Xbox Series X offers everything
Determined to offer the most powerful home gaming console, Microsoft is doing nothing wrong with its Xbox Series X. Clearly designed for performance, right down to its design. What to offer total satisfaction to the players?
Presentation for Xbox Series X
To better compete with Sony’s PlayStation 4, Microsoft has shifted its focus over the last generation of consoles. Leaving aside the multimedia aspect and Kinect of the early days of the Xbox One to focus on gaming and nothing but the game.
From this vision was born the Xbox One X, a console designed to deliver the best possible performance to players. In order to take back the crown of the most powerful game console, until then successively owned. by PS4 then PS4 Pro.
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For its fourth generation of game consoles (the ninth, in absolute terms. If we are talking about home consoles, all brands combined). Microsoft has not changed its objective by designing a home console based on the same principles. Which immediately promises raw specifications superior to those of its announced rival, the PlayStation 5.
A console which also retains the X suffix of its predecessor – at the risk of causing confusion – and even its deliberately sober aesthetic. Xbox Series X up again on pure power, without having to compromise to pull prices down, leaving these constraints to more affordable Xbox S Series .
The result is a console delivering 12 teraFLOPS gross graphics power (compared to 10.28 for the PS5), based on AMD’s latest RDNA 2 GPU architecture. The processor part is not left out. With an 8 core AMD Zen 2 CPU clocked at 3.8 GHz, associated with 16 GB of GDDR6 RAM. Announced goal: games playable in 4K Ultra HD at 60 frames per second, and even up to 120 fps for some.
The icing on the cake also on the storage side, a 1 TB SSD offering raw speeds of 2.4 GB / s and placed at the heart of a “Velocity” architecture. for the promise of drastically reduced loading times.
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Offering such high performance while keeping in mind the requirements of discretion specific to a home console was undoubtedly not an easy task for the designers and designers of the Xbox Series X. If they are used to working hand in hand. One could guess until now a certain domination of the design, it is true essential for the identity of a game console.
For the Xbox Series X however, the designers have obviously obtained more freedom to overcome the constraints in a traditional format. More or less close to a living room turntable. The result is a console unlike any other, in the shape of a small tower which is more reminiscent of a mini PC than a game console in the collective imagination.
An originality that we could rather observe at Nintendo from the GameCube, but that cannot be explained here by a simple ardor of the designers. Indeed, if the Xbox Series X adopts this form, it is for a more pragmatic reason: to maximize the efficiency of its cooling system.
It is for this reason besides that the Xbox Series X is designed to be arranged vertically. The heat dissipation being done by only one side and an irremovable base being fixed on the opposite side. It is well planned to be able to lay it down horizontally, but then we lose very clearly in style, the console then appearing more massive.
This lying position may nevertheless be the only possible one for many users who do not conceive for a second to leave it in an upright position on their TV cabinet, or even next to it.
Whether you like the design of the Series X or not, in one way or the other. It is clear that the console is more discreet than what you might think at first glance. Its matte black color fits quite well among the equipment that is usually found alongside a TV and despite an all plastic design, the finishes are of a good level.
We simply regret the propensity of the shell to cover itself with fingerprints. Which is not, however, too disturbing in the context of classic domestic use. The curious with fingers potentially stained with hydroalcoholic gel are not supposed to s ‘rub it as much as a tester having to handle his console as part of a test.
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Behind an appearance suggesting that Microsoft was content to take back its Xbox One controller to simply endow it with a share button. The Xbox Series X controller is in fact improved. A few millimeters less here, a little more roundness there, without revolutionizing an already highly appreciated design,
Microsoft has achieved a more universal grip. We realize this in particular when switching back to an Xbox One controller after using the Xbox Series controller for a few hours. The old controller seems more clumsy and offers a less natural grip.
Compatibility Xbox Series X
This does not prevent Microsoft from ensuring full backward and forward compatibility of its Xbox controllers. Both of which can be used interchangeably on Xbox One, Xbox Series X / S and even PCs (in Bluetooth or via a proprietary USB dongle).
Be careful, however, the Dynamic Input Latency technology introduced by the Xbox Series X and S only works with the new Xbox Series controllers. Only the latter therefore make it possible to subtract a few milliseconds from the latency of the commands with the optimized games.
A good next-gen console, the Xbox Series X is up for the new display standards and offers absolutely full compatibility with HDMI 2.1. A news that will please owners of compatible televisions who will now be happy to enjoy video streams up to 2160p / 12 bits at 120 Hz without any colorimetric sub-sampling, as well as Variable Refresh Rate and Auto Low Latency Mode technologies.
