A Review of The New XBox One X

Discussion in 'Xbox ONE X' started by Mr Mod, Oct 18, 2017.

By Mr Mod on Oct 18, 2017 at 4:05 PM
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    Incremental hardware updates are no fun at all. But that's been the trend, of late, with the PS4 Pro designers telling us that we need to follow a less than exciting stopgap approach to gaming. Instead of a major upgrade, a console that ramps up available performance, the technology focuses on a minor upgrade. Why even bother, we hear you ask? Granted, there's a period of years between major console upgrades. Few gaming types have the patience to wait that long. Come to think of it, who among us has is gifted with the kind of restraint it takes to wait several years for a promised game? Not many, we're sure.

    Anway, the incremental hardware updates are finding an audience because of two technological advances. First of all, 4K televisions are the new must-have gadget. Ultra high definition TV delivers 3840 x 2160 pixels, a resolution that only a powerful computing engine can throw around without causing frame shear. Next, virtual reality headsets are flooding store shelves. Again, in order to generate an immersive image, one that creates 60 fps of smooth-moving imagery, a super-fast processing engine is required. Consoles like the PlayStation 4 Pro and the XBox One S have evolved, just slightly, to accommodate this need. Again, however, that's about the only improvement that's been embedded under the hoods of these pseudo next-generation consoles. So where do we go from here? A PS5 is still a ways off, and maybe Sony will even introduce yet another stopgap before that particular flagship console arrives. In the meantime, over at Microsoft's development labs, there's a new powerhouse slated for a November 7th, 2017 release. Yes, the XBox One X is about to push the performance envelope hard.

    What is The XBox One X

    Going by the numbers, Microsoft's newest console is taking a significant step up the performance ladder. All right, this is still a 4K device, but that resolution is likely to become standard anyway, particularly since the human eye can't appreciate anything finer than this ultra-high definition display. No, it's the 6 Teraflop GPU and the 32 GB/sec memory bandwidth that imbues the newest member of the XBox family with real processing power, with the operating credentials to really redefine that popularly misused "Next Generation" label. Wrapped in a compact slab of square-edged black plastic, the console still hosts a UHD Blu-Ray player, which makes this box a natural fit for the newly evolving Home Theatre market. It's true that 4K ultra-HD discs are rare, but so were DVDs when they first appeared in the late 1990s. Collectively, then, this newest version of Microsoft's popular cutting-edge console has entered bleeding-edge territory, a rarified area where the latest games can take flight on graphical wings that employ life-like detail.

    Is This Still An XBox One?

    Certainly, this is still a bridging device, a console that fits within the XBox One family tree, but its development stage took place during the year of 2017. One year might not sound like a significant length of time, but it could make every difference when the device is placed in a console versus console battle with its nearest competitor. Numbers, it's always about the numbers, and the Microsoft XBox One X is throwing out some mighty impressive integers. There's that hard to ignore 6 Teraflop power, a feature that's driven by an eight core AMD CPU running at 2.3 GHz. Tellingly, bottlenecks issues shouldn't be a problem, not when the 12GB of GDDR5 RAM is there to ensure the 4K environments are up to par. Alongside the enhanced innards, the hardware engineers seem to be collaborating fluently with the software designers so that all of these processing resources are intelligently allocated. Beyond life-like details and fluid animations, you'll be looking at smarter AI characters and larger gaming environments, so expect at least a 1 TB hard drive to contain all of the gaming data.

    Enhanced Design Features

    Microsoft's job is to introduce compelling features to their newest wares. And so it is with the XBox One X, a console that natively offers 4K gaming. The number crunching engine throws all of that detail around at 60 fps or more, adds HDR (High Dynamic Range) to the mix, and still has the horsepower to spare. Incidentally, the 4K television must have an inbuilt HDR mode if it's to access this feature. Additionally, the games will have to be coded to access the enhanced power of the 'X' console. Forza Motorsport 7 and State of Decay 2 are two of the only games slated for the enhancement treatment, but those limited offerings are bound to explode with games as eager buyers purchase the gaming system. In the meantime, you can be sure that all other XBox One games will be compatible with this upgraded console. Interestingly, and this does seem like an impressive piece of coding if it's true, those specially ported games will also play on regular XBox One consoles, although the extra graphical eye candy won't, not until you upgrade. Beware, that boast has left the mouths of Microsoft executives before. If there should be teething problems, perhaps when an older game refuses to load, don't curse Bill Gates and his family. Instead, consult a forum for help. Better yet, wait for a patch, one that'll make your plain, vanilla XBox One game work with your super-duper XBox One X.

    Opening Up The Performance Gap

    In recent months, firmware upgrades have equipped several consoles with additional features. Most notably, a software upgrade granted the PlayStation 4 Pro the ability to adjust HDR (High Dynamic Range) so that a compatible 4K television would enjoy all kinds of dynamic content. Entertainment media or gaming, the console used Firmware update 4.0 to address this visually oriented setting. It's difficult, then, to open a large performance gap when a firmware update or a gaming patch can create a software bridge. The XBox One X simply widens the gap so that it remains a viable buying choice. Native 4K gaming, Dolby Atmos sound, fluid environments, and spatially accurate audio, all of these features require masses of processing power. Arguably, any one, perhaps even two, of those next generation digital attributes could be seamlessly incorporated into the next XBox below (The XBox S) or the PlayStation 4 Pro, a console that pushes 4 Teraflops through a nearly as powerful GPU, but, at least on paper, it seems like the new XBox will handle all of these functions with room to spare. Included among these graphically intense process streams are greater draw distances and superior anti-aliasing, which are the features that really make the biggest difference when a game designer is striving for an immersive setting.

    The only conclusion that can be drawn from the above information is one that indicates a significant step forward along the performance map. Technically speaking, some of the other consoles we've seen represent a 0.1 or 0.3 improvement climb, which is acceptable when those improvements add 4K functionality and virtual reality playback. Still, a 0.5 jump isn't too much to ask for, is it? That's where the XBox One X is situated, right at the midpoint between the original model and whatever follows (Perhaps an XBox Two?) because it has the power and the features to compel users to upgrade their hardware, come early November 2017. However, if the price of the console is uncompromisingly high, will the dedicated fan base stick with the Microsoft XBox One S? The biggest factor, as it should be, could come down to the games, to the likes of an enhanced Forza Motorsport 7, a newly augmented soccer game, or some other title that really compels users to want the kind of new hardware that can do that game justice.
     
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