Microsoft Xbox Series X: An Impressive Console
PC Magazine|December 2020
The newest Xboxes are here, packing plenty of power into boxier frames than ever. Microsoft’s entries into the latest console generation are the Xbox Series X, reviewed here, and the Xbox Series S ($299).
WILL GREENWALD

The Series X stands at the top of the ladder in terms of power and features, with 4K, HDR graphics, impressive performance, and incredibly fast load times thanks to its Zen 2 CPU, RDNA 2 GPU, and SSD storage. It costs $200 more than the Series S, but the extra power and optical drive are well worth it. The Xbox Series X is an excellent game system and stands alongside the Sony PlayStation 5 as the most powerful console for playing games on your TV, earning our Editors’ Choice award.

A BIG, BLACK BOX

The Xbox Series X’s name is perhaps more apt than any other entry in the Xbox line to date. Simply put, it’s a big, black block that features sharp, right-angle corners and measures 12 by 6 by 6 inches (HWD). The sides are smooth, black plastic, with the top featuring a grid-like grille hiding green highlights that evoke the original Xbox’s design. The front of the system holds a slot-loading optical drive that’s vertical when the console is upright, along with a USB port, a controller pairing button, an eject button, and a power button.

The back houses two USB ports, an HDMI output, an Ethernet port, a power cable connector, and a slot for expanding storage. The HDMI input from the Xbox One is missing, which means you can’t use the system as a pass-through for your cable or satellite box.

In addition to standing upright, the Xbox Series X can also rest horizontally on its side. It still needs at least six inches of clearance in this position, so finding enough space in your media center may be tough.

Microsoft Xbox Series X

PROS

Impressive 4K, HDR graphics. Smooth performance. Incredibly fast load times, thanks to SSD. Strong backward compatibility, including accessories.

CONS

You still won’t get 4K/60 in many games. Incomplete backward compatibility list for original Xbox and Xbox 360 games.

BOTTOM LINE

The Xbox Series X is Microsoft’s most powerful game system yet, with native 4K graphics and an SSD for blazing-fast load times.

A NEW(ISH) CONTROLLER

The new Xbox Wireless Controller included with the Xbox Series X isn’t much different from the one you get with the Xbox One systems. The new chassis is nearly identical to the old one, as it features the same curved profile, prominent grips, and matte plastic shell. Now a Capture button sits between the Menu and View buttons, below the glowing Guide button in the gamepad’s center. This lets you take screenshots and video clips with just a button press, as on the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Nintendo Switch.

The direction pad is also new. It now has an octagonal direction plate with stark indentations replacing the plus-shaped pad on the previous controller. Aside from these changes, the gamepad has a USB-C port for wired use and charging (if you use rechargeable batteries; the controller uses two standard AAs) instead of micro USB, but that’s about it. This is pretty much the same controller as before, and that’s just fine—it’s a very functional gamepad.

THE POWER WITHIN

Inside the console is a Custom AMD Zen 2 CPU that features eight cores clocked at 3.87GHz. There’s also a custom RDNA 2 GPU that contains 52 cores at 1.825GHz (for 12 teraflops of processing power), with ray-tracing support. The system also features 16GB of GDDR6 RAM and, perhaps most notably, a 1TB solid-state drive (SSD). The Xbox Series X can output video at up to 4K resolution, with support for high dynamic range (HDR) games and video, including Dolby Vision.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM PC MAGAZINEView All

Boston Dynamics' Spot Robodog Finds Work on a BP Oil Rig

Boston Dynamics’ four-legged canine-inspired Spot is by no means an old dog, but that doesn’t mean it can’t learn new tricks. The 55-pound robot, unveiled in 2016, has boarded BP’s Mad Dog oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, where it will master tasks including reading gauges, finding corrosion, mapping the facility, and sniffing out methane, according to Reuters.

1 min read
PC Magazine
December 2020

CAN THIS AI HELP SMOKERS QUIT?

While COVID-19 remains an occupying force in our world, and a viable vaccine is still out of reach, dealing with the pandemic comes down to mitigating health risks while coping with stress. If you’re a smoker, that’s going to be tough on both accounts. This isn’t the Mad Men era; everyone knows the risks of tobacco use, but cessation of addictive substances isn’t easy.

7 mins read
PC Magazine
December 2020

Assassin's Creed Valhalla (for PC): Another Winner

The Assassin’s Creed series has taken us to numerous historical settings since its 2007 debut, including Ancient Greece, Renaissance Italy, and Revolutionary War-era America. The newest installment, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, details the Viking invasion of 9th Century England from the perspective of history’s most notorious raiders. Though Valhalla doesn’t introduce anything wholly new to the series, it’s an excellent PC game that follows in the footsteps of its equally exceptional predecessors, Origins and Odyssey.

6 mins read
PC Magazine
December 2020

Microsoft Xbox Series X: An Impressive Console

The newest Xboxes are here, packing plenty of power into boxier frames than ever. Microsoft’s entries into the latest console generation are the Xbox Series X, reviewed here, and the Xbox Series S ($299).

9 mins read
PC Magazine
December 2020

2020's Most Common Passwords Are Laughably Insecure

Chances are that if a password is easy for you to remember, a hacker can easily crack it. And despite years (and years) of tech companies warning consumers to use hard-to-crack passwords, plus two-factor authentication, people are still using laughably insecure codes.

