The Xbox Sequence X is fine-tuned to perfection with out surprises

Editor’s observe: Presently, only a few native Xbox Sequence X video games can be found to check, and on-line providers and options will not be stress-tested till the console is extensively accessible to the general public. For these causes, we think about this a evaluate in progress, and can replace it extensively over the subsequent a number of weeks, including a last evaluate rating when acceptable. 

The Microsoft Xbox Series X is a console with out surprises. A few of that comes from the regular stream of particulars, tech specs and sport lists which have saved potential patrons effectively knowledgeable because it was first teased beneath the codename Project Scarlett greater than two years in the past. However a lot of it additionally comes from Microsoft’s dedication to not repair what wasn’t damaged. 


  • Helps as much as 8K decision and as much as 120Hz refresh charge
  • Simple app-based setup
  • Vast-ranging ecosystem, from cloud gaming to Recreation Go

Do not Like

  • Loses the optical audio output
  • Restricted next-gen sport library at launch
  • Consumer interface stays cluttered

Simply the title itself, Xbox Sequence X — following Xbox One X and Xbox One — factors in the direction of regular progress versus a grand leap into uncharted territory. 

However the $500 (£450, AU$749) Xbox Sequence X is a special beast at launch, in comparison with its 2013 predecessor, the Xbox One. There is not any extra Kinect digicam. No HDMI-in port proper subsequent to the standard HDMI-out port, again when the Xbox One wished to be your cable field. 

Gone are gimmicks and extras (aside from a semiproprietary slot for an costly Seagate enlargement drive). The one loss I am lamenting is the optical audio jack, an Xbox One characteristic lacking right here. Sure, it isn’t for everybody, however AV folks need what they need.

Learn extra: Xbox Series S review: The console making next-gen gaming more affordable

Dan Ackerman/CNET

If something, Microsoft’s Xbox Sequence X is a reductive evolution, fine-tuning and perfecting what labored so effectively within the Xbox One line. 

If the PlayStation 5 is a games-at-heart machine, flexing its basic gamepad prowess on the expense of all else, then the Xbox Sequence X is a extra well-rounded console-as-ecosystem, leaning into multimedia, neighborhood, cloud gaming and cross-platform continuity. 

Arrange, merely


A view from the Xbox setup app. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

For Microsoft, all these years making the whole lot from Home windows to MS Workplace to Floor Laptops extra consumer-friendly has paid off, as a result of the onboarding course of for organising and signing into the brand new Xbox is amongst its most polished options. 

Setup through the Xbox app (iOS, Android or Home windows 10) is a breeze. It jogs my memory of organising a great sensible dwelling equipment. Activate the console itself and it broadcasts its personal Wi-Fi sign, which the app picks up on and makes use of to finish the setup. Simply ensure that to undergo the setup choices rigorously to keep away from sending an excessive amount of information to each Microsoft and third-party publishers. 

Precisely how a lot continuity is there going from the Xbox One and One X and the brand new Sequence X? Not solely are you able to switch most of your machine settings from the older console to the newer one (through the app), however my Logitech Concord distant seamlessly began controlling the Sequence X after I hit the button for its predecessor. 

The obelisk 

Design sensible, it is onerous to get easier than an enormous black field. I’ve described it as a Soviet-era constructivist workplace block as reimagined by Syd Mead. If I have been casting it in a dystopian movie, I might use it because the headquarters of the key police. According to Microsoft’s own designers, they did not need anybody to say, “That appears like a microwave.” 

It is practically featureless from the skin, save for a glowing, all-seeing eye… I imply small, light-up Xbox emblem. There’s additionally a vertical optical drive slot and an almost hidden USB-A port. Aside from that, the primary visible characteristic is a barely concave black-and-green grid excessive, which acts as a fan vent. 

And this factor kicks a great quantity of actually sizzling air out of that vent. I spend quite a lot of my time with high-end gaming PCs, so I do know a bit about system warmth and exhaust, however I used to be nonetheless shocked. I might preserve a great quantity of headroom free above the console if you are going to stand it up vertically. 


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

UI and expertise 

Turning on the Xbox Sequence X, you will see solely minor tweaks to the present Xbox One menus. They’re remarkably related, with the identical benefits and quirks. 

Multimedia and procuring, from streaming apps to the Microsoft sport and video storefronts, will get outstanding placement, practically as necessary because the video games. On the PS5, the menu is break up into separate Video games and Media sections, firewalled from each other. 


