Xbox One X Review: Unremarkably remarkable

Reviewing the Xbox One X is weird. At a basic level, all there is to say is that it’s an Xbox One with much better, 4K ready graphics graphics. If you don’t have a 4K TV or you generally don’t care about graphics, there’s little reason to purchase a One X.

But this console wasn’t built for such people. The Xbox One X is about raw power, and it’s a testament to Microsoft’s engineering that it managed to fit it all in a package this size.

And really, it’s tiny. It’s kind of crazy to realize the Xbox One X is just as small as the Xbox One S – 40 percent smaller than the original Xbox One – but is about four times as powerful. The comparison holds up against the PS4 Pro too, which takes up a significantly larger footprint despite a lower teraflop count.

That said, the design itself is pretty safe – perhaps a tad boring. The contrasting white of the Xbox One S makes for a much more interesting look, if you ask me, but inconspicuous is better than ugly. I prefer its blocky aesthetic to the PS4, and it’s miles ahead of the original Xbox One.

My favorite thing about the Xbox One X’s design is at practical detail – the topside is no longer vented. That means you can stack other things on top of it without worrying about your console overheating. Also, considering I have a sneaking suspicion my original Xbox One died because someone spilled something on it, it’s nice to know that’s much less of a worry on the new model.

Navigating the UI is pretty much identical to its predecessors, flaws and all. It’s the same basic software experience – if a bit faster – using the recently updated dashboard with Microsoft’s Fluent Design elements. It gets the job done, and it’s more customizable than ever, but it still feels a little cluttered with the sheer number of options Microsoft throws at you. I like the wider variety of things to pin to your home screen and that it’s quicker access to your games from anywhere, but I still don’t find the UI as intuitive or fluid as Sony’s.

On a related note: despite the console’s 4K gaming chops, for some reason the UI itself doesn’t seem to be running in 4K. Text and UI elements seem to have just been upscaled from 1080p. It’s not a huge bother since you don’t spend that much time in the dashboard anyway, but it comes off as a lack of polish.

One thing Microsoft does have over Sony, however, is the ability to play 4K HDR Blu-Rays. This was the case with the Xbox One S too, but it’s still worth contrasting with the PS4 Pro, which has no such feature. Coupled with HDMI passthrough, it goes a long way towards helping the Xbox family feel like the superior machine for overall media consumption.

But of course, you buy the Xbox One X for the games, and so far, it delivers. I say ‘so far’ because the selection of games that had been updated with Xbox One X support during my testing period was limited to a handful of games, none of which I could directly compare to the PS4 Pro.

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