Xbox One X re-review after one year: A tale of expectations far exceeded

Over a year ago, Microsoft launched the super-charged Xbox One X, touting 4K gaming as its central selling point. One year later, does it deliver?

Xbox One X
(Image: © Matt Brown | Windows Central)

The Xbox One X (opens in new tab) launched just over a year ago, with Microsoft touting 4K visuals as its primary selling point. After using the console for a year alongside its cheaper, less-powerful older brother Xbox One S (opens in new tab), how is the console performing with new games, platform updates, and beyond?

It's time for another look at the Xbox One X.

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Is Xbox One X hardware still solid after a year?

Xbox One X

Xbox One X (Image credit: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

I went through three Xbox 360 consoles owing to the dreaded Red Ring of Death, a fiasco which forced Microsoft to really take a long hard look at how it builds console hardware.

Microsoft's in-house hardware teams have grown in size and experience over the last decade or so, with Microsoft's Surface laptops being among the best in the world for build quality and reliability. I've personally owned almost every Surface model, and I never fail to be impressed. Luckily, that stellar hardware tradition seems to have extended to Xbox.

My OG Xbox One, despite some fairly hefty abuse, still works perfectly fine to this day, which is something you simply wouldn't be able to say about the Xbox 360. The Xbox One X, however, features a far smaller overall footprint, complete with the power supply baked directly into the console. With all of that raw 4K power squeezed into a comparatively small space, I'd be lying to say I didn't expect some form of complications down the line.

I am a heavy Xbox user and might have expected to see some degradation in the Xbox One X over time. So far, it runs just as well as the day I got it. It's quiet and stable, set upright in a vertical position on my desk, stoically ready to provide me with entertainment at a moment's notice.

The hardware might stand the test of time, but what about that OS?

Xbox One X dashboard took a step forward, a step back

The Xbox dashboard continues to be a bit of a pain point for many Xbox fans, owing to its speed, and abundance of algorithmic "suggested" content up front and center. Does the Xbox One X improve things at all? Yes ... and no.

The best things that have happened to the Xbox dashboard over the past year apply to both the Xbox One S and Xbox One X. Microsoft has offered a fig leaf to disgruntled Kinect fans by allowing users to control their Xbox consoles using a connected Amazon Echo speaker (opens in new tab). It works extremely well, too, allowing you to launch a game and power on your TV even when your console is in an off state. You can also use all the standard controls typical of Kinect now, such as media navigation, volume and TV commands via the Xbox One X's IR blaster, and much more.

The Xbox One dashboard has also undergone some changes since last year. It's still covered in "dynamic" suggested content all over the dashboard, which to me looks more like a load of ads than content you might actually be interested in. This makes the dashboard look frustratingly cluttered, especially when its giving me ads for games and services I already own.

Additionally, the dashboard now incorporates dedicated tabs for both Mixer and Xbox Game Pass. If you're a fan of those services they might prove useful, but if you have no intention of using them, it's annoying that you can't hide them or turn them off.

The Store has undergone some improvements, now allowing you to create wishlists, add games to a cart rather than picking them up one by one and also allowing you to gift games. Sadly, game gifting is region restricted (and, despite that, it doesn't do enough to warn you if you're gifting a game to someone in a region where they can't use it). It's all still a little slow too. When compared to the dashboard on the PlayStation 4, it's a little frustrating to see how sluggish and unresponsive the Xbox dashboard can be.

This is one area where the power of the Xbox One X hasn't been able to help, and it's at least in part due to the restrictions Microsoft placed on itself when it built the console's multi-OS approach. This is one area we hope the next Xbox can improve upon.

Microsoft and its partners delivered on Xbox One X 4K games

Forza Motorsport 7 Image

Forza Motorsport 7. (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios | Turn 10)

One of the primary areas of concern from my review last year revolved around whether or not Microsoft was actually going to be able to get developers to support the thing. Not only did they get devs to support it, Microsoft and the X vastly exceeded my expectations on the games front.

