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article imageXbox One X unveiled – Microsoft's 4K-ready, $499 next-gen console

By James Walker     Jun 12, 2017 in Technology
Microsoft has officially announced its next-generation Xbox games console, pitched as the most powerful console ever and designed for 4K gaming. It will launch later this year priced significantly higher than the Xbox One S and its PlayStation 4 rivals.
Microsoft finally took the wraps off the Xbox One X, formerly known as "Project Scorpio," during its keynote talk at the E3 games conference yesterday. Long anticipated throughout its development, the console is Microsoft's attempt to dominate the market's high end by claiming the performance crown.
The original Xbox One was criticised for being slower than Sony's PlayStation 4. Frustrated with the reputation, Microsoft has stated throughout the X's development that it'll be the most powerful console in history. It renewed these claims during the announcement, stating that the Xbox One X has 40 percent more power "than any other console." In total, there's six teraflops of raw compute performance inside the Scorpio engine.
Xbox One X
Xbox One X
Microsoft
This adds up to a console that's capable of handling true 4K gaming. Unlike the PlayStation 4 Pro, the Xbox One X renders natively at 4K. At launch, a handful of titles will be available that support the higher resolution, including Forza Motorsport 7, also announced at E3. A further set of existing Xbox titles, such as Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3 and Minecraft will be updated to include 4K graphics.
The One X will still support older games that only render in Full HD. These can be super-sampled up to 4K scale, making them look smoother on high-resolution monitors. While it's maintaining compatibility with all existing games, Microsoft is clearly using the One X to look forwards though. Its focus is on expanding what's possible with a console, narrowing the gap with the PC gaming market.
Xbox One X
Xbox One X
Microsoft
Besides running 4K games at up to 60 frames per second, the Scorpio core will also enable 4K screenshot capture and game clip sharing. There's HDR support, immersive audio compatibility and a built-in 4K UHD Blu-ray player. Externally, the console has a similar design to the Xbox One S, refreshed with a black finish and a smaller footprint. Despite packing in much more power, Microsoft has managed to make the One X its smallest console ever.
Although the One X looks set to redefine the limits of console hardware, it was originally intended to do much more. In the Project Scorpio announcement at E3 last year, Microsoft's Xbox chief Phil Spencer made it clear that the console "must deliver" VR gameplay too. Attentive fans may have noticed that mention of virtual reality ended up being avoided entirely during the launch yesterday.
Xbox One X
Xbox One X
Microsoft
Speaking to the BBC, Spencer confirmed that the Xbox One X is no longer being billed as a virtual reality gaming platform. He noted that demand for virtual reality in the gaming market is still very low, with few players asking for a VR-ready console.
"It's important to listen to your customers and what they are actually looking for," Spencer said. "I don't get many questions about consoles and mixed reality in the living room."
Xbox One X
Xbox One X
Microsoft
The Xbox One X has another glaring issue too. At $499 USD, it is far pricier than any other before it. With a very limited selection of truly 4K-capable games available at launch, Microsoft could have difficulty in convincing consumers to upgrade older hardware.
While the company's also saying the X will make older games run smoother and look better, in practice it will offer limited benefits to gamers who don’t own a 4K TV. This could present a challenge for Microsoft if customers prove slow to migrate to the 4K future. Availability will start on November 7 in every market where the Xbox One is available.
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