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Microsoft is getting ready to roll out its latest game console, the Xbox Series X. It packs some of the most powerful hardware we’ve seen in any non-PC gaming system, and should provide some healthy competition to Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 5. The Xbox Series X is scheduled to hit stores this holiday season, but until then we’re gathering all of the information that’s been released about the upcoming console so far.

Xbox Series X Controller and Design

Microsoft is really putting the “box” in Xbox Series X, because that’s exactly what the new console looks like. It’s a big black box, more reminiscent of a PC tower than flatter game consoles like the previous Xbox systems. We haven’t seen a console quite so aptly named since the Nintendo GameCube. The Xbox Series X isn’t a cube, but its relatively tall design means it’s meant for sitting next to your TV or in a cabinet below rather than right under it. This is a tower, with a vertical optical drive slot and a monolithic black profile.

The Xbox Series X wireless controller doesn’t look too different from the previous Xbox One gamepad, though it appears to take a few cues from the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller. Specifically, the direction pad is an octagonal dish with angled square panels for the cardinal directions and triangular recesses for clear diagonal inputs. Besides that, it appears to look much like the Xbox Wireless Controller we’ve grown accustomed to over the last few years, and its Bluetooth and backward compatibility means it can even work with the Xbox One (and Windows PCs, of course).

Xbox Series X Specs

Under the big box of a case, the Xbox Series X features some powerful hardware. The console is built around an eight-core AMD Zen 2 CPU and an RDNA 2 GPU, which will support 4K rendering and ray tracing. The system features 16GB of GDDR6 RAM and a 1TB SSD for extremely fast loading times.

Its optical drive will be a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray drive just like on the Xbox One S and Xbox One X, so you’ll be able to play 4K movies streaming or on disc as well. Spec-wise, the Xbox Series X appears to be nearly identical to the PlayStation 5 in processing power.

If the 1TB SSD isn’t enough space for you, the system will feature an expansion card slot developed with Seagate that will support an additional 1TB drive that can simply plug into the back of the console. External hard drives will also be supported through USB 3.2.

Xbox Series X

Xbox Series X Features and Backward Compatibility

Microsoft hasn’t shown off many new tricks for the Xbox Series X. It will be much more powerful and support ray tracing, but aside from that, the main benefit of the system appears to be the upgrade from a hard drive to an SSD for storage. Games won’t just run on faster hardware, they’ll also load faster.

Nostalgic Xbox fans will be satisfied by the Series X, which will boast robust backward compatibility. The system will play Xbox One, Xbox 360, and even original Xbox games, providing access to a massive library of classics.

Since many games will be released on both Xbox Series X and Xbox One for the first year or so of the system’s life, Microsoft is offering a Smart Delivery system that will automatically download the most current version of whichever game you purchase to your Xbox Series X, so you don’t find yourself playing an inferior, previous-generation version.

Xbox Series X Games

Most major games will be coming out on both the Xbox Series X and the Xbox One at first. We haven’t heard much in the way of Xbox Series X exclusives (even the upcoming Halo Infinite will also be released for Xbox One), but Microsoft did recently give us a tease of some of the games that will be heading to the system.

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is the newest, most notable upcoming title out of a series of trailers Microsoft showed off, but Xbox Series X owners will also be able to look forward to Dirt 5, Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines 2, and H.R. Giger-inspired horror game Scorn, along with countless other major first-party games that will be released across both Microsoft’s and Sony’s consoles.

Xbox Series X Release Date and Pre-Order

Microsoft is shooting for a holiday 2020 release of the Xbox Series X, and the global pandemic hasn’t seemed to change those plans. That means the new Xbox will be coming out alongside the PlayStation 5, for what should be an exciting holiday season for gamers. Of course, the pandemic has thrown game release schedules into question, so we’ll have to see just what launch titles will be available along with the machines.

Xbox Series X Price

Price remains the big mystery for both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. Neither company has announced how much their new console will cost, but a recent Bloomberg report notes that the PS5 apparently costs Sony $450 to make. The Xbox Series X has similar hardware, but we aren’t sure how much it’s costing Microsoft to build. Either way, it’s a safe bet that the Xbox Series X will likely be sold for $400 to $500. 

We’ll be updating this story as more information becomes available, so check back soon. 

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