Microsoft Xbox One, The Full Review

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The Xbox One is more than just a game console. We know that may be blatantly obvious to many of you, but we want to drive that point home from the get-go. The gaming, home entertainment, and mobile/computing industries are vastly different than they were when the previous-gen Xbox 360 launched in late 2005. Since then, there’s been unprecedented intermingling and consolidation across these markets and Microsoft took it all into consideration in the design of the Xbox One.

Of course, the Xbox One plays games—really well, actually. With its updated hardware, more refined controllers, new Kinect sensor, and a wealth of developer support, the Xbox One is an excellent gaming platform. But Microsoft’s incorporation of a hypervisor that allows the Xbox One to run the Xbox OS and Windows 8 kernel simultaneously opens up a world of additional possibilities. Couple the new hardware, innovative software implementation, and capabilities of the included Kinect sensor and you’ve got a device that’s equally as adept at running a cutting edge game as it is playing back HD video, browsing the web, or video conferencing.

Xbox One with Kinect Sensor and Wireless Controller
The Xbox One with Kinect Sensor and Wireless Controller

In some ways, the Xbox One is like a small form factor Windows PC, that also happens to run a close-to-the-metal gaming OS. While there’s plenty to talk about today, it’s clear that Microsoft will evolve the Xbox One over time and that the device you’ll all be able to buy in a few days, won’t be the same next week, next month, or even next year, at least in terms of its features and capabilities. If the last-gen is any indicator, however, the Xbox One’s hardware specifications shouldn’t change all that much for quite a while. Check out our hands-on coverage of Microsoft's cutting-edge console below in our quick-hit video review, then dig in with us for a deep dive look at the Xbox One on the pages ahead.

Microsoft Xbox One
Specifications & Features

CPU 8 Core AMD semi-custom APU
  Frequency: 1.75 GHz CPU
GPU 768 Cores (GCN Architecture)
  Frequency: 853 MHz GPU
RAM 8GB DDR3 + 32MB eSRAM embedded memory
Flash Storage 8GB Flash Memory
Bulk Storage 500 GB Internal HDD, External HD Support
Optical Drive Blu-Ray (DVD compatible)
USB USB 3.0 (2 x Back, 1 x Side)
Network Controllers Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Support 802.11 (A/B/G/N dual-band at 2.4GHz and 5GHz)
Game DVR Yes, Upload Studio
HDCP Encryption Yes (Not for games)
Second Screen SmartGlass App on Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Windows 8
Cloud Storage Yes, Skydrive
Internet Connection Required No (Yes for on-line play)
Used Game Fee None
Live Streaming Yes, With Twitch.TV
Backwards Compatible w/ 360 No
Chat Capabilities Skype, Party Chat
Motion Controller Kinect 2
Voice Commands Yes (w/ Kinect)
Subscription Services Xbox Live
Inputs/Outputs HDMI input and output (w/ 4K support)
S/PDIF
API  Xbox API / DirectX 11.x
Pricing MSRP $499


The Xbox One's specifications read somewhat like a mainstream PC. At the heart of the Xbox One is an AMD-built, semi-custom APU (Accelerated Processing Unit), featuring 8 low-power "Jaguar" x86-64 CPU cores clocked at up to 1.75GHz and a GCN-based GPU with 768 stream processors, clocked at 853MHz. The APU also features a 32MB eSRAM cache. All told, the chip, which is built on TSMC’s 28nm process node, is comprised of roughly 5B transistors and has a die size of approximately 363mm2. Though it leverages many technologies employed in AMD’s PC-centric products, make no mistake, the APU in the Xbox One is unlike anything you could put in a PC today.

The APU is paired to 8GB of DDR3-2133 memory and the storage subsystem features 8GB of flash memory, a 500GB hard disk drive for game installs and bulk storage, and a slot-loading Blu-Ray drive. The Xbox One also sports a trio of USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, dual-band 2.4GHz + 5GHz 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and a dedicated audio off-load processor.

In a way, the Xbox One is returning to its roots. If you remember, way back in 2001, the original Xbox featured a Pentium III-class central processor with NVIDIA graphics. The Xbox 360 was a complete departure from the original, however, and featured a PowerPC-based triple-core CPU with custom ATI Xenos graphics processor. With the Xbox One, x86 is back, though the hardware is far more powerful than its predecessors.

Xbox One Retail Packaging
Xbox One Retail Packaging

If you’re one of the lucky folks to have pre-ordered an Xbox One, you’ll be receiving one of two editions this coming Friday, November 22—which incidentally is exactly 8 years since the Xbox 360 was released, to the day. The two versions shipping this week are the “Day One” edition, which will be going out to early pre-order customers, and the “standard” edition, for those that jumped on the bandwagon a little later.

Both of the editions include the Xbox One console itself, a Kinect sensor, a chat headset, a power supply, a category 2 HDMI 1.4 cable, and various pieces of documentation like a quick start guide and user’s manual. There is also a single wireless controller included in each package, though the “Day One” edition’s controller it outfitted with a chrome D-Pad and is emblazoned with “Day One 2013”; the standard edition has a regular wireless controller. The “Day One” edition will also include a "digital achievement," though it’s not exactly clear what the digital achievement is at the moment.
 

