Xbox Series X is the new Xbox that is due for release in late 2020. We’ve already seen the Xbox Series X’s design, know some of the Xbox Series X games we’ll be getting our hands on when the console releases later this year, which includes the likes of Halo Infinite and Hellblade 2, and have ample information on backwards compatibility and how cross-gen game ownership will work under the new Smart Delivery feature.
While we still don’t have confirmation of the Xbox Series X price or release date, we do know a lot about what to expect when the new Xbox launches later this year.
We know that the Xbox Series X design is a blockier style than we’ve seen in previous Xbox consoles, making it look similar to a small gaming PC. But, more importantly, we know what’s inside the console, thanks to Microsoft giving us the Xbox Series X’s full specs – and we can say for sure that the new Xbox is going to be an absolute powerhouse. While we cover these in more detail down below, the short of it is that the new Xbox is rocking 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.8GHz, 16GB of GDDR6 memory and a custom RDNA 2 AMD GPU that puts out 12 TFLOPs of processing power.
When it comes to other Xbox Series X features, we know the next-gen console will have ray-tracing, a super-fast SSD, and potential 8K capabilities, while also being backwards compatible with four generations of Xbox games.
Want all the juicy details? Here’s everything we know about the Xbox Series so far – and what we hope will be revealed the closer we get to launch.
Xbox Series X: key facts
- What is it? Xbox Series X will be the next-gen Xbox console.
- Xbox Series X release date: “Holiday 2020” – so between October and December.
- What can I play on it? Loads of games! They include Halo Infinite, Hellblade 2 and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, with much more to come.
- What will the Xbox Series X cost? No prices yet, and we’re not expecting it to be cheap. But Microsoft has said it won’t be making the same pricing mistakes as last generation so perhaps we’ll be pleasantly surprised.
- Will Xbox Series X have VR? Microsoft has confirmed Xbox Series X won’t have VR at launch, with Xbox boss Phil Spencer saying the company is waiting until Xbox VR is a “no-brainer”.
- Can I play Xbox One games on the Xbox Series X? Yep! All previous generations of Xbox games will be playable through backwards compatibility.
- Will coronavirus delay the Xbox Series X release? It doesn’t look like this will be the case as Microsoft is citing the same release window.
Xbox Series X release date
Microsoft has given the release window of “Holiday 2020” for the new Xbox – which means we’ll likely see the Xbox Series X release worldwide between October and December this year. That’s right, the new Xbox will release worldwide in this window, including in Japan where the Xbox brand has previously had poor sales.
We’re expecting the Xbox Series X to release sometime in November as, historically, that’s when Microsoft has released its consoles.
It’s possible that the release date will be November 26, 2020 (AKA Thanksgiving in the US) as mage stating the Xbox Series X is “coming Thanksgiving 2020” (shown above) appeared on a number of product pages around the world briefly before being reverted back to to the previously announced Holiday 2020 release window.
A Microsoft spokesperson responded to TechRadar to clarify, saying: “An Xbox product page in some regions inaccurately listed the launch date for Xbox Series X as Thanksgiving 2020. We are committed to launching Holiday 2020.”
Xbox Series X price
Microsoft won’t be pinned down on an Xbox Series X price point quite yet – unsurprisingly, given what a sore spot the price of the Xbox One was for fans. At launch, the original Xbox One cost a whopping $499 / £429 / AU$599, which was quickly reduced when Microsoft realized people weren’t forking out.
Microsoft has at the very least promised that it’s learned from this pricing mistake, with Phil Spencer stating that this time “we will not be out of position on power or price.” That doesn’t mean that the new Xbox will be cheap, mind you, it just means the price point will be better aligned with the console’s power and the price points of the competition.
After all, Jason Ronald, director of the Xbox platform, gave only a vague reassurance when speaking to Windows Central, saying that Microsoft knew “what reasonable price points are for a console and kind of what customers expect about that”.
Price will at least in part be determined by the cost of the components going into the console: Xbox Series X is going to be a lot more powerful than either the Xbox One S or Xbox One X, and that will likely mean we’re looking at an even higher price tag on any bundles and Xbox Series X pre-orders.
