Microsoft Xbox Series X evaluate: You’re going to need a Game Pass subscription

Xbox Series X Stylized Graphic
Xbox Series X
MSRP $500.00

“The Xbox Series X is an extremely powerful console, but it still struggles to deliver console-selling exclusives.”

  • Gobs of potential
  • More storage than PS5
  • Accessible library via Game Pass
  • Good worth
  • Lacking huge exclusives
  • Difficult to slot in most A/V cupboards
  • Next-gen potential is untapped

Timing is every little thing.

When a console launches, it’s crucial. Every part of a brand new system — from {hardware} to software program — has to come back collectively to fulfill the expectations of an keen and infrequently hypercritical fan base. And when the Xbox Series X first launched in 2020, it didn’t have the artwork of timing on its aspect attributable to COVID-19 spoiling Microsoft’s huge launch plans.

At first, the Xbox Series X felt like an athlete who spent the 12 months training for the large sport, solely to search out the remainder of the staff didn’t present up. It was a powerhouse that corrected most of the wrongs from the early days of the Xbox One. The future was undeniably vibrant, however, attributable to key software program delays, it simply wasn’t a system that was price buying instantly – or any time within the ensuing months.

That’s modified within the years for the reason that console’s launch … however not by a lot. Major releases like Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5 have helped give Microsoft’s highly effective sports activities automotive somewhat extra gasoline, however the Series X nonetheless struggles with regards to delivering huge exclusives that really put its energy to the check. Big gambles like Starfield and Redfall have but to repay a few of Xbox’s pricier investments that had been meant to reinvigorate its first-party efforts. Instead, Microsoft has doubled down on Xbox Game Pass to fill the gaps. When you’re absolutely purchased in to the total Microsoft ecosystem, the Xbox Series X seems like one of the best console in the marketplace as we speak.

But that’s the catch — you’ll have to pay that month-to-month subscription charge to make the system really feel worthwhile. Game Pass means there are plenty of games to play on the system, because of backward compatibility and optimizations to some third-party titles, however is it price plopping down $500 on a brand new console when the identical video games already work on the previous one or your PC?

Digital Trends initially reviewed the Xbox Series X over the course of per week, although we’ve since up to date it to replicate the present state of the console (Note that this evaluate focuses solely on the Series X, not the $300 Series S). After spending extra time with it and watching its library increase, the Xbox Series X continues to be a tough machine to suggest. It’ll both be your most or least used console relying on whether or not or not you’re keen to purchase into the Game Pass ecosystem.

About our Xbox Series X evaluate

Our Xbox Series X evaluate was first revealed on November 5, 2020 by Chris Morris. It has since been up to date by Giovanni Colantonio, maintaining it updated with current sport releases and {hardware} updates. The most up-to-date replace was on May 3, 2024, to replicate new sport releasess like Starfield, in addition to developments in Microsoft’s multiplatform sport technique.

Setup: hurry up and obtain

Gamers know to anticipate a day one patch, however that doesn’t make it any much less irritating. The preliminary obtain was lower than 1GB, and that was separate from any required sport updates. The controller additionally requires a patch.

The result’s a setup course of that may doubtless take 10 minutes to an hour of your time, relying on the velocity of your web connection. Certainly, it’s higher to obtain a patch than to not, however the battle between main day one updates and the need to load up a sport the moment you activate the console is a matter the blazing new solid-state arduous drive can’t repair.

Otherwise, establishing the console is a breeze. Microsoft pushes utilizing the Xbox app to take action. It actually is a timesaver, letting you copy your settings, GamerTag, Wi-Fi password (assuming you don’t have a hardline web connection in your console), and different info over shortly, drastically simplifying the setup.

Performance: loads of energy, in an enormous field

Microsoft has shouted about its superior {hardware} at almost deafening ranges because it first teased the Series X (known as Project Scarlett on the time). By now, you doubtless know the specs and buzzwords: 120 frames per second (fps), HDR, 12 teraflops of processing energy, and so forth.

