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Xbox Series X release date, price, pre-order, controller and more

Xbox Series X
The Xbox Series X along with a controller (Image credit: Microsoft)

News about the Xbox Series X has been coming in at a steady clip. From its impressive specs to its broad backwards compatibility, the Xbox Series X aims to be the most comprehensive gaming console that Microsoft has ever created.

Microsoft claims that the system will be able to run games in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. There's also the possibility of running games at 8K resolution, or at 120 frames per second, although we wouldn't bank on both at once. The system supports ray tracing, and a 1 TB SSD will ensure rapid load times. Details of the game library are a little vaguer at present, but we'll be able to play Halo Infinite, Hellblade 2, Outriders and more.

Read on to learn about the Xbox Series X's release date, price, controller, games, specs and more.

Xbox Series X cheat sheet: What you need to know

  • What it is: Microsoft's most powerful game console ever
  • Release date: Holiday 2020
  • Price: TBD
  • Key features: 4K visuals at 60 FPS, 8K and 120 fps support, ray tracing, near-instant load times
  • Key games: Halo Infinite, Hellblade II, full Xbox One backward compatibility
  • Specs: Custom AMD Zen 2 CPU, 1TB NVMe SSD, 16GB GDDR6 memory, 12 teraflop RDNA 2 GPU

Xbox Series X release date

Xbox Series X is slated for a Holiday 2020 release, which will put it right up against Sony's PS5. Based on previous console launches, we're expecting it to hit sometime in November.

A product listing on the official Xbox website temporarily listed the Xbox Series X as launching on Thanksgiving 2020 in some regions. However, Microsoft's Larry Hyrb tweeted that the listing was innacurate, and that the company is simply committing to a Holiday 2020 window for now. 

Xbox Series X price

Xbox Series X doesn't yet have an official price, but we expect it to go for a premium given its high-end specs. For context, both the original Xbox One and Xbox One X launched at a $499 price point.

However, you will have an option to pay for your Series X in installments. The upcoming console has been added to Microsoft's Xbox All Access program, which allows you to finance an Xbox One S or Xbox One X for as little as $19.99 per month. All Access members can upgrade to Series X starting in Holiday 2020 once they've made 18 payments.

One theory from a prominent analyst suggests that the Xbox Series X could launch at $399, specifically to undercut Sony's potential PS5 price of $499. Microsoft would operate at a loss on consoles for a while, but that wouldn't necessarily be a problem if the company intends to make up the difference in services. (Xbox Live, Xbox Game Pass, possibly Project xCloud and so forth.) Bear in mind that it's just speculation from a third party, though; Microsoft hasn't said a word about pricing yet. 

Xbox Series X pre-order

Xbox Series X isn't quite available for pre-order yet, but we'll be sure to update this section once it is. However, if you sign up for Xbox All Access now, you can eventually upgrade to a Series X starting Holiday 2020.

Xbox Series X specs

In a February 2020 blog post, Xbox chief Phil Spencer revealed the full specs for Xbox Series X. The console features a custom processor that uses AMD's Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architecture with a total of 12 teraflops -- that's twice the graphical power of the Xbox One X.

A second blog post in March 2020 revealed even more details about the Xbox Series X specs. The console's biggest draw is arguably its ability to run any game at 4K resolution and 60 fps, a feat that usually requires a very powerful PC. Some games will go up to 120 fps, although the resolution may vary as they do so.

The post didn't discuss the possibility of 8K games or video, but did note that load times will be "extremely fast," thanks to its 1 TB SSD. A recent test from a developer revealed that the Xbox Series X loads Gears 5 four times faster than the Xbox One, which is promising. On the other hand, Gears 5 was developed with the Xbox One in mind, so we'll have to see whether the figures hold when dealing with native Xbox Series X games.

We also know that the system will feature 16 GB RAM, and that it will support external storage drives.