It could be a while before we get confirmation of the Xbox Series X price – possibly months. Historically we’ve seen both Microsoft and Sony reveal their console pricing around June or July, but this time things are a bit different. The hot topic of pricing has many on the edge of their seats, as we see just how powerful the PS5 and Xbox Series are, and wonder how expensive the technology will be.
However, it does look like the Xbox Series X could be cheaper than the PS5. Sony Interactive Entertainment’s president and CEO Jim Ryan has hinted that the PS5 might not have the ‘lowest price’ in battle against Xbox Series X
In a wide-ranging interview with GamesIndustryBiz, Ryan addressed speculation around the PS5 cost. While not revealing the price, Ryan suggested the PS5 price could be a significant hit on gamers’ savings, and certainly not committing to beating the Xbox Series X on price.
Speaking on whether the potential for a Covid-19-related recession will affect sales of the PS5, a high-value gadget, Ryan said:
“I think the best way that we can address this is by providing the best possible value proposition that we can. I don’t necessarily mean lowest price. Value is a combination of many things. In our area it means games, it means number of games, depth of games, breadth of games, quality of games, price of games… all of these things and how they avail themselves of the feature set of the platform.”
It seems like we’re currently in something of a standoff, with both companies waiting to see what the other will price its next-gen hardware at – possibly so they can undercut each other. It looks like Sony and Microsoft will be waiting until the last possible moment to set their pricing, with plenty of time before then to make adjustments. Still, enough time will need to be set aside before the consoles release between October and December for people to get those pre-orders in.
Xbox Series X specs
- CPU: 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.8GHz (3.6GHz with SMT) 7nm
- GPU: 12 TFLOPs, 52 CUs at 1.825GHz, Custom RDNA 2
- Memory: 16GB GDDR6
- Storage: 1TB custom NVMe SSD
- Optical drive: 4K UHD Blu-ray
- Ports: HDMI 2.1 output, 3x USB 3.2, networking port, expanded storage slot, power input
- 120 fps support
- Potential 8K resolutions
- Ray-tracing technology
- Variable Rate Shading for more stable frame rates
- Compatible with Xbox One accessories
- Smart Delivery
We now know what Xbox Series X looks like and what it’s packing under the hood, and it’s going to be an absolute beast of a console. The new Xbox’s gaming PC design is pretty apt, considering the next-gen console’s internal hardware is comparable to one – so make sure you check out our Xbox Series X spec analysis.
Digital Foundry analysis
The folks over at Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry got a close look at the hardware, and alongside Microsoft have announced the hardware that will be powering the Xbox Series X. According to Digital Foundry, the specs confirm that the Xbox Series X will indeed be twice as powerful as the Xbox Once X… in practise.
Digital Foundry saw an unoptimized version of Gears 5 running on the Xbox Series X running at the equivalent of ‘Ultra’ graphics settings on PC, and it comes with enhanced shadows and ray tracing. Where the cut scenes ran at 30FPS on the Xbox One X, Digital Foundry reported that on the Xbox Series X, it runs at a ‘flawless’ 60FPS. Also, this is an early port – on release we should see even better results.
As expected, the Xbox Series X processor is built into a custom Project Scarlett SoC (System on Chip), which uses an enhanced version of TSMC’s 7nm process. That seven nanometers is important. The smaller the process, the more efficient the chip can be. That means it can provide more performance for less power.
Making sure the chip inside a games console can perform well without using lots of power (and getting hot) is incredibly important. Based on the prototype hardware Digital Foundry seen, the Xbox Series X reportedly ships with a 315W power supply – delivered internally but the console is also equipped with parallel cooling architecture, allowing cool air in and letting that cool air stream through separate areas of the console.
The processor is a customized AMD Zen 2 CPU with eight cores and 16 threads, with a peak speed of 3.8GHz, and a base speed of 3.6GHz.
