Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) presented what it calls "the next generation of gaming" in a worldwide livestream event on Nov. 10, 2020, which unveiled its new Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. Initial reaction has been largely enthusiastic, with one review stating: "The Xbox Series X is the pinnacle of Microsoft's gaming efforts, blending the promise of powerful next-generation performance with superfast loading times and a huge library of games spanning multiple Xbox generations."
Another review says: "Microsoft recaptures the magic of the Xbox 360 era." Nonetheless, even the positive reviews contain some criticisms. In general, reviewers' comments can be grouped under seven main headings: pricing, functionality, power, speed, design and size, backwards compatibility, and next-gen games.
- Microsoft has released its new Xbox Series X and Series S.
- Reviews generally laud improved speed, power, and resolution.
- Hefty size and weight are key drawbacks.
- The lack of advanced next-gen games at launch is another negative.
- However, the new systems can play older Xbox games.
Prices for the Xbox Series X start at $499, matching the cost of the Sony Corporation's (SNE) PlayStation 5 (PS5) but more expensive than the Sony PS5 Digital Edition, priced at $399. For those on a budget, the Xbox Series S starts at $299.99, offering a "surprisingly powerful little console" but with the key downsides of having graphics and storage limitations, plus the risk of being "not very future-proof."
Comparing the Xbox Series X to the PS5, another review says: "If the PlayStation 5 is a games-at-heart machine, flexing its classic gamepad prowess at the expense of all else, then the Xbox Series X is a more well-rounded console-as-ecosystem, leaning into multimedia, community, cloud gaming and cross-platform continuity."
Moreover, this review continues: "Setup via the Xbox app (iOS, Android or Windows 10) is a breeze. It reminds me of setting up a good smart home appliance."
The Xbox Series X offers 12 teraflops of graphics power, versus 10 teraflops for the PS5. It also has a 1 terabyte (TB) solid state drive (SSD), versus 825 gigabytes (GB) for the PS5. However, since modern games require large amounts of space, maintaining an extensive library of games on an Xbox Series X may require purchasing an additional proprietary SSD, at a cost of $200 or more.
Initial tests by one reviewer indicate that the Xbox Series X offers significant improvements in load times, with many games loading in 10 seconds or less, versus about 40 seconds on the earlier Xbox One X. Testing a much larger game, Red Dead Redemption 2, the same reviewer found that load time was cut from 1 minute 28 seconds to 38 seconds.
Design and Size
While the Xbox Series X offers a "clean and unfussy appearance" in the words of one reviewer, it nonetheless is quite big and bulky, which is a downside. Its dimensions are 15.1 x 15.1 x 30.1 centimeters (5.9 x 5.9 x 11.9 inches), and it weighs 9.8 pounds. However, this is smaller than the PS5.
The Xbox Series X is designed to run almost any Xbox Game Pass title out of the box, and even can read old Xbox 360 game discs, meaning that this system will support games going all the way to those released with the original Xbox in 2001. While old games generally will run better than before, one reviewer cautions that, if they were locked at a particular rate of frames per second, playing them on the new Series X will not allow you to surpass that.
As another reviewer states: "The Xbox Series X plays the same games as its predecessor, the Xbox One, just better, faster, and at higher resolutions. There's practically zero friction in making the leap from the past to the present." This reviewer found that every game ran better on the Series X, with higher frame rates, much shorter load times, and sometimes dramatic improvements in colors.
While the Xbox Series X was designed to support next-generation games, few of these were made available at launch. Indeed, some top games have not yet developed new versions that take advantage of the capabilities of the Series X and Series S, but this is not unusual when new gaming hardware debuts.
Why You Should Wait
The lack of next-gen games is a sticking point for one reviewer, who advises potential buyers to wait, stating: "When it comes to video games, though, content will always be king." Additionally, unlike other reviewers, she is unimpressed with the improvement in load speeds and warns that they are highly dependent on your home conditions and WiFi.
She also finds that the improvement in graphics is "only slightly better than those on the Xbox One X from a few years ago." Indeed, while the Series X is supposed to support 8K graphics, she notes that this feature is not yet enabled, given that 8K games are not yet available. She adds that 4K TVs are much more affordable.