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Comments

Comments
RCone one year ago

Does it play blu-rays?

basroil2 one year ago

By RCone on Nov 20, 2013 "Does it play blu-rays?"

100% compatibility with non-3D titles. 3D might be supported later, but regular blurays are perfectly watchable on the device!

marco c one year ago

Yes. From the top of page 2, "The front of the Xbox One is simplistic and utilitarian. It’s completely flat, with a matte finish on the left and a glossy finish on the right. The left side houses the console’s slot-loading Blu-ray drive—which will also play standard DVDs, but not 3D Blu-Ray movies."

GRobertson one year ago

Great review. Cant wait to get mine on Friday!

GRobertson one year ago

Yep

RCone one year ago

Cool

RCone one year ago

Oops, even though it will play Blu-rays it won't play 3D Blu-rays. A serious omission.

JoshMullins one year ago

so I've been thinking since the Xbox One is not backwards compatible would it be possible through the HDMI input for the tv to hook the your 360 up through that? Albeit it would not be true backwards compatibility it might work though for those of us who have a plethora of 360 games we have yet to finish and/or start and still want the dual functionality to watch Netflix or youtube alongside the game. I do realize you would then not be able to hook up your cable or satallite box to the Xbox One but mine doesn't have an HDMI output and the tv thing doesn't really interest me anyhow. Of course Microsoft may have already foresaw people trying to this and put stop gap measures in place to keep it from happening which is most likely the case. If I've thought of then somebody else must have thought it as well

marco c one year ago

@Josh - You could technically plug in whatever you like into the HDMI input on the Xbox One, and when you switch to that input, whatever is being displayed will be shown on screen. That's really no different than simply plugging the Xbox 360 into a different input on your television and just switching to it though.

RWilliams one year ago

Sometimes, I wish I weren't such a PC snob, because a lot of what the Xbox One brings to the table looks quite nice. I just can't get over the poor graphics and poor performance capabilities in general (again, I'm a PC snob), and appreciate too much the unparalleled flexibility of the PC. Back when the X360 and PS3 launched (both of which I purchased at launch), I didn't feel like the PC was vastly superior at the time. This time around, the delta is enormous. But - so is the power draw, to be fair.

That all said, I am jealous of those who will be playing Forza and Killer Instinct. And while I am not sure I'd put it to much use personally, the new Kinect is unbelievable - Microsoft -really- did nice work there.

"The new consoles may be getting the lion’s share of buzz as of late, but rest assured their arrival is a good thing for the PC."

It's a little unfortunate that it takes a new console generation to make this happen, but I'll take it. Oh, and once the Xbox One gamepad becomes available for the PC, I'm picking that bad boy up. Yet another benefit for PC gamers.

Fantastic look, Marco.

marco c one year ago

@Rob - I think you should let go of the idea of "poor performance" and "poor graphics". In all honestly, I'm a PC snob as well, but I was genuinely impressed with the responsiveness of the console itself, just tooling around the OS and running apps. As for the graphics, I've got my test rig with a pair of GTX 780 Tis connected to 4K display right next to me, and I was still slack-jawed at how a couple of the games looked on the Xbox One. Of course, those were the two games that are still under embargo. Forza and Ryse look awesome. If you play those games as they're supposed to be played (large screen HDTV, sitting a few feet away, there is no way you won't be impressed. The facial animation is Ryse may be the best I've ever seen. And the models in Forza are as good as they get. Yes, you can get up close and nit pick the aliasing or texture quality in spots, but if you just sit in and play, like most poeple will, they're awesome. I can't wait for the weekend so I veg out with Ryse...

Manduh one year ago

This almost makes me want to get one! Excellent review. I'm just not sure I'm going to upgrade yet. We have two 360s and if one gets the xbone the other will want it too lol... that's a lot of $$$ Maybe I'll start an xbone money jar :)

RyanBerry one year ago

Neither system supports 3D Blu-Ray, but considering how poorly the 3D home market ended up, I think it was more a choice than an omission.

KDaniels one year ago

What happens when your Skype partner says "Xbox Off"? Hehehe...

Dave_HH one year ago

Ha! I should have tried that! I wonder... :)

KDaniels one year ago

Waaay cool... I'm a pc guy but I like what I see.

Dave_HH one year ago

We'll be adding an in-game screenshots gallery soon, so watch this space! :)

Sevags one year ago

Man absolutely no one cares about 3D!!! No one! People are avoiding buying 3D TV's those who have them (like me) didn't buy it for 3D capabilities we simply didn't have a choice it is included, many who own one don't own glasses for it unless they were included, and no one is buying 3D content. The gaming community said no to 3D long and are headed more in the direction of VR headsets. Yet people are complaining and saying ridiculous things like "serious omission" for the sole reason of putting down the console. Come up with a better excuse to complain guys because you yourselves don't actually give a flying... Pig... About 3D.

