How Xbox Series X (and xCloud) saved me from buying a gaming PC

The highly anticipated Radeon cards are expected to be sold out. GeForce GPUs shortage. Even if you want to build a gaming PC right now, having an all-important discrete GPU is practically impossible. But there is an alternative: Xbox Series X.

Over the past week or so, I’ve tested a $499 Xbox Series X console offered by Microsoft. Announced Thursday and due to ship on November 10, it’s still one of the most accessible ways to play next-gen games at PC-like accuracy and frame rates. There are also some things it can do that a computer can’t do.

So who needs a gaming PC? Read on to find out why you shouldn’t.

A terrible lack of GPU? Buy an Xbox!

The imperfection of the GPU is real. Nvidia cards Sell ​​in minutes. Players go live and write down their attempts to buy them. What’s the point of listing the best graphics cards for PC gaming if you can’t even buy one? And even if you could, the RTX 3070 FE is $499, which is the price same price Like the Xbox Series X. (The slightly less powerful Xbox Series S, which we don’t have, costs $299.) That’s before you start testing the waters at eBay, where the RTX 3070 is currently priced at $700 and up.

dsc00978 Brad Shakos / IDJ

Like you can buy one of these Anywhere.

Players are already beginning to draw similar conclusions. Having initially predicted sufficient supplies of the Xbox Series X, Microsoft chief Phil Spencer now predicts that demand for the Series X will outpace supply. So while we can go on one end and expect Xbox Series X prices won’t rise to stratospheric GPU-like levels, we have to admit that the Series X can be hard to find as well. But not as Difficult.

Mini Series x Angled Width Microsoft

You should be able to buy a Microsoft Xbox Series X with just a little hard work and a little luck.

PC-like frame rates, cheap

On paper, the Xbox Series X shaped well compared to older game cards. (For full Xbox Series X specifications, refer to our previous story.) AMD’s latest discrete graphics card, the $400 Radeon RX 5700 XT, includes 40 compute units with a typical gaming clock speed of 1755MHz. The new Radeon RX 6800 packs 60 CUs and a gaming clock of 1815MHz. Xbox Series X includes 52 consoles that operate at a game clock speed of 1.825 GHz. If an AMD Radeon RX 6700 sold, it would probably be the Xbox Series X.

What all these numbers mean is that in the real world, the Xbox Series X finally feels what you’d expect from a PC. Xbox One is designed for gaming at 1080p; The Xbox One X introduced 4K games. Xbox Series X? 4K games at PC-like frame rates.

Microsoft Xbox Series X Sea of ​​Thieves Mark Hatchman / IDJ

rare sea ​​of ​​thieves They look as great as ever on Xbox Series X. The improvement this generation brings is 60fps in 4K resolution, with HDR enabled.

Games like rare pirate simulator sea ​​of ​​thieves It once felt a little sluggish, even on the Xbox One X. On the X Series, a flick of a thumb stick smoothly hits your perspective. Microsoft Claims sea ​​of ​​thieves It’s optimized for 60fps in 4K, and I’m buying this medium.

Xbox Series X is really designed to deliver gaming 4K / 120 Gaming experiences – which means that “normal” 4K games on 60Hz screens should be silky smooth. In everything I tried, it certainly was. (I’d save my pennies to buy a 4K/120Hz monitor, which would cost several hundred dollars more.) All of these performance improvements, of course, affect every game available for your Xbox Series X — even older, slower games like Unknown player: Battlegrounds Show improvement. (Just make sure that your TV or monitor supports AMD FreeSync, or HDMI variable refresh rates, and that your monitor cable supports HDMI 2.1.)

HDR and raytracing give you what a PC can do

Don’t forget the visuals, too. One hidden feature of the Xbox Series X is its ability to “auto-tune” games to HDR, provided your TV or monitor supports them. (go to the General > TV and display options > HDR calibration for gaming.This means that every game gets at least a little benefit from HDR, even games that aren’t specifically coded for it—something you can’t get on a PC yet. The effect is not as good as a game specially encoded for HDR (such as Microsoft’s open driving game, Forza Horizon 4whose low-light photos look amazing), but it’s still an unexpected feature.

xbox series for setting HDR (HDR) x Mark Hatchman / IDJ

There’s a semi-hidden setting in the Xbox menu that allows you to set up what you might call “auto HDR,” even for games that don’t support it.

Microsoft has made visual improvements specifically for Series X hardware, which should be accompanied by the “Optimized for Series S | X” badge on my game list. (I’ve never seen these decals on my console, although my console downloaded additional patches and I’ve seen visual differences in games like Forza Horizon 4.) Let’s not ignore DirectX Raytracing support either – it’s popular with Nvidia’s RTX GPUs, but now consoles have that capability as well.

Microsoft Xbox Series X Forza Horizon 4 Mark Hatchman / IDJ

Evening at Legoland, from the inside Forza Horizon 4.

Sure, computers will offer higher frame rates and possibly better looking images…but for a lot of money. There’s a reason 1080p and 1440p PC games can still be played—because anything else is. Expensive.

quick resume is truly cool

You know how to play games on a PC: you can click to play, there’s a launch sequence with the developer, and maybe an introductory scene; You start playing and when the game is over you save and exit the app. Choosing a new game means repeating the process.

Quick Resume is perhaps the biggest feature the Xbox has on PC, and it’s as transformative as adding an SSD to a laptop or desktop. (Maybe he tells us that the Xbox Series X and S are the first Microsoft consoles to include an SSD, which puts Series X load times on par with those of the PC.)

Microsoft Xbox Series × Quick Resume