As Digital Foundry reveals, these frequencies aren’t completely locked, which suggests the Xbox Series X could adjust the power of the CPU based on workload and thermals. So, if you’re playing a game that needs a lot of processing power, the Xbox Series X can give its CPU a boost, and then slow it down when you don’t need it.
Meanwhile, the GPU of the Xbox Series X is revealed as a custom design with 12 teraflops of compute performance, with 3328 shaders allocated to 52 compute units, and runs at a locked 1,825 MHz. Interestingly, there’s no boost clocks for the GPU. It will always run at that speed.
The Xbox Series X also uses AMD’s RDNA 2 architecture, and offers ray tracing for photo-realistic lighting. What does this mean in the real world? It seems the Xbox Series X will have the graphical power acquirement to a gaming PC with an Nvidia RTX 2080 graphics card. So, a very capable device indeed, but maybe not able to compete with the most powerful gaming PCs.
The Xbox Series X also gets 16GB of GDDR6 memory – an upgrade from the Xbox One X’s 12GB GDDR5. That won’t all be used in games, however. Games will get a total of 13.5GB – 10GB of GPU optimal memory and 3.5GB of standard memory, while the remaining 2.5GB is reserved for the operating system.
The faster GDDR6 memory should also offer a big leap in performance. Match that with a super-fast NVMe SSD, and the Xbox Series X should feel very spritely when used.
There’s still a lot of questions over what kind of performance we can expect from the Xbox Series X, but this is by far the best look at the hardware we’ve seen.
Despite 4K being the aim, Microsoft has said the Xbox Series X has 8K capability. Phil Spencer even changed his Twitter profile photo to (what appeared to be) a picture of the next-gen Xbox Series X’s processor. It said ‘Project Scarlett’ on it, and was marked with ‘8K’ (pictured above), suggesting Microsoft plans on doing more than simply talking the talk when it comes to 8K.
Variable Rate Shading
Microsoft is aiming to get Xbox Series X games to run at 60 FPS in 4K, calling the challenge a “design goal”. The console will support up to 120 FPS too. The Xbox Series X will also feature Variable Rate Shading, which prioritizes effects on different in-game characters and objects for a “more stable frame rate and higher resolution”, according to Microsoft.
Not only will games look better, they could be bigger. In an interview with PCGamesN, Samsung revealed that it’s talking with Microsoft and pushing the gaming behemoth to adopt ultrawide support for the Xbox Series X.
The Xbox Series X will make good use of having an SSD – a ‘Quick Resume’ feature for the console will let you “almost instantly” continue with multiple games, without the need to sit through load screens.
Microsoft also aims to improve latency through features such as Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR). According to Microsoft, “ALLM allows Xbox One and Xbox Series X to automatically set the connected display to its lowest latency mode”. While “VRR synchronizes the display’s refresh rate to the game’s frame rate, maintaining smooth visuals without tearing”. These features aim to minimize lag and make gaming more responsive.
However, don’t expect video to do the Xbox Series X’s power justice. Xbox boss Phil Spencer believes that it’s been challenging to demonstrate just how much of a leap Xbox Series X will be over Xbox One, as faster and more stable frame rates aren’t something that really comes across in videos.
“One of the things I’ve talked about publicly … but it’s hard to come across, is the way it feels to play games on a box where frame rates are higher, frame rates are more stable,” Spencer explained. “The fluidity of it, showing that in video form, is just impossible. How do you show how something feels?”
Backwards compatibility with Xbox One accessories
Microsoft has also confirmed that all your current Xbox One accessories will work with Xbox Series X, including existing controllers and headsets. But we’d doubt that also includes the ill-fated Kinect motion tracker.
That means that the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 will be forward compatible with Series X, but Microsoft is also launching a next-generation wireless controller to accompany the new console.
Xbox Series X design
Xbox Series X has a completely different design to its predecessors. For a start, the next-gen console has an upright tower design – similar to that of a gaming PC. However, Microsoft has confirmed Series X can sit horizontally or vertically.
