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Review – Xbox series X

You’ve got the Power.

As 2020 draws to a close and the festivity period begins to start, Microsoft and Sony will have released their next-gen console offerings.

Which always throws up debates between fanboys of both brands, “mines betters, NO MINE is” etc. Today I’m not here to declare which I believe is the best offering for better or worse. I’ll just be giving a brief lowdown of what The Xbox Series X offers and how much (or little) I’m enjoying the newest bit of tech from Microsoft.

The Console

With its thick black, bold, and rather attractive looking block tower-like appearance. In my opinion, this is comfortably the best-looking console Microsoft has produced. It doesn’t have the wow factor in terms of really standing out on its look alone but then neither did its predecessors. It’s a piece of hardware you’d probably struggle to fit under the television (dependent on the stand) due to the sheer length and height of the console. The front of the console has the usual Xbox power on button and a disc drive to play all your latest software titles including 4k BlueRay and a button pairing option for controllers. On the back, Microsoft has added six ports to the console including two USB ports, an HDMI 2.1 output slot, an ethernet wired connection port, the offering of an expansion slot for storage cards, and lastly the more obvious power input. Microsoft’s latest bit of kit is trying to cater to everyone it would seem.

As for how loud the console is, it’s quite possibly the quietest console ever. Perhaps only just behind the Nintendo Switch. The fans are well ventilated to keep cool with plenty of air vents based around the console at the back and on the head of the console. As of my experience, the console gets warm but not hot (as reported previously back in October on another site) but I’d still recommend keeping this unit in an open space to minimize the risk of this occurring. As seen in the picture the controller is also very similar to last gens home comforts. With some modifications to the d-pad, a screenshot button (located directly under the Xbox button) and added grip comfort/performance to the triggers and grip handles at the back.

Interface/Performance

The interface of the Xbox Series X is much similar to that of the previous generation. The Xbox marketplace doesn’t appear to of had any visual changes. As it becomes apparent Microsoft isn’t taking any risks with its live service in terms of giving gamers a new experience with different layouts and menus in how you access friends lists, the store, and console settings. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. By keeping interface aspects of the Series X identical to the Xbox One, Microsoft will have had more time to focus on the core heartbeat of the console. Which is how it performs. The Series X is incredibly responsive, with painfully slow power-up/load times a thing of the past. Quality image projections in 4K at 3840 x 2160 give gamers an experience rich in color and detail that will require a 4k Television set up to enjoy the best of the console in HDR10 and 4k at 120fps. Framerates and resolution are noticeably enhanced with some very smooth, and impressive performance levels that give the Series X a real oomph. Also, the Series X is capable of a quick resume. A flawless feature that re-loads your recent gaming catalog near-instantly to where you left it, which probably leaves me thinking I’ll never, ever return to last-gen gaming!

With the 1TB NVMe SSD drive largely responsible for this, even games with long load times on the Xbox One like The Outer Worlds, for instance, sees its load performance improve dramatically. A memory capacity of 1TB initially seems like a generous size and should be fine for the first 12-18months of the console’s lifespan. As the Series X IP library grows and boy, you can bet some of those heavy hitters like Avowed and Fable will eat a lot of those GB’s. Then I’m confident the purchase of the expansion card for memory will be worthwhile.

Final Summary

So far, so good. The appearance of the console is slick and tidy without being particularly eye-catching, and the Series X goes about its job near silently. A real pickup and play console with its rapid load times are let down by its lack of innovation with the interface. Indeed disappointing but can be forgiven as the console delivers in nearly every other area. Powerful performance, visual output, and a controller that feels comfortable to help enhance my gaming experience, leave me drooling over what’s to come later down the line with the first-party exclusives Microsoft has up their sleeve. It’s a shame that there isn’t one new exclusive to help bolster the success of the launch and really showcase those 12 teraflops in all their 4k 120fps glory we know the console can achieve. Yet, with titles like Assassins Creed Valhalla and CyberPunk (out very soon) for now, they are giving gamers a small taste of power that next-gen consoles possess.

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