We may earn commission from links on this page. Our editorial is always independent (learn more)

Xbox Series X review: a powerful machine that feels like the next evolution in gaming

Welcome to the next generation of gaming!

xbox series x
4.0 out of 5 star rating

The time is finally here – gamers are about to enter the next-generation world with the arrival of the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5. Xbox is first out the gate with a release on 10th November, while Sony will give us their latest console on the 19th.

Advertisement

We’ve had some time with the brand new Xbox and now we can finally talk about it. The console sold out extremely quickly when Xbox Series X pre-orders started with PS5 pre-orders also being snapped up before many even knew that they were available.

But the word is that more of both are on the way so even if you’ve not been able to get hold of one yet, there is a strong chance you will be able to on, or shortly after, release day.

Here are our thoughts on the new console and whether we think it’s a worthy investment for gamers who are debating dipping their feet into the world of next gen.

Xbox Series X quick verdict

The next generation of video gaming is upon us and it was worth the wait. This truly is a leap in quality in all aspects and the powerful console is sure to please fans of the Microsoft consoles – while providing enough to tempt to some new ones.

For: A super-fast system that really feels like the next-generation of gaming machines. Games look fantastic, especially when optimised, and run better than they ever have before. Some small, but nice, additions to the already great controller are welcome and the quick resume function is something that we do not know how we lived without until now.

Against: No exclusive AAA games upon release is a shame and does lead to the feeling that something is missing from the console launch – although the newly boosted Gamespass does go some way to making up for it.

Xbox Series X review

xbox series x review

Let’s start with booting it up – loading up the console gives you a brand-new Xbox intro that looks great, but it does lead you to the dashboard that is the same that you get on the One devices. On the one hand, it is a stylish dashboard that does the job and is easy to navigate, so there is not much point in changing it. But it does mean that there is no wow factor at seeing something different when you first hit the main page of the next-gen machine.

So, there’s not much to say about the dashboard – but as mentioned, it remains an easy to navigate display with everything in logical places, although I do wish that they would have finally given us a way to turn off the noises it makes as you work your way through it.

How good do the games look on the Xbox Series X?

gears 5 xbox series x

The games themselves look amazing- even those that are not optimised yet. There is a marked improvement when playing something like Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey even before it gets the next-gen upgrade. But load up something like Gears 5 and the difference is staggering thanks to DirectX Raytracing.

I have played Gears multiple times and just starting the game again on the Series X instantly made me want to play through it again as it looks sublime. The level of detail you get when playing on a 4K ready TV is every bit as good as I had hoped and that applies to all games that I have tried that have gone through the optimisation process.

It is not just the visuals that are improved here either as the game plays so much better than before. Gears 5 played nicely anyway being a recent game but it gets even more of a lift with the Series X – same too for Forza Horizon 4 and Sea of Thieves. The differences are notable in the best possible way and this bodes extremely  well for games that are due for an upgrade on launch day – such as the likes of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Watch Dogs Legion.

Backwards compatibility also works brilliantly too and while it always has for the most part, I noticed some improvements on load times for those older games too with the few that I tried out.

Quick restart is a gem and switching between games has never been more enjoyable – a number of times I forgot it was a feature and was pleasantly surprised when I loaded up a game and went straight back into the action again.

But these games, especially the ones designed to look even better on the Series X, are not small and it will not take long to run into storage problems. It may be a 1TB console but a chunk of that is already taken up with the system and what’s left will allow to you to have around 12-14 AAA games downloaded at any given time. In short, if you want to have all the games you own ready to play, you will need to invest in an external hard drive – and a fairly large one at that.

Now, what about those loading screens? Well, we had been told that they were much faster than we had seen before and I am happy to report that to be the case. I played the same game on both my One S and my Series X and the game loaded up in half the time on the new console. It is every bit as quick as we were told and it already seems that time spent staring at a loading screen and waiting for the next part of the game to start will be far less than it ever has been before.

How good is the Xbox Series X console?

