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Xbox Series X is the most powerful console that Microsoft has ever created, with impressive specs, a promising lineup of games, robust backward compatibility, and unprecedented compatibility with both the Xbox One and gaming PCs.

Microsoft’s claims for the Xbox Series X are pretty bold. The system will aim to run most games at 4K resolutions and 60 frames per second framerates. Certain games could go up to 8K resolutions and 120 fps framerates — although probably not at the same time. From its powerful SSD, which will reduce load times, to its ray-tracing capabilities, which will deliver more realistic lighting effects.

Game-wise, the Xbox Series X won’t have any true exclusive titles, as every Xbox Series X game will be available on both the Xbox One and the PC, at least for the next few years. But gamers will be able to enjoy entries in popular first-party series, such as Halo Infinite and Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II.

Xbox Series X cheat sheet: What you need to know

  • What it is: Microsoft’s most powerful game console ever
  • Release date: November 10 (pre-orders start Sept. 22)
  • Price: $499
  • Key features: 4K visuals at 60 FPS, 8K and 120 fps support, ray tracing, near-instant load times
  • Key games: Halo Infinite, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, full Xbox One backward compatibility
  • Specs: Custom AMD Zen 2 CPU, 1TB NVMe SSD, 16GB GDDR6 memory, 12 teraflops RDNA 2 GPU

Xbox Series X controller

The Xbox Series X will have a slightly upgraded version of the current-gen Xbox Wireless Controller. The new peripheral will feature a dedicated Share button for screenshots and video clips, as well as an improved D-pad, similar to what you’d find on the Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller. Textured dots on the bumpers make them easier to find, while the matte finish on certain buttons makes them more resistant to wear and tear. Like the current Xbox Wireless Controller, the new version will work on Windows PCs as well as mobile phones.

Almost all existing Xbox One accessories will continue to function on the Xbox Series X, so there’s no reason to ditch specialty gear that you already own.

Xbox Series X backward 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 backward compatible with Xbox One. Microsoft says that backward compatible titles will enjoy better framerates and resolution on Xbox Series X, all with no extra developer work needed. 

There’s also the Xbox Series One X’s Smart Delivery feature, which Microsoft fully fleshed out in a recent blog post. This technology ensures that whether you buy a game for Xbox One or Xbox Series X, you’ll receive a complimentary copy for the other system. Your save data will sync between all versions of the game, and your system will automatically download and run an optimized build.

Microsoft further explained this feature in a blog post about the “Optimized for Xbox Series X” label. These cross-gen titles will load faster, with better graphics and smoother frame rates, on the Xbox One X as opposed to the Xbox One. A partial list of games is now available on Microsoft’s website, and a number of highly anticipated titles, including Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Halo Infinite, have already made the cut.

One ambitious aspect of the Xbox Series X’s backward compatibility is that it may be able to boost old games beyond their original performance parameters. A recent Microsoft blog post explained that the Xbox Series X could run certain older games at frame rates up to 120 fps, and resolutions of up to 4K. Considering that many of these games originally maxed out at 30 fps and 1080p, that’s a marked difference. Of course, not every game will get this treatment.