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

Xbox Series X
(Image credit: Xbox)

Move over Xbox Project Scarlett, it's officially the Xbox Series X now. Microsoft's next-generation console has a name, a release date and we even know what it looks like. It's due to arrive alongside the PS5 in holiday 2020, and Microsoft is promising a system that "will set a new bar for performance, speed, and compatibility". 

Halo Infinite has been confirmed as a launch game for the Xbox Series X, so Microsoft looks to be coming out of the gate strong for the console's launch period, especially since we still have no idea what the PS5 launch games could be during the same holiday season. Below, you'll find everything you need to know about the next-gen follow-up to Xbox One, including details about the Xbox Series X price, release date, and more.

What is Xbox Series X?

What is Xbox Series X?

The next Xbox, formerly Xbox Project Scarlett, is Xbox Series X, and Microsoft is calling it the future of gaming. 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. As for 8K and 120 FPS, they make great bullet points, but the unstated reality is that you'd have to be running an extremely rudimentary game even on the most powerful of current PC hardware to approach anything like those numbers, especially simultaneously. 

(Image credit: Microsoft)

But you can't fault Microsoft for its exuberance, and we have seen some pretty incredible performance eked out of even modestly specced console hardware in the past, especially as a console cycle gets longer in the tooth. There was confirmation you'd be able to play any game from Microsoft's four generations of consoles on the new machine. While calling the Xbox One X/S refresh a full generation is a bit of a stretch, a continued commitment to backwards compatibility on future consoles is very welcome. 

Perhaps most exciting for Xbox diehards, 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 ray tracing hardware.

Xbox Series X release date

When is the Xbox Series X release date?

The Xbox Series X release date will be Holiday 2020, alongside the PS5. Launching at the end of the year positions Microsoft to grab some prime holiday dollars, and opens up some intriguing possibilities since a number of triple-A franchises all launch around Christmas.

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 and is currently available for hands-on impressions on the E3 show floor. 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. According to Spencer a beta will be widely available in October.

Xbox Series X price

How much will the Xbox Series X cost?

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Here's where things get a bit interesting, because although we don't have any official details on what the Xbox Series X price will be, it's going to be quite the contentious subject - especially if we're looking at a family of consoles. 

The original announcement of the Xbox One price was one of the first mistakes Microsoft made with the positioning of the console. At launch, you could only buy it with a 500GB hard drive, one controller and a pre-bundled Kinect sensor for a whopping $499 / £429. It wasn't until June 2014, more than six months after the original launch, that Microsoft released a new Xbox One configuration that removed the Kinect from the box and reduced the cost to $399 / £349, matching the launch price of the PS4. 

As the Xbox Series X and PS5 launch around the same time, Microsoft is going to have to be careful not to repeat its past mistakes. But considering that the Xbox One X is a much better console than the PS4 Pro, and therefore costs more (Xbox One X is $499 / £449 compared to the PS4 Pro's $399 / £349), it could be that the Xbox Series X costs more because of its internal components. However, if both consoles are packing similar specs, it's going to be an interesting discussion. 

If rumour has it though, there could even be three Xbox Series X SKUs available at launch, which will make the pricing chat even more intriguing.

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:

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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