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Xbox Series X: Everything you need to know from release date to specs, games, and more

xbox series x
(Image credit: Microsoft)

The Xbox Series X is just a few weeks away, and we're here to answer all of your questions about Microsoft's next-generation console. If you want the TL;DR version is that the Xbox Series X release date is set for November 10, 2020. The Xbox Series X price is $499 / £449 and Xbox Series X pre-orders went live on September 22, with stock availability changing on a weekly basis. There's also the option to purchase the console via a monthly finance option through Xbox All Access. You could also consider the Xbox Series S, a more affordable point of entry to the next generation, arriving at just $299 / £249. Of course, it is the Xbox Series X that is being positioned as the best way to play in the next generation for those that want maximum performance. 

"Xbox Series X is our fastest, most powerful console ever, designed for a console generation that has you at its center," says a Microsoft blog post. "This means a high-fidelity gaming experience enclosed in a quiet and bold design, with the ability to discover thousands of games across four generations, all with more playing and less waiting."

In short, there's a lot of horsepower under the hood. More specifically, we know the SSD will mean lightspeed loading times, while the 12 teraflops of graphical grunt allow games to look better than ever. Because Microsoft is backing all that up with backwards compatibility, Smart Delivery, and cloud support, it's a tempting proposition.

Xbox Series X hands-on

(Image credit: Future)

Xbox Series X hands-on preview: We have had Microsoft's new next-gen console for a couple of weeks now, here you will find our impressions on the hardware, controller, games, performance, user interface, and more.

Sadly, neither system will arrive with Halo Infinite; the highly anticipated sequel has slipped to a 2021 release date. However, that doesn't mean there aren't still exciting upcoming Xbox Series X games on the horizon. Just take Assassin's Creed Valhalla, as an example.

"Whether it’s empowering amazing creators at our 15 Xbox Game Studios, fueling game discovery with Xbox Game Pass, or expanding what and where you can play with Project xCloud, Team Xbox stands for frictionless pathways between players and the best experiences our remarkable art form has to offer. Xbox Series X represents that same commitment for players who want immediate immersion in games that also look and feel better than ever."

Competing directly with the PS5, Microsoft's obelisk console looks set to be quite the beast as a result. It's coming out of the gate strong for the console's launch period, especially since we're still unsure what the PS5 launch games could be during the same holiday season. 

Let's get into the details, shall we? You'll find everything you need to know about the next-gen follow-up to Xbox One below, including the Xbox Series X price, games, and more.

What is Xbox Series X?

What is the Xbox Series X?

The next Xbox, formerly Xbox Project Scarlett, is Xbox Series X, and Microsoft is calling it the future of gaming, and it will probably be one of multiple new generations, Phil Spencer says. Built around powerful new hardware from AMD, including its new Navi graphics architecture and a Zen 2 CPU, the Series X is designed to minimize (or completely eliminate) load times and get you into games as quickly as possible. In the announcement reel, Microsoft employees threw out some pretty baller numbers: four times more powerful than the current most powerful console on the planet, the Xbox One X, four times better performance than the current generation in terms of load times, and the biggest generational leap in Microsoft's console history.

As for the actual Xbox Series X specs, the sizzle also promised 120 FPS, 8K, and ray tracing supported by dedicated hardware. In fact, one Microsoft employee promised "frame rates we've never seen before," though that's surely just on consoles and not accounting for modern PC hardware. The latest blog post from Microsoft, outlines that the Xbox Series X will be "the most powerful console ever", powered by AMD's latest Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architectures. It will deliver "four times the processing power of an Xbox One", and will enable developers to leverage 12 teraflops of GPU processing, aided by variable rate shading (VRS) technology, which should result in more stable frame rates and higher resolutions for games. There will also be support for DirectX raytracing, which will mean your games are imbued with "true-to-life lighting, accurate reflections and realistic acoustics in real time". 

But, most importantly for us gamers, "the next-console generation will be defined by more playing and less waiting", says Microsoft. Thanks to a new SSD, game worlds can be "larger, more dynamic and load in a flash". There's a new Quick Resume feature too, which allows you to suspend multiple games at once. 

(Image credit: Microsoft)
Xbox Series X In Detail

(Image credit: Xbox)

Xbox Series X In Detail: GamesRadar+ has been exploring the Xbox Series X in detail, so be sure to click the link to find all of our exclusive reporting, hands-on impressions, interviews, and more. 

Dynamic Latency Input (DLI) is also coming to optimise latency, starting with the Xbox Wireless Controller, which will make sure that input is synchronised immediately with what's displayed, making controls even more precise and responsive. HDMI 2.1 support is coming too, which introduces even more latency-reducing technology too. 

Smart Delivery is super exciting too, and means you're getting the best version of the game possible without having to pay for the Xbox Series X version. Basically, if you buy a game on the Xbox One, you will also be able to play on Xbox Series X - including Halo Infinite.

Yes, Microsoft announced that Halo Infinite would be launching alongside Xbox Series X, and showed a brand new, lengthy trailer. Master Chief, afloat in space and unconscious in his armor, is revived by the captain of a small space vessel who was seemingly adrift himself, before revealing the devastating aftermath of the most recent conflict. The footage looked exceptional, especially some of the textures on Chief's hands, and refracted light and gathering shadows flashed some of the potential of a console packing dedicated raytracing hardware.

