Even though the Xbox One X can still be seen as a high-end, aspirational console, its replacement is on the immediate horizon.

The Xbox Series X is being touted as Microsoft's "fastest, most powerful console ever" - echoing similar phrasing used prior to the launch of the One X in 2017.

However, unlike the One X, the Xbox Series X will be a next-generation machine through and through - designed to take gaming forward and directly rival the PlayStation 5.

So, here is everything you need to know on the next-gen Xbox games console, including release date details and specs.

What is Xbox Series X?

First teased in 2018 under the name Project Scarlett, the Xbox Series X is Microsoft's next-generation machine coming to take on the PlayStation 5 later in 2020. It was officially unveiled at The Game Awards on 12 December 2019, with the design shown for the first time.

Xbox

Built like a monolithic stack, which more resembles a mini-tower PC than a traditional games console, it can be stood on its end vertically or placed horizontally - presumably to fit in a TV stand or AV rack.

It is stark and aesthetically more practical than pretty. We expect the grille at the top/right-hand side to be primarily used for heat dissipation, as the rumoured inner hardware will need plenty of cooling during operation.

What hasn't yet been confirmed is whether there will be a second, cheaper Xbox Series console coming too, as previously rumoured. Reportedly codenamed Lockheart, it is thought to be the natural successor to the Xbox One S.

Xbox Series X controller

A new Xbox Wireless Controller (seen above) will also be released with the Xbox Series X, which comes with a new Share button in the middle and a similar D-pad disc to the one found on both the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 1 and 2.

One neat feature of the new console will be that it will work with all current Xbox One accessories - including its controllers. That means, you can still use an existing Xbox One controller on the Series X, potentially lowering the cost for local multiplayer gaming for two players or more.

Xbox Series X specs

We're still waiting for a full specifications list, but Xbox has released some key details already. Xbox head Phil Spencer posted a blog in February 2020 that detailed the following.

Xbox

It was confirmed that the new console will utilise the latest chipsets and architecture from AMD - with the processing unit to be based on the powerful Zen 2 Ryzen and Radeon RDNA 2 architectures.

That is said to be four times more powerful than the processing hardware inside the Xbox One X.

It will also offer 12 teraflops of GPU performance, double that of the Xbox One X.

This will potentially allow the machine to achieve up to 8K resolution and run games in up to 120 frames per second. It will also use the internal hardware for real-time ray-tracing, as seen on the high-end Nvidia graphics cards released in the last couple of years.

A custom form of Variable Rate Shading will also be on board which enables developers to prioritise individual effects on specific on-screen elements rather than needing to refresh every pixel on screen for each GPU cycle. This, in effect, makes higher end, higher resolution graphics more efficient and, therefore, could allow for greater frame rates.  

16 GB of GDDR6 RAM is said to be available to developers too, with 13GB set aside for gaming.

An internal SSD (solid-state drive) will be utilised for storage, which speeds up data access dramatically. We don't yet know the size, however.

In terms of connectivity, an image of the ports on the rear of the console was leaked. While it was thought to be of a prototype model, they indicate that there will be power, Ethernet LAN, two USB ports, one HDMI 2.1 out and an optical audio output. There is also a "mystery port" that we suspect will be for expansion or to attach accessories.

@Doug_DragoX

While they could be subject to change, we do find it odd that there's no USB-C port at present.

Xbox Series X features and backward compatibility

Several key features have also been confirmed.

For a start, Xbox Series X will be fully backward compatible with all Xbox One accessories, controllers and games.

It will also support Xbox Game Pass - Microsoft's game subscription service that gives you access to more than 200 games to download and play for one monthly fee. Xbox Series X games to come to the service will include Halo Infinite.

Another neat feature when it comes to games support is Smart Delivery. This is a cross-buy scheme that allows you to purchase Xbox One games ahead of purchasing an Xbox Series X and then upgrade them for free when you have the latest machine.

Xbox has committed to offering its own first-party games this way, but some third-party publishers are opting to offer Smart Delivery too. CD Projekt Red, for example, will give you the Xbox Series X version of Cyberpunk 2077 for free if you have already purchased the Xbox One version (which is out on 17 September 2020).

Smart Delivery games do not need to be swapped physically - the enhanced version will be downloaded onto your new console automatically.

Xbox Series X games

All Xbox Series X launch games will also work on the existing Xbox One console series as well as Windows 10. 

The console will launch with Halo Infinite, the latest chapter in the Halo series and the first for the next-generation console. So that will also be available on existing Xbox One consoles and Windows - it won't therefore be a Series X exclusive.

However, it will be available as part of the Smart Delivery incentive detailed above.

In addition, a sequel to Ninja Theory's superb Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice was announced alongside the Series X. It will be heading to the console next year.

Its trailer (above) gives us a glimpse at what the new console is capable of, as all the footage was captured entirely in-engine. Stunning stuff, especially when viewed in 4K on YouTube.

Another confirmed game coming to Xbox Series X is Cyberpunk 2077, as mentioned above.

Xbox Series X release date

Xbox Series X will be available from "Holiday 2020" so expect a launch in November or very early December. A more precise date is likely to be announced at E3 2020 in June.

Xbox Series X price

The only indication of price is the tag slapped on the Xbox One X when it first launched.

That was around £430, so expect the Series X to be around that or, likely, more.

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