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Xbox Series X: features and details you need to know

Microsoft reveals tech specs, internals, and more feature details about the upcoming Xbox Series X.

Xbox Series X cooling system (source: Microsoft)

Microsoft unveils the full tech specs of the Xbox Series X, shares details about the new features, and shows off how the console is built.

In this new generation of Xbox, the company is using a custom AMD Zen 2 processor with eight cores clocked at 3.8GHz each. (This isn’t the max boost speed. The processor can constantly run at full speed on all cores.) Then there’s the custom AMD RDNA 2 graphics with 12 teraflops and 52 compute units clocked at 1.825GHz (sustained) each.

This is a system on a chip (SOC) device, which means that both the main processor, graphics, and other components are built into the same chip.

Xbox Series X processor
Xbox Series X processor

The console also comes with 16GB of GDDR6 RAM using 1GB and 2GB modules, which is unusual, but it means that developers will have access to two types of memory. On the Xbox Series X there is 10GB (at 560GB/s) fast GPU optimal memory, and 3.5GB (at 336GB/s) of standard memory. In addition, console has 2.5GB (at 336GB/s) of memory reserved for the operating system and apps.

One of the most significant improvements with the next generation of the console is load times for games, which is possible thanks to the new custom PCIe 4.0 NVME Solid-State Drive (SSD) with speeds of 2.4GB/s (raw) and 4.8GB/s (compressed) and new features known as “Xbox Velocity Architecture,” which has been designed to improve the integration of software and hardware for streaming game assets. This allows developers to access the full power of the unit to create high fidelity environments that will load dynamically very quickly.

Using the new drive, the Xbox Series X will also have the ability to resume multiple games immediately on-demand, even after the console has been rebooted. The feature is known as “quick resume.”

Also, Xbox Series X comes with Ray Tracing, which is a new technology that enables more realistic lighting changes dynamically inside the game. This technology is already available on gaming PCs, but now, it’s coming to consoles too.

8K gaming and 120fps (frames per second) is also supported with the new console. In addition, the company is working closely with TV manufacturers and the HDMI group to enable Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), which are part of the HDMI 2.1 specifications.

Alongside the new console, there’s a new controller too, which now uses USB-C, supports Bluetooth Low Energy, and works with two AA batteries as usual. The physical aspect of the controller has also been refined as you’ll find improvements on the top for smaller hands, a new D pad, and there’s a new dedicated share button. Of course, the new controller is backward compatible with older generations of the console.

To build the new compact form factor, Microsoft is splitting the main board into two pieces attached to an aluminum frame.

Xbox Series X hardware internals (source: Microsoft)
Xbox Series X hardware internals (source: Microsoft)

This time around the console comes with a built-in 300w power supply. The main processor is passive cooled using a massive vapor chamber heatsink. And the entire unit is cooled by a single custom 130mm fan at the top that pulls air from the bottom and push it through top vents.

One interesting aspect about the top vent is that the green inside isn’t from an RGB led. Instead, it’s just some green element that Microsoft is adding to give the console some of the traditional green of Xbox.

As for ports, the Series X comes with a power port, Ethernet, S/PDIF, two USB ports, and the ability to expand the storage with a 1TB expansion card with support for USB 3.2 external hard drive support.

The new expansion card allows you to add super-fast storage using a module that resembles the old memory cards that was used to save games checkpoints.

Xbox Series X expansion storage module (source: Microsoft)
Xbox Series X expansion storage module (source: Microsoft)

Microsoft has partnered up with Seagate to build the storage module, but it’s likely that other companies will also be able to build and sale compatible expansion storage.

Although you’ll be able to connect a standard external hard drive to store games, you will only be able to play Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox games. If you need more space for Xbox Series X games, it’ll be required to get one of the new expansion modules to access the same storage speeds as a standard SSD.

The console also ships with a standard 4K Blu-ray drive to use game discs and watch movies.

In addition, Microsoft has also unveiled the dimensions of the console. The Xbox Series X when in a vertical position measures 301mm (11.85in) tall and 151mm (5.95in) in depth and width. Also, you can use the console vertically or horizontally.