A Review of the Xbox Series X

It has been a good month and a half since the Xbox Series X didn’t hit stores. I say that tongue in cheek, because those of us that were able to obtain the console, only were successful online.

On September 22nd, I had multiple sites ready to go. The first few crashed. Eventually, I tried a couple of times on the Wal-Mart site and secured my console. I was able to spam click the checkout button on Best Buy and secure another Xbox for a family member around lunch time.

Due to the pandemic and high demand, companies have put their console stock solely online, which has been and will be exploited by automated scripts. I don’t understand why a queue system can’t be established for a console in high demand. Let’s be honest, the PlayStation 5 demand is far greater. I think this is due to the ratio of consoles sold the previous generation.

The good news is that the holiday season is over and both Microsoft and Sony have a lot more consoles in production. Xbox Series S consoles have been appearing on Best Buy and not vanishing immediately. I fully expect the Series X to be the next console to restock and be more available in the next 30+ days. As for the PS5, I’d say a longer wait is ahead.

So how is the console? Overall I really enjoy it. The past generation, I got a PS4 on day one due to Microsoft’s fall from grace. I loved my 360 and I just thought the original Xbox One was a step in the wrong direction. Their vision wasn’t the same as what gamers wanted.

Once Phil Spencer entered the mix, Xbox got an overhaul. The One S and One X came out and I adopted a Xbox One X shortly after it’s release. That console quickly became my favorite. It was sleek, ran great, and had some great performing games with it.

So when the Series X was revealed, I fell in love with it again. Looks can be deceiving though and we have a lot of people now curious at the next phase of Xbox. Let me give you my take on this console so that you can keep these things in mind.

For the appearance, this thing is a monolith. I immediately thought of 2001: A Space Odyssey when I unboxed this console and hooked it up for the first time. Aesthetically, this console looks best standing vertical. However, if you don’t want to stand it up, or perhaps your entertainment center requires horizontal placement, it looks fine as well. I have mine horizontal on a shelf. In terms of length, sitting down on its side, it’s about the same length as the Xbox One X. In terms of height, it’s about twice as tall. In terms of width, it comes out a little less than a One X does. One more thing: the console has rubber feet on the side you can lay down so Xbox knew some people wouldn’t be able to stand it up.

Ok so how about the noise and temperature? Folks I’ll be honest with you. I have ran some graphically intense games for long periods of time and I have never heard the console while I game. All I ever hear is when I start a disc game and the optical drive gets it running initially. That’s it!

As for the temperature, it gets warm for sure. The air blows out the top (standing vertically) or toward the right (sitting horizontally). There is also a vent in the back for more air flow. As long as you give it some breathing room in your entertainment center, it will be just fine. Never have been concerned about heat. Yes the case feels warm and some hot air can blow from the main fan but it’s nothing different than a PC tower blowing air.

In terms of other physical hardware, you can get on Xbox’s webpage and explore some of the specs that come with the console. I don’t want to get into too much depth on this since we are early in the generation and there haven’t really been any new generation exclusives to be presented yet. This will change in 2021. On paper, the Xbox Velocity architecture seems like a great idea and plus it’s pretty impressive how they put all of that hardware and arranged it into a tower form.

One piece I will mention is the controller. Xbox definitely went with the “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” approach. I agree with this approach. They added a share button in the middle and it’s nice to have if you like sharing screenshots and clips. The D Pad got a nice upgrade in my opinion. It’s more like you see on the Xbox Elite controllers. The triggers and bumpers have texture to them as well as the bottom of the controller. This is for those of us that have sweaty hands. Overall, not a vast change like going from PS4 to PS5 but I’d argue people were already happy with the Xbox form factor.

As for features within the console, I’d like to talk about quick resume. It is fantastic! They still are fine tuning it after release but it’s great so far. I had Forza Horizon 4, Gears 5, Dirt5, and Tetris all running at the same time and could easily swap to each of them in seconds from each other and jump right back in.

As for me though, I just like to have one game going at a time. Usually when I’m done, I pause the game or I leave it on the main menu and then put my console to rest. When I’m ready to play again, I’m seconds away from jumping back in.

This leads me to another favorite aspect of this console. The quick loading times! Red Dead 2 loads significantly faster. I feel sorry for the folks texting me in the evenings because I have no more time to sit and chat while I wait on loading screens. This works well with OG Xbox games all the way up to games optimized for the Series X.

In terms of storage, you get a TB to use. I have about 200GB occupied by the operating system. The rest of my console has 10 games of various sizes installed.

As for graphics, you need a 4K TV to enjoy this console. Furthermore, try to get a TV that accepts HDMI 2.1 input. Because you will be able to run games at 4K resolution, 60 frames a second (hertz) which is called quality mode on optimized games. The other option is performance mode where you get games at 1080p or 1440p with 120 frames per second.

You get the trade off of better visuals or better performance. Some games I go visual and others I choose performance. Unfortunately for the games that are not optimized, you’re capped at 30 frames so it seems skippy when you move around. This is mostly a third party issue that only they can unlock for Xbox. Xbox first party games are optimized for the most part.

Another recommendation is Xbox Game Pass. I think this is going to become the Netflix of gaming. Pay for one subscription and get everything Xbox and their friends have to offer! I could write a whole article about where Xbox could go from here and you know what? I might do that!

Now, I will mention one key aspect, at least for me, that is sorely missed on this Xbox. When Mixer was shut down, Xbox lost their main window into streaming. One of my favorite features of the PS4 is that I could stream directly from console to Twitch and other places and run a show directly from my couch. No other equipment was needed. Now with the Xbox, you can stream to Twitch from the Twitch app. I think this is something they should explore further. Perhaps have a dashboard for broadcasting like PlayStation with an option to see chat and control your stream from your console and couch. Plus, have various options for streaming so that different people can grow on different platforms. Facebook Gaming, YouTube, Twitch would be the three main ones to explore. Maybe one day there could be a Mixer revival but there are just too many fish.

In summation, I have been enjoying this console as my primary hub for gaming. It’s a clear upgrade of the One X and I think it’s going to really be showcased in 2021 and beyond as Covid simmers down and new games are released over time. For $500 you are getting a great deal.

As a bonus, the Xbox ecosystem will be a great place for gaming and will only grow as a lot of folks either get a Series X or a Series S. Game Pass will keep getting better and it seems like Xbox has a very diverse lineup of exclusives in development by some of gamers favorite studios. We all know exclusives were Xbox’s main weak point in the last generation. I’m really rooting for Halo Infinite to do well. As we have learned with Cyberpunk, if the game needs more time, give them more time.

Thanks for reading and adios to 2020!

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