At The Game Awards, Microsoft officially unveiled the Xbox Series X, the artist formerly known as Xbox Project Scarlett, aka the next-generation Xbox. And, well… it pretty much looks like a PC.The most direct comparison is the Corsair One, a similarly-shaped obelisk PC that uses a liquid-cooled design, kept frosty by a single maglev fan. With that in mind, let’s take what we know about the Series X’s innards – and speculate on what we don’t know – to compare the new system to a traditional gaming PC.
Today’s gaming consoles have mostly been held back from competing with high-end PCs due to their processors. The Xbox One X’s eight-core Jaguar CPU was roughly on par with an Intel Core-i3 CPU, which sells for around $100. AMD’s Zen 2 architecture, on the other hand, is much more impressive. Even the bottom-end Ryzen 5 3600 ($199) doesn’t bottleneck a top-end GPU like the RTX 2080 Ti. Microsoft is working with AMD to develop a custom Zen 2 chip for the Xbox Series X, which like other console CPUs will be tuned to suit the hardware’s specific needs. In any case, the CPU itself hopefully won’t be a limiting factor when it comes to hitting the Series X’s stated goal of steady 60fps gameplay at 4K resolution.
Very few specifics are known right now about the Series X’s graphical prowess. Microsoft has said the system will be “twice as powerful” graphically as the Xbox One X, which we can estimate to be about 12 teraflops of graphical processing power. In any case, Microsoft’s target for the Series X is 60 fps at 4K resolution. To achieve that on a gaming PC, only the top-end RTX 2080 Ti can reliably hit that mark in most games at 4K Ultra – but the Ultra presets on many PC games are especially demanding, whereas console versions are tuned specifically to cut out those settings that cause a big performance hit for only a minimal graphical improvement.
Xbox Series X Reveal Images
4K Medium or High settings – the level we can probably expect Xbox Series X games to output at – require cards at or above the power level of the RX 5700 XT (~$400), the current top-end of AMD’s Navi GPU lineup. Again Microsoft is working with AMD for a custom Navi chip that will be tuned for the Series X’s specific needs, but the 5700 XT is the best comparison point when looking to the real world.
The third performance metric of any gaming PC is load times, which is determined by the speed of your storage. Gaming PCs have long since migrated to solid-state storage as the price of SSDs have become more affordable in recent years. The Series X will be making that change, too, with a planned NVMe SSD – though Microsoft has been mum on the size. 1TB SSDs can be had for around $100 to $150 these days, depending on the brand, while higher-end NVMe drives dip to 500GB or 250GB if you want to stay below the $100 price point. Either way, expect games to load significantly faster on the Series X than current generation consoles.
The Xbox Series X has a vertically-oriented tower chassis that we’ve estimated to be about 11 inches tall and roughly 6 by 6 inches wide, based upon the size of the disc drive. That makes it a bit smaller than the aforementioned Corsair One, which uses a Mini-ITX motherboard, a (mostly) full-sized graphics card, and two radiators (one each, to liquid cool the CPU and GPU). A single 140mm magnetic-levitation fan in the top of the system sucks air in through the side panels, cooling the two liquid cooler radiators and pushing hot air out the top.I suspect the Xbox Series X will adopt a similar design, using a single fan in the top to pressurize the system and move air across its components – either a similar liquid-cooling system like the Corsair One, or possibly a vapor chamber like the one found on the Xbox One X. Either way, it’s logical to assume that the obelisk-esque (obelesque?) design was chosen in order to maximize performance while keeping the system quiet.
How Much Will the Xbox Series X Cost?
Consoles are almost always cheaper than their PC equivalent due to the economics of mass production and specialized custom components. But based upon the performance demands that Microsoft has outlined, I expect the Series X to be a premium system with a price tag to match.
Taking production economics into account, we can speculate (wildly) that the CPU might cost around $100, the GPU around $300, and the SSD around $50. That’s $450 for the core components alone. When you take into account that Microsoft is almost certainly going to keep the Xbox One X (or rebrand it as something like the Xbox Series S) on the market as a lower-tier variant, my guess is the top-end Series X could cost as much as $600, possibly without a controller included.
Here’s everything else we know about the next Xbox. How much do you think it will cost? Let us know in the comments!