The Xbox Series X isn’t an essential purchase – at least not right now. That isn’t to say it’s not a fantastic piece of hardware, with a lot of potential to solidify itself as an incredible next-gen console, but it's missing the sort of wow factor we've come to expect at the start of each new console generation.
That being said, the new Xbox is super-fast, practically silent, and delivers the kind of impressive performance that we've previously only seen from high-end gaming PCs. This ensures that games – both old and new – look and perform better than they ever have before, and provides a solid foundation for Microsoft to build upon in the years to come.
Where to buy Xbox Series X: all the latest stock updates
Fancy something cheaper? Read our Xbox Series S review
PS5 vs Xbox Series X: which console should you pick?
Unlike a gaming PC, though, which tend to cost thousands of dollars or pounds, Microsoft has packed a considerably amount of power under the Xbox Series X's monolith-esque frame for just for just $499 / £449 / AU$749. The end result is a console that's not only technically impressive, with drastically reduced load times and significantly improved visual fidelity in games, but one that is competitively priced. The deal is sweetened further thanks to numerous quality-of-life features that make your gameplay experience far more enjoyable.
However, even though the Xbox Series X’s raw hardware power cannot be ignored – and its new time-saving features are most certainly welcome – it's lacking in some critical areas.
The launch lineup is frankly disappointing, and you won't find any ‘must-have’ exclusives or brand-new titles that will make you want to run out and buy the new Xbox on day one. Microsoft had planned to launch Halo Infinite alongside its new hardware, but this was later delayed.
However, one ace up the Xbox Series X's sleeve is Xbox Game Pass. A subscription lets you access hundreds of games for a monthly fee – and we found it helped soften the blow of the console's rather meager launch lineup.
Even though Game Pass is mostly populated by older titles, many are optimized to take advantage of Xbox Series X's hardware, such as Gears 5, Forza Horizon 4 and Sea of Thieves, so it's a great place to experience next-gen games for less.
The absence of Halo Infinite, or any other big-hitting Xbox exclusives, can certainly be felt once the initial novelty of the Xbox Series X's hardware improvements wear off. We’d have liked to see the dashboard and UI receive an overhaul, too, as this would have really drove home the fact that we were playing on a whole new generation of console.
Microsoft’s flagship console is as powerful as you’d expect, then, but we’d hold off on buying one at launch unless you’re already heavily invested in the Xbox ecosystem, or simply want the best Xbox console experience possible right now. For everyone else, it may be worth waiting until the next-gen library of games becomes more substantial.
Xbox Series X games list: every game confirmed for the new Xbox
Where to buy Xbox Series S: all the retailers checked
Xbox Series X release date: Out now (released November 10, 2020)
Xbox Series X price: $499 / £449 / AU$749
The new Xbox launched globally on November 10, 2020, giving Microsoft a two-day head start against Sony's PS5, which released on November 12 (in select countries and November 19 for the rest of the world).
Stock is hard to come by, but select retailers have shown Xbox Series X stock available to order, but supply has been snapped up almost immediately.
The Xbox Series X is priced at $499 / £449 / AU$749. A lower-specced, digital-only version of the console, the Xbox Series S, also launched on November 10, priced at $299.99 / £249.99 / AU$499.
Today's best Microsoft Xbox Series X deals
While this isn’t exactly pocket money, it’s a pretty decent price for the new Xbox. It’s the same price as the Xbox One was at launch, and matches the MSRP of the (now discontinued) Xbox One X, both of which are nowhere near as powerful as the Xbox Series X. And, considering that the Series X has specs similar to a gaming PC, the $500 mark is pretty good going – you’ll be hard pressed to find a gaming PC at this price tag.
However, as mentioned, if you want get the most out of your Xbox Series X at launch we recommend picking up an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, which costs $15 / £10.99 / AU$15.95 a month (annual subscriptions are also available, which shaves a little off the cost for a year). While this is an additional outlay, it does grant you extra access to hundreds of Xbox Game Pass games (which will soon include Bethesda and EA titles), Xbox Live Gold, cloud gaming and monthly free games, which should save you money in the long term compared with buying games separately.
If you’re not fussed about the bells and whistles of Game Pass Ultimate then it may be worth picking up a regular Game Pass subscription instead, which costs ($9.99 / £7.99 / AU$10.95) but only grants access to the service on console (rather than both PC and console) and does away with cloud gaming on mobile devices.
It’s worth pointing out that the Xbox Series X is also available on Microsoft's Xbox All Access subscription service in select regions, including the US, UK and Australia. Xbox All Access bundles together the console with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate on a 24-month plan (giving you access to the latter for the duration) at a price of $34.99 /£28.99/AU$46 a month, with no upfront costs – which feels like a very good deal.
But the Xbox Series X isn’t the only next-gen console available, and it’s also worth checking out the PS5 and PS5 Digital, which come in at similar price points – though the PS5 Digital is $100 less. We won’t delve too much into them here, though.
OUR VERDICT The Xbox Series X utilizes its powerful specs to significantly reduce load times and boost overall game performance and visual fidelity. But while features such as Quick Resume, Smart Delivery and backwards compatibility give it that extra edge, it’s hard to deny that it’s lacking in key areas – notably significant UI improvements and captivating exclusive launch titles.
Significantly faster loading times
Dolby Vision and Atmos support
4K/60fps gameplay (4K/120Hz support)
Backwards compatibility for hundreds of games
Launch library is lacking
Minimal UI improvements
Compatible TV required for full visual experience