The Game Awards 2019, the upper echelon of gaming awards shows, showcased everything from the Best Esports Team, to the overall Game of the Year, to games from various genres and publishers. But there was one studio that stole the show. Microsoft surprised everyone with a world’s first glance at what the newest Xbox will be called: Xbox Series X.
They also showed off the full display of the new Xbox along with some jaw-dropping gameplay. Microsoft has been calling this console the most powerful console ever made. And with a release date looming on the horizon, here's everything we know about the Xbox Series X:
Power and Specs
February 24, 2020 was a big day for Xbox fans around the world as Microsoft confirmed numerous Xbox Series X specs. The new console will feature 12 Teraflops of GPU performance, which claims to be eight times of what is currently in the Xbox One and double the Xbox One X. This is leaps and bounds the best GPU we've seen in a console.
In the official post about these new features, the Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, noted “Xbox Series X delivers a true generational leap in processing and graphics power with cutting edge techniques resulting in higher framerates, larger, more sophisticated game worlds, and an immersive experience unlike anything seen in console gaming.”
Along with the stellar GPU coming in Xbox Series X, Spencer also talked about the “New Generation Custom Processor” that leverages AMD's latest Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architectures.
A new feature called “Variable Rate Shading (VRS)” has also been confirmed for the console:
Our patented form of VRS empowers developers to more efficiently utilize the full power of the Xbox Series X. Rather than spending GPU cycles uniformly to every single pixel on the screen, they can prioritize individual effects on specific game characters or important environmental objects. This technique results in more stable frame rates and higher resolution, with no impact on the final image quality.
This will go hand in hand with the already confirmed DirectX Raytracing, which has also been confirmed for the PS5.
A new Quick Resume feature will let you close multiple games at any point and instantaneously pick up where you left off "without waiting through long loading screens."
When the console was initially announced, one of the big selling points was that it can play games at 120 FPS and up to 8K. This was also confirmed by Spencer.
One of the more notable features announced was the extensive backwards compatibility features coming at launch with the Xbox Series X. It took Xbox over a year to implement some levels of backwards compatibility with the Xbox One, and we did not get the games we wanted to play right away. Spencer noted the following:
Our commitment to compatibility means existing Xbox One games, including backward-compatible Xbox 360 and original Xbox games, look and play better than ever before. Your favorite games, including titles in Xbox Game Pass, benefit from steadier framerates, faster load times and improved resolution and visual fidelity – all with no developer work required. Your Xbox One gaming accessories also come forward with you.
This also pairs along with the announced upcoming “Smart Delivery” feature.
This technology empowers you to buy a game once and know that – whether you are playing it on Xbox One or Xbox Series X – you are getting the right version of that game on whatever Xbox you’re playing on. We’re making the commitment to use Smart Delivery on all our exclusive Xbox Game Studios titles, including Halo Infinite, ensuring you only have to purchase a title once in order to play the best available version for whichever Xbox console they choose to play on. This technology is available for all developers and publishers, and they can choose to use it for titles that will be release on Xbox One first and come to the Xbox Series X later.
At the end of the post, Spencer stated "We can’t wait to share more details about the new Xbox with you in the coming months."
Will Tuttle, Xbox Wire Editor in Chief, revealed the full Xbox Series X specs in this Xbox Wire article on March 16, 2020.
Here are the full Xbox Series X specs:
- CPU: 8x Cores @ 3.8 GHz (3.6 GHz with SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU
- GPU: 12 TFLOPS, 52 CUs @ 1.825 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU
- Die Size: 360.45 mm2
- Process: 7nm Enhanced
- Memory: 16 GB GDDR6 w/ 320b bus
- Memory Bandwidth: 10GB @ 560 GB/s, 6GB @ 336 GB/s
- Internal Storage: 1 TB Custom NVME SSD
- IO Throughout: 2.4 GB/s (Raw), 4.8 GB/s (Compressed, with custom hardware decompression block)
- Expandable Storage: 1 TB Expansion Card (matches internal storage exactly)
- External Storage: USB 3.2 External HDD Support
- Optical Drive: 4K UHD Blu-Ray Drive
- Performance Target: 4K @ 60 FPS, Up to 120 FPS
- Color: Matte Black
- Price: Unknown
- Release date: Holiday 2020
In that same Xbox Wire article, here's what Sebastien Nussbaum, Corporate VP and Senior Fellow, Semi-Custom Products and Technologies at AMD, said about the Xbox Series X:
“Xbox Series X is the biggest generational leap of SOC [System on a Chip] and API design that we’ve done with Microsoft, and it’s really an honor for AMD to be a trusted Microsoft partner for this endeavor,” said Nussbaum. “The Xbox Series X is going to be a beacon of technical innovation leadership for this console generation and will propagate the innovation throughout the DirectX ecosystem this year and into next year.”
