Later this year Microsoft will release its next Xbox console, the Xbox Series X. In this article, we summarize all facts and rumors surrounding the console. You’ll learn more about the specs, the release date, and the first games coming to Xbox Series X!
Microsoft announced their new console during E3 2019. At the end of 2019, during The Game Awards, Microsoft unveiled the name and design of the console, named Xbox Series X.
The name caused some initial confusion because ‘Series X’ seems to suggest there will be other models made available. Microsoft has said that their new console is simply named ‘Xbox’ and that ‘Series X’ is the name of the unveiled model. That means that there’s a chance that Microsoft will announce another model in the future. This is comparable to Microsoft’s strategy this generation, where they launched the Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox One X. Most analysts expect Microsoft to launch a less powerful console further down the line at a cheaper price point. For now, only the Xbox Series X has been unveiled.
The console used to be known as Project Scarlett, a codename for all next-generation Xbox-models. According to rumors back then, Microsoft was working on two models: the powerful Anaconda – that is now known as the Series X – and the less powerful Lockhart. This cheaper model has, once again, not been unveiled as of yet.
The precise release date of the Xbox Series X hasn’t been announced at the time of writing. It is known that the console will launch somewhere before the holidays of 2020. A message on the Xbox-website that was pulled down shortly after appearing said the console would be available during Thanksgiving (November 26), but Microsoft has later stated that this was a mistake.
Sony is also launching its new console, the PlayStation 5, during the holidays this year. The Xbox Series X will therefore compete directly with the PS5.
Right now, it is not yet known if the outbreak of the coronavirus will impact the launch plans of the Xbox Series X.
The design of the Xbox Series X is remarkable. The console looks like a small, vertical standing subwoofer or PC. It has been confirmed the console can also be placed horizontally.
Microsoft hasn’t unveiled the official dimensions of the console, but according to various analyses and mock-ups, the console should be about 5.94 inches wide, 5.94 inches deep and 11.85 inches high.
The top of the console has a grid that ensures the console has an airflow to cool down, and under it, there’s a green glow. There’s also a visible disc drive on the front of the system to play physical games.
The back of the Series X has new connections to connect SSD’s that are specifically designed for the console.
The Xbox Series X controller has been officially unveiled. The controller looks a lot like the Xbox One controller. Main controller designer Ryan Whitaker claims the controller is also suitable to smaller hands. To ensure this, the bumpers and triggers have been made rounder and the grips to place the hands on have been changed. The D-Pad has also been altered to match the D-Pad on the Elite controller.
Thanks to Low Energy Bluetooth, the Series X controller also works wirelessly with Xbox One, PC, as well as iOS and Android devices. It has a USB-C connection and remembers different devices to make switching between the devices easier. Lastly, Xbox One and Elite controllers can also be used on Xbox Series X.
Microsoft has unveiled the definitive specifications of the Xbox Series X. They are as follows:
CPU: 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.8GHz (3.6GHz SMT)
GPU: 12 TFLOP's, 52 CU's at 1.825GHz, Custom RDNA 2
Die Size: 360.45mm2
Process: TSMC 7nm Enhanced
Memory: 16GB GDDR6
Memory Bandwidth: 10GB at 560GB/s, 6GB at 336GB/s
Internal Storage: 1TB Custom NVMe SSD
IO Throughout: 2.4GB/s (Raw), 4.8GB/s (Compressed)
Expandable Storage: 1TB Expansion Card
External Storage: USB 3.2 HDD Support
Optical Drive: 4K UHD Blu-ray Drive
Performance Target: 4K at 60fps - up to 120fps
During an interview with Gamespot, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer has unveiled the jump in power from Xbox One to Xbox Series X. The GPU is twice the speed of the Xbox One X, and eight times the speed of Xbox One. This comes down to 12 teraflops. A maximum resolution of 8K is made possible, but 4K will become the standard.
The CPU is more powerful as well thanks to the 7nm chip. These chips are both more tightly compressed and more energy efficient. De CPU in the Series X should be four times the speed of the one in the Xbox One. This ensures higher framerates up to 120 fps. Spencer claims that the console will balance out both power and speed.
