The new, $500 Xbox One X is the most powerful home video game console ever made. With its beefy internals, the Xbox One X is more powerful than most home computers. It can power 4K and HDR gaming — the next major graphical step up after HD.
It’s also the most expensive home game console ever made, only matched in price by the original Xbox One (which came with an expensive Kinect peripheral) and the original PlayStation 3.
It’s not just you: $500 is a tremendously high asking price for a game console in 2017. The Nintendo Switch, which launched earlier this year, costs $300. The next best version of the Xbox One, the “S” model, costs $250. Even Sony’s PlayStation 4 “Pro” model, which touts the ability to produce 4K and HDR games, costs $100 less than the Xbox One X at $400.
In short, it’s a hard sell.
Whether it’s worth your money is a more complicated question. Do you have an Xbox One already? Do you own a 4K/HDR-capable television? Do you consider $500 to be a major expense?
For me, however, it simply isn’t. Here’s why.
How I tested the Xbox One X:
I bought a 4K/HDR television about a month ago now. It was A Big Deal™, officially.
I read up on TVs at my favorite review-focused publications, like CNET and The Wirecutter. I spoke with my colleagues who know more about displays than I do (thanks Tony and Jeff!). I went back and forth over whether to wait for OLED TV prices to come down. I watched a bunch of videos on YouTube.
In the end, I went with the TCL P-series you see above. It’s Wirecutter’s highest-rated TV period. “It’s the best value we have ever seen in a TV,” Wirecutter’s Chris Heinonen said. “It produces images with more detail, brightness, and color than most TVs that cost hundreds more. Even when viewed side-by-side with TVs that cost 250 percent more, our viewing panel picked the TCL.”
All of which is to say two things:
1. The TV I am using with the Xbox One X is high quality, highly rated, and tuned (yes, I did that too) specifically for 4K/HDR. I went from a 720p, 42-inch Vizio HD TV to this.
2. I probably spent too much time being neurotic about buying a TV, and should’ve just trusted the Wirecutter suggestion from the start.
If you’re wondering what the Xbox One X looks like on a $3,500 Samsung OLED 4K TV, assuredly one of the excellent publications mentioned above can help you out. I’m the average consumer, and even then I kinda splashed out for this TV.
4K, HDR Blu-ray footage looks excellent.
Microsoft included a copy of “Planet Earth 2,” a documentary I assumed was about the sequel to the planet we live on, but is actually just about regular old Earth 1.
Hilarious jokes aside, “Planet Earth 2” is considered a 4K/HDR showcase title. It’s an “Ultra HD” Blu-ray used to demonstrate how dazzling this new, higher-resolution video format can be on the right set. It sets a standard for expectations of fidelity, in so many words, and I used it as such.
“Planet Earth 2” is also a delightfully charming British documentary that doubles as a highlights reel of nature’s craziest s–t. As both an animal lover and a person who loves to be dazzled, I can indeed confirm that “Planet Earth 2” serves as a visual showcase. It is ridiculously impressive, because of how dazzling the image quality and range is in addition to the absurdity of its content. But this isn’t a review of “Planet Earth 2” (if it were, I would totally suggest you check it out).
The Xbox One X is specifically intended to power 4K and HDR gaming. The ability to play 4K/HDR Blu-ray discs like “Planet Earth 2” is something that the standard Xbox One S is capable of, and it costs just $250.
To this end, the Xbox One X makes some games look very nice.
Two games that really stand out on the Xbox One X are “Gears of War 4” and “Forza Motorsport 7.” Both have full 4K / HDR support, and both look excellent as a result.
More than just very pretty games, they look noticeably different on the Xbox One X — they look more like high-end PC games than home game console games. If you’re looking for something to show off the new Xbox One X and your 4K/HDR TV, these are the games to do it with.
But that’s just two big games, one of which is a racing simulation and the other is a year-old shooter. If you already played “Gears of War 4,” and you’re not a hardcore racing fan, there isn’t much to play at launch.
To be all the way clear: There is no “big launch game” for the Xbox One X.
OF NOTE: When games are updated with 4K visuals, they sometimes swell in size to over 100 GB. “Gears of War 4,” “Forza Motorsport 7,” and “Halo 5: Guardians” come in at over 100 GB apiece. Apiece! That’s absolutely gigantic, to be clear — significantly larger than the largest games.