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

My principle has all the time been that Microsoft needs your sport console to be a computer virus for the illusive lounge PC idea. The corporate says that Universal Windows Platform apps will run on the Xbox Series X and S (as they presently do on the Xbox One), which makes it simpler to develop for each PC and Xbox on the similar time, which is very excellent news for indie sport builders. 

That is to not say the expertise is seamless. The Xbox interface strikes rapidly, however is simply too busy and never precisely intuitive. A handful of most up-to-date apps present up on the prime, however diving deeper requires going into submenus or creating your personal set of pins. Attending to the system settings is a multiclick course of, and never as simple to entry as on earlier iterations of the Xbox OS. A part of this feels deliberate — like a Vegas on line casino maintaining you on a looping path and away from the exits, the interface right here steers you in the direction of neighborhood and commerce. 

Muscle for gaming

The Xbox Sequence X and PlayStation 5 price the identical (of their top-end configurations), they’re arriving inside days of one another they usually play quite a lot of the identical video games. They’re additionally very related on the within, every with a customized AMD Zen 2 CPU and a GPU primarily based on AMD’s RDNA 2 graphics structure. You may learn a much deeper dive into the components of both new game consoles here, however the important thing takeaway is each the brand new PlayStation and Xbox are constructed across the similar {hardware}. Each additionally tremendously profit from having solid-state drives for storage, which lets video games load quicker than previous spinning-platter onerous drives. 

I have been in a position to take a look at a couple of video games optimized for Xbox Sequence X, together with Gears 5 and Forza Horizon 4. Different video games could profit from quicker load instances and fewer slowdown, however you should not search for a radically totally different expertise out of your again catalog simply but. That mentioned, the loading time enhance is a big profit and makes any sport really feel quicker and newer. No main new-for-holiday-2020 video games have been accessible of their Xbox Sequence X optimized variations as of this writing, which is about one week earlier than the system goes on sale. 


Dan Ackerman/CNET

My CNET colleague Eric Franklin factors out that some again catalog video games are a pure match for the Sequence X: “I believe the most important profit comes from video games with unlocked body charges,” he says. “One thing like Sekiro or Monster Hunter: World that ran at 30 frames per second on Xbox One X can now run at 60 fps on Sequence X. That’ll be an enormous profit.” The corporate guarantees near-universal backwards compatibility

for Xbox One and Xbox 360 video games, plus a pleasant chunk of authentic Xbox video games. 

Microsoft additionally brags about Quick Resume, its potential to seamlessly bounce out and in of a number of video games, basically leaving each in a suspected state. As a busy grownup/mother or father/worker, one in every of my boundaries to gaming is how lengthy it takes to show the whole lot on and cargo video games up. It is a unbelievable characteristic, though not fairly as instantaneous as alt-tabbing between browser home windows on a PC, and it would not but work constantly over a wide array of video games. However I strongly help the mission to take away a great deal of get-into-the-game friction. 

Additionally extremely touted is a characteristic known as Good Supply. Frankly, it is a fancy title for precisely the type of versioning I might count on in any new {hardware}. Mainly, if there is a newly optimized model of a sport you already personal accessible for the Sequence X or Sequence S, it’s going to get patched to the suitable model in your next-gen console with out you having to do something about it. Even higher, when you have the Xbox Sequence S, which has a smaller onerous drive, it’s going to be sure to’re not downloading 4K textures and consuming up space for storing. I assume I will by no means work in advertising and marketing, as a result of it could by no means have occurred to me to name that out as a particular characteristic. 

Just like the PS5, the choice of software program accessible prelaunch is skinny. In Gears 5, I may positively inform the body charges have been increased and expertise smoother than the unique XB1 model. I would not name it a life-changing expertise, however there is a clear enchancment. 

Forza regarded nice beforehand, and as soon as patched to the Xbox Sequence X/S model, it actually shined, with some nice lighting and reflection results. However once more, it is possibly a 10-20% enchancment, not a completely totally different expertise. 

The TL;DR model: The Day 1 library for both of those new consoles is generally older video games retrofitted to indicate off some new visible options or new video games which might be cross-generational and subsequently developed with older {hardware} in thoughts. You are an early adopter for bragging rights — the stuff that may actually knock your socks off will come later. The primary console launch I coated as a reviewer was the Sega Dreamcast in 1999, and this has been largely true for each console technology since. It will take at the least a 12 months to begin seeing video games that really feel really next-gen.