At launch, there was only a handful of titles that supported the Xbox One X and 4K, but a year later, that amount has exploded. Not only has the Xbox One X proven itself as a 4K product, it has outshone all other consoles to date, save for far more expensive PC gaming rigs.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2. (Image credit: Rockstar Games)

In technical comparisons, the Xbox One X has come out on top every single time, pushing more detailed visuals, more stable frame rates, and better resolutions than competitors. More pixels lead to a sharper image, which not only creates a more immersive experience but can actually provide tactical advantages as well. That sneaky sniper that looks like a pixelated blob in the distance on your Xbox One S will be easier to discern on the Xbox One X.

Microsoft and the X vastly exceeded expectations on the games front.

Games like Red Dead Redemption 2, Assassin's Creed Odyssey, and Forza Horizon 4 all showcase the console at its best, pushing extended draw distances, higher pixel counts, and boosted details. The awesome thing about the X, which few people expected, is that Microsoft is committing time to unlocking the potential in the compressed Xbox 360 versions of backward compatible games too. Fallout 3, Final Fantasy XIII, Red Dead Redemption, and many more almost look like full remasters, rather than simple ports. This is an unexpected added benefit and a welcome one.

Where Microsoft hasn't yet delivered is VR, which became completely absent from Redmond's Xbox One X pitch not long after its initial announcement. Microsoft isn't too keen on VR at the moment, instead experimenting on improving the overall experience before going all-in. Windows Mixed Reality has been decent, but it's hard to recommend strapping a bulky headset to your face, getting tangled up in cables and motion sickness, issues that haven't really been resolved. That said, if you want casual VR experiences, you have to jump over to PlayStation or PC for now.

So is it still worth buying an Xbox One X?

PowerA Stand

PowerA Stand (Image credit: Windows Central)

In a word, yes. The next Xbox consoles shouldn't be expected until 2020 at the absolute earliest, and even then, the Xbox One X will still be supported for a while after the fact. With Microsoft's emphasis on backward compatibility, you can pretty much guarantee all existing Xbox One content will work on future consoles, too, if you fancy building up a digital library of content right now.

The Xbox One X is the most powerful games console out there by a wide margin.

The next Xbox is highly unlikely to attempt to push resolutions past 4K, despite the fact that some manufacturers are already talking about 8K resolutions. The next Xbox is more likely to focus on improving frame rates and detail density at existing 4K resolutions.

The Xbox One X is the most powerful games console out there by a wide margin, and that remains true a year after launch. To get an equivalent gaming PC you're looking at well over $1500, and that is an extremely conservative estimate, one that omits things like the 4K Blu-ray drive and IR blaster if you're interested in watching movies. Of course, you can do way more with a Windows PC, but if you're just looking to game, you might find an Xbox One X preferable.

Perhaps the biggest issue surrounding the X (and the S) remains the lack of "exclusive" titles. PlayStation has the lion's share of high-quality photorealistic "mature" games, whereas Microsoft has spent its efforts in recent years building less ambitious titles. Redmond is investing "aggressively" in its exclusive game portfolio. But that might take a while to materialize.

Regardless, every major multi-platform title from heavy hitters like EA, Bethesda, Rockstar, and beyond, look and run better on an Xbox One X. If you want the best of console gaming today, you won't be disappointed with the One X

