Xbox Series X: Console or PC?

Microsoft revealed what the next Xbox will look like and what it’s called. The next-gen Xbox console(s) will be called the Xbox Series X, and it looks like a PC tower.

Xbox boss Phil Spencer took to the stage at the 2019 Game Awards to reveal the results of architectural work done on the upcoming Xbox. The new console looks very much like a PC, with a tall vertical design. However, the device can operate horizontally, as well.

Xbox Series X. (Photo: Microsoft)

The new, PC-like shape coincides with the specs for the console. The Xbox Series X will use a custom CPU based on AMD’s Ryzen Zen 2 architecture and an AMD Navi-based GPU. Microsoft intends to drastically reduce load times by swapping hard drives for NVMe SSDs.  Also, the devices will include faster GDDR6 memory.

With these hardware improvements, the Xbox Series X will support 4K gaming, 120Hz maximum refresh rates, hardware-accelerated Ray Tracing and 8K maximum output resolution.

According to information gleaned by Gamespot in an exclusive interview, the new Xbox Series X has four times more computing power than the already powerful, current-gen Xbox One X.

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Microsoft’s current-gen Xbox One X

The apparent increase in size will undoubtedly aid in sustained performance. Processors and GPUs need space to breathe. A narrow chassis will result in thermal throttling and stunted performance.

Though the shape may be strange to some, the naming scheme is still more bizarre. Microsoft hasn’t followed a progressive numerical naming system. The second Xbox was the Xbox 360 rather than Xbox 2, we currently have the Xbox One, and the Xbox Series X is next.

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Xbox chief Phil Spencer revealed Microsoft’s latest console at The Game Awards 2019. (Photo: Microsoft / The Game Awards)

That aside, the Xbox Series X hardware seems quite robust. The 2019 Game Awards demo included a game engine render of upcoming title “Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II.” The demo included rich textures and impressive lighting effects. These improvements bring the Xbox closer to PC graphics.

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Xbox Series X blurs the line between PC and console hardware, as many gaming PCs use similar components to deliver stellar results. It’s easier to upgrade computers by switching out certain parts. Consoles haven’t replicated this thus far. However, the use of “PC parts” bring dedicated consoles and computers closer together.

Microsoft must ensure that its next game console has the right balance between price, performance and most importantly, game titles.

The current-gen Xbox One X is more powerful than the PS4 Pro. However, Sony’s PlayStation 4 has sold far more units.

According to a Business Insider report, the PlayStation 4 is the second best-selling game console of all time, with 102 million consoles sold. Sony’s own PlayStation 2 sits at the top with a whopping 150 million devices sold. It’s estimated that Microsoft sold approximately 30–70 million Xbox One consoles. The PS4’s success may be attributed to stronger exclusive titles such as God of War, the Uncharted Series and recent addition, Spiderman. Also, at launch, the PS4 was US$100 cheaper than the Xbox One.

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Playstation Pro 4

No doubt, Microsoft wants higher sales results for its next-gen console. But to win in the gaming wars, Xbox must improve its formula.

Phil Spencer alluded to the new Xbox having the strongest exclusive game roster to date. Meaning that the new Xbox Series X console(s) will have more exclusive launch titles than before. This could entice new users as well as invite some gamers to switch.

The Sony PlayStation 5 will debut during the same period and is rumoured to have similar AMD internals. Also, Google’s Stadia game streaming service challenges the traditional way gamers play. Rather than a physical machine, Google’s servers do the heavy lifting so players can play any title on any device. Microsoft must ensure that its next game console has the right balance between price, performance and most importantly, game titles.

The Xbox Series is set to launch by Holiday 2020.