Release dateHoliday 2020
Processor8-core, 3.8-GHz AMD Zen 2
GPU12 teraflop AMD RDNA 2
Storage1TB custom NVMe SSD
Ray TracingYes
Maximum resolution8K
Optical drive4K UHD Blu-ray drive
External storageUSB 3.2 external HDD support
Maximum framerate120 frames per second
Key featuresQuick Resume for suspending multiple games, Dynamic Latency Input, Variable Refresh Rate

The Xbox Series X specs have a slight edge over those of the PS5, at least on paper. For example, the Series X has 12 teraflops of graphics muscle, whereas the PS5 offers 10.3 teraflops. The Series X's 1TB SSD also boasts a higher capacity than the 825GB SSD you'll find in Sony's next-generation console.

Of course, there's always the question of how well the Xbox Series X will stack up to gaming PCs, which a set of new Nvidia GPUs looks to answer. These GPUs could arrive a few months before the next-gen consoles, and if they're as powerful as anticipated, it could be a blow to AMD, which is producing GPUs for both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X. Granted, the console and PC gaming audiences aren't exactly the same, but there are undoubtedly some people who will choose between a PC and an Xbox Series X later this year, and these GPUs could sway them one way or another.

The Xbox Series X sports Variable Rate Shading, which allows developers to choose how much of the GPU is used for specific effects, enabling steady frame rates at a high resolution without too many sacrifices on image quality. You can also expect hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing, which should allow for more realistic in-game lighting than ever.

Other key features include Variable Refresh Rate support, meaning the console can change the refresh rate on the fly based on what type of TV or monitor is connected (that means that support for G-Sync and FreeSync monitors may be possible). Series X will offer Microsoft's Variable Rate Shading technology, which improves rendering performance without sacrificing picture quality.

With features like Auto Low Latency Mode and Dynamic Latency Input, Series X should offer more responsive inputs than previous Xbox consoles, which could be key for competitive games. 

A recent interview also suggests that the Xbox Series X will utilize proprietary compression technology, facilitating much smaller file sizes than we're used to on current-gen consoles. The technology could also allow gamers to pick and choose which components of a game they want to download (single-player and multiplayer, for example), to let them cut down on unnecessary parts of games.

There's also the Xbox Series S, or "Lockheart" to consider. WindowsCentral believes that Microsoft may announce two Xbox Series X consoles in May, not just one. The less powerful "Lockheart" system would sport four teraflops of processing power rather than the 12 of the full-fledged Xbox Series X, but otherwise offer many of the same Series X features. The Xbox One has had three or four different hardware variations, so a lightweight Series X console isn't impossible. Whether we'll get it right off the bat is harder to say.

Raw specs only say so much, but Spencer believes that the Xbox Series X components will work together in revolutionary ways. He claimed that Microsoft's next console will bring "the biggest change to gaming since 3D graphics," thanks to a combination of CPU power, SSD speeds and "dynamic latency input," which could change the "feel" of how fast a game responds.

On the other hand, the Xbox Series X is not guaranteed to run every game at 4K resolution and 60 fps. For example, Ubisoft is currently targeting "at least 30 fps" for Assassin's Creed Valhalla. In theory, this wouldn't be terribly different from the way that Assassin's Creed Odyssey runs on the Xbox One X — although, to be fair, we also don't know how much more detailed the graphics might be, or what kind of gameplay enhancements we might get. Still, it's good to bear in mind that 60 fps is a target, not a guarantee.

Xbox Series X controller

Xbox Series X

The Xbox Series X controller (Image credit: Xbox)

Xbox Series X will launch with a new version of the Xbox Wireless Controller. While it looks fairly identical to the current Xbox One controller, the gamepad will feature a dedicated Share button for easily capturing screenshots and game clips, as well as a revised d-pad based on that of the Xbox Elite Series 2 controller. Other new features include textured dots on the bumpers and triggers, and a matte finish on both the shoulder buttons and the d-pad.