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Jez Corden
Managing Editor

Jez Corden is the Managing Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

14 Comments
  • The One X is a great console hardware and performance wise. The interface is a dumpster fire though. Two start screens with traditional start and the quick menu, ads everywhere ON THE START screen and just overall garbage Microsoft design. They seem to place a premium on clunky, slow and needlessly complex menus and systems. I still have the same slowdown jumping around as I did on my One and One S. Windows 10 has similar design issues, but it is also a legacy OS and has to meet many more use scenarios compared to Xbox. So yeah love the hardware. It's quiet and powerful and works well. Software is garbage from a user standpoint and I really don't see Microsoft changing it fast enough for that perception to change any time soon
  • A galaxy edge fan/listener I see 😉.
  • Calling the One X the best of console gaming is a pretty big stretch when its selection of exclusive titles is as paltry as it is. Not much point to all that power when it's just being used to see the same old Master Chief and Marcus Fenix in slightly better detail.
  • That is changing
  • Well it is. It has te power. All the multiplats run and look (most of the time) why better than it's competition. But yeah, if you're a big fan of the Sony Exclusive games, than even a One X does not make much sense.
  • I heard tale of a legend, long ago. It spoke of video games which were not exclusives, but were available on all consoles. The legend says they were called "3rd party" titles. It may sound silly, and many will deny their existence, but I believe them to be real.
  • @Herpus
    I've heard of that legend called "3rd party games". And the funny thing is that they are on different platforms. These legendary games are not a difference but something in common.
    Exclusives are the differences that make some people pick one platform over another. Differences sells not the common points...
  • RDR2 running in native 4K alone is worth the cost of purchase. It's a pretty incredible feat considering the scale of the game. Not to mention the previously released games that get enhancement for X1X. All the multiplat games look and run better on the X1X as well. If you look at the top selling games, it's always consistently multiplats. Last time I saw that list there were no Sony exclusives on there. Sony fans keep buying/playing GTA, Fifa, COD, RDR2, fortnite etc. So you are wrong. Nintendo on the other hand has exclusives that are usually at the top.
  • It's funny to read things like this yet when you look at the yearly top ten lists of game sales per unit between Xbox and PlayStation that Xbox has the ONLY "exclusive" that make the list with Forza. All the rest on the list for BOTH consoles are all multi-plats. Sony fanboys scream about "exclusives" (which by the way is, in its nature anti-consumer or at the very least less consumer friendly than multi-platform releases) but yet a vast majority of people buy multi-plat games, which the Xbox One X on average performs better than any console on the market. so yes, it's the best of console gaming currently.
  • I really hate to burst your bubble, but Forza Horizon 3 has sold less than 4 million copies, whereas both Spider-Man and God of War have sold over 5m units each.
  • You do you while I will keep playing my flawless BFV and RDR2 games in 4k HDR on my X1X. There is no comparison playing titles like these between a X1X and ps4 pro. Oh, and its funny that I can still jump out and play Gears of War 4 in beautiful 4k hdr and have no trouble finding multiplayer matches - and it is over 2 years old.
  • @Mark
    It's funny that when you make a key point like that, there will be the sam usual company "fans" that'll will attack you, say exclusives are not important and just talk of power. The same people who ignore the fact that throughout history, the more powerful consoles were almost never more popular than the console with more games. People buy consoles to play games not to count pixels. If power and resolution is a priority there is something called PC.
    These were the same MS "fans" who didn't care about power between 2013-2017.
    Now that MS launched a more powerful console, these people suddenly talk of power and resolution...
    So funny...
  • I will tell you my opinion about the One X.
    I have been a PS player since the OG PS era.
    I have the Scorpio Edition since Day 1.
    My 1st xbox & the BEST xbox so far. Way better than my PS4 Pro which is of course the best version of the PS4 family.
    This year has been a great journey for me with this amazing console. Perhaps bc it's my new toy...who knows...but i game on my Scorpio more than my Pro (i play with friends BFV atm).
    Yes. It 's worth it. I hope the next gen xbox will also be great & i am sure that the xbox fans won't be disappointed at all.
    As a gamer i hope for the best & i am glad now that i can enjoy both platforms.
    ps: I play FH4,WOT & BFV ATM on my Scorpio. I need more time lol...RDR2 is huge!
  • I could care less about exclusives, and really wish there wasn't such a thing. I love my X1X Scorpio Edition and am so glad that I didn't wait to buy one. It looks even better on my new TV!