From what we’ve seen in the Series X reveal trailer, the console is black with slightly indented cooling vents on the top (with what seems to be a green light inside). The Xbox logo sits small on the top left hand corner of the console and there’s still a disc drive – which is placed vertically on the left hand side also.
The Xbox Series X has the following ports: HDMI 2.1 output port, three USB 3.2 ports, one networking port, an expanded storage slot and a power input port.
The console reportedly measures 15.1cm x 15.1cm x 30.1cm and weighs 4.45kg/9.8lbs.
While these images have been circling for a while now, we still weren’t entirely sure what that mystery port was – until now. Thurrott claims that sources “familiar with the company’s plans” have identified the port as being for storage expansion.
Microsoft hasn’t confirmed it this is the case, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it was seeing as external storage was supported with the Xbox One – but whether we see it included in the final Series X product is still uncertain.
In addition to the console design, we also know what the new Xbox logo will look like.
Spotted on Reddit by Windows Central, an official trademark listing for the Xbox Series X logo was filed on April 16, 2020, showing a very different look to what we’ve seen for Microsoft’s consoles to date.
The logo shows the word ‘Series’ in a vertical formation, next to a stylized ‘X’. It’s a more mature and minimalist design for Xbox, but it’s somewhat simplistic and – in our opinion – looks more suited to a sports brand.
According to the patent, this is the Xbox Series X logo we’ll see on everything from the console itself to clothing, keychains, toys and even kitchen utensils. Although, we think Microsoft is just trying to cover all bases and it’s unlikely we’ll see an Xbox Series X spatula anytime soon.
Xbox Series X controller
Microsoft is releasing an Xbox Series X controller to accompany its next generation console. The new Xbox Wireless Controller will apparently be more accessible to everyone, as Microsoft has made an effort to refine the size and shape.
This shouldn’t be too surprising to anyone that’s been following the tech giant, as it’s been making waves for accessibility in gaming for a while now with products like the Xbox Adaptive Controller. Along with enhanced accessibility, we’ll also be getting a dedicated share button (finally) that will let you share screenshots and videos with your friends.
Microsoft has also revealed that it is optimizing latency in the “player-to-console pipeline” starting with our Xbox Wireless Controller, through a new feature called Dynamic Latency input. According to the company, this feature “synchronizes input immediately with what is displayed”, making controls “more precise and responsive”.
Xbox Series X: what will I be playing?
We got our best look yet at the upcoming Xbox Series X games lineup during the Xbox Series X gameplay reveal on May 7, with Microsoft revealing a roster of third-party games coming to the new Xbox including Dirt 5, Scorn Madden 21 and more. We also got to see gameplay for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla for the first time. All of the games shown are optimized for the Xbox Series X (and will therefore make the most of its powerful specs).
For a full look at the dozens of Xbox Series X games that have been confirmed so far, check out our full Xbox Series X games round-up.
But what else do we know about Xbox Series X games so far? During the Xbox Series X’s official reveal, Phil Spencer said Series X games will be “more lifelike, immersive and surprising” and that the Xbox Series X will “lead us into the future of gaming”. He also stated that 15 Xbox Game Studios are building a huge next-generation library that includes Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga and Halo Infinite.
Not a Halo fan? Don’t worry, Xbox Series X will be capable of four generations of backwards compatibility – with the feature available from launch. That means the Series X will be able to play existing Xbox One games like Destiny 2 as well as backward-compatible Xbox 360 and original Xbox games. Not only that, but these games will “play better than ever before” thanks to Microsoft’s new HDR reconstruction technique and the Xbox Series X’s Quick Resume feature – without requiring additional work from developers.
In addition, the Xbox Series X’s powerful specs will enable select backwards-compatible titles to run at higher resolutions or double the frame rate.
Not only is Microsoft doubling down on backwards compatibility, but the company is also introducing a new system called Smart Delivery to the Series X that, in some respects, could be seen as forwards compatibility.