Which respectively guarantee an automatic adaptation of the refresh rate of the screen to the frame rate delivered by the console and the switch to the display mode which offers the lowest latency (typically TV game mode). The console is therefore supplied with a certified HDMI 2.1 cable, the very high speed necessary to comply with this standard.
No jealousy for HDR formats, the Series X manages both HDR10 and Dolby Vision. This second format is initially only available for video streaming services, but we are promised that it will also be usable in games later. Ultra HD Blu-rays, on the other hand, are less spoiled: very frustratingly, the X Series does not handle Dolby Vision data when playing movies on disc, and therefore falls back to the “simple” HDR10 stream.
His the Xbox Series X
Despite communication that could not be more discreet in terms of its sound capabilities, the Xbox Series X can, like the Xbox One S and X before it, produce 3D audio streams, for video content as well as for compatible games – still rare, alas. For this, Microsoft has certainly gone less far than Sony for its PlayStation 5: its system is on paper noticeably less advanced than that of Japanese (it only manages about twenty dynamic sound objects, against several hundred for the Tempest Engine. of the PlayStation 5), and relies in part on bricks provided by audio specialists Dolby and DTS.
Sound Xbox Series X
The approach has its advantage: the lucky owners of a sound bar or a home cinema compatible with Dolby Atmos or DTS: X can thus take advantage of the height channels of their installation to immerse themselves in the sound of their games. It also has its drawback: it is certainly also possible to take advantage of this spatialization with a simple stereo headset thanks to the support for Dolby Atmos for Headphones or DTS Headphone: X processing, but these require the purchase of a license. , at € 17.99 and € 19.99 respectively. We carefully set aside the Windows Sonic processing: although it’s free, its very imprecise and unnatural rendering doesn’t make it a recommendable option.
Headset Bluetooth Support?
Speaking of headphones, the Xbox Series X, like all modern consoles, does not support Bluetooth headsets. A constraint which is justified by the fact that the latency induced by the Bluetooth protocol would be unacceptable in a gaming situation.
For those who wish to use a wireless headset with their console, the only solution is therefore to obtain a headset with a Bluetooth transmitter / receiver with the official Xbox license – Microsoft has, unfortunately, a thousand times the choice to reuse on its new generation consoles a proprietary USB audio protocol that is not interoperable with any other platform not even Windows!
The interface of the Xbox Series X will not disorient the regulars of the Xbox ecosystem, since it simply resumes without any modification the one we already know today on Xbox One. You don’t change a winning formula, you might say; this supposes however to consider this interface as a winner, which is by no means indisputable.
With its hierarchy not always very orderly and its sets of panels and tabs with a very perfectible legibility, it requires a substantial adaptation time before we manage to navigate it without difficulty.
Once this time has passed, however, the Microsoft machine offers a very satisfactory “quality of life”, thanks in particular to the Quick Resume function, which we have already largely discussed during our console preview phase ; As a reminder, the new generation machines from Microsoft are able to keep in memory the state of some games (four to six in general), between which the user can walk without ever having to go through a main menu.
Pause your game of Gears 5 for a match or two on Fifa , then return to Gears 5: you will find your game exactly as you left it. In general, the transition from a game placed in Quick Resume mode – which is done automatically – to another takes about fifteen on average, the time to transfer the game data from the RAM to the SSD and to copy it into the computer. ‘other meaning those of the game to launch, whose state state until then saved in a space reserved on the SSD.
Let’s talk about the capacity of the SSD. After converting from terabyte to tebibyte to obtain the capacity actually available (909 GB) and despite this space probably dedicated to the Quick Resume function (whose capacity is unknown) as well as that reserved for the operating system,
We finally benefit from a useful capacity of 802 GB. Enough to store a dozen games, or even more if they are not big AAA titles. A relief from the 364 GB of the S Series.
Gamers accustomed to juggling even more games will still be able to archive the ones they use the least to a USB storage device. An external solution that allows the launch of old backward compatible games, but not games optimized for Xbox Series X, which must be installed on SSD to take advantage of its higher speeds, which cannot be achieved when data must pass through a USB connection.
There is also the option of the official 1TB expansion cartridge manufactured by Seagate, but unfortunately sold a small fortune (€ 269.99 at launch). Designed to offer strictly the same performance as the internal SSD of the Xbox Series X and S while being interfaced to also take advantage of the Velocity architecture, it remains an interesting backup solution in the event that future games become even larger.
To be reserved for the moment for those who absolutely want to install many games on their console.
When it launches on November 10, 2020, the Xbox Series X will be able to count on around forty games optimized for it (as well as for its S Series sister). A very honorable figure, which must however be tempered by the fact that all of these games will also be available on previous generation consoles. And that the majority of them have even in truth already been released for month.