Despite its efficiency, the Series X is surprisingly quiet. The cooling construction of the system is so environment friendly that you just’ll typically surprise if the console is definitely turned on. The Xbox One, as compared, is sort of a jet engine.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Series X will not be, nevertheless, a straightforward slot in most residence leisure facilities. Microsoft (like Sony) constructed its next-generation system to be a showcase merchandise. The Series X is smaller than the PlayStation 5, but it surely’s nonetheless not constructed to suit simply into the typical front room A/V cupboard. This is because of its width, the consequence of a form extra just like a field than a slate. It may very well be an annoyance to some homeowners.

Once you have got the chance to place the Series X to the check, you’ll discover an especially highly effective machine that lives as much as Microsoft’s efficiency guarantees. Games like Forza Horizon 5 and Microsoft Flight Simulator look beautiful on Series X and can doubtless play higher there than they are going to in your PC, until you’re coping with a high-end rig. But these experiences are nonetheless few and much between, even two years later. I think about we’ll see the console’s {hardware} pushed to its limits extra constantly as Microsoft scoops up publishers like Activision Blizzard, however for now, the facility bump over the Xbox One hasn’t felt as impactful accurately.

Storage: 1TB isn’t what it was once

The Series X comes with acceptable, although not optimum, space for storing. The 1TB arduous drive (in comparison with the Series S’s 512GB) is on par with the Xbox One X. You’ll solely have 802 GB out there, although, after subtracting the quantity utilized by the system’s working system. That must be advantageous initially, however as this technology progresses and video games require more room, it may very well be problematic.

Bumping system reminiscence to 2 TB might have future-proofed the console, although it actually would have affected the Series X’s $500 worth (a key promoting level for Microsoft).

Still, Sony’s PlayStation 5 is at a drawback. It ships with 825GB of inside storage and, just like the Xbox Series X, not all of that will likely be out there for putting in video games. According to prelaunch stories, about 667GB is out there for video games. That means the PlayStation 5 has 135GB much less out there storage than the Xbox Series X.


If 1TB isn’t sufficient, you may increase Series X’s storage. Players can hook an exterior arduous drive to the system. Testing by Digital Foundry found that, no less than for backward-compatible titles, an external solid-state hard drive was almost as fast as on-device storage.

The console additionally has a Storage Expansion Card slot that may double reminiscence dimension, however at $220, it isn’t cheap to take action. The PlayStation 5 could be upgraded with a greater diversity of third-party PCIe 4.0 SSDs, which could be bought for as little as $200 (for 1TB of storage).

The controller: If it’s not broke, don’t repair it

Controllers are our connection to the video games we play, they usually’ve turn into more and more vital over the previous few generations. Microsoft has caught near the identical design for the previous two generations, and there aren’t any main adjustments this time round.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Series X controller matches properly in your arms and has been ergonomically tweaked to make it barely extra comfy. It’s a bit extra social than earlier Xbox controllers because of the addition of the seize and share button, which permits gamers to file screenshots and video clips and shortly publish them on-line.

It continues to make use of AA batteries, quite than inside rechargeable ones however is something however an influence hog. Still, the usage of batteries feels somewhat dated. The PlayStation 5 controller ships with an inside rechargeable battery. Xbox Series X homeowners must pay for that improve as an add-on.

Games and software program: Struggling with exclusivity

When we initially reviewed the Xbox Series X, the sport library was anemic. The console launched with no main exclusives, with its greatest day one title being a next-gen rerelease of Gears Tactics. That sluggish launch would in the end set the stage for the console’s total life span thus far. Even if the Xbox Series X has discovered its foothold with Game Pass within the years since launch, the dearth of true console-selling exclusives solely will get extra evident as time goes on.

