After months of teasers, Microsoft has treated gamers to their first proper look at its next console, the Xbox One X, a direct competitor to the PS4 Pro console that Sony revealed to the world last September.
Both the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro are being dubbed "mid-generation" models – not worthy of a full version number bump but bringing a few new touches and upgrades to the console families that first appeared in 2013.
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For the Xbox One X, that means native 4K support for games for the first time on a Microsoft console (the Xbox One S supports 4K for video, but only through upscaling as far as games go). Microsoft is quoting 6 teraflops of graphics power thanks to a custom-made 1,172 MHz GPU engine. Apparently that's good enough to run your 4K games at 60 frames-per-second.
Memory has been boosted to 12 GB of RAM, up from 8 GB on the Xbox One S, and both the X and the S support HDR for better-looking videos and games, as well as coming with a built-in Ultra HD Blu-ray drive.
On paper, that puts Microsoft's new console ahead of Sony's PS4 Pro in terms of raw performance – Sony's box offers 4.2 teraflops of graphics power – although there are plenty of other factors for gamers to weigh up, from retail price to the catalog of games.
Existing Xbox One games and accessories will be compatible with the new console, Microsoft says, and the company is also bringing a selected number of older Xbox 360 titles to the new console later this year. And older games will look sharper and run faster on the Xbox One X.
In terms of looks and design, the Xbox One X is very similar to the Xbox One S, although it's a little smaller. The big changes are on the inside of the box rather than the outside.
All three Xbox One consoles will stay on sale, giving gamers a choice of price points and performance power to consider, but the Xbox One X is going to be the premium choice for top performance and native 4K support for games.
Microsoft also used the opportunity of the E3 gaming expo to announce 42 new games for its consoles, 22 of which are exclusives. Among the highlights are the Forza Motorsport 7 racing game, gorgeous-looking pirate-themed MMO Sea of Thieves, and the zombie open world title State of Decay 2. BioWare is back on the scene too, with an ambitious multiplayer game called Anthem.
What we didn't get at Microsoft's press event was much mention of virtual reality, something the company has been pushing hard as far as its Windows 10 platform goes. We'll have to wait and see whether something like the PlayStation VR is in the works.
The Xbox One X goes on sale worldwide on November 7, but it's not cheap. Microsoft is quoting a retail price of US$499.Product page: Xbox One X View gallery - 4 images