Xbox Series X review: Silent and beastly

    Who is the console for and how does it stand up against the rival? We try to answer all these questions and more in our review.
    By: ROBIN SINHA
    | Updated on: Jan 31 2021, 19:59 IST
    Xbox Series X
    Xbox Series X (HT Tech)
    Xbox Series X
    Xbox Series X (HT Tech)

    The gaming market is an upward-facing graph in India now and companies like Microsoft are trying to make the best of it. And its latest and most powerful gaming console, the Xbox Series X, is the prime example of that. It is the latest and greatest Microsoft has to offer to gamers right now, something that goes up against Sony's PlayStation 5. Priced at 49,990, the Series X is powerful in terms of specs but has a way different design this time, which might or might not be loved by all.

    But with Xbox Series X solving major grievances that gamers had before and being a future-proof console at the same time, has Microsoft managed to make it worth the investment? Who is the console for and how does it stand up against the rival? We try to answer all these questions and more in our review. Read on...

    Design

    We did get a design upgrade from Xbox 360 to Xbox One and it seemed like a natural progression. However, Xbox Series X is way different and far from being a natural refinement when it comes to looks. It may come across as a ‘boring' piece of hardware specially when you compare it with the PS5, but some might just like the stealth and simple look. Unlike the PS5, it can blend in well with your home furniture.

    Sporting a flat cuboid shape without any RGBs or dual colour tones like what you get in rival PlayStation 5, Series X has more to show what's on the inside than outside. Fortunately, it is not as tall as PS5 when standing vertically, so placing it under your TV screens is also not a problem. The monolith, matte black design takes the air from the backside and throws the hot air out from the top. So make sure you have some room at the backside and on top for good ventilation.

    New Xbox Wireless Controller has a finer design and is priced at  <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>5,890.
    New Xbox Wireless Controller has a finer design and is priced at 5,890. (HT Tech)
    New Xbox Wireless Controller has a finer design and is priced at  <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>5,890.
    New Xbox Wireless Controller has a finer design and is priced at 5,890. (HT Tech)

    The front, which will be facing the crowd most of the time, is also minimal as the majority of the ports are at the back. The front has a power button, a USB 3.2 port and a 4K Blu-ray drive. What's impressive is that there is hardly any fan noise while playing games.

    Performance

    Getting all the specs out of the way, Xbox Series X boasts of an octa-core AMD Zen 2 CPU @ 3.8GHz and 12.15 TFLOP RDNA 2 GPU @ 1.825GHz with Ray Tracing support. There's also 1TB storage that can be expanded, 16GB GDDR6 memory, 4K UHD Blu-ray Drive, support for 8K at 60Hz, HDR, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support. As for the connectivity, Series X boasts of three USB Type-A port, Ethernet port and HDMI port.

    Now, that sounds like a lot of power and indeed it is. One of the ways you can see efficient use of power is in the Quick Resume feature. It is also probably one of the most impressive features of Series X. We tried this with Assassin's Creed Valhalla and it just works! At no point it stutters and somewhere shows the power and efficiency of the hardware. Unfortunately, not all the games are supported by it.

    That said, Playing AC Valhalla and Mortal Kombat 11 was bliss and everything worked as smoothly as it could. From graphics to smooth transitions between different views and mid-fight animations when you make combo moves, are rather clear and a treat for your eyes if you have a 4K QLED or OLED TV. In AC Valhalla, switching between the land and aerial moves, fast travelling, and loading of a checkpoint was quick. Since the Series X also has variable refresh rate support, screen tearing is not a problem.

    Xbox Series X UI.
    Xbox Series X UI. (HT Tech)
    Xbox Series X UI.
    Xbox Series X UI. (HT Tech)

    Playing Xbox One games on Series X is frictionless and so is the setup process. You just log-in, download the games you want and get going. The older ones will, however, connect to the cloud and download your saved data. You can also go for the Game Pass, which gives access to over 100 titles by simply asking you to pay 825.

    If you are coming from Xbox One, you will find the UI in Series X clean and stacked neatly into folders and menus. This makes it easier to navigate and get a better grip on multiple windows, which was a bit difficult to handle before. The new UI also brings more focus on games this time, instead of pushing Xbox as a centralised media hub. It is just better, more organised and customisable with new profile themes.

    The wireless Xbox Controller is definitely better this time but only in terms of functionality and how it lets you handle the navigation and moves in a game. The looks are almost similar to the one that comes with Xbox One. For first time buyers, there won't be any problem but for someone coming from Xbox One, the new controller has more grip and is a tad bit more comfortable to hold. Textures on triggers and bumpers are a plus point this time and so is the share button that lets you capture screenshots and gameplay videos while playing a game.

    What, however, might be the only downside with the controller is that it uses AA batteries. But on the brighter side, it is possible to use both Xbox One controller and Elite controller with the Series X.

    Xbox Game Pass.
    Xbox Game Pass. (HT Tech)
    Xbox Game Pass.
    Xbox Game Pass. (HT Tech)

    Verdict

    Being a gamer, if you want minimal loading times, simplistic design, smoother gameplay and Xbox One backward compatibility, Xbox Series X is the way to go at 49,990 price tag. It has a “love it or hate it” design and definitely takes lesser space than the PS5 in your room. The Quick Resume feature and the clean UI is something to look forward to for both first time Xbox buyers and those coming from the previous generation. And what adds as a cherry on top is the Game Pass subscription.

    In case you are tight on budget, are a first time Xbox user, still want an Xbox experience and can compromise on power a tad bit, Microsoft is offering its Xbox Series S at 34,990. The Series X still has more media features over PS5 but the latter has its powerful gaming library, better controller with adaptive triggers and a brand new design that is indeed a head-turner.

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    First Published Date: 31 Jan, 19:59 IST
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