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Xbox Series X: specs, price and how it compares to gaming laptops

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft's next console, the Xbox Series X, will arrive in late 2020. The next-gen console promises to bring improved graphics, faster load times and more connectivity options to gamers, along with a handful of other compelling features. 

While we're several months away from the launch of Xbox Series X, Microsoft has already revealed a surprising amount of information about the console, including its name, design and even early game launches. Based on what we know, the Series X could be an excellent alternative, or complement, to one of the best gaming laptops

But there's still much we don't know about Series X, so we've compiled the official details Microsoft has revealed along with the most credible rumors to give you a comprehensive picture of what to expect when the console releases in late 2020. 

Here's what we know so far about the Xbox Series X. 

Xbox Series X name and release date

Formerly known as Project Scarlett, the console's official name is Xbox Series X. Microsoft announced the name (and other details) at the annual Game Awards in a move that shocked fans and media alike. 

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft says Xbox Series X will arrive Holiday 2020. Yes, the next Xbox will land in stores next year. 

We probably won't have a specific date until its official announcement, but we can be fairly certain of a November launch. Why November? Looking at the release date of previous consoles, the original Xbox launched on Nov 15, the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One were both launched on Nov 22 and the Xbox One X was made available on November 7.

We'd be surprised if Microsoft broke this trend for anything other than a late October release. After all, we need the console to ship in time to place it under the tree on December 25. 

Xbox Series X price 

Pricing will be an important piece of the Series X's commercial success. While we don't know exactly how much the console (or consoles) will cost, Microsoft promises to not repeat the same mistakes it made with the Xbox One. 

“I would say a learning from the Xbox One generation is we will not be out of position on power or price,” Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s Xbox and gaming chief, said in an interview with The Verge.

When the Xbox One launched, it was sold with a 500GB hard drive, a controller and a Kinect sensor for an eye-popping $499. That made the Xbox One at $100 more expensive than the PS4 ($399). If we had to guess, the next console will cost between $350 and $550. 

If there are two versions, the entry-level model would likely be near the bottom range while the Xbox Series X could be closer to the high range. 

Xbox Series X specs 

Microsoft gave us the name of the console and even showed us the design, but it wouldn't confirm specs. Fortunately, we already have a pretty good idea of what the Series X will be packing. 

Before we get into the details, it's worth mentioning that some rumors claim there will be not just one, but two separate versions of the upcoming Xbox: a lower-end SKU nicknamed "Lockhart" and a premium model internally named "Anaconda." 

This comes from Windows Central's Jez Corden who cites "multiple sources" but also cautions to take the leaks with "a pinch of salt" until they are confirmed by Microsoft. 

The report claims that Microsoft is targeting around 12 teraflops (TF) of power in the higher-end Xbox Series X, or twice that of the Xbox One X (the current most powerful console) and many times greater than the Xbox One S. The lower-end "Lockhart" console will slot between the Xbox One X and One S in terms of power, with 4 teraflops of computing power. 

Shifting to official news, the Xbox Series X will feature a custom AMD Zen 2 processor with a Navi GPU that supports ray tracing, frame rates at up to 120 frames per second, 8K resolution support and the fastest GDDR6 memory, along with variable refresh rates. 

We don't know the exact components powering the console (or consoles) but reports suggest it will have an eight-core chip with 16GB of RAM, 13GB of which will be allocated for games (the other 3GB will go to the OS). 

Spencer told Gamespot that Microsoft wants the next console to run games at 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. If it hits that mark, expect a significant leap in fidelity along with a smoother gaming experience. 

Ray tracing could be critical in making next-gen games look better than ever. For those who aren't familiar, ray tracing is a rendering technique that simulates how light bounces off an object. The result is lighting effects and shadows that look practically photorealistic. 

The Xbox Series X will use a custom SSD that is said to be 40x faster than the one in current models. That drive is rumored to be an NVMe SSD fast enough to make load times a thing of the past. 

Xbox Series X games

The next Xbox won't be released for another year, but we're starting to get a clear picture of its launch titles.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

There are only a few confirmed games coming to Series X, but they're the type of exclusives that will make consoles fly off shelves. The game on everyone's mind is Halo Infinite, the next journey for the beloved soldier, Master Chief. So far, we've only seen a teaser trailer shown at E3 2018 and a brief glimpse of the faceless protagonist in the Xbox Series X announcement video.  

When Microsoft unveiled the Xbox Series X, it did so alongside the reveal of Senua's Saga: HellBlade 2, which became the first game officially announced for Xbox Series X. The footage shown at The Game Awards look absolutely stunning and was captured directly on the console in real-time.