As for the physical console itself, the heat that it kicks out is not as bad as previously suggested. Yes, putting your hand over the fan does feel hot, but you can comfortably leave it there pain-free – so it is warm but that just means it’s doing its job and honestly, I expected hotter based on early reports. You can stand the console either upright or on its side – how you position it will likely depend on your TV stand. I had no choice but to lay it horizontally if I wanted it to sit alongside all my other devices and while it works fine that way, it does look a little odd with the designers clearly having vertical in mind when putting it together.

xbox series x controller

The controller too does nothing to break the mould and is almost identical to the ones we have seen before. But then Xbox have always produced great controllers so there was no need to drastically change the model here.

What changes we do get are small, but welcome. A share button is now placed in the middle of it (tap for a screenshot, hold for a video) and this is so much better than the fiddly process Xbox had previously with capturing those epic moments of gaming to share with your friends. The thumbsticks feel great – better than they have before on standard controllers and movement feels a lot better as a result. The grip has also been improved and the controller is so much nicer to hold than the ones that have come with the consoles in the past.

So, while all this is extremely positive, it is a shame that the Xbox Series X launches with no AAA games to accompany it. Halo Infinite was meant to be the big launch title and even appears on the box, but without something like that to launch alongside the console, it does feel like something is missing. There are plenty of games that are optimised with may more to follow, but Microsoft not having a premium game of their own is an issue – particularly when compared to the likes of Miles Morales launching alongside the PS5.

But to counter that, Gamespass remains a massive boost for Xbox players that goes some way to making up for the lack of exclusive titles that Xbox currently has – something that looks set to change with the acquisition of Bethesda. The library is ever-changing and always large, filled with games old and new with a nice mix of AAA titles and smaller titles. Add to that the inclusion of EA Play in the mix and you will have a ton of games at your disposal to play – many of which will be optimised to play in glorious quality on the new console.

But overall, lack of new original games aside, the Xbox Series X is a stellar machine that is powerful enough to ensure that it is a must-buy for Xbox gamers looking to enter this new generation of gaming. Games have never looked better, they have never run quicker, and it really is the next evolution of gaming. The future of video games is here – they just need to work on getting us some great exclusives.

Xbox Series X Specs

CPU

8X Cores @ 3.8 GHz (3.6 GHz w/SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU

GPU

12 TFLOPS, 52 CUs @1.825 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU

SOC Die Size

360.45 mm

Process

7nm Enhanced

Memory & Storage

Memory

16GB GDDR6 w/320 bit-wide bus

Memory Bandwidth

0GB @ 560 GB/s, 6GB @ 336 GB/s.

Internal Storage

1TB Custom NVME SSD

I/O Throughput

2.4 GB/s (Raw), 4.8 GB/s (Compressed, with custom hardware decompression block)

Expandable Storage

Support for 1TB Seagate Expansion Card for Xbox Series X|S matches internal storage exactly (sold separately). Support for USB 3.1 external HDD (sold separately).

Video Capabilities

Performance Target

4K @ 60FPS, with support for up to 120FPS

High Dynamic Range

Up to 8K HDR

Optical Drive

4K UHD Blu-Ray

HDMI 2.1 Features

Auto Low Latency Mode. HDMI Variable Refresh Rate. AMD FreeSync.

Sound Capabilities

Dolby Digital 5.1

DTS 5.1

Dolby TrueHD with Atmos

Up to 7.1 L-PCM

Ports & Connectivity

HDMI

1x HDMI 2.1 port

USB

3x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports

Wireless

802.11ac dual-band

Ethernet

802.3 10/100/1000

Accessories radio

Dedicated dual band Xbox Wireless radio.

Design

Dimensions

15.1cm x 15.1cm x 30.1cm

Weight

9.8 lbs.

Where to buy the Xbox Series X

Head to our Xbox Series X pre-order page to keep an eye on stock. Since pre-orders launched in September, it’s been difficult to get your hands on a console.

For more gaming news, check out our video game release schedule for all upcoming games for all consoles- or our list of all games confirmed for the Xbox Series X and every game coming to the PS5.

Advertisement

Visit our hub for more Technology news.