Earlier this week, on a quiet Monday, Microsoft dropped what will probably be the closed we’ll get to the motherload in terms of Xbox Series X specs. There’s still a lot of dancing around the specifics but we’re finally getting a (confirmed) grasp of the level of performance we’re dealing with.
For the current generation of consoles, both Sony and Microsoft were arguably guilty of under-delivering in terms of specs. Even when it was brand new, the Xbox One was only offering performance comparable to a low to mid-range PC, along with a cheap Jaguar processor aimed at notebooks rather than high-performance gaming machines. That bottleneck has been keenly felt over the years, despite the mid-gen refreshes, with the CPU consistently holding these consoles back from achieving high and stable frame rates.
Microsoft certainly looks as if it doesn’t intend to make the same mistakes twice. Based on preliminary specs, the Xbox Series X looks very comparable to a high-end gaming PC, the sort of thing which could easily set you back upwards of $1200. Finally, we’re back in the realm where consoles are offering value-for-money in terms of hardware, at least until PC gaming tech races past these fixed box offerings in the next handful of years.
We’ve already taken a dive into the equivalent PC specs for Microsoft’s next-gen console, providing a baseline for the sort of hardware you can expect to require heading into the next few years of AAA gaming. It’ll be a soft bump up initially, with a number of cross-generation titles expected, but weaker hardware will surely be left behind over the next 24 months.
Microsoft’s Xbox Series X is packing a 12 TFLOP AMD Navi GPU with RDNA 2 architecture, offering performance somewhere around 20% faster than a Radeon RX 5700 XT, which itself retails for ~$400. The GPU will be capable of hardware-based raytracing. This will be combined with an 8C/16T Zen 2 processor and a grand total of 16GB GDDR6 memory to be split between system RAM, VRAM and 3GB for the OS. You can also expect to see a 1TB NVMe SSD along with support for expandable storage. If the XSX has a downside, it’s that storage space could be at a severe premium.
That’s about all we know on the hardware side for now, although in terms of the wider software support, the Xbox Series X will have backwards compatibility with all three previous Xbox consoles, quick resume for multiple games simultaneously, up to 8K resolution, 120 FPS support and the benefits of Xbox Game Pass.
On paper, we have what looks like an incredibly solid offering from Microsoft. Of course, we’re missing one crucial piece of information - price. Neither Microsoft or Sony are willing to show their hands here; each is locked in a game of cat & mouse, neither willing to show their hand first for fear the other will simply undercut it. With volatile hardware markets due to smartphone demand and coronavirus, Microsoft and Sony may also simply not yet know exactly how much each console is going to cost yet. For those reasons, it could be a little while until we know for sure.
So it’s time to open up a couple of questions for you. They’re both riffs on the same thought process but coming at it from different angles - how much would you be willing to pay for an Xbox Series X? And how much do you believe Microsoft is actually going to end up charging? For the sake of simplicity we’ll be sticking to USD for this one but get voting and remember to let us know why in the comments section below!