The current generation of Xbox One gaming is coming to an end, with the next on the imminent horizon.
The Xbox Series X is being touted as Microsoft's "fastest, most powerful console ever" and on paper it's easy to see why.
Indeed, in spec terms along it even overshadows the PlayStation 5, which will be released at the same time.
So, here is everything you need to know on the next-gen Xbox games console, including release date and specs.
What is Xbox Series X?
First teased in 2018 under the name Project Scarlett, the Xbox Series X is Microsoft's next-generation machine coming to take on the PS5 in "Holiday 2020". It was officially unveiled at The Game Awards on 12 December 2019, with the design shown for the first time, but we've learned much more since.
Built like a monolithic stack, which more resembles a mini-tower PC than a traditional games console, it can be stood on its end vertically or placed horizontally - presumably to fit in a TV stand or AV rack.
It is stark and aesthetically more practical than pretty. The grille at the top/right-hand side is to be used primarily for heat dissipation, while the only other distinguishing features are its 4K Blu-ray drive slot and ports on the rear.
What haven't yet been confirmed yet are rumours on a second, cheaper sister console. An Xbox Series S (also codenamed called Lockheart) will reportedly also be made available by the end of 2020, but we're still yet to hear official details.
Xbox Series X controller
A new Xbox Wireless Controller will be released with the Xbox Series X, which comes with a new Share button in the middle and a similar D-pad disc to the one found on both the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 1 and 2.
One neat feature of the new console will be that it will work with all current Xbox One accessories - including its controllers. That means, you can still use an existing Xbox One controller on the Series X, potentially lowering the cost for local multiplayer gaming for two players or more.
Xbox Series X specs
Xbox revealed the full specifications of the Xbox Series X in mid-March 2020.
The console will utilise the latest chipsets and architecture from AMD - with the processing unit to be custom and based on the powerful Zen 2 Ryzen. It is eight-core, with each core running at up to 3.8GHz.
That is said to be four times more powerful than the processing hardware inside the Xbox One X.
The GPU is also custom and based on Radeon RDNA 2 architectures. It has 12 teraflops of processing power - double that of the Xbox One X. That makes it more than capable of native 4K 60fps gaming.
It also, potentially, allows the machine to achieve up to 8K resolution and/or run games in up to 120 frames per second. It supports real-time ray-tracing, as seen on the high-end Nvidia graphics cards released in the last couple of years.
A custom form of Variable Rate Shading will be on board, enabling developers to prioritise individual effects on specific on-screen elements rather than needing to refresh every pixel on screen for each GPU cycle. This, in effect, makes higher end, higher resolution graphics more efficient and, therefore, could allow for those greater frame rates mentioned.
There is 16GB of GDDR6 RAM available to developers too, with 13GB set aside for gaming.
An internal 1TB SSD (solid-state drive) is available for storage, which speeds up data access dramatically. And there is an expansion slot on the rear to add an optional, proprietary 1TB SSD card.
The Xbox Series X is also capable of using external USB 3.0 hard drives, much like the Xbox One family.
Confirmed Xbox Series X specifications
- CPU: 8x Cores @ 3.8GHz (3.66GHz w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU
- GPU: 12 TFLOPS, 52 CUs @ 1.825 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU
- Die Size: 360.45 mm2
- Process: 7nm Enhanced
- Memory: 16GB GDDR6 w/ 320mb bus
- Memory Bandwidth: 10GB @ 560 GB/s, 6GB @ 336 GB/s
- Internal Storage: 1TB Custom NVME SSD
- I/O Throughput: 2.4GB/s (Raw), 4.8GB/s (Compressed, with custom hardware decompression block)
- Expandable Storage: 1TB Expansion Card (matches internal storage exactly)
- External Storage: USB 3.2 External HDD Support
- Optical Drive: 4K UHD Blu-Ray Drive
- Performance Target: 4K @ 60fps, Up to 120fps
Xbox Series X connectivity
In terms of connectivity, the rear of the Xbox Series X features ports for power, Ethernet LAN, two USB 3.2 ports, and one HDMI 2.1 out. There is also a "storage expansion" that is for the optional, proprietary SSD card.