With the Xbox Series X, Smart Delivery will seemingly ensure that you have the right version of a game, no matter which Xbox console you’ve bought it on, allowing users to upgrade compatible games to next-gen versions for free through the program. Not only that but save data will be able to be carried backwards and forwards between the Xbox Series X and Xbox One, allowing players to pick up and play on both current-gen and next-gen consoles. We already know some of the games which will utilize this feature, including Cyberpunk 2077.
In addition, Microsoft will avoid siloing by taking a cross-generation approach to its first-party games. Talking to Stevivor, Phil Spencer said Microsoft wants to create a console that utilizes Xbox Play Anywhere so you can move seamlessly between devices: “Our goal for our first-party games is that your entitlements will be cross-generation and your Achievements will move effectively with your save game because that’s where they stand.”
We’re also expecting Microsoft’s game-streaming service Project xCloud to be out of public testing by the time Xbox Series X releases (with a launch date slated for this year) so we should hopefully be able to enjoy Series X games on-the-go.
For those who aren’t quite sold on upgrading to Series X quite yet, but still want to check out the best upcoming games, Microsoft has stated that there won’t be Xbox Series X exclusive games for at least a year and, for the foreseeable future, new games are planned to work across the Xbox family of devices. That means you’ll still be able to play them on Xbox One.
We knew what the Xbox Series X will look like, a few of the features on offer, and a good deal about specs the next Xbox is boasting. But May 7 was when we first saw Xbox Series X gameplay revealed.
According to Microsoft, this event would see us fans getting a first look at next-gen gameplay, trailers and sneak peeks from Xbox’s third-party partners, an update on how devs are utilizing the Xbox Series X and, finally, confirmation of the Xbox Series X games that will use Smart Delivery.
With no look at the console itself, or its interface features, this was all about third-party titles – and ultimately we felt it was a little underwhelming, with no standout titles to shout about.
However, this May 7 event is only the start of Microsoft’s next-gen reveal plans. According to the company, this event will kick off Xbox 20/20, a stream which will take place each month throughout the rest of the year in the lead-up to the launch of the next-gen console.
“Starting with the May 7 episode of Inside Xbox, we will be showcasing what happens next in the world of Xbox, every month, which is why we’re calling it ‘Xbox 20/20’,” Jerret West, CVP of gaming marketing at Xbox wrote on Xbox Wire.
“These monthly moments will take place throughout the rest of the year and will be a way for us to engage, connect and celebrate with you about what’s in store for the next generation of gaming, including what’s next for Xbox Series X, Xbox Game Studios, Xbox Game Pass and Project xCloud. Every month will bring something different.”
Microsoft has already confirmed we’ll be seeing more of Xbox Series X first-party games at Xbox 20/20 in July, including Halo Infinite.
We expect that these streams will entirely replace the Xbox’s presence at E3 2020, which Microsoft was confirmed to be attending until it was cancelled – given the circumstances right now, a remote event makes a lot of sense.
What about Project Lockhart?
The Xbox Series X will not be the only new Xbox in Microsoft’s next-generation lineup. While we were all pretty excited when Microsoft unveiled the next Xbox at the Game Awards 2019, it appears that the upcoming console’s name isn’t quite what we thought – and it will belong to a family.
While we assumed that the new Xbox is called ‘Xbox Series X’, Microsoft has clarified that, in fact, the family of consoles will be called ‘Xbox’ and that ‘Series X’ is just one of the consoles within the family.
This clarification from Microsoft serves to further fuel rumors that another new Xbox console is on the way. Rumors have circulated for some time about a lower-cost next-gen Xbox console that would sit just below the high-end Xbox Series X – codenamed ‘Project Lockhart’.
Project Lockhart will allegedly be disc-less console – a trait that it will carry forward from the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition – but Kotaku‘s sources believe it will be substantially more powerful than Microsoft’s current disc-less box, and will come with both a solid-state hard drive and a faster CPU than any current game console.
The report goes on to say that Microsoft told developers to shoot for a 1440p resolution and 60 frames-per-second frame rate with Project Lockhart and 4K/60 with Xbox Series X, and those same developers have likened the performance of the lower-end console to the PS4 Pro.