Xbox One X: Microsoft's Premium Console Launches on 07 November for $499 but Should You Upgrade?

Xbox One X: Microsoft's Premium Console Launches on 07 November for $499 but Should You Upgrade?

Through a purposeful and designed access opportunity for Digital Foundry's Richard Leadbetter in early April of this year, we already knew that the next Xbox One console was going to have some serious hardware chops.

Those specifications and other details were fully unveiled during Microsoft's Xbox E3 Media Briefing for 2017 in a 105 minute session that featured not only the hardware details but a line up of 42 games across first party, independent developers through [email protected], and console exclusives.

Microsoft's head gamer, Phil Spencer, took to the stage and immediately revealed that the console we have know as Project Scorpio would officially be known as Xbox One X - that is the letter X and not 10 by the way - and shared the console's hero video with the millions of attendees both there in Los Angeles and online.

I must admit that I like the name of Xbox One X - it is a good continuation of the naming that marked the second generation Xbox One console - the Xbox One S - and yet maintains the connection to the first Xbox One console and its older siblings Xbox and Xbox 360.

Call it the X-Factor console because of the high end specs or go ahead and make the connection that it is an X which is the Roman numeral for 10 and therefore representative of the core operating system that powers the hardware. Either way Microsoft made a point to call this a family of systems - the Xbox family of consoles - that now includes Xbox One, Xbox One S, and the new Xbox One X.

The new console will be available starting on 07 November through all the typical retail channels.

Another aspect Microsoft made a point of hammering home is that this new console will still run the games that you have enjoyed on Xbox One and Xbox One S plus the Xbox 360 Backwards Compatible library. In fact, they stated that those game titles will run better and faster on the Xbox One X than they do on the other two consoles.

Two big game library announcements included an upcoming expansion of the number of titles in the Xbox 360 Backwards Compatibility collection and the addition of games from the original Xbox console that launched in November 2001 to the backwards compatible library. The first title mentioned for this new addition was Crimson Skies which, based on the crowd's reaction, was a solid first choice. More details about these new additions to backwards compatibility are expected later this year.

Xbox One X

Microsoft touted this new console as not only the fastest gaming console ever released but also the smallest. Turns out that you could fit an Xbox One X inside of the space taken up by its little brother Xbox One S. The console has a similar design to the Xbox One S and across the front and back you will find all the same connections/options that you currently find on the Xbox One S.

Xbox One X Front

Xbox One X Front

(1) DVD/Blu-ray Eject Button; I2) IR Blaster; (3) DVD/Blu-ray Slot; (4) Controller Connect Button; (5) USB 3.0; (6) Power Button

Xbox One X Back

Xbox One X Back Ports

(1) Power; (2) HDMI Out; (3) HDMI In; (4) USB 3.0; (5) USB 3.0; (6) IR OUT; (7) S/PDIF; (8) Ethernet

As for what is inside, during a post media briefing interview on [email protected], Microsoft's Larry Hyryb described this as a dense console because much of the space is taken up by internals and there is not much slack space left inside. The console takes advantage of new cooling methods that draws air in through grates on each side and then exhausts that air out of the consoles back panel.

Inside the core chip housing the Scorpio Engine is cooled using a liquid-cooled Vapor Chamber and the new power management system that uniquely optimizes power for each individual console at the system and component level. It was so innovative according to Microsoft's lead Xbox engineer Kareem Choudhry, that the process was named after the engineer who developed it. This process is called the Hovis Method - what a cool legacy that is right?

The overall system specs come out like this:

-- 6 Teraflop GPU clocked at 1.172 Ghz
-- 12GB of GDDR5 memory
-- 326GB/s of memory bandwidth
-- 7 billion transistors in the system chip
-- 1TB Hard Disk Drive
-- True 4K
-- 8+ million pixels
-- HDR
-- Wide color gamut
-- Premium Dolby Atmos sound
-- 4K UHD Blu-ray playback
-- All Xbox One accessories and games work on Xbox One X

Pricing on the new console is also at a premium level:

-- 499 USD
-- 449 GBP
-- 499 EUR
-- 599 CAD
-- 649 AUD

Now that the console and its details are official the time has arrived to make a decision - whether to upgrade to the Xbox One X when it arrives on 07 November.

Xbox One X and Xbox One S

Let's look at this from a couple of different perspectives and create a decision making matrix based on current Xbox console ownership status.

Caveat for all options: I recommend you have at least a full HD 1080p or ideally a 4K display to gain some graphical benefit from the upgrade. Graphics performance from the Xbox One X will be available to full HD TVs thanks to improvements in sampling and enhanced graphical resources in various games.

Xbox 360

No brainer if you are in the market for a new console and can swing the $500 price tag then the Xbox One X makes a lot of sense - especially if you are already on a 4K TV display or even a full HD option. If you do not have at least a full HD 1080p display then this upgrade will cost you the price of the new console and a TV.

Xbox One (Original)

This console originally launched in November 2013 and is now approaching its fourth anniversary of availability. Trade in value on most of the original consoles has nearly dried up with options at Gamestop limited to just a couple of console configurations listed on their trade in value page with options ranging from $75 to $110. If you have one of those consoles then it would at least bring down your initial investment in obtaining the Xbox One X and put you on the latest and greatest hardware out there.

Otherwise you could just wait out the serviceable lifetime of the console and then upgrade or be generous by passing on the original Xbox One to someone else in the family and treating yourself to the high end experience. This is especially a plus if you are already on a 4K TV but as mentioned above, even full HD Tvs will see better visuals from the Xbox One X.

Xbox One S

This one is a little trickier as the console has not even been available on the market for a full year yet, it was released in August 2016, and it already supports better graphics such as 4K and HDR from supported streaming services and UHD Blu-ray discs if you have a 4K TV. Games get upscaled to 4K from 1080p and provide better visuals as well. Gamestop is showing a handful of consoles eligible for trade in with values ranging from $100 to $175 for certain configuration/styles.

It is harder to see the benefit of an upgrade from the Xbox One S because it supports those advanced graphics and many games that come out to support Xbox One X's advanced visuals will also benefit from those improvements. I suspect most gamers who own the Xbox One S already have a full HD TV but are considering an upgrade to 4K so they can take full advantage of the bumped up visuals on the console.

Of course, the purchase of a 4K TV is one step closer to the Xbox One X console and its full range of graphical improvements. What you could do is buy the 4K TV as the first stage of your move to the Xbox One X and continue using the Xbox One S and its enhanced visuals. The following year make the Xbox One X purchase and then you will have the entire setup you need to gain all the benefits of the new console with its performance and visual capabilities.

Now if your disposal income is such that you are not concerned by the $499 price tag then my question to you is - why haven't you already pre-ordered the Xbox One X?

Note: Pre-orders are due to begin once the FCC has approved the device.

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