Xbox Series X release date

When is the Xbox Series X release date?

The Xbox Series X release date is set for November 10, along with the cheaper Xbox Series S console. 

Xbox Series X specs

Xbox Series X specs

Xbox Series X specs

(Image credit: Microsoft)

You ready? Let's get technical. As per the recent Xbox.com post, Xbox Series X will feature eight Zen 2 CPU cores at 3.8GHz. That helps make the 'Quick Resume' feature possible, allowing users to "continue multiple games from a suspended state almost instantly". When combined with 12 teraflops of GPU power, we're left with a system capable of hardware-accelerated ray tracing. That means more realistic lighting, reflections, and sound. 

What's more, that Unreal Engine 5 demo showed that the Series X will be able to render unbelievably detailed, photo-realistic environments without a hiccup, not to mention exquisite, believable lighting and more immersive audio. It even offered immense draw-distances without stumbling, and without compromise. That would be flat-out impossible on today's consoles.

4K resolution at 60FPS is another welcome addition, with the potential for 120FPS in certain games. What does that mean in a practical sense? That'll result in a smoother, more detailed experience than we've ever had on a console before.

Microsoft is also throwing a Solid State Drive (or 'SSD') into the mix, allowing for lightning-fast loading. An example of this can be seen in the Xbox Series X loading times comparison video. More specifically, we now know for sure that the Series X is fitted with 1TB of internal storage thanks to an NVMe SSD.

Xbox Series X preview

(Image credit: Future)
Xbox Series X design impressions

(Image credit: Future)

Xbox Series X design impressions: You know the specs, but how does the hardware handle in the wild? Here's our extended impressions on the Xbox Series X console and its industrial design. 

This accompanies 16GB RAM, the option of expandable storage/external hard drives, and a 4K UHD Blu-ray disc drive. To translate, that's enough grunt to give the Series X an advantage over its competitors, Google Stadia and Sony's PS5. 

Indeed, the recent reveal event for the latter gave us a good look at the PS5 tech... and showed that they're trailing behind the Series X. Although Sony's new CPU is only a few points below (it's otherwise identical), the GPU is lagging by a few teraflops. More specifically, the PS5 graphics are comprised of 10.28 teraflops and 36 CUs at 2.23GHz. That's quite a way behind Xbox's 12 teraflops, even if the Series X equivalent's 52 CUs are running at 1.825GHz.

Not that it'll make a tremendous difference long-term, of course. As we mentioned in our write-up on PS5 vs Xbox Series X, games may look marginally prettier on Xbox but will be broadly similar in most other regards. And because the PS5's CUs have more GHz to play with, it may all balance out in the end anyway. We'll just have to wait to find out.

Something both systems have is speed, though. As mentioned above, their SSDs are incredibly quick. That'll totally change the game for Xbox. Well, mostly. It's worth pointing out that - as revealed by April's surprise Inside Xbox stream – you won't be able to load Xbox Series X games from most external HDDs or SSDs. In fact, you can only do so from the console's own SSD or proprietary cards sold by Microsoft.

What is Project xCloud?

What is Project xCloud?

A representation of Xbox Cloud services

Project xCloud is the streaming platform that originally debuted back in March. Xbox boss Phil Spencer says the service would enable you to transform an Xbox console into an xCloud server (as well as using actual servers), streaming games and media to connected devices. How robust this will be against, say, the Google Stadia initiative remains to be seen, but Microsoft definitely looks committed to leveraging its massive infrastructure and resources towards allowing gamers to play where they want, with who they want. 

Xbox Series X cost

How much will the Xbox Series X cost?

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The Xbox Series X price is set at $499 / £449, with a monthly pay option available via Xbox All Access. Prices for that start at $34.99 in the US for the Series X, while in the UK prices start at £20.99, but that's for the Series S. 

The Xbox Series S will cost $299 / £249 when it launches on the same day. 

Xbox Series X pre-orders start on September 22, as does the Series S. 

Xbox Series X size

Xbox Series X size - How big is the new console?

How big is the Xbox Series X? Microsoft released that cheeky image on Twitter that might seem very silly, but it actually gives us a great idea of how large the Xbox Series X size will be. And it's really rather dinky... when using a fridge for scale. There's quite the difference between that chilly monolith and Xbox's new console, which will measure up at 151x151x303mm when it arrives later this year. 

Xbox Series X backwards compatibility

Xbox Series X backwards compatibility

Xbox Series X is going completely backwards compatible. According to the Microsoft blog post, a section on Xbox Series X backwards compatibility reads:

"Our commitment to compatibility means existing Xbox One games, including backward-compatible Xbox 360 and original Xbox games, look and play better than ever before. Your favorite games, including titles in Xbox Game Pass, benefit from steadier framerates, faster load times and improved resolution and visual fidelity – all with no developer work required. Your Xbox One gaming accessories also come forward with you."

