Xbox One X: Everything You Need to Know

Xbox is evolving in a big way. Launching Nov. 7 for $499, the Xbox One X promises high-end components that can power the types of 4K gaming experiences that you'd typically need a tricked-out PC for.

Image: Microsoft

Image: Microsoft

The arrival of a new console so early into the Xbox One's life cycle may seem confusing or alarming, but fret not — we're here to break down everything you need to know about what Microsoft is calling "the most powerful console ever."

What is Xbox One X?

The Xbox One X is a beefier, 4K-ready version of the Xbox One. It will work with all of your existing Xbox One games and accessories, but will also be able to run select games in 4K while providing better load times and sharper images for folks using 1080p TVs. It looks a whole lot like the Xbox One S, but is somehow even slimmer. And just like the One S, the One X plays 4K Blu-rays.

Where can I pre-order Xbox One X?

You can pre-order the Xbox One X at major retailers such as s Amazon, Microsoft and Best Buy. Early buyers will get a special "Project Scorpio" edition, which features a green Project Scorpio logo on both the console and the controller.

Pre-order Xbox One X

Stores are already selling out of the new console, so be sure to check your favorite online retailers early and often.

Specs: The Most Powerful Console Ever

According to Microsoft's official specs, Xbox One X is well on its way to living up to the claim of being the most powerful games console ever.

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Microsoft Xbox One XSony PlayStation 4 Pro
CPU2.3 GHz, 8 cores2.1 GHz, 8 cores
GPUAMD Polaris architecture, 6 teraflopsAMD Polaris architecture, 4.2 teraflops
4K, HDR SupportYesYes
VR SupportNot YetYes

The system features a custom 2.3-GHz 8-core CPU, a 1,172-mHz GPU, 12GB of RAM, 1TB hard drive and a 4K Blu-ray player. That makes Xbox One X almost universally more powerful than Sony's PS4 Pro, which packs a 2.1-GHz processor, a 911-MHz GPU, 8GB of RAM and a standard Blu-ray player. In layman's terms, Xbox One X is about 30 percent faster than Xbox One and has over 4 times the graphics muscle.

According to benchmark data acquired by the savvy folks at Digital Foundry, the Xbox One X has no problem maintaining steady framerates when bumping games at ultra-high definition. In fact, some of the tested games ran at even higher framerates when making the jump from 1080p to 4K. That's significant power.

Xbox One X also promises to run your existing Xbox One and Xbox 360 games with better framerates and loading times, and will feature integrated 4K video capture for taking extra-sharp clips. A follow-up report from Digital Foundry points out that the console will support AMD FreeSync as well as the latest HDMI 2.1 spec, meaning that folks with FreeSync-enabled gaming monitors can look forward to extra smooth performance on the console.

MORE: Xbox One X vs. PlayStation 4 Pro: Which Powerhouse Should You Buy?

What games will take advantage of Xbox One X?

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. Credit: WB Games

(Image credit: Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. Credit: WB Games)

While all Xbox One games will work on Xbox One X, only select titles will be optimized for 4K HDR gameplay. To know if a game will get an a boost from the new console, look for the Xbox One Enhanced logo on game boxes, as well as icons for 4K and HDR.

There are already over 100 confirmed Xbox One X Enhanced games, including Forza Motorsport 7, Crackdown 3, Sea of Thieves, Assassin's Creed Origins and Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. Microsoft will also be releasing 4K patches for existing Xbox One titles such as Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3 and Killer Instinct.

Wondering if your favorite game will get a boost? Check out our full list of Xbox One X Enhanced games.

Will Xbox One X support virtual reality headsets?

While Xbox One X is clearly designed to handle high-end VR, Microsoft hasn't confirmed compatibility with any existing headsets such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or the company's own Mixed Reality Headsets. Microsoft didn't discuss VR during the company's big Xbox E3 2017 Briefing, but Xbox head Phil Spencer recently told Cnet that VR is still very much on the console's roadmap.

Will Xbox One X make my Xbox One obsolete?

Not at all, at least for now. Xbox One X, Xbox One S and Xbox One are all part of the same family, and all Xbox One games in the foreseeable future will work on all three consoles. If things shake out the way Microsoft intends, Xbox One will become like a smartphone; the model you have now will probably handle the latest apps and games for at least a few years, but you'll have a premium option if you want the best performance possible.

What resolution monitors or TVs will the Xbox One X support?

Microsoft has confirmed that the Xbox One X will support 1080p, 1440p and 4K resolutions. 1440p was a bit of a surprise, as Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro doesn't support that resolution, even though it uses it for 4K upscaling. The Xbox One X will also use it for upscaling, but will also support it natively if you're using a monitor at that resolution.

Should I hold out for Xbox One X?

If you have a 4K TV and want the most powerful gaming console out there, then Xbox One X just might be worth the $499 investment. Based on our hands-on time with 4K games like Forza Motorsport 7 and Assassin's Creed Origins, the One X adds a stunningly immersive level of detail to big triple-A titles.

Image: Microsoft

Image: Microsoft

However, Sony's PS4 Pro also does 4K (albeit with slightly lower specs) for $399, and Microsoft's own Xbox One S offers 4K streaming, 4K Blu-ray support and the same huge game library for just $249.

It's also worth noting that you can enjoy most of what Xbox One X offers by just buying or building a decent gaming computer. PC gamers already have access to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive for VR, and with Microsoft's Play Anywhere initiative, you'll be able to play virtually all of the company's recent first-party games on Windows 10. You'll likely have to pay somewhere in the mid $1,000s for dependable 4K and VR gaming, but you'll also reap all of the benefits of owning a gaming PC, including access to the biggest library of games out there.

Of course, we can't truly tell you whether Xbox One X is worth the cash until we've got the final product in our hands. We look forward to spending more time with the console and giving our final verdict when the system's Nov. 7 release date draws closer.

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.