. Microsoft has gone back and enhanced a number of its best first party games, including “Halo 3,” “Halo 5,” “Halo Wars 2,” “Gears of War 4” and “Killer Instinct.” The latter three were available to test at press time, and all of them looked fantastic, running smoothly with visuals that popped off the screen and gameplay that was smooth as silk.
Plenty of new games support the system’s features as well. “Forza Motorsport 7” is the most visually stunning racing game ever made. The sense of speed, the clarity while racing in the rain, the way the sun gleams off cars as you pass them by — all of this looks amazing.
There are also plenty of third-party games running in 4K HDR, including “Asassin’s Creed Origins,” “Call of Duty: WWII,” “Middle-earth: Shadow of War,” “Madden NFL 18,” “FIFA 18,” “Destiny 2” and the soon-to-be-released “Star Wars Battlefront II.”
Improvements were noticeable with both “Assassin’s Creed” and “Call of Duty,” particularly in shadowy sections like “COD’s” French trenches and the early underground sequences in “Assassin’s Creed.” It’s clear that the system’s power does make a difference, and while it won’t be as obvious on a regular 1080p HDTV, it truly shines on a 4K UHD set.
These enhancements don’t come without a few tradeoffs, however. With extra resolution and features come extra file size. On average, 4K games will gobble up about twice the hard drive as their 1080p brothers. So the paltry 1TB drive that comes with the One X will disappear at about the same rate as a 500GB drive on a standard Xbox One or One S. You can easily add external hard drives (I have two) but you need to be aware of the extra cost that represents.
Loading times also take a hit. Across the board, 4K games loaded slower. Now, we are talking a matter of seconds here, not minutes, but it is noticeable, particularly when first starting a game.
Certainly, the Xbox One X is a worthwhile upgrade, but it’s not a cheap one. Priced at $500, it is $100 more than the PS4 Pro and $200 more than the One S. And don’t forget to add another $100 for a good external hard drive.
But if you want the most powerful gaming console out there, one that offers a truly stunning experience on a 4K HDR television, you can’t do better than the Xbox One X.