The Xbox One X Design

Small. Sleek. Refined. All are words that can easily describe the latest Xbox console. Despite having almost five times the performance of the original, the new console is only 60% of the volume of the Xbox One. And that’s before you factor in the Xbox One X has a built-in power supply, while the original had a huge external power brick. Clearly Microsoft is pretty happy with the design of the Xbox One S, because the new console takes most of its styling cues from the mid-cycle refresh of the original Xbox One, except they’ve moved back to black. The black certainly blends in better with A/V equipment, so it should please most people. Without doubt, there will be special editions of the console later with all sorts of color options. Maybe Microsoft should just add the Xbox itself to the Xbox Design Labs so you can create your own?

Picking up the Xbox One X, it feels incredibly dense. The new console is less than 300 grams heavier than the original, but the smaller chassis makes it feel even heavier.

Evolving the design of the Xbox One S

The front design is very sleek. Like the Xbox One S, Microsoft has ditched the capacitive power button and gone with a much better feeling physical switch. The USB port is now on the front, as well as the controller pairing button, and the disc drive and eject button are on the left. It really does look great, and it feels like a solidly built device, despite that fact that the importance of materials and design isn’t as necessary as it would be on a device you carry with you.

The only small quibble with the design is that all of the buttons, other than the Xbox power button, are color matched to the console, making them difficult to see in a dim TV room. Plus, the UHD Blu-Ray drive slot is also hidden, which aesthetically looks great, but does kind of make you fumble a bit with where to put the disc in, although certainly that will get more familiar over time. This can be compounded if the Xbox One X is mounted low on a shelf under the TV. If that's the case, looking down at the console, the overhang of the top obscures the buttons and USB ports.

The back features the HDMI input and output ports, so Microsoft has kept the TV input capabilities intact. There’s also two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, along with S/PDIF, Ethernet, and an IR output, which would need to be paired with an IR cable if you want the Xbox to control your TV or cable box.

The back of the device gives a hint at what’s inside. Cooling is one of the most important aspects to the design of the Xbox One X, and not only for product longevity. No one wants a loud cooling system. The original Xbox One was decent in this regard, but was definitely audible, even across the room. Despite the increased performance, and smaller chassis, the Xbox One X is practically silent, even at load.

At idle, with a SPL meter about 6-inches in front of the Xbox One X, the SPL reading was just around 38 dB(A). Considering the 36 dB(A) sound floor in the room, that’s pretty good. It’s not silent, but across the room, it’s practically silent. Under the load of Gears of War 4, which is a 4K title, the Xbox One X only went up to 41 dB(A) which is fantastic.

The move to put the power supply inside the console also adds to the thermal load that the Xbox One X has to deal with, compared to the original where the power supply was an external brick attached to the power cord. But the benefits to the user are a much neater package, without having to deal with finding a place to hide the power supply. In the case of the Xbox One X, Microsoft has outfitted it with a 245-Watt universal voltage PSU, and the company claims it is the most efficient ever put into an Xbox. Also thanks to the internal power supply, the power cable itself is a standard cable as well, compared to the much larger cable on the original, since it won’t need to carry as many amps with the higher input voltage of a power outlet feeding directly into the console.

The Controller: Standard and Custom

The Xbox One X ships with the new standard Xbox controller. There’s a few changes from the launch device, but the overall design is very similar. The latest generation of controller from Microsoft incorporates a 3.5mm headset jack into the bottom of the controller, rather than requiring a proprietary headset connector. This alone is a big update. The other major change is that the new controllers also support Bluetooth, for connecting to PCs, in addition to the Wi-Fi Direct connection the controller still uses for connections to the Xbox and select PCs with Xbox Wireless built-in.

The top of the controller has been subtly changed as well, with the front face now enclosing the Xbox button at the top, rather than having it somewhat separated as it was when the console first launched. It’s a small styling cue, but it’s also an easy way to tell if your controller is the updated model offering Bluetooth.

It’s still powered by two AA batteries, although you can purchase the Play & Charge Kit, or third-party solutions as well, if you want a rechargeable solution.

As previously mentioned, Microsoft has really upped their game in terms of controllers, even though the standard model that comes with the Xbox One X hasn’t changed dramatically from the launch version.

First, you can visit the Xbox Design Lab to create your own controller. You can pick the body, back, bumpers, triggers, D-Pad, ABXY, and menu buttons from an array of colors and styles, including rubberized hand grips, and metallic triggers. You can also get it engraved with up to 16 characters, if you want to put your gamertag on the controller. It may sound a bit gimmicky to some, but it starts at just $20 more than the standard controller, and can be a great way to create an attachment between the device and the owner. If you're into the NFL, Xbox Design Labs now lets you add your team logo to your controller.

