The Xbox Series X is official. Microsoft revealed the official name and design of its next-gen console back in December, but it wasn't until March that we really got an idea of what the internals would be like.
The company's sixth console is set to go big, with the ability to output at [email protected] and a bumper 16GB of RAM. We've even got a release window to look forward to.
Here, we explain everything you need to know about the upcoming Xbox Series X, including release date details and a host of specs that have already been revealed.
Jump straight to the confirmed details.
When will the Xbox Series X be released?
Microsoft has confirmed that the next-gen Xbox Series X console will ship "Holiday 2020", which means we could be waiting until the end of the year to get our hands on it. It's not surprising as the Xbox One had a similar release window, and that's also what Sony is aiming for with the PS5.
The console might be aiming for a Thanksgiving release - 26 November - according to a banner found on some international versions of the Series X product page on Microsoft's website.
It appeared on the site in the UK and some other regions, but not the US. Once it was picked up online Microsoft quickly moved to replace the images though, and on Twitter Xbox Live's director of programming Larry Hryb (better known as MajorNelson) described the listing as 'inaccurate'.
How much will the next Xbox cost?
Unsurprisingly, this far ahead of launch Microsoft has remained tight-lipped regarding pricing.
There were some suggestions of $600 as a ballpark figure, but that was widely panned as that sort of pricing would not be competitive at all.
A more realistic price would be something close to the Xbox One X's RRP of £449/US$499. There is a feeling Microsoft would consider a lower-specced device for those reluctant to spend so much on a console, similar to the Xbox One S, but we'll probably have to wait until 2021 for that.
While it might end up retailing for more than the RRP of the Xbox One X, we'd estimate a launch price might be similar to Microsoft's current-gen consoles.
Xbox head Phil Spencer told The Verge that unlike with the Xbox One, this time around the company "will not be out of position on power or price.”
What should we expect from Xbox Series X?
As Xbox Series X has now officially been outlined by Microsoft, we've split this section into two subsections; confirmed details and rumoured features.
On 16 March 2020, Microsoft revealed full specs for Xbox Series X on its website. The big news is the custom eight-core AMD Zen 2 CPU, which will combine with a 12 teraflop, 52 compute unit GPU.
There will also be native support for expandable storage up to 1TB, while there will also be a 4K Blu-ray drive and USB 3.2 external HDD support.
Regular output will be at 4K 60fps, although this can be scaled up to 120fps.
See the full list of specs below:
- 8-core 3.8Ghz custom CPU
- 12 teraflop, 52 compute unit 1.825Ghz GPU
- 16GB GDDR6 memory with up to 10GB bandwidth
- 1TB custom NVMe SSD
- Expandable storage up to 1TB
- USB 3.2 HDD Support
- 4K UHD Blu-ray Drive
- 4K 60fps target performance - up to 120fps
Alongside this announcement, two videos were released to demonstrate the performance enhancements over the Xbox Series X. Firstly, there was one on loading times:
It then followed this up with a demonstration on the new Quick Resume technology:
Previously, Xbox Series X was first teased as Project Scarlett at E3 2019, in the form of a shiny trailer.
A few headline specs were announced alongside this initial reveal, with more coming later. First, it's powered by a custom AMD chip Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architectures. It's capable of providing four times more computing power than the original Xbox One, and a whopping 12 teraflops of GPU performance - more than eight times the original One, and double the more powerful One X.
In practical terms, that translates to support for 120fps, hardware accelerated DirectX ray-tracing (and even new tech Microsoft is calling audio ray-tracing), and support for Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) over HDMI 2.1.
Along with vastly improved graphical support, the console is set to get an upgrade in the storage department. Current-gen consoles come with mechanical hard drives as standard and as such, gamers are left with noticeably long loading times. That's set to change with the next-gen console, which will offer a fast SSD as standard. Improved Quick Resume features will help too - the console will let you jump back into a game right where you left off even after a reboot.
You can take a look at the full Xbox Series X World Premiere here, unveiled at The Game Awards in December 2019:
This narrated cinematic does little to dispel the mystery surrounding what we'll get in the final product, but we do at least get our first look at the console itself.
Its tall, thin chassis will be able to be placed on its side as well as upright, so should be able to blend into your existing home entertainment setup. There's no denying that it looks like a PC tower, but that might not be a bad thing as Microsoft finally tries to bridge the gap to desktop gaming.
The large fan grille will be important for temperature control. but we hope the loud whirring sounds aren't present every time you play a graphics-intensive title.
A major lure for PC gamers has always the native backwards compatibility. The Xbox Series X may help consoles catch up, with standardised Xbox games which are playable on more modern and older consoles. This theory was backed up by Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, who claims that both the PS5 and Xbox Series X will "be running almost all the back catalogue of the previous consoles".
Perhaps more importantly, a program called Smart Delivery will ensure that if you buy a compatible game once you'll be able to play it on either Xbox One or Xbox Series X and play the right version for the console you're on at the time. All Xbox Game Studios titles will be included, along with some third-party titles like Cyberpunk 2077.
The controller has presumably been updated, but it looks remarkably similar to the one currently available. We'd expect the ergonomics to be improved, but Microsoft hasn't said much about it yet.
Rumoured Xbox Series X features
Based on the release of the Xbox One S and Xbox One X, it’s not a stretch to imagine that Microsoft will keep this format for the Xbox Seriex X – an affordable console for the masses and a high-end console for those with a little more money to spend.
That was what Paul Thurrott originally reported, but he has since released a new report claiming that's no longer the case. According to the new report, Microsoft's sole effort is on Xbox Series X, suggesting that the cheaper variant originally rumoured is no longer in development.
We also assume that the next-gen Xbox will feature AR/VR support. Sony has cashed in on the interest in virtual reality with the PlayStation VR headset, something that Microsoft is yet to do despite the impressive power of the One X, and Sony has promised significant upgrades in the VR department with the PS5.
A late-2018 patent filing could also shed some light onto the next-gen Xbox controllers. As picked up by Windows Latest, Microsoft is looking to truly enhance the controller's trigger technology for the next-gen console. The filings describe motor-driver force-feedback and adjustable tension triggers that could provide developers with the ability to place different levels of resistance on the triggers to match what is happening on-screen.
While that may sound confusing, the tech has wide applications. As explained by Microsoft in the patent application, the trigger could be driven "to simulate a hard stop that effectively adjusts a pull length or range of rotation of the trigger" or "assist the trigger in returning to a fully-extended or “unpressed” posture when a user’ s finger is removed from the trigger".
Xbox Series X games
Microsoft has confirmed that the upcoming Halo Infinite will be a Xbox Series X launch title - but surprisingly it won't be an exclusive.
That's because the Xbox Series X won't have any exclusives in its first few years - at least not from Microsoft itself. The company has confirmed that for the next two years at least, every new game published by Xbox Game Studios will be playable on any Xbox or PC - meaning all the first few Series X games will also released on the Xbox One. They'll also be cross-compatible thanks to the Smart Delivery program mentioned above. Third-party publishers may take a different approach, however.
That doesn't mean that this will always be the case - at some point Microsoft will likely have to cut off Xbox One support - but it will take the pressure off upgrading straight away. It helps that the Series X will also be backwards compatible, so any new Xbox One games you buy in that time will still work on the Series X whenever you upgrade.