Xbox Series X backwards compatibility impressions

(Image credit: Remedy Entertainment)

Xbox Series X backwards compatibility impressions: In our testing of the Xbox Series X, we've found that its backwards compatibility is the best way to experience games from the Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox generations. 

Plus, with Xbox Series X's Smart Delivery feature, for any game that supports the tech, if you buy it on Xbox One, you can then get the Xbox Series X version for free. 

"This technology is available for all developers and publishers, and they can choose to use it for titles that will be released on Xbox One first and come to Xbox Series X later". 

Cyberpunk 2077 has already confirmed that it will take advantage of Smart Delivery

Xbox Series X loading times

Xbox Series X loading times - How long will we be waiting for games?

Interestingly, Microsoft has released the above video to showcase the kind of Xbox Series X loading times we should expect. Using State of Decay 2 on the Xbox One X and Xbox Series X side by side, the Xbox Series X loading the game in 11 seconds, 40 seconds faster than the Xbox One X, which takes an entire minute to load the game... not the best ad for the Xbox One X. 

However, the trailer is quick to note that the on-screen tech demo "does not represent gameplay optimised for Xbox Series X", but is rather a demo for a "backward compatible Xbox title to demonstrate load time technology". 

Xbox Series X controller

Xbox Series X controller - What does it look like?

(Image credit: Microsoft Xbox)
Xbox Series X controller impressions

(Image credit: Future)

Xbox Series X controller design impressions: From our hands-on testing, we've found that Microsoft has learned the right lessons from the Xbox Series Elite 2 and poured them into the Xbox Series X controller design.

We finally have a proper look at the Xbox Series X controller, and it's rather – reassuringly – familiar. You can take a look at it above, but here are the biggest takeaways in quick, bullet-point form:

  • New D-Pad with slightly deeper dish, and finely tuned angles to give you more leverage with less movement
  • Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity for pairing with more devices, including PC, Android and iOS
  • USB-C port for charging
  • Share button
  • Tactile dot pattern on the triggers and bumpers
  • Matte finish on D-Pad, bumpers and triggers
  • Still uses batteries

Xbox Series X memory cards

Xbox Series X memory cards - What's up with that?

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Don't panic, the world of memory cards for your saves is looooong gone, but there's a brand new feature / accessory for the Xbox Series X that's putting a new spin on the idea of memory cards. The Xbox Series X Storage Expansion Card was announced as part of the Xbox Series X tech unveiling, and "provides additional game storage at peak speed and performance by replicating the console's internal custom SSD experience. The 1TB card is inserted directly into the back of the console via the dedicated storage expansion port." No word on price yet, but it'll be the best way to boost the Xbox Series X internal storage for more games. 

Xbox Series X VR

Does Xbox Series X have VR?

Microsoft has an interesting relationship with virtual reality. On the PC side, its Windows Mixed Reality initiative has found moderate success, featuring a broad variety of lightweight VR headsets and offering an expansive library of games and experiences. On the console tip, however, news has been less positive - at last year's E3, Microsoft's CMO for gaming told Gameindustry.biz that the company "doesn't have any plans specific to Xbox consoles in virtual reality or mixed reality."

However, all hope is not lost. A newly discovered patent seems to suggest that Microsoft is working on a VR headset along with motion controllers, a stylus, and fully fledged boundary mat which can turn your living room into its very own digital playground. With the continuing success of Playstation VR, which currently boasts the most sales of any high end VR headset, Microsoft may well still have an appetite to dip its toes into the virtual pool. 

Xbox Series X ports

Xbox Series X ports

There's been a lot of chatter about the Xbox Series X ports. You know those little connections on the back (or front, or side) of the new console, and what connectivity it'll bring with it this Holiday season. At CES 2020, AMD showed off a shot of the Xbox Series X which features two HDMI ports, two USB-C ports, and an S/PDIF port. However, it turned out that it was just a render, and AMD was forced to admit that it  "does not accurately represent the design or features of the upcoming console".

But then, a report emerged from noted industry insider Thurrot.com, which purports to know the truth about the Xbox Series X ports, which apparently include two USB-A ports, a single HDMI port, optical audio and the usual power port. Take a look below:

But then, an image appeared! It's unclear at this point where the images have emerged from, but they clearly show a real life Xbox Series X from the front and back, revealing the console's various ports. Check them out:

The images clearly show a power port, ethernet, two USB ports, optical audio, and an HDMI port on the rear, along with a strange square port that is just for the prototype as it's for diagnostic reporting - as confirmed by Thurrott.

Over on the front, we're looking at the disc drive, along with a single USB, as the other rumours suggested. 

Xbox Series X 'Windows Mode'

Xbox Series X 'Windows Mode' rumored

There's another Xbox Series X rumour doing the rounds, which involves the new console offering a "Windows Mode", which would allow it to access other game launchers / stores like Steam or the Epic Games Store, essentially turning your Xbox Series X into a PC. It plays into the idea of Microsoft's Xbox / PC / Windows ecosystem being one happy family, so it's not a rumour that feels too far-fetched.

What do you think about the rumours surrounding the Xbox Series X at the moment? Let us know in the comments below. 

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