Another feature that's been announced in the Xbox Wire article is the new Xbox Velocity Architecture that's going to work for offline streaming of games. Xbox has noted that their ultimate goal is to cut down the latency and input delay you might feel while playing games or streaming them from one of their cloud services. So, these new systems are catered to significantly cutting down the amount of delay the player will feel while playing.
Check out what Andrew Goossen, Technical Fellow on Xbox Series X at Microsoft, had to say regarding their new commitment to low latency:
“The CPU is the brain of our new console and the GPU is the heart, but the Xbox Velocity Architecture is the soul,” said Andrew Goossen, Technical Fellow on Xbox Series X at Microsoft. “The Xbox Velocity Architecture is about so much more than fast last times. It’s one of the most innovative parts of our new console. It’s about revolutionizing how games can create vastly bigger, more compelling worlds.
This has included developing brand new technology such as Dynamic Latency Input (DLI) as well as helping to shape the HDMI 2.1 specification by adding new gaming-centric features such as support for 120hz, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM). The team has also been working with the industry’s leading TV manufacturers for the past two years to ensure the display ecosystem is ready for the features coming with Xbox Series X.”
Much like the Xbox One and the Xbox 360, Microsoft is releasing the Xbox Series X in “Holiday 2020.” This is just in time for some of the newest games of the year and the holiday season, an even better excuse to grab one!
So far nothing is official for the Xbox Series X pricing. Sure, the four times faster gaming experience is nice. And the new custom internal hardware is without a doubt going to perform amazingly. But at what cost to the consumer? The Xbox One X released back in 2017 for $499, which is about as high as it usually goes for consoles these days. It will come as no surprise if Microsoft ups the price for the Xbox Series X. We will just have to wait and see.
Design, Size, and Dimensions
Along with the big name reveal of the Xbox Series X, Microsoft revealed what the console will look like. The new Xbox Series X has already been dubbed “The Fridge.” It is much bulkier than previous iterations of the Xbox, but it doesn't surprise us because of the increased internal hardware. It is without a doubt one of the most unique console designs of the century and may pose a problem for some people if they have limited space for the console.
Speaking of "The Fridge," Xbox tweeted the Xbox Series X dimensions on March 16, 2020: 151mm x 151mm x 301mm — and of course, used a fridge for scale.
This was the finale of Microsoft’s showcase at The Game Awards. They debuted a world-premiere trailer of some in-game footage of a brand new game that is coming soon: Senua's Saga: Hellblade II.
As for other games coming out when the Xbox Series X releases, we know that Halo Infinite will be one of the staple games. The first trailer for this title was shown at E3 2018, and it is perhaps the most anticipated game in quite some time for Xbox fanatics.
No other games have become official yet, but the usual on-going titles such as Fortnite and Call of Duty are suspected to release with it.
February 24, 2019 Update: The official Cyberpunk 2077 @CyberpunkGame Twitter account confirmed that everyone who buys Cyberpunk 2077 for Xbox One will get a free upgrade to the Xbox Series X version when it releases:
Gamers should never be forced to purchase the same game twice or pay for upgrades. Owners of #Cyberpunk2077 for Xbox One will receive the Xbox Series X upgrade for free when available. https://t.co/nfkfFLj85w— Cyberpunk 2077 (@CyberpunkGame) February 24, 2020
March 16, 2020 Update: In the aforementioned Xbox Wire article published on March 16, 2020, The Coalition also announced that players who own the Xbox One version of Gears 5 will get the Xbox Series X Optimized version of Gears 5 for free.
What aspect of the Xbox Series X are you most excited about?
Let us know in the comments section below!
Top image via Twitter/@Xbox
This article was written by Nick Farrell, an experienced journalist who aims to provide insightful and proactive articles daily.