A year after Sony released an amped-up version of the PS4 in the PS4 Pro, Microsoft is now doing the same, giving the Xbox One S a bigger brother: the Xbox One X.

Here, we discuss all we know about the One X - formerly known as Project Scorpio - including the release date, price, and some of the key features that you can expect from the high-end console, including full specs.

Also read our Xbox One X preview, including hands-on video. Microsoft has directly commented on why you should buy the upcoming One X over a PS4 Pro - see what it said here.

When is the Xbox One X release date?

Microsoft announced at E3 2017 that the Xbox One X will be out in both the UK and US on 7 November 2017.

How much will the Xbox One X cost?

Another major E3 announcement was the price of the new high-spec console: it will go on sale at £449.99/$499.99. You can't pre-order the console just yet, but keep an eye on the Xbox store or head to Game, where you can sign up for email updates when it goes on sale.

For comparison that's £100/$100 more than Sony's rival PS4 Pro and we wouldn't be surprised if that saw a price drop between now and the One X's November release date to make the comparison even more favourable for Sony.

It's also significantly more than Microsoft's own Xbox One S (below, right), which starts from £249/$249 - and that's often bundled with a game. So can the One X justify the substantial price?

Xbox One X news

We think it can, but until you've actually seen the quality of the best-looking games such as Forza 7, it will always seem like a very expensive upgrade.

According to Microsoft's Phil Spencer, who spoke to Business Insider, the company isn't making a profit on the One X. That's one reason why it isn't bundled with a game. In fact, Spencer is perfectly candid about the situation: "I don't want to get into all the numbers, but in aggregate you should think about the hardware part of the console business is not the money-making part of the business. The money-making part is in selling games."

And as everyone knows, the cost of producing hardware decreases over time, so you can expect the One X to drop in price in 2018. Early adopters, as ever, will pay more for the privilege of having the tech first. 

Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter doesn't think the console will be much of a success stating: "An Xbox One X costs as much as an Xbox One S and PS4 Slim combined. So if you don’t have an Xbox One yet, any kind, why would you buy a One X instead of a One S, and a PS4 to go with it too? I just don’t get it. I don’t think they are doing themselves any favour at this price point."

What's the design?

One of the most impressive elements of the Xbox One X is the design - Microsoft has managed to cram an awful lot of hardware into what it claims is the smallest Xbox ever.

The sleek black box is even smaller than the Xbox One S, despite packing in considerable more powerful specs. It boasts a simple matt finish, with the now familiar Xbox grill effect at the end, and has a slight lip from the larger top half.

Along with the power socket, there's both HDMI in and out, three USB 3.0 ports (one at the front), along with IR, optical sound, and ethernet. It also includes both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for wireless functionality.

Podcast

We discussed the Scorpio's specs and our expectations for the console before the E3 announcement on the UK Tech Weekly podcast:

What are the specs and features?

In an almost unprecedented step for a modern console, Microsoft fully revealed the Xbox One X's specs to Eurogamer's Digital Foundry months ahead of the console's release, so we know exactly what we have to look forward to.

Microsoft has also announced that the Xbox One X will heavily feature at Gamescom 2017 with a One X-themed livestream taking place days before on Sunday 20 August 2017. Expect to learn more about what the Xbox One X can do along with demos from developers creating games or the platform. 

Specs

First up, let's talk CPU. The One X boasts a custom-built eight-core CPU, with each core clocked at 2.3GHz. That's similar to the octa-core setup in the PS4 Pro, but that only runs at 2.1GHz - and it's miles ahead of the 1.75GHz CPU in the original Xbox One.

That's an exciting step up, and it's needed to drive the biggest hardware change here: the GPU. The entirely custom AMD chip boasts 40 compute units each running at 1172MHz - dramatically faster than the 911MHz the PS4 can manage across its 36 units. Microsoft has lived up to its promise to offer six teraflops of GPU power.

That's all with the aim of running smooth, consistent 4K, which requires plenty of bandwidth elsewhere. To that end, the One X has 12GB of GDDR5 (versus 8GB in the PS4 Pro), with a total memory bandwidth of 326GB/s (218GB/s on the PS4 Pro), with 9GB dedicated to games and 3GB for the system.