If you don’t want to design your own, Microsoft also offers a wide array of custom controller colors, including some with some very cool shadow effects.

Finally, Microsoft offers the Xbox One Elite Controller. Yes, it does have a $149.99 MSRP, but it has a very solid feel, on top of the interchangeable components included with it. It comes with three sets of thumb sticks, two D-pads, and rear paddles that can be mapped to any button. There’s hair-trigger locks for the triggers themselves, an app to customize it all, and a very nice carrying case for the controller and all of its accessories. If you’re an Xbox fan, and you haven’t tried this controller out, you should.

The Xbox One controller design has held up pretty well, and it’s great to see small tweaks to it over the years to make it even better. If you want something other than the included standard black model though, there’s plenty of first-party options.

Introduction Powering Xbox One X: Custom AMD APU
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  • cmdrdredd - Saturday, November 4, 2017 - link

    PS4 is doing the same thing. Reply
  • ncsaephanh - Friday, November 3, 2017 - link

    Very cool how they basically put a 480's worth of gpu performance and still are able to run the console as quietly as they do. More competition is always a good thing, and I can't wait to see where we are 5 years from now. Reply
  • Drumsticks - Friday, November 3, 2017 - link

    Thanks for the review, it was a nice read.

    Look at that power draw in Gears of War 4 (172W). I know that we can't make direct comparisons, but I wish we could find out if the One X was pegging the GPU at full load during that time. If so, a fully loaded GPU with slightly more hardware (6TF vs like 5.6?), and an 8 core CPU is drawing less power from the wall than an RX 480/580 draws by itself?

    It's hard to say for sure unless we could somehow view GPU/CPU load at the same time, but still, how? It's hard to not come to the conclusion that this APU is much more efficient than Polaris. Just how much worse is GloFo versus TSMC Finfet?
    Reply
  • InlineV - Friday, November 3, 2017 - link

    Microsoft has developed a process for matching the power supply to the CPU/GPU to optimize the power profile at the factory. They haven't released details for how they do that but the results seem to speak for themselves. Reply
  • Stochastic - Friday, November 3, 2017 - link

    I just wanted to chime in and say well done! It's great to see Anandtech publish articles on popular consumer tech in a timely fashion. This is the best Xbox One X review I've seen yet--all the details you include are the reason I've continued reading Anandtech after all these years. Reply
  • Brett Howse - Friday, November 3, 2017 - link

    Thanks! Reply
  • Wolfpup - Friday, November 3, 2017 - link

    Fantastic article, as we expect from Anandtech!

    So bizarre about that Netflix bug, that they haven't fixed it (how hard can it be?) and replicated it on the PS4 Pro?!?

    I love that the Xbox One has at least some backwards compatibility. Love that they're worrying about noise the system makes. Love the use of normal non-proprietary batteries.

    Only aspects of the design I don't like are the non-replaceable hard drive (makes me parinoid it's going to die...although IF they do backwards compatibility from here on out, that's less of an issue) and the weird save system. I like being able to manually back up my saves! These cloud servies are flaky in my experience, and that's besides that I might not always want a save on someone's server, nor to use GB of bandwidth backing up saves (and how much space do they give us?)

    But mostly it's a great design, and pretty darned exciting.

    I'm controlling myself and not buying it until next year, as I've got a huge backlog, and among other things want to get through my PS4 exclusives first, but I'm going to standardize on Xbox One X for the backwards compatibility and controller with normal batteries.
    Reply
  • Chad - Friday, November 3, 2017 - link

    Great article!!

    Very impressed with msft right now, it seems they really took their time and properly engineered this thing. Low power, low noise, compact and efficient design packing a ton of power. Both hardware and software (the new OS) are homeruns for a (relatively) low cost. Impressive!
    Reply
  • Rufnek - Monday, November 6, 2017 - link

    This would have been more impressive if they had attempted to do this for the actual One release.
    Instead the users got a HUGE console, with external power brick, a useless Kinect and garbage DDR3 ram with a 'special' 32mb bandwidth boost. What a joke that was compared to the smaller, faster, power brick included, GDDR5 console. The X is what M$ should have been aiming for. Hind sight is 20/20
    Reply
  • Brett Howse - Friday, November 3, 2017 - link

    Yes I'd like them to add removable storage, but I can also understand they want the packaging as clean as they can make it. USB storage is simple and effective.

    I've never had an issue with game backups to Xbox Live and to be honest I kind of prefer having it synced, especially with Play Anywhere now being a thing.
    Reply

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