First Look: Xbox One X

The release of a new console by Microsoft’s Xbox division is always an exciting event. Microsoft’s new Xbox One X is particularly thrilling because it promises a significant leap in terms of graphics, as compared to gaming consoles that came before it. It offers robust support for 4K and HDR, and may be the first console to match the gaming experience PCs offer.

This past weekend, I set up a brand-new Xbox One X, which was provided by Microsoft for use in TV and projector reviews. I have it connected to a 65″ Samsung Q9F, which supports HDR at 60p. Without question, some of what I have seen qualifies as the finest video game graphics I have witnessed coming from the console.

Unsurprisingly, given how new the Xbox one X is, there were a few glitches at launch. Especially notable is an issue with elevated black levels when playing HDR video content, from either a streaming service or an Ultra HD Blu-ray. The elevated blacks also impact video cut scenes within games, which looks washed-out compared to HDR working properly. Fortunately, the folks at Xbox have issued an update that fixes it…

There’s now an update for the Xbox One X that fixes the HDR black levels issue.

When playing Xbox One X-enhanced games in HDR, the graphics produced by the console delivered a potent demonstration of the fidelity achievable by a state-of-the-art TV. The combination of 4K, HDR, and 60p frame rate creates an uncanny realism that elevates the gaming experience.

Also exciting is the Xbox one X’s support for Dolby Atmos. This is a huge deal, if you have not experienced gaming with the dome of virtual sound that Atmos provides, you are bound to be shocked at how effectively it creates a sense of actually being in the game.

The Xbox One X console has a lot of computing horsepower packed inside its chassis. So, it’s unsurprising that the interface is very snappy. While I appreciate Microsoft’s desire to have visual consistency with the flat to look of Windows, the GUI does not have the sizzle of the Sony PS4. Not that I care, system menus are purely utilitarian, a means to an end. I’m far more concerned with how a console handles games, and there’s no question that’s what the Xbox One X is designed to do.

When performing its primary task, the Xbox One X consistently dazzles with some of the crispest, most colorful, and downright realistic-looking game graphics I’ve seen. And better yet, as long as it has adequate ventilation available, this console stayed quiet—even while dishing out astonishingly complex 4K graphics. For example, the fidelity achieved by Call of Duty: World War II resulted in my jaw being glued to the floor.

While I am anxious to get into all the capabilities of this marvelous console, the update that fixes the elevated HDR black levels issue is so new, I have yet to explore the multimedia capabilities of this console.

While it’s nice that the Xbox One X can serve as an Ultra HD Blu-ray player, gaming is certainly its raison d’être. So for now, it’s back to Forza, Madden 18, and Star Wars: Battlefront II… all games I currently suck at (I spend too much time in GTA5 online). Each of these titles already look clearly better than anything I’ve seen coming from a console gaming machine before.

No question, Microsoft has raised the bar when it comes to console gaming graphics. If you have an Xbox One X, please post your impressions in the forum comments.