It also boasts a 1TB hard drive by default, again with improved bandwidth to help keep load times light. There's also one of the latest AMD media blocks, to let players capture game content in full 4K with HDR, and an Ultra HD Blu-ray drive.

All of that extra power means extra heat, and the One X has opted for a console cooling first: in line with high-end PC graphics chips like the GTX 1080, the Scorpio boasts a vapour chamber heat sink, which in turn required a custom fan - all in the name of packing in enough cooling to run the high-power console in a compact form factor.

Meanwhile the sound is impressive true - it boasts 5.1 surround sound driven by Dolby Atmos, so your games should sound as good as they look.

What's clear from across these specs is that not only does the One X improve on the original Xbox One S in almost every regard, it also exceeds the specifications of the PS4 Pro in just about every area. Whatever else you say about it, this does indeed look like the most powerful console on the market - by a comfortable margin.

If you're not sure about whether you should buy it over the PS4 Pro, Microsoft has address the issue directly.

"Well, I'd say if you want true 4K gaming, it requires 6TFLOPs of power, we have 43% more graphical power, over 60% more memory we make available to developers," said Microsoft’s Aaron Greenberg to EPN.Tv.

"But the most important thing is, whether you're a hockey fan, a racing fan, an RPG fan, whatever game you want to play, it will look and play better on the Xbox One X, because we bring significantly more power to the table."

Performance

While we haven't been able to test the Xbox One X out for ourselves, thanks to Microsoft's E3 briefing we have a pretty good idea of the sort of performance layers can expect from it.

The company has made much of the console's 4K capabilities, and showed them off in Forza Motorsport 7, which it claimed was running in true 4K (including 4K assets) at a locked 60fps - a claim borne out by Digital Foundry's time with the hardware earlier in the year:


Image: Microsoft/Digital Foundry

Of course, this is a single first-party demo, perfectly optimised, but it shows off one of Microsoft's major goals for the One X: to produce native 4K at 60fps with overhead to spare. 

Microsoft has also reportedly mandated that all Xbox One X titles should run at the same frame rate or higher than the standard Xbox One - so don't worry about 4K impacting frame rates - and even those with 1080p displays will see some benefit, as they can set the console to render in 4K and supersample down to 1080p. 

No matter what display you use, you'll also have the option of performance modes that output at lower resolutions to preserve framerate, though if Microsoft has pulled off what it says it has, you might never need it.

Mixed and virtual reality support

While we had previously speculated about virtual reality support for Project Scorpio, Microsoft took to the stage at GDC 2017 and officially announced that mixed reality experiences are coming to not only the Xbox One X, but possibly even the standard Xbox One in 2018.

For those that are unsure of what mixed reality is, you're not alone, as different companies use it to describe different concepts. Microsoft's definition is a mix of virtual and augmented reality: an experience that mixes the real world with digital information, like playing Minecraft on your living room table or seeing the representation of in-game characters beyond the borders of your TV. 

Both augmented and virtual reality offer different benefits: virtual reality is more immersive, while games like Pokemon Go are perfect for use in augmented reality. For more information on what mixed reality is, take a look at the following explainer from Microsoft:

Which games will be available for it?

Microsoft has announced a number of upcoming titles with full 4K assets to maximise the benefits of the One X, including the likes of Forza 7, Crackdown 3, State of Decay 2, and Sea of Thieves.

Beyond the initial announcement, rumours suggest there is a long list of games that are looking to take advantage of the Xbox Scorpio from day one, including the likes of Red Dead Redemption 2, Star Wars: Battlefront 2, along with the next FIFA, Madden and Call of Duty games.

Some older games will also be patched with specific Xbox One X support to run better on the new hardware, and will carry a new 'Xbox One X Enhanced' logo. More than 30 such titles were announced at E3, including Gears of War 4, Killer Instinct, Minecraft, Forza Horizon 3 and Halo Wars 2, and third-party titles from Final Fantasy 15 to Resident Evil 7.

Fans might also be happy to hear that, like Elite Dangerous, a patch will arrive for Halo 5 ahead of the Xbox One X's launch so that it supports 4K resolution on the new console.

The Xbox One X will also offer support for the entire Xbox One library, with every game running with the full power of the hardware, which allows for 4K resolutions, faster load times, better frame rates, and more. Games patched for specific One X support should see more dramatic improvements, but every game will see some benefit.