Microsoft Xbox Series X review: Design
Somehow there’s another perception about Microsoft and it’s related to design. It’s often assumed that Microsoft plays it ‘safe’. However, with the Xbox Series X, Microsoft has gone big and bold. The Xbox Series X has a mini-tower like look and looks quite futuristic. Made out of matte plastic, the black coloured machine looks quite elegant. It does look a bit overwhelming in size but isn’t really that heavy (around 4.45 kg) or big. There’s something classy about the entire design of the Xbox Series X.
The signature Xbox power button is at the top-left whereas a disc drive and eject button are placed at the bottom-left. You will find a pairing button and USB 3.2 port at the bottom-right. Move to the back of console and you will see cooling vents along side an HDMI 2.1 output port, two USB 3.2 ports, one networking port, a storage expansion slot and a power input port. In terms of connectivity and ports, Microsoft has given it all.
A nice touch from Microsoft is that it has made it more easier for the visually impaired to access the ports with tactile indicators. Like the USB ports have three little raised dots whereas the power input port has just one.
The controller has been updated but looks very similar to the previous-generation Xbox one. The D-pad has been updated whereas the grips now have a textured look and feel. A new share button has been added if you want to share screenshots or clips with friends. The controller still runs on AA batteries but there’s a USB-C port as well. The controller works really well in your hands and even after hours of playing at a stretch, you don’t feel too much fatigue.
Microsoft’s design of the Xbox Series X will surely turn a lot of heads and gets a thumbs up from us.
Microsoft Xbox Series X review: Performance
Before we delve into how the Series X performs, let’s get the specifications out of the way. There’s a custom AMD Zen 2 processor running at 3.8-GHz alongside a 12-teraflop AMD RDNA 2 GPU, The Xbox Series X brings aboard 16GB of RAM and 1TB custom NVMe SSD. Simply put, this is a lot of power in a machine and it shows.
Apart from this the Xbox Series X is capable of running games at up to 8k resolution. The console can process high refresh rates of 120Hz with ease. While you may not find games good enough to test the Xbox to its hilt, we did try most of them on some features. Take the case of Watch Dogs: Legion which looks stunning on the Xbox Series X. The console manages to run it at high frame rates with utmost ease.
What’s also new is that the NVMe SSD allows rather reduced load times while playing games. For someone who is moving from the previous-gen Xbox or Sony Playstation, there’s a a world of a difference. If you are familiar with those consoles then you would know how much of a difference shorter load times require. Which also brings us to another important part: setting up the Xbox. With previous Xbox models, it genuinely was a pain to set it up as it took far too long and was tedious. The Xbox Series X, however, is a breeze compared to that. It does take some time but nothing like it was in the past.
The processors on Xbox Series X ensure that features like Quick Resume work really well. This means that you can have multiple games ‘paused’ and they resume really quickly. The waiting time has been cut drastically. The Xbox Series X in that sense is a ridiculously fast gaming console.
For instance, we tried NBA 2K21 and FIFA 20 and suspended the games after a session. A couple of hours later, the Xbox Series X resumed them in a jiffy.
The refresh rates on the Xbox make playing games a true delight. The heavier the graphics, the better they look with the Xbox Series X. Case in point: NBA 2K21.
The Xbox Series X is also a really quiet console — even when games are loading or it is performing a heavy-duty task, it hardly makes any noise.
The 1TB SSD might seem like a lot but in reality you are getting close to 802GB of storage. Now, this might be enough for most people but do note that next-gen titles will take up more space than before. We downloaded six games and had consumed close to 400GB in a jiffy. There’s an option to expand storage if you feel the need for more space.
The Xbox Series X also offers backward compatibility with over 1,000 titles — so if you want to play older games you can do so quite easily. A lot of gamers are concerned about this issue and Microsoft has taken care of it.
Microsoft Xbox Series X review: Other features
The Xbox Series X is the only console right now to support Dolby Vision. You can watch movies and shows in Dolby Vision on OTT platforms or even play games via 4K Blu-ray format. Dolby Vision gives you more immersive viewing experience but do note that you TV needs to support it for it run on Xbox Series X. The Xbox Series X also supports Dolby Atmos and DTS Headphone: X sound but very few titles actually support them right now.
The Series X can be more than a console as it has a host of multimedia features as well. It has a built-in 4K Blu-ray player and it gives you access to OTT platforms like Amazon Prime, Netflix and others. It’s a nice option to have but we didn’t end up using the multimedia content feature on the Xbox Series X.
Microsoft has upgraded the companion app for Xbox and it’s much better than before. You can manage storage, voice char with friends, share clips and even use the app as a remote control — it really is a handy app.
There are enough gaming titles that Microsoft has got but very few Xbox exclusives as such. Unless you are a hardcore gamer that spends half of time gaming, you won’t be disappointed with the titles compatible with Xbox Series X.
Xbox Series X review: Verdict
At Rs 49,990, the Xbox Series X is the definitive gaming console experience. It has got everything that a casual and a hardcore gamer would want. With features like Quick Resume and really fast loading times, this is a console that packs in speed, performance and good looks. If you are looking to future-proof your gaming experience, go for it and you won’t be disappointed. Unless you are a PS loyalist, then of course you know where to look. But if you are divided between the two ‘camps’ then then Xbox Series X makes a solid case to be your next big-ticket purchase.
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