From its first announcement, Microsoft have touted that the Xbox One X will be the most powerful console ever made and now that’s I’ve had some hands-on time with the new system, it’s safe to say that this is the most powerful console ever made but it goes much deeper than just promising raw power. The Xbox One X not only delivers on its promises but it offers so much for current Xbox One users that makes the jump to the X an intriguing option, even if 4K is not something that’s in your interests right now.
Microsoft have talked a lot about specs from the beginning in a rather bold move. The average consumer doesn’t really care about what speed the processor is, what type of RAM it holds or even what a Teraflop means. For the hardcore gamer though, it means a lot more so while they can get the core on board, what do they do about the average games. Well, that’s simply where the “Most powerful console ever made” comes into play. This simple sentence not only emphasises the fact that it outperforms even the PlayStation 4 Pro, but it turns the tables on the Xbox One looking like a weaker console.
When the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 launched in 2013, the PlayStation 4 was easily the more powerful console pulling in 1.8 teraflops of graphical power while the Xbox One lagged behind at 1.3. This meant that pretty much every third-party title ran smoother and at a higher resolution on Sony’s machine. When the PlayStation 4 Pro launched last year, this gap widened with the Pro’s 4.2 Teraflops but the promise of 4K was never fully realised. The Xbox One boasts 6 Teraflops of graphical power and for the most part, delivers on its promise of 4K gaming.
This extra power means that 4K gaming is much more possible than any other system before it. Developers have the option to developed enhanced versions of their game and as of writing, this has covered dozens of games covering every genre and even every generation. This means that games like Halo 3, Fallout 3, and other Xbox 360 titles benefit from the power of Xbox One X, running at higher resolutions with visuals enhancements.
Right now, the title that truly shows what’s capable of the system is Gears of War 4. The visual enhancements as well as the texture work, performance upgrades, HDR lighting and so much more means that it feels and looks like a brand-new game overall.
But don’t expect the visual options on the Xbox One X like you would see on a PC game where you can tweak things to get everything to run just right. Some games don’t even have an option to see if it actually enhanced except when you run it on a 4K screen. Gears of War 4 offers a “performance” option and a “visuals” option for the campaign and the co-op mode Horde which both ran at 30 frames a second on the regular Xbox One. It’s a much more simplified application but I have yet to come across an option that didn’t deliver on its promise and would require such tinkering.
There are upwards of 170 titles that will feature Xbox One enhancements but as of writing, only a few dozen is readily available. To know whether a game is available for the enhancements, Microsoft have included an “Xbox One X enhanced” tab in the “My Games and Apps” part of the dashboard which makes it incredibly handy. These options can be also selected in the “ready to install” and “update” tabs meaning you will know when the enhanced version is available for each game instead of simply guessing.
However, it is not just 4K TV owners that will benefit from the Xbox One X as every game that is Xbox One X enhanced will output at its maximum resolution and will supersample down to your screen’s resolution. You may not quite get the “Wow” factor as viewing on a 4K screen just because of pixel count but the result is noticeable with a much smoother image displayed in front of you with much smoother edges meaning anti-aliasing is no longer an issue for most Xbox One X enhanced titles on a 1080p screen.
But the Xbox One X goes even one step further. Games don’t even need to be patched or enhanced to see the benefits of the system. At a base level, all games will now feature 16x anisotropic filtering on textures meaning the stream of textures coming into view is much smoother than before and you get a lot fewer textures popping into view. It’s a small touch overall but one that is very much welcomed. Games with unlocked frame rates will naturally see a more stable performance as well as massive improvements like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt which has seen the game run at double the frame rate, up to 60 fps.
All of this power is possibly most impressive by the form factor of the system as it is the smallest Xbox to date and it’s a sleek and rather attractive looking box. Having it stand beside the Xbox One that launched in 2013, it is night and day in what they are trying to be justified by its aesthetics alone. It no longer looks like a massive DVR box with far too many vents and fans while the Xbox One.
Never has a console launched with a promise and then delivers on all fronts in such a confident manner. There are no major surprises, positive or negative, and you get an impressive system that brings the Xbox One to the place it could have been back in 2013 in regards to it being a confident gaming console. While it’s still early days and plenty of covers is to come, I can confidently say that for home consoles, the Xbox One X is the easy choice for the overall best console experience.