Just like the PS5, the Xbox Series X has a solid-state drive (SSD) instead of a normal hard drive, which enables a much faster transfer of data. Game worlds should be loaded in mere seconds, and fast travel should also be almost instantly. The size of the SSD in Series X is 1TB. The SSD can also be expanded with special carts that are specifically designed for the Series X and placed at the back of the console. As an example, the Xbox One game State of Decay 2 can be loaded in eight seconds on Series X, instead of fifty seconds on Xbox One X. The SSD also makes it possible to run three games at the same time.
The Series X has some new graphical features. Developers can give effects on individual objects or characters’ priority through Variable Rate Shading (VRS). As a result, the power of the console is more focused on the most important tasks, which frees up power for other tasks.
The console also supports ray tracing, currently used in modern PC games with Nvidia GTX graphic cards. Just like in the PS5, ray tracing ensures a more realistic reflection of light on object surfaces. Dynamic Latency Input, on the other hand, prioritizes the input directly seen on screen, which minimizes latency. The console also supports HDMI 2.1, used in the most modern television sets.
Microsoft isn’t just in the console business: the company is also making big steps in streaming and cloud gaming. Their streaming services Project xCloud is in beta right now and is being tested in Korea, England, and the United States. This year, the beta version will also be rolled out in Western Europe, Canada, India, and Japan.
With Project xCloud, games can be played on any screen. This makes owning a physical console redundant because the games that are played are running on Microsoft Azure servers. xCloud also supports Bluetooth so that players can use Xbox One and even PlayStation 4 controllers. It is not yet known if xCloud is stable enough to replace Series X, but it’s a given that the technology will play an important role in Microsoft’s strategy in the upcoming years.
A price point for Project xCloud hasn’t been announced yet. Microsoft has confirmed that all Xbox One games and a selection of Xbox 360 and original Xbox games will be playable on the service. Developers won’t need to do any additional work to make this possible. The beta launched with games like Halo 4, Gears 5 and Forza Horizon 4. xCloud will also be made available for Xbox Game Pass members.
xCloud also enables players to change their console in a server, so it can be used on the same network. The exact details about this option are still vague.
All Xbox One games are playable on Xbox Series X. All Xbox and Xbox 360 games playable on Xbox One, are also playable on Xbox Series X. Every backward compatible game will also profit from the extra processor power in the Series X. This results in more consistent framerates, shorter loading times, higher resolutions and other improvements.
Smart Delivery is a key term when talking about backward compatibility on Series X. This ensures that consumers have to buy a game just once to be able to play it on their platform of choice. That means that when someone buys an Xbox Game Studios game, like Halo Infinite, they can play it on both Xbox One and Xbox Series X. Another example is Cyberpunk 2077, which will be playable on both Series X and One.
Saves, friend lists, and gamerscores are also compatible with Series X.
One of the first Series X games that was unveiled, is Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, the sequel to the critically acclaimed Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Another example is Halo Infinite, that will launch on the same date as the Series X. More games have been announced, but the complete launch line up hasn’t been unveiled at the time of writing.
The confirmed Xbox Series X games are as follows:
Dying Light 2
Gods and Monsters
Lord of the Rings: Gollum
Rainbow Six: Quarantine
Rainbow Six: Siege
The Elder Scrolls 6
NBA Live 21
NBA Live 20
Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2
Watch Dogs: Legion
Microsoft has made huge investments in new talent in the past few years. They have bought various talented developers, like Playground Games (Forza Horizon games), Undead Labs (State of Decay), Ninja Theory (Hellblade, Heavenly Sword, DmC), Compulsion Games (We Happy Few), Obsidian Entertainment (Fallout: New Vegas, The Outer Worlds) and Inxile Entertainment (Wasteland games). Microsoft has also established The Initiative, consisting of former employees of Rockstar, Sony Santa Monica, Insomniac Games, and Crystal Dynamics.
The price of Xbox Series X hasn’t been announced at the time of writing. While the specifications of the Series X could suggest a console in the $499 - $599 price range, Microsoft will want to be competitive towards its main competitor, the PlayStation 5. It is also possible Microsoft will consider a premium price point for the Series X, and launch a cheaper, less powerful model somewhere during its lifespan. However, this has not yet been confirmed.
These are all the currently known details and rumors about the Xbox Series X. We expect more details, like the official price and launch line up, to be unveiled in the upcoming months leading up to the launch during the holidays.