After waiting for a long time, Finally, Microsoft has decided to go out of its way and downplay the box part of Xbox. Whether it's committing to bring all of its first-party titles to PC, releasing some of them to platforms like Nintendo Switch and the Steam, launching its Game Pass service for Windows, or pushing its xCloud streaming service, the message has been cleared that you don't have to buy an Xbox to play Xbox games.
For Microsoft, business isn't how many consoles he sell, Xbox chief Phil has talked to Spencer the techOwish earlier this year.
But obviously, Microsoft still decided to make Xboxes. The question, is this: why would anyone want to buy one? What is the merit of dedicated Xbox hardware when Microsoft wants the Xbox platform to be everywhere?
On 13th December the company has a surprise reveal of the New Xbox Series X, Microsoft effectively answered that question. It is a console that looks, unlike anything that has ever been released yet by Microsoft. Except, a gaming PC. And that's very promising.
Gadgets get described as monolithic all the time, but I can't think about a better application of the word than the Series X. It's a vertical tower, virtually featureless black slab. While it shares the design and the language with the Xbox One X, that only serves to highlight the difference between the two. The Xbox One X was designed to be as small as possible, but the Series X screams power as compare to other series.
With its chunky vertical frame, the Series X feels like it won't be constrained in any physical dimension. By looking at it we remember about the compact gaming PCs like the Corsair One. That may be its drawbacks even in a horizontal orientation, it not going to fit in my TV cabinet. But the advantage is that Microsoft has planted more thermal headroom to play with than ever before.
Size doesn't guarantee performance, of course. Microsoft started this generation with the largest, least powerful console, now has the smallest and most powerful machine around the world. From what we are heard about the Xbox Series X, it's shaping up to be a potent machine even by gaming PC standards as this time the almost all the games have with it. That wasn't the case with the Xbox One and PS4, both of which were built around low-power with AMD CPUs. But Microsoft says that they are targeting 4k/60fps with Series X. RDNA and Zen 2 architecture from AMD, leveraging hardware-accelerated ray duplicate, GDDR6 memory, and NVMe solid-state storage.
Spencer tells GameSpot that the Xbox Series X will offer around four times more powerful CPU performance than the Xbox One and twice as much GPU power as the Xbox One X. That should put the Series X at around 12 teraflops of graphical performance, which is up there with some of the fastest PC GPUs available today in the market. The Series X is a quite bulky box, but I don't expect there to be much-wasted of space inside the box.
Teraflops don't mean everything, and the CPU and SSD will be the more transformative leaps for the platform. The name "Series X" all but confirms the existence of more next-generation hardware from Microsoft, one example of which The Techowish has reported on extensively. The company codenamed is Lockhart is expected to target lower resolutions with around 4 teraflops of graphical power, which is less than the Xbox One X.
Most of the One X GPU budget went toward starting 4K resolution, however, while it only offered some minor CPU upgrade. If Lockhart's CPU and other hardware components are similar to the Xbox Series X, it could run the same cutting-edge games at lower resolutions, whereas the Xbox One CPU could not be able to keep up with the next-generation software. On the other hand, developers are likely to produce separate Xbox One/PS4 and Series X/PS5 versions of games for the foreseeable future. Halo Infinite is one confirmed to be such an example.
In any case, it is clear that Microsoft has done with the Series X: it's built a simple, easy-to-use gaming PC for our living room. The current Xbox One UI is not what I would describe as natural, but it beats dealing with Windows by a mouse and keyboard from the couch, and now the Series X should be able to fight on pure power as well.
Unless you have the most expensive high-end gaming PCs, I would expect the Series X to propose the best experience with most Xbox games at launch yet. That's not the case with the new Xbox One X, which can't compete with gaming PCs on performance right now. PC gamers have had it easy over the past few years the Xbox One and PS4 had such weak CPUs that, a couple of examples notwithstanding, it's generally been very easy to run console games at very higher graphical settings and frame rates on fairly simple hardware. PC performance will get better over time, but the next-generation of consoles are going to raise that bar considerably next year.
That's not to say that Series X will be an automatic purchase for many. From what Sony is saying, the PS5 has been designed at similar principles, and the company's first-party software advantage is significant. After the huge success of PS4 means that a lot of people will be unwilling to be part of the digital libraries, they are built up over the past seven years.
But the fight has started from now, it's probably Microsoft's Xbox everywhere approach, where a subscription that lets you instant access to a huge gaming ecosystem that can be played across various screens. With the Series X, Microsoft is simply aiming to give power and the best Xbox experience possible on one screen in particular. And Spencer is bullish on the competition. "We like leading in the power of performance and I feel like we're going to be there again".
The biggest questions are Microsoft's new console is now price and the PS5. After seeing the new Xbox Series X, I'm no longer wondering why anyone would buy an Xbox.
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