Xbox Series X specs reveal console's power, backward compatibility

Microsoft's next console will play four generations of Xbox games.

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Oscar Gonzalez
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Gamers finally learn more about the power of the next Xbox. 


Update, Nov. 5: Read our reviews of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.

Microsoft's upcoming Xbox Series X will not only have more graphics power and a solid-state drive for faster loading but will also be backward compatible with all the previous generations of Xbox games, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said in a blog post Monday. The console is set for release later this year.

Watch this: Xbox Series X gets updated specs and neat features

Powering the Xbox Series X is a custom processor using RDNA 2 and Zen 2 architectures from AMD. This will make the system four times faster than the Xbox One and give it the ability to achieve 12 teraflops, which is double what the Xbox One X could do. The GPU will use the Variable Rate Shading technique, allowing it to focus effects on individual objects rather than on the entire screen. The Xbox Series X will also have hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing that significantly improves the lighting effects in games and will support up to 120 fps, according to Microsoft. 

An SSD will help load games faster and allow players to quickly resume their games when the console is in a suspended state. The Xbox One does have the ability to return to a game when the console is put to sleep, but the Quick Resume feature will work across multiple titles.  

The Xbox Series X will have backward compatibility with titles for the original Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Those older titles will also benefit from improvements such as faster load times, improved fidelity and better frame rates, the company said. Microsoft will use Smart Delivery on its new system that will let players buy one copy of an Xbox Game Studios title that can be used on either the Xbox One or Xbox Series X, whichever is the best hardware the owner has available. Publishers and developers will also have access to the technology if they want it. 

CD Projekt Red, developer of the anticipated Cyberpunk 2077, tweeted Monday that people who buy the Xbox One version of the game when it comes out in September will be able to play it on the Xbox Series X without having to buy it again. 

Xbox Games Pass, Microsoft's on-demand subscription game streaming service, will receive some upgrades on the new system including steadier frame rates and improved audio and visuals. It will also have the upcoming Halo Infinite when it arrives later in 2020. 

Microsoft is also making tweaks to the console's speed in other aspects. Dynamic Latency Input uses the Xbox Series X's "high bandwidth, proprietary wireless communication protocol" to reduce the delay between the Xbox controller and the system. The HDMI 2.1 input will also use new tech to synchronize the refresh rate between the console and the display while reducing lag. 


Some of the specs and features of the Xbox Series X.


Although Monday's blog post revealed some of the big specs for the Xbox Series X, there are still unknowns. Most notable is the lack of pricing. Sony's PlayStation 5 shares a lot of the same features as Microsoft's next console and its components cost approximately $450. When the Xbox One came out in 2013, it had a price tag of $499, which was $100 more than Sony's PlayStation 4. 

There's also speculation about a discless Xbox Series X console that could be designed to be more budget-friendly. This could also mean there's a possible "pro" version that could have even more power. 

One feature hardly mentioned in the blog post was Microsoft cloud-gaming streaming service. Project xCloud is in preview and it's still unclear how it will integrate with the Xbox Series X. It is expected to stay  part of the "Xbox portfolio" according to Spencer in an interview with GameSpot last year. 

The Xbox Series X is set for release for the holiday-shopping season. 

Originally published Feb. 24: 6:46 a.m. PT.
Update, 7:22 a.m.: Adds additional background details. 7:32 a.m.: Adds Cyberpunk 2077 tweet. Feb. 25: Adds more background info.

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