There are no other confirmed titles, but we can speculate what is coming to the next Xbox based on the release dates of upcoming titles. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Quarantine was confirmed at E3 2019 then delayed until 2020-2021. Given the new release date, we'd be surprised if Rainbow Six Quarantine wasn't available on both current and next-gen consoles. The same goes for Gods and Monsters and Watch Dogs: Legion, both of which were delayed into 2020-2021. 

Cyberpunk 2077, one of the most anticipated upcoming games, could also come to next-gen consoles. CD Projekt Red president Adam Kicinski said to VG247 last year, “The game is developed in such a way that it can use very powerful future equipment, but I can not tell you more beyond that today, as no future generation of consoles have been announced so far.”

That doesn't confirm anything, but it certainly suggests an intent to bring Cyberpunk 2077, which is set to be released on April 26, 2020, to Xbox Series X and the PS5.

Bethesda, the studio that brought us The Elder Scrolls and the Fallout franchise is set to release Elder Scrolls VI and Starfield, although details on those titles are sparse.  

EA confirmed that Dice will have extra time to make Battlefield 6, and that the upcoming first-person shooter would arrive on next-gen consoles. Specific consoles weren't named but we'd be shocked if the Xbox Series X wasn't one of them.

What about virtual reality?

The next Xbox will not support virtual reality. While Microsoft has championed VR on PCs, the company is less keen about its place on consoles. 

Xbox lead Phil Spencer said an interview with Stevivor that "nobody is asking for VR" and that customers know to go to PC if they want to play VR. 

He went on to say “nobody’s selling millions and millions [of VR units]...“I think we might get there. But yeah, that’s not where our focus is." 

if you want to play VR games on a console then buy a PlayStation 5 as Sony is expected to double-down on the budding technology with a PlayStation VR 2 headset. 

Xbox Series X vs gaming laptops

The AMD Navi GPU powering the Xbox Series X is expected to rival Nvidia's RTX 2080 GPU, which means it should be able to keep up with the best laptops when it comes to graphics performance. 

Alienware's Area-51m gaming laptop played Rise of the Tomb Raider at 92 frames per second while the Asus ROG Mothership notched 84 fps at 1080p resolution on Very High settings. 

Unless the Navi GPU somehow blows the doors off the RTX 2080 powering those beastly gaming rigs (we doubt that), the Xbox Series X will need to dial down the settings to reach Microsoft's 4K at 60fps goal. Still, what Microsoft is claiming can't be ignored: the Xbox Series X will be crazy powerful and should offer better graphics-per-dollar than any gaming laptop on the market. 

Xbox Series X design

We already know exactly how the Series X looks about a year before it's set to launch. The console's simple rectangular "tower" design is reminiscent of a desktop PC. 

There really isn't much to the design, which is exactly why it's so bold. Microsoft is replacing the aggressive angles and odd shapes of previous consoles with a refined, clean aesthetic that follows the same design principles as its laptops. 

On the front of the Xbox Series X is an illuminated Xbox logo and a disk slot, which will be a relief to folks who still buy physical copies. The top of the console is more interesting. Hiding under a centered top grille is a bright green circle. It's hard to tell from the reveal trailer, but it appears to be green LEDs or a painted component.

There is a heated discussion about the Xbox Series X's size. It looks massive in the renders but the folks at Gamespot say the console is three times taller than the new controller and about as wide. That makes the Series X relatively small, but still potentially problematic if you're trying to fit it in an entertainment center. 

It helps that the Xbox Series X can be positioned vertically or horizontally. Also, the larger size allows for a single, massive fan that pushes hot air out the top. As a result, the Xbox Series X should be no louder than the Xbox One. 

"There's always this tension between design and the kind of acoustics and cooling and function of the console," Spencer told Gamespot, "and we were not going to compromise on function. I'm just incredibly impressed with the design that they came back with."

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Xbox Series X controller 

While the console is daring in its simplicity, Microsoft made only minor updates to the next-gen controller. 

At first glance, the Series X controller looks identical to the one for the Xbox One. There are some minor but important differences. The biggest update is the addition of a share button. Located in the center of the new controller, the new button will let Xbox gamers instantly send content to friends with the press of a button, much as you can do with the PS4's DualShock 4. 

Other updates we won't notice until we've gotten our hands on the new controller include a new hybrid D-pad and improved input latency, so there is no delay between when you press a button and what happens in the game. The new controller is also a touch smaller than the previous, which Microsoft says will be more comfortable for most people. 

Microsoft is making up for past mistakes with decisions that benefit gamers. Not only is the old Xbox controller compatible with the new Xbox Series X but the new controller is backward compatible with the Xbox One.