Xbox One X Review: This 4K Powerhouse Is the Closest You’ll Get to Lifelike Racing on a Console
Ever want to race a Lamborghini around the streets of Rio? A Bugatti in the Swiss Alps? Here’s your chance.
The sunset in Rio is nice, but the screaming V12 behind you is what really makes the moment beautiful. You keep an eye on the the redline and tap the tiptronic, which shoots you to the better half of 100 mph out of third; too fast for the turn. 770 horsepower seems dangerous with the traction control off, but you’ve committed. Unfortunately, you hit the gas a little too early and lose control of the $2.7 million Lamborghini Centenario, one of only 40 in existence. Off to the side, cannons blast colorful confetti as you drift this handcrafted masterpiece right into a barrier.
Your panic peaks until a calming graphic pops up on your lower screen, and you press “Y,” which rewinds you to the start of the turn. This time you nail it, and experience a satisfaction that only too few have ever felt.
Most of us would never get a real chance to drive millions of dollars worth of supercars recklessly through picturesque environments—until now. Forza 7’s stunning 4K HDR graphics are the perfect companion for the most powerful gaming console to date, the Xbox One X.
The One X is Microsoft’s nod to the serious console gamer, boasting specs and load times that were once only achieved on purpose-built PC gaming rigs. The company describes the Xbox One X as “the only console system designed to play the best games of the past, present and future.” Along with new titles designed to take advantage of the enhanced specs, Microsoft promises your old library of Xbox One games “will look and play better” on the new box. But with a steep price tag of $499 and stiff competition from Sony (not to mention gaming PCs), should you opt for the high cost of the Xbox One X?
- Compared to its rival, Sony’s PS4 Pro ($399), Microsoft’s new gaming console’s impressive numbers lie in the graphics processing power measured in funny-sounding teraflops. The One X produces 6 Tflops compared to the PS4 at 4.12, and all in all the Xbox One X is roughly 1.5 times faster than the PS4 Pro. The Xbox One X can even hold its ground against some gaming PCs, as the AMD Radeon RX 580 graphics card runs about $270 and processes at 6.17 Tflops. Considering you still need to build out the rest of your gaming computer, a bare-bones rig roughly matches the power of the Xbox One X at the same price point.
- The graphics look amazing, and pair perfectly with detail heavy games like Forza Motorsport 7. Running it in 4K HDR is simply stunning. In terms of realistic car simulation on a console, there really is no competition. The spatial sound offers next level immersion and is one of the best surround sound experiences we have tested. In the past, these graphic-heavy games have had long load times and steppy animation sequences, both of which have disappeared with this beast of a machine. If you like cars—and let's face it, you're reading this on an automotive website—Forza’s latest iteration alone may make the One X’s steep price worth it. (For more details, stay tuned for our full review. TLDR; get the Hoonigan edition)
- Older titles like the Xbox One X-enhanced Assassin’s Creed Origins also thrive on the increased power of the new console (Shadow of Mordor gets an honorable mention too). Again, the Xbox One X shines in this action-packed world of gruesome parkour. The slim-to-none load times for this detail-rich world were jaw-dropping. Quick travel, cut-scenes, and character transitions all took place almost instantly, much quicker than we've ever experienced on a console. Aside from the awesome ass-kickery, one of our favorite pieces of gameplay is the weather and light transitions. Sunsets look beautiful and we often find ourselves flying above as Senu (your eagle companion), admiring the landscape.
- The 4K ultra high definition Blu-ray player is an excellent entertainment arm for this gaming console. Planet Earth II is must have. You think you like sloths now? Wait till you see them swimming through tropical islands in gorgeous HDR detail. Netflix and Amazon Prime apps are also powerhouses of ultra high definition material, with a lot of excellent examples of 4K with surround sound. It far outperforms what most cable provides, and almost everything plays back flawlessly.
- This is the first console we haven’t tucked away in our TV cabinet. The Xbox One X matte black finish with its sleek and slender design make it an excellent complement to your entertainment gear. Compare that to the standard Xbox One, whose shiny plastic front fascia tended to distract and draw attention. Even judged against the similar stylings of the white Xbox One S, its reserved appearance wins our nonexistent award for best-looking Xbox to date.