All the pieces that comes within the field. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Recreation Go is the key weapon

Past the {hardware}, the Xbox Sequence X is constructed round a subscription software program mannequin. 

Positive, you can provide the corporate $500 for the console itself, however what it actually needs is your $15 (£11, AU$16) a month in perpetuity for Xbox Recreation Go Final. (Skip the cheaper non-Final plan, as a result of then you definitely’ll want a separate Xbox Stay subscription.) It features a Netflix-like catalog of on-demand video games, plus on-line multiplayer, entry to some cloud-based video games and a good catalog of PC video games as effectively. 

The unhealthy information is your Xbox expertise will likely be restricted with out it. The excellent news is this sort of subscription package deal is forward-looking, affords a ton of wonderful content material and is effectively value signing up for. EA Play, the same assortment of EA video games, is being added to the Recreation Go Final membership in November. 

Recreation Go embraces the DNA of PC gaming, the place you may entry your Steam or GOG or Epic Recreation Retailer library from any gaming laptop computer and bounce proper again in wherever you have been in a sport. For instance, I’ve performed Gears 5 on PC, on the Xbox One, through Xbox cloud gaming, and now on the Xbox Sequence X and Sequence S. Each time, my cloud-based save syncs proper up, with no further motion required on my half. That type of continuity removes a significant friction level for me. 

Between Recreation Go video games on PC, Xbox cloud gaming (Microsoft’s beta-ish cloud service), and even distant play by the iOS or Android Xbox app, the providers ecosystem turns into extra necessary in the long term than the precise {hardware} field. 

That is a point I first made back in 2013, after I recommended the fixed-hardware lounge console would ultimately get replaced by small set-top containers constructed round cloud gaming. Why give folks a {hardware} field that may age rapidly, when you may improve cloud-based gaming servers as wanted and supply entry on a subscription foundation? I’ll have been off by a console technology or two, however contemplating how rapidly the whole lot from telephones to laptops age, the concept of locking your self into 2020 {hardware} for the subsequent seven-plus years feels prefer it’s near turning into an previous enterprise mannequin in a brand new world. One caveat: This requires somebody to actually nail cloud gaming and all of the lag and high quality points it comes with, and nobody has actually achieved that but. 


The lineup: Xbox Sequence S, PS5, Xbox Sequence X. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

The $500 query: Must you purchase an Xbox Sequence X?

Just like the PS5, the Xbox Sequence X is an enormous funding, but preorders sold out in minutes and we count on all new consoles will likely be onerous to search out this vacation season. That mentioned, if the lifecycle of sport consoles stays within the seven- to eight-year vary, it is also an unimaginable worth in the long term. Microsoft and Sony asking for $500 each seven years feels much more affordable than sure phone-makers suggesting you drop $1,000 or extra on a barely newer telephone each 12-24 months. 

And should you do not feel like $500 is the correct quantity for you, I am happy to say I had a superb expertise with the cheaper Series S mannequin as effectively. In addition to being a lot smaller and, for my part, having a greater aesthetic design, the Sequence S retains a lot of the finest options for a way more affordable $300. 

The Sequence S can stream media at 4K in HDR. It has half the SSD capability and would not do native 4K sport output, as an alternative topping out at 1440p. However that decrease decision means it will possibly nonetheless deal with the ray-tracing and different new sport eye sweet, regardless of a much less highly effective GPU. I performed the identical handful of video games on each the Sequence X and Sequence S, through a 65-inch LG OLED, and located little or no sensible distinction within the expertise. The Sequence S additionally lacks the optical drive, however I am a widely known optical drive skeptic, preferring to skip complicated mechanical elements that spin round and usually tend to break down. 

Now, I am unable to promise that future video games will not ultimately break up off into Sequence X and Sequence S variations, with totally different visible options for every — however should you’re an informal gamer, have a smaller TV or simply need to spend much less, I am very snug recommending the Sequence S. As a long-time PC gamer who likes to play the whole lot on the highest decision and element settings, I will be choosing the Sequence X myself. 

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Anil Kumar

Anil Kumar Gadgets writes for Review Tech smartphones, wearables, headphones and speakers based in Delhi for 360 Tech News. Anil Gadgets is a reviewer for 360 Tech News and has written in detail about smartphones, software updates and upcoming devices.

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