In a blog post, Microsoft also says that its "size and shape have been refined to accommodate an even wider range of people." Better yet, the new controller will also work with Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs, as well as iOS and Android via Bluetooth.

It's also worth noting that the Xbox Series X will work with all existing Xbox One accessories, so your existing Xbox Wireless Controller or Xbox Elite Wireless Controller will carry over just fine. 

Xbox Series X games

After the Xbox Series X gameplay reveal on May 7, we have a much better idea about some of the console's third-party titles. The company spent the most time discussing Assassin's Creed Valhalla, the latest entry in Ubisoft's historical action/stealth series. Here's a trailer with (some) in-engine gameplay footage:

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 also made a big splash, with a trailer that shows off a lot of the supernatural powers you can acquire during the game. (It also has a catchy retro soundtrack, giving the trailer some definite BioShock vibes.) Fans have been eagerly awaiting this game, and it seems like it should run well on the Xbox Series X.

Other titles include colorful racing game Dirt 5, psychological horror game Scorn, over-the-top crime game Yakuza: Like a Dragon and perennial sports game Madden 21.

Halo Infinite, the highly anticipated next installment in Microsoft's flagship shooter series, will launch alongside Xbox Series X in Holiday 2020. 

At The Game Awards 2019, Microsoft studio Ninja Theory revealed Senua's Saga: Hellblade II, the sequel to the beloved 2016 psychological action game. The game is being built exclusively for Xbox Series X and PC, and the debut in-engine trailer should give you a solid idea of what the console is capable of.

Xbox has promised that the exclusives available on the Series X will also be playable on the Xbox One and PC, marking it from Sony's PS5-or-nothing approach to its launch games. It may sacrifice potential sales if players see they can get the same games on a platform they already own, but it's a gentler approach than Sony's taking, which may keep Microsoft in gamers' good books during the launch period.

We don't know much else about the launch lineup, but the Series X will support all existing Xbox One games, including the vast library of backward compatible Xbox and Xbox 360 titles.

Square Enix's Outriders will come to Xbox Series X, as will upcoming Ubisoft titles Watch Dogs Legion,  Gods and Monsters and Rainbow Six Quarantine. Other titles confirmed or expected to be in development for next-gen consoles include The Elder Scrolls VI, Starfield and Grand Theft Auto 6, so it seems safe to assume that those will land on Xbox Series X as well. According to TechRadar, Rage 2 developer Avalanche Studios is working on a next-generation title.

During its fall 2019 earnings call, EA confirmed that it has a new Battlefield game in development for next-gen consoles (according to GameSpot). The publisher is also skipping this year's installment of NBA Live to focus on a next-gen version for 2020, as reported by Polygon.

If you were hoping to see first-party Microsoft games on May 7, you may have to wait a little longer. A follow-up tweet from the official Xbox account suggested that the upcoming expo will showcase third-party titles, while Microsoft will show off games like Halo: Infinite later this summer. Whether this means we'll get another large reveal event, or a series of smaller ones as the summer progresses, we'll have to wait and see.

We've also learned that Fortnite will make its way to the Xbox Series X, in case that was ever in doubt. Epic Games announced that Fortnite will be available for both the Xbox Series X and the PS5, and that players will get to carry over their progress, as well as compete against players on any other platform. The gameplay experience won't be much different, but the graphics could be a little prettier.

Xbox Series X backwards compatibility

Microsoft has confirmed that all existing Xbox One games and accessories will work on Xbox Series X. That includes all of the best Xbox One games, as well as the hundreds of Xbox and Xbox 360 titles that are backwards compatible with Xbox One. Microsoft says that backwards compatible titles will enjoy better framerates and resolution on Xbox Series X, all with no extra developer work needed. 

And with Microsoft's Smart Delivery feature, you'll only have to buy a game once to enjoy the best possible version of it. That means your copy of Halo Infinite will work on any supported Xbox, as will select third-party games such as Cyberpunk 2077.