- Top-shelf specs aside, it’s hard to stomach a console costing $499, especially when the $190 Xbox One S can also play 4K games and comes with an UHD 4K Blu-ray player. Sure, you’ll run into some longer load times, but for less than half the price and no difference in gaming titles or accessories, it’s a tough decision. The Xbox One X is roughly 7 times faster than the original Xbox One, and about 4x faster than the One S. Quicker load times can be a huge perk for the gamer trying to get as much gameplay in as possible with little free time, but is that really worth an extra $300?
- There aren’t enough exclusive Xbox One X-enhanced titles yet. So far, the only new clear winner for the console is Forza 7. Crackdown 3 is on the horizon, but didn’t make it to launch. There are a fair amount of older titles that have been enhanced for the Xbox One X, but if you have already played through them, then chances are seeing them in 4K may not be worth it. And speaking of exclusives, PlayStation has more on that front now or on the way with Gran Turismo Sport, The Last of Us Part II, Detroit, Spider-Man an God of War 4.
- If you like to edit your gaming highlights into clips and upload them to social media, Microsoft allows you to record two minutes of 1080p or 30 seconds of 4K, both of which are very easy to do through the Xbox menu popup during gameplay. The problem we’ve encountered is with files uploaded from the Xbox to the OneDrive account being limited to 1080p. This leaves the lonely 4K clips living on your Xbox, which is fine for storage, but you can’t easily share your glorious 4K Gymkhana recreation in the Hoonicorn.
- The Xbox One X lacks the virtual reality that is offered from both Sony (PSVR) and the PC gaming world (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift). If you are looking for full gaming immersion, then Microsoft has made no hint as to VR being in their console’s future, even though the box is more than capable performance-wise. In our mind, even if you aren’t interested in VR, it’s nice to have the option.
- Third party apps are a mixed bag, which is to be expected. The YouTube app is lacking, for example. We haven’t figured out a way to force immediate 4K playback; the buffer eventually catches up, but don’t be surprised if the first moments of your favorite tech vlog look a little grainy. For those live game-streaming Twitch addicts out there, Microsoft’s proprietary competitor Mixer runs fine, but doesn’t nearly have the same community or same breadth of titles as Twitch does.
The Xbox One X, Ranked
Load times: 5/5
Gameplay Playback: 5/5
Title Breadth: 2/5
Third Party Entertainment: 3.5/5
The Bottom Line
If money isn’t a factor, buy it; the Xbox One X is a great piece of technology and an amazing showcase in graphical gaming prowess. If the price tag is a reservation for you but you want to stay in the Microsoft world, then go with the the Xbox One S, which can play 4K games, comes with an UHD 4K Blu-ray player, and can be found for less than half the price.
In a world where add-on hardware and other accessories seem to take precedence over gaming power, the Xbox One X decided to go back to basics and make an ultra powerful gaming machine. It’s difficult to justify when reading price per spec, but there is no console that offers such a powerful experience in a convenient, consumer-friendly package. We were shocked by how much that changed the way we approached video games in general, allowing us more actual playing time on a busy fixed schedule without having to factor in load times as well.
Gaming aside, the Xbox One X does an admirable job creating a portfolio of entertainment options, and can easily be used as your go-to streaming hardware. With its powerful capabilities, it should be somewhat future-proof, at least for a while. But if VR takes off—and yes, that's a big if—that will change. At the end of the day, though, this is the first console to hold its ground against PC gaming rigs for about the same price. If you're a pixel-peeping audiophile with no budgetary restrictions looking for the most impressive console gaming experience, the Xbox One X is worthy of a central spot in your entertainment center.
The Xbox One X, By the Numbers
Powertrain: 8-core, 2.3GHz with 6 TFLOPS, 326GB/s, 12GB GDDR5
Optical Drive: 4K UHD Blu-Ray
Video: 4K 60 FPS HDR
Audio: Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, PCM 2.0
Amount of game-loading downtime for tweeting or answering texts: Little