1 min read
PC Magazine
December 2020

THE BEST PRODUCTS OF 2020

It’s been a weird year.

10+ mins read
PC Magazine
December 2020

Virtual Movie Night: How to Watch Netflix With Friends Using Teleparty

Many of us are facing a long winter indoors, thanks to the ongoing pandemic. And though we have video streaming to distract us, watching shows and movies is more fun with friends. You could get everyone on Zoom and press play at the same time, but there’s an easier way: Teleparty (formerly known as Netflix Party).

2 mins read
PC Magazine
December 2020

Apple Mac mini (M1, Late 2020): Most Polished, Potent Tiny Desktop

The Mac mini doesn’t get upgraded often, but when it does, it makes an impact well out of proportion to its trim dimensions. The 2018 Mac mini was a PCMag Editors’ Choice pick for its pep, connectivity, build quality, and limited upgradability. A slight variation on the same sheet music, played with little fanfare earlier this year, pumped up the two base models’ SSD capacity. The real update of this iconic little desktop is this one, and it’s a big-band extravaganza. Apple’s own highly integrated system-on-a-chip (SoC), the M1 brings the Mac mini to new performance highs, and while a few fundamentals have changed, the peppy performance, the reasonable mix of connectivity, and a new lower $699 starting price combine to make it one of the best values in compact computers, period. It easily earns our Editors’ Choice nod.

10+ mins read
PC Magazine
December 2020

Optoma HD39HDR: Bright, Low-Lag Projector

Designed for gaming and for watching movies and TV, the Optoma HD39HDR is one of a growing number of 1080p home projectors that can accept a 4K UHD (3,840-by-2,160-pixel) HDR signal and downconvert the resolution to 1080p. Some projectors in this category accept the input without really offering any of the benefits that high dynamic range promises for a wider color gamut or range of brightness levels. Others, including the Optoma, make good use of HDR. In my tests, the HD39HDR delivered more-vibrant color and far better shadow detail when I played the 4K HDR versions of movies on my Blu-ray player than when playing the 1080p SDR versions of the same titles.

6 mins read
PC Magazine
November 2020

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G Review: Perfect Balance of Power and Price

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is everything you need and nothing else. Samsung pared down its flagship S20 series to a more palatable price, and the result is a value-minded standard-bearer to properly face up against the forthcoming iPhone 12 line. With fast performance, solid cameras, and often substantial discounts at major wireless providers, the S20 FE 5G becomes our default Android phone recommendation for 2020 as well as our Editors’ Choice.

7 mins read
PC Magazine
November 2020
RELATED STORIES

Tuna Melt Crunchwrap

Put a backcountry spin on a fast food cult favorite.

1 min read
Backpacker
January - February 2021

Higher-Protein Pasta

Come down from holiday overindulgence with this satisfying dish that won’t blow send your blood sugar soaring.

4 mins read
Better Nutrition
January 2021

MICROSOFT SAYS HACKERS VIEWED SOURCE CODE, DIDN'T CHANGE IT

Microsoft said in a blog pos t that hackers tied to a massive intrusion of dozens of U.S. government agencies and private companies sneaked further into its systems than previously thought, although the intrusion doesn’t appear to have caused any additional harm.

1 min read
Techlife News
Techlife News #480

WD Black SN850 NVMe SSD: Fantastic sustained write speeds via PCIe 4.0

This new PCIe 4 NVMe SSD is like-priced and about as fast as its mighty Samsung rival.

3 mins read
PCWorld
January 2021

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate tip: How to get 3 years of access to hundreds of games for dirt cheap

This incredible deal is still possible, but who knows how long it’ll stick around.

6 mins read
PCWorld
January 2021

How DirectX 12 Ultimate supercharges graphics on Windows PCs and Xbox

DirectX 12 Ultimate serves as a force multiplier for the entire gaming ecosystem.

7 mins read
PCWorld
January 2021

XBOX: TAKING YOUR PLAY TO THE NEXT LEVEL WITH SERIES X

XBOX: TAKING YOUR PLAY TO THE NEXT LEVEL WITH SERIES X

6 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #479 *Special Edition

ZOOM: THRIVING IN A VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENT

As billions of professionals tackle the transition from working in an office environment to staying productive at home, software like Zoom has exploded in popularity, climbing from 10 million daily users to 300 million.

6 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #479 *Special Edition

Back To School: Return To The Classroom Safely

Five months on from the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and policymakers and public health officials have decided it’s time to return to the classroom. Around the world, schools and colleges are preparing for a new semester, and though environments may be different, one thing is clear: teachers and students will be depending on technology more than ever.

7 mins read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #479 *Special Edition

CONSOLE BATTLE: PS5 AND XBOX SERIES X FIGHTING TO BE CHRISTMAS #1

With the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 launching this month, it’s never been a more exciting time to be a gamer. In today’s COVID climate, these next-gen consoles open up new worlds and experiences that take players on immersive adventures away from reality. But deciding whether to pledge your allegiance to Sony or Microsoft is their first challenge…

7 mins read
AppleMagazine
December 25, 2020