18 Months ago, Phil Spencer stood on stage at the end of the Xbox Press Conference at E3 2016 and made a very bold statement, saying that by Fall 2017 Microsoft would release the world’s most powerful console, codenamed Project Scorpio. Earlier this year the specifications were revealed with an impressive breakdown of what was under the hood. A release date and price followed shortly after along with the decided name and the Xbox One X was born. So here we are and it has finally been released and I have spent a fair bit of time going through everything including its performance, enhancements and overall functions. For this review I had the Xbox One X Project Scorpio Edition but the only difference between this and the standard version is that the look of the console is slightly different in its cosmetics but the performance and everything else is identical, except there is no vertical stand included with the standard edition console. Included in the box is the console itself, a standard Xbox One controller, a high speed 4K capable HDMI cable, power cable, vertical stand (included in the Project Scorpio Edition only), 14 Day Xbox Live Trial and a one Month Xbox Games Pass voucher.
The first thing that is evident from taking the console out of the box is how small it actually is. I had seen pictures and videos showing off the console pre-release, but actually seeing it up close just shows how small and compact it actually is. The overall design of the machine is stylish and definitely has a premium look to it that makes it stand out as a top end console. It is similar in size to the Xbox One S but measures slightly smaller. The size difference between the two won’t be much of a major difference to people who already own the S but I jumped from a day one Xbox One straight to the X so size difference is incredibly noticeable to say the least. All the connections on the back are placed identically to the Xbox One S to allow for easy connection if you happened to own that console previously too so there will be minimal messing around when plugging the Xbox One X in.
Despite being the smallest Xbox ever, it could possibly the heaviest as it has a fair amount of weight to it but this comes as no surprise when you consider what it is actually packed inside the casing. Overall the console looks fantastic and remains power brick free too as this is built in to the console just like it was on the S model and despite the amount that is built in to the console and the power that it possesses, it is incredibly quiet and is only ever heard when a game is installing from a disc, but even then it’s still incredibly quiet. Packed in to the casing is a monstrous specification capable of native 4K HDR gaming, including 6.2 Teraflops, 326GB/s of memory, 12GB of GDDR5 Ram and a stunning liquid cooling system to ensure that it stays incredibly cool. There is no denying that Microsoft engineers have designed a truly efficient performing machine here and not only does it look the part but it packs a punch too.
With all of these high performing specifications and credentials that the Xbox One X has in its arsenal, it comes as no surprise that the first thing that is evident is how well the UI (User Interface) operates and performs. It is a lot smoother and quicker in operation and the difference is immediately noticeable when shifting through the different tabs across the dashboard. There are no sluggish transitions at all and it operates brilliantly. Where this beast of a console truly shines though is in its performance of the games, particularly the enhanced ones. Upon loading Shadow of War, a game I originally reviewed on the standard Xbox One, I was immediately blown away by the difference that the Enhanced Patch has made as textures, crispness of visuals and lighting effects leap out of the screen with fantastic vibrancy and sharpness of detail. The difference between this and the standard Xbox One version is night and day and all of the issues with textures that were present before the patch are all addressed and it looks absolutely fantastic.
Assassins Creed Origins was next on my list to try and I was simply blown away by the sheer amount of detail on show. Origins is a great looking game anyway but with the addition of the enhanced patch, the crispness of 4K and the wider colour gamut offered by HDR, this game looks absolutely stunning. Each of the other enhanced games I played including Rise of the Tomb Raider, Gears of War 4, Hitman, Forza Motorsport 7 and Titanfall 2 all looked fantastic and the sheer power of the Xbox One X is evident in how these games look and perform outshining their console competitors with ease. I have been blown away by the games that I have tried so far that have had the enhanced patches with wonderful 4K resolution, HDR, enhanced textures and increased graphical fidelity really stealing the show and this is just a small slice of what this console can do and I am excited to see what the Xbox One X is going to be able to achieve with future enhanced titles.
Now for the really clever part and another feature that makes this console stand out from its competitors. The Scorpio chip incorporated in to the machine manages to improve games that may have fallen short of their target performance on the standard Xbox One. So if a game was targeting an optimum resolution through dynamic adjustments but fell a little short, then the Xbox One X allows that game previously only able to reach a dynamic resolution of 900p boost up to its targeted 1080p. The method is used for frame rates too, so if a game targeted 30fps but only managed to hit around 22-26fps, the Xbox One X boosts this to a consistent targeted 30fps without breaking a sweat. A prime example of this in action was Assassins Creed Unity, a game famous for its technical shortfalls, particularity in its frame rate. I put Unity on, and straight away the frame rate was addressed and it is the smoothest I’ve ever seen it running on an Xbox Console, running at a consistent locked 30fps, its original targeted frame rate benchmark.
So what this means is that Xbox One X can add enhancements to older games that developers may not want to invest time in enhancing for the Xbox One X due to the age of the title or because they want to enhance the latest game in that particular series instead, with Assassins Creed Unity being a great example of this. So basically any older games that fell short of targeted performance will get some sort of automatic enhancement to make them look and play better by default and the X does a great job of handling all of it really efficiently, optimising them up to their original targeted performance. Not only does this work for Xbox One games but it also works for backwards compatible Xbox 360 games and OG Xbox games too making those older titles look better than ever and run smoother than they ever have before. This technology is an added bonus to what is already a very powerful and great performing machine, running current games tremendously, so with this feature allowing a better performance on older games it adds another feather in the cap of Xbox One X making it a stand out all round performer for games old and new.
When the price of £449/$499 was announced, there were a few raised eyebrows and while I understood to a point why that was, I also understood that for what we were getting in terms of specifications, the price was incredibly good and offered excellent value based on what Microsoft were promising. Now the Xbox One X is out in the open and people are experiencing what it can currently do and what it is capable of doing going forward, a lot of those doubters are realising that the price of this machine is somewhat justified. I challenge anyone to make a gaming PC of this specification, with these capabilities for the same price as what the Xbox One X is being sold for. Also all of the original Xbox One accessories and games are all compatible with the X so it offers even more value when you take that in to consideration. All in all what you are getting for your money here is fantastic and if you want the premium gaming experience then the Xbox One X offers tremendous value for what you are getting.
In terms of whether this console will be for you depends on your setup and of course your budget. I have tested the Xbox One X set at its optimum performance through my 4K HDR TV but I have also tested it on a 1080p display to see if it offers enough of an improvement on a regular high definition TV and these results were noticeable but subtle. The console boasts a super sampling method that down scales the 4K visuals and extra texture details, adapting to the 1080p output and it works really well. There is definitely an improvement over the standard Xbox One and games do look and run a lot better; however the jump in quality isn’t as clean cut or as obvious as it is on a 4K display. If you want the very best performing console but you don’t currently own a 4K TV but you plan on getting one in the near future then I would recommend upgrading your standard Xbox One as you will still benefit from the enhancements it will bring until you finally get that 4K TV to go with it where you will see the true power of this beast of a console.
The only minor quibble I have is that I feel that a 1TB hard drive isn’t quite big enough, especially considering that some enhanced patches are quite large and will fill up the internal hard drive rather quickly and if you don’t already have an external hard drive to connect up, I would recommend investing in one at some point. All in all though, Microsoft have delivered everything they promised back at E3 2016 and I am absolutely loving my time with the Xbox One X. Every enhanced game I currently own all look and feel fantastic, even better than I thought they would. The capabilities of this console are amazing and with all the enhanced games that have been promised, which currently stands at over 140 at the time of writing, including the ones that are already available, there is no question that Microsoft are committed to making the Xbox One X the best place to play games and where the games play and look the best.