The launch lineup undoubtedly seemed superb on the time. Gears 5 ran extremely clean at 120 frames per second (fps), which raised hopes for titles nonetheless to come back. The situation is that we’re largely nonetheless ready for Microsoft to capitalize. Outside of Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite, there’s just about no single piece of software program that’s as attractive because the PlayStation 5’s Horizon Forbidden West or Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. That was supposed to vary when Starfield and Redfall landed in 2023, however each video games underwhelmed to totally different levels. Significantly more games are on the horizon, however we’ll doubtless be midway via the Series X’s life span by the point Microsoft finds a constant cadence. And even then, there’s no assure that video games like Clockwork Revolution will likely be robust sufficient to make gamers really feel justified of their buy of the console.

Gears 5 Perks
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Microsoft’s long-term play is Xbox Game Pass — and it’s working to an extent. The subscription service is an incredible deal, giving gamers entry to an entire library of titles. If you requested me what one of the best console at the moment in the marketplace is, I’d say Xbox Series X with a Game Pass subscription. However, take away the service from the equation, and it’s a lot more durable to justify the $500 price ticket — particularly when you may nonetheless get Game Pass by way of your PC. You’re even capable of play video games like Halo Infinite through your Samsung TV. Plus, Microsoft has begun launching a few of its finest unique (like Pentiment and Hi-Fi Rush) on other consoles. All of these choices make the Series X really feel like a really costly method to do what your different units can do. Granted, the console will provide you with rather more stability over a cloud expertise and there’s worth in maintaining every little thing in a single Xbox ecosystem.

So how do video games really profit from the Series X {hardware}? Reduced load occasions are the large draw, although I’ve discovered that the PS5 tends to really feel quicker on the entire. Loading from sport launch to gameplay in Gears 5 (for a brand new marketing campaign) nonetheless takes effectively over a minute. Watch Dogs: Legion, whereas unoptimized, took a bit much less time. These are higher outcomes than an Xbox One X, however not the instant-play accessibility that was prompt. Forza Horizon 5 is rather more spectacular with hardly any loading in any respect in its huge open world, however there are noticeable stalls when firing up its picture mode. Still, load occasions are notably higher than on previous {hardware}, even when they’re not the quickest within the West.

Quick Resume, the touted function that suspends video games very similar to you droop an app in your smartphone, is a robust promoting level. On a number of events, I’ve had a number of video games open on the similar time and been capable of seamlessly soar out and in of them. It seems like a magic trick and stays one of many Series X’s most spectacular tech options.

The Smart Delivery function, which ensures gamers get one of the best model of a sport for his or her system, is a pleasant contact that may save frustration, however the truth that it’s not out there for each sport is annoying. It’s not even out there for each Xbox Game Studios sport, which is positively baffling.

The promise

The Xbox Series X is Microsoft’s guess on the longer term. It’s an insanely highly effective system that, as soon as the corporate’s inside groups start to showcase its energy, might wow the gaming world. The downside is that it’ been years now and we’re nonetheless ready for that second.

Microsoft feels it has one thing to show on this console technology. The Xbox One stumbled out of the gate and by no means absolutely recovered. That’s not the case this time. While the dearth of software program is bothersome, it’s arduous to fault the corporate totally, because the pandemic put long-term strains on everybody within the gaming world

It nonetheless struggles to catch as much as the hype …

Microsoft is making a compelling case for the worth proposition of Series X with Game Pass. There’s a motive it’s touting the massive library of backward-compatible video games and the Smart Delivery possibility. No, you gained’t get a deep library of AAA exclusives that would preserve you occupied for a 12 months. And chances are you’ll not get it for fairly a while. But Microsoft argues that it is a excellent alternative to play video games you by no means bought round to or are at the moment having fun with in an enhanced surroundings.

It’s not a nasty argument, by any means, but it surely’s extra smart and sensible than emotional. Console launches had been as soon as an opportunity to indicate off new gaming experiences that merely weren’t attainable earlier than. The Xbox Series X fell brief in that division in 2020 and it nonetheless struggles to catch as much as the hype years later.

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