For The Serious Players
Microsoft's Xbox One X scores high on all counts, but for the size of the hard disk
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It has been hailed as the most powerful gaming console ever made. With the equivalent of a high-end gaming PC’s graphical horsepower housed inside a deceptively small package, Microsoft’s Xbox One X brings stunning visual and performance upgrades to platform — most notably true 4K HDR gaming — which gives it legitimate bragging rights over the PlayStation4 Pro from Sony.
Pull it out of the packaging, and the One X is smaller in almost every way than its predecessor (One S), with the minimalist matte black plastic design taking up less space than any previous Xbox iteration. The aesthetics, the build quality and even the selection of ports is similar to the One S, but the wide exhaust near the rear employs a new vapour chamber cooling system. There is only a gentle hum coming from the unit during gameplay, which is impressive given the power on tap.
Peep under the hood, and you see the reasons behind the One X’s performance and graphical prowess. Microsoft’s taken an eight-core AMD Jaguar chip with an equally impressively amped up AMD graphics chip and mated these with 12GB of high speed memory. So, instead of merely upscaling full HD images to 4K Ultra HD (1920x1080 to 3840x2160 pixels), the One X produces Ultra HD images from the get go, pushing the graphics hardware to work four times as hard, 60 times each second, to produce the same frame. The result? Glorious, detailed in-game visuals, some supporting high dynamic range, which means you will see more colours that closely mirror how they look in real life. Pretty spectacular stuff, but there is a catch.
It is not quite as simple as firing up your favourite game — game developers have to specifically update their games to take advantage of the new hardware, and if you see a ‘One X Enhanced’ label on your favourite title, you are likely to get more mileage out of the new console purchase than with games without.
So, a Microsoft exclusive like Gears of War 4 is probably the best example of what the console is capable off — the huge range of colours and a tonne of eye-candy graphic features really shine through, and the ability to bump up the gameplay to 60 frames per second feels so much more fluid and responsive. Other titles like FIFA 18 offer up additional detail in the gameplay, and even in games where there is no perceptible difference, the One X can dynamically scale down the resolution ever so slightly to allow for silky smooth performance. Pit against the Playstation4 Pro in a game like Call of Duty WWII, the difference between the near-native UHD performance and the 4K-upscaling is easily noticeable.
My grouses with the One X are few, primary among them is the size of the hard disk, which at 1 terabyte feels rather small in an age where 4K games touch anywhere up to 100 GB, and you will want to invest in an external hard drive sooner rather than later.
That said, the visual spectacle provided by the One X has finally gotten to a point where a console is no longer a pared-down gaming PC experience, an achievement that gives Microsoft the slight edge in this generation of gaming consoles.
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