In fact, these titles obviously do not demonstrate the omnipotence of the Series X. No next-gen slap in sight on the first day: we rather have the impression of seeing all these titles that we already know well turn on a high-end PC. All graphics options pushed to the limit, which is certainly already appreciable.
Let’s not deny our pleasure in playing Sea of Thieves in native 4K at 60 fps. This new version of Gears 5.which does not have much to envy to its PC counterpart in full adjustment (and even exceeds it on certain points. In particular its global illumination using a whole new implementation, richer and more precise).
For the lucky owners of compatible screens, some games even offer 120 fps modes that work wonderfully, at the cost of surprisingly minimal graphics concessions. The two titles we were able to try in this configuration sacrifice only a small portion of their rendering definition: 1440 p dynamic instead of 2160 p dynamic in the multiplayer of this same Gears 5, and 1800p instead of 2160p for The Falconeer, with in both cases an image remaining very pleasant on a 4K screen.
A pillar of Microsoft’s argument for its new consoles, the backward compatibility of the Xbox Series X commands respect. So think, with the entire Xbox One catalog, but also a good part of that of the Xbox 360 and even some titles of the classic Xbox (provided that these have already been made Xbox One compatible). The Xbox Series X Kicks off its career with the largest catalog of games we’ve ever seen on a home console – even though, as we’ve seen, Series X optimized launch games aren’t very numerous.
Unlike the Xbox Series S which is essentially based on the Xbox One S versions of backward compatible games. The Xbox Series X does use the Xbox One X versions of these same games when available, improving them in the process. The smoothness, of course, benefits in the first place when the framerate is unlocked. The games that struggled to hold the 60 fps in a stable manner are this time much more enjoyable:
Monster Hunter World , Final Fantasy XV , Rise and Shadow of the Tomb Raider or Hitman are all titles that clearly benefit from the switch to Xbox Series X. As for games that use a dynamic rendering definition, such Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, they make a real leap in image quality.
The promise of eradicating load times cannot be applied to backward compatible games, but we can still see clear gains thanks to the SSD of the Xbox Series X. We thus noted during our tests a time division of loading saves by 4 which can be quite life changing in games where failures are frequent and result in long loads to get back to the last save point.
Consumption, heating and noise
As the good power monster it claims to be, the Xbox Series X has not really made energy sobriety one of its precepts. On Gears 5 in optimized version – the most greedy of all the games that we had at our disposal for this test. The beast generally swallows between 180 W and 195 W of electric power. with even peaks raised slightly above 200 W in the most complex scenes.
This is significantly more than the Xbox One X, which was generally content with 130 W to 150 W in play, with peaks raised to the maximum at 175 W. Strangely, the Series X is even quite greedy when it is. simply kept on standby, which always requires 11 W of power (29 W when a download is in progress in the background).
How to evacuate the heat produced by such consumption? This is a difficult question … to which the engineers at Microsoft have provided an absolutely masterful answer. The combination of the radiator with steam chamber, an unusual air flow. But perfectly optimized, and the gigantic fan (130 mm) enthroned in the height of the tower. Evacuates this energy with flawless efficiency, and especially without the little or almost no noise.
Even by sticking to the hot air exhaust grille, that is to say less than 5 cm from the fan. We could only measure a maximum noise at 33 dB (A) – a value to take tweezers, since it is almost at the limit of sensitivity of our sound level meter! In practice, as soon as you move away more than a meter from the console,
Heating and Noise
Let us also take the trouble to specify that this cooling should largely retain its effectiveness even when the console is placed horizontally in a piece of furniture. The decidedly very clever design of the machine means that the air flow then moves from left to right. Without any “loop” being likely to form as when the evacuation is done at the back of the console.
Of course, the usual precautions must be taken: it is not impossible that future games exploiting more fully the capacities of the console. To put its cooling system to the more severe test, or that the progressive fouling of the console. The machine makes it lose its long-term efficiency – we are especially wary of this last point. Since the large air intake holes of the Series X are not equipped with any dust filter.
It is still unlikely that such a cathedral could at any time in its life turn into a wind tunnel. If silence is golden, the Xbox Series X is a real gem.
Very well built, the Xbox Series X offers everything one would expect from a home console in terms of hardware: speed, good performance, ease of use, silence.
If the launch games specifically designed for exploiting the capabilities of the Series X are lacking. And the promise of disappearing loading times is not yet fully kept despite the optimization of certain games. The Microsoft console makes up for it with a remarkable backward compatibility that brings speed and fluidity to all the titles that were already running on Xbox One.
Despite fairly slight changes, the comfort of the new Xbox Series controller and the lower latency it brings confirm a particularly convincing overall gaming experience.