Conspicuous by its absence is a USB-C port.
The front slot is for the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray physical disc drive.
Xbox Series X features and backward compatibility
Several key features have been confirmed.
For a start, Xbox Series X will be fully backward compatible with all Xbox One accessories, controllers and games.
One neat feature is that it can add virtual HDR to older original Xbox and Xbox 360 games, it will also intelligently upscale them and can improve their frame rates without any further development.
It will also support Xbox Game Pass - Microsoft's game subscription service that gives you access to more than 200 games to download and play for one monthly fee. Xbox Series X games to come to the service will include Halo Infinite.
Those who subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will also get unrestricted access to Microsoft's cloud gaming platform, Project xCloud, which is launching as a full service in September. It enables more than 100 games to be played on mobile, with Xbox One titles initially and Series X versions added in time.
Another neat feature when it comes to games support is Smart Delivery. This is a cross-buy scheme that allows you to purchase Xbox One games ahead of purchasing an Xbox Series X and then upgrade them for free when you have the latest machine.
Xbox has committed to offering its own first-party games this way, but some third-party publishers are opting to offer Smart Delivery too. CD Projekt Red, for example, will give you the Xbox Series X version of Cyberpunk 2077 for free if you have already purchased the Xbox One version.
Smart Delivery games do not need to be swapped physically - the enhanced version will be downloaded onto your new console automatically.
Other big features include faster load times, thanks to the SSD, and Quick Resume.
Quick Resume effectively supes-up the game standby functionality found on the Xbox One. It enables a game to start nigh-on immediately from a suspended state, with several games able to be "paused" in this way.
That means you can switch between suspended games instantly.
Faster load times are easier to understand. Some games, even on the Xbox One X, can take ages to load initially and between in-game sections. The Xbox Series X will cut that time down considerably.
Some games will be designated "Optimised for Xbox Series X" which can mean they support either of the features above, have native 4K HDR graphics, sport 60fps, or provide any combination of them.
Xbox Series X games
All Xbox Series X launch games will also work on the existing Xbox One console series as well as Windows 10. And this has been confirmed to be the case for at least the next two years.
The console will launch with Halo Infinite, the latest chapter in the Halo series and the first for the next-generation console. So that will also be available on existing Xbox One consoles and Windows - it won't therefore be a Series X exclusive.
However, it will be available as part of the Smart Delivery incentive detailed above.
In addition, a sequel to Ninja Theory's superb Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice was announced alongside the Series X. It will be heading to the console next year.
Its trailer (above) gives us a glimpse at what the new console is capable of, as all the footage was captured entirely in-engine and run in real-time (as confirmed by the Unreal Engine team). Stunning stuff, especially when viewed in 4K on YouTube.
Another confirmed game coming to Xbox Series X is Cyberpunk 2077, as mentioned above.
You can find out about all the upcoming confirmed Xbox Series X games in our round-up feature here.
Xbox Series X release date
Xbox Series X will be available from "Holiday 2020" so expect a launch in November or very early December.
One of the regional Xbox websites accidentally posted a banner claiming that the new console was coming "Thanksgiving 2020". However, not only has Xbox's Major Nelson since claimed that was "inaccurate", we doubt it will be made available during a national holiday in the US, or amidst the Black Friday chaos the day after.
Instead, we would put money on it being the Friday before: 20 November 2020. That is directly equivalent to the release day of the original Xbox One in 2013.
Xbox Series X price
The only indication of price is the tag slapped on the Xbox One X when it first launched.
That was around £430, so expect the Series X to be around that or, very likely, more.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer is keeping tight lipped about the actual price, but has said that he feels "good about the price that we’re going to be able to get to". He has also revealed that the company could respond to the price Sony sets for the PlayStation 5, if neeeded.
Liked this? Check out our guide to the latest PS5 rumours.