MichaelHollar one year ago

Quick question, how does the pass through work with the cablebox's DVR system, and I'm guessing you still needed a remote for volume and such.

marco c one year ago

It's really just an HDMI pass-thru, so your set-top box's DVR system will function exactly as it did before. You'll still need to use your existing remote, etc.

marco c one year ago

Added some more video and screenshots here: http://bit.ly/1jmVm6a

Dave_HH one year ago

If you like this review, Tweet and share it out for our buddy Marco. He worked hard on it! :)

marco c one year ago

Just added some hard temperature data to the power page as well...

XSikxDaclown one year ago

thanks for the review. I am wondering how the xbox one will work with my comcast one platform. And the kinnect and microsoft one wont have any capabilities to integrate with the tv itself such as volume and power ? I am thinking no. Also this might not be in the ballpark but what about people that have xbox360s as well. say you just set up your xbox one played some forza gained achievements. Now you also still want to play your xbox 360 games. So you launch gta and gain an achievement. will this automatically work between the two ? or will you have to download your gamertags everytime you switch between the two systems.

marco c one year ago

One you're logged in on either system, your achievements should be saved...

As for the TV / Set Top box control, the Xbox One CAN control power an volume. Since the Kinect acts like a big IR blaster, it offers many of the basic functions of a universal remote control.

XSikxDaclown one year ago

okay thanks.   it would be a bonus if it can  change inputs as well.  so i can run cable box into  the hdmi in.  then run xbox 360 into hdmi 1 on tv  and ps4 into hdmi 2

RicoFrost one year ago

Nice review :) i cant wait to get mine tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!

omegadraco one year ago

Sounds sweet. Would like to replace me PS3 with one of these.

reeltrouble one year ago

Nice review Marco. As someone who also appears to use an htpc, I'm curious as to your impressions about the differences between having a dedicated htpc with some type of cablecard and trying to use the xbone for media purposes. In particular I guess my gripe as someone who uses an HDHomerun Prime and an htpc, the xbone doesn't look like it would let me get rid of anything (ie - cable box, dvr, htpc....).

The reason why I ask is that it seems like Microsoft is staking a lot on the media capabilities of the xbone as opposed to it's gaming capabilities. While it looks like the xbone is a capable gaming system, it seems strange to me that Microsoft isn't marketing the xbone as a great standalone console and instead is selling it as some type of entertainment appliance.

BTW - Please tell me I wasn't the only one who was laughing at the PS4 ad that was playing on ESPN during the review (about 9:30 I think).

Dave_HH one year ago

I'll let Marco respond to the HTPC question RT, but you're not the only one that noticed that commercial spot. Our Youtube audience picked up on it as well! :-D The funny thing is, neither Marco or I picked up on it during production of the video demo. Too funny that it just sneaked past us, otherwise we might have edited it out. ;)

chondro one year ago

may have stated in the article but

which version of HDMI does it have?

also, specs says ddr3 I thought It had ddr5 or is that just my bad memory

marco c one year ago

DDR3 + eSRAM cache in Xbox One, GDDR5 in the PS4. And it's HDMI 1.4.

sevags one year ago

Agreed Marco great job! Really reads like an honest review both from a techy's view and a gamers side. Felt very unbiased when none of the other reviews out there on the next gen consoles are; everyone else seemed to choose a side before they even tried the systems. I've been sending out this link to my friends and all the students in my school :)

RicoFrost one year ago

I have been playing RYSE and wow what a game... LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!! it looks so impressive and the combat in it is fantastic. I am really enjoying this game.

marco c one year ago

Nice! As a PC guy, now playing Ryse on the Xbox One, would you agree that the graphics look impressive? And animations are among the best you've seen? Crytek obviously put a lot of effort into that game.

RicoFrost one year ago

Indeed i would, Im running a PC with i7 2700k @ 4.6GHZ with a GTX 780 and RYSE looks so dam good that i would have to say its one of the best gaming graphics I've seen. I am greatly impressed with the graphic, gameplay and storyline of RYSE. The surrounding foliage look realistic, I have stopped a number of times just to look around, LOL i even called my wife to have a look because i was that impressed with it.

The crytek engine is just fantastic, it really is most impressive. Im running the xbox one on a Samsung 58" full HD plasma and it rums smooth. No skips, not stutters, no pauses,no slow downs.

With the xbox 360 in GTA 5 for example, in the background you would seen heavy jagged edges, with Xbox one its almost none existent.

marco c one year ago

OK, it's not my mind playing tricks on me. :)

RicoFrost one year ago

No it really is good, I've been telling everyone about it. I even invited my nephew over to have a game and loved it also.

iJOHNO one year ago

After a few weeks of the release, XBOX1 has been more popular amongst people than anything. Or... Microsoft just made a very limited amount since it's been sold out everywhere I go & PS4 are not.

AlfredDaher 8 months ago

my favorite console it is an xbox and has blu-ray. it works great the only problem i have is that the voice control isn't as fluent as they showed at the release and there aren't very many games for it currently.

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