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Xbox Series X pushes what’s possible on a gaming console

The New Xbox Series X gaming console
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Microsoft is not messing around with the Xbox Series X, delivering significant hardware improvements that dwarf the Xbox One and Xbox One X. In a new blog post, Xbox head Phil Spencer shared even more details on the console’s processors and its advanced features.

Xbox Series X has a custom processor, which Microsoft previously said would make use of AMD’s Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architecture. The console offers four times more processing power than the standard Xbox One and up to eight times more GPU performance. Its GPU is twice as powerful as the Xbox One X, as well, with 12 teraflops, which measures computing performance, over the One X’s six.

Xbox Series X will make use of hardware-accelerated DirectX ray tracing, a feature that traces the path of simulated light and photons to deliver more realistic hues and shadows. It’s impossible on current hardware and is mostly limited to expensive PC systems at the moment. The PlayStation 5 will also feature ray tracing of some sort.

The Xbox Series X will also make use of variable rate shading using a patented system that prioritizes individual effects on characters and objects. This allows for more efficient use of hardware without impacting resolution or frame rate.

On Xbox One, only one game can be paused at a time, but this is changing on Xbox Series X. The Quick Resume feature allows players to pause multiple games and resume them almost immediately, and with SSD storage, loading times should be drastically reduced once the game has started.

Xbox Series X - World Premier - 4K trailer

Other technical improvements include HDMI 2.1 improvements, with support for auto low latency mode and variable refresh rate to reduce lag and avoid screen tearing. This is combined with a controller feature called “dynamic latency input,” which synchronizes input between the Xbox Wireless Controller and the console to deliver more responsive gameplay.

Xbox Series X arrives this holiday season, and it will support all four generations of Xbox games, including Xbox Game Pass titles. The Xbox Game Pass program will continue on Series X, as well, with launch game Halo Infinite available for free to subscribers.

Thus far, Microsoft has given significantly more information on Xbox Series X than Sony has with the PS5. It’s unclear when that will change, as the company recently pulled out of big conferences like GDC and PAX East over coronavirus fears. Sony will also be skipping E3 2020, while Microsoft will still hold its traditional press conference.

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Gabe Gurwin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Gabe Gurwin has been playing games since 1997, beginning with the N64 and the Super Nintendo. He began his journalism career…
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Even though we’re almost three years into the life span of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, it feels like this console generation is just starting for Microsoft.
It’s no secret that Xbox was slow to start up and then maintain consistency this console generation. For example, 2020 saw the company putting out a weak console launch lineup made up of ports and remasters. While 2021 had a flurry of great games, it was followed by a comparatively barren 2022. And 2023 hasn't been perfect either (due, in large part, to the flop that is Redfall), but outside of that, this year delivered the excellent Hi-Fi Rush, the grandly scaled Starfield, solid ports of two Age of Empires games and Quake II, a new Minecraft title, and a technical showpiece in Forza Motorsport.
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Most of those games were on or came to more platforms afterward and, in general, didn’t provide that strong of an argument for why players should stick around this console generation. But looking at many of the games Xbox has released this year, it finally feels like we have a bundle of good Xbox exclusives that show what the platform was always capable of.
In my review of Forza Motorsport, I note that the game feels like a launch title because it’s an impressive technical showpiece. It runs at 4K and 60 fps in performance mode, which is something not many games this generation have done. The closest comparable games are Astro’s Playroom and Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered on PlayStation 5, which effectively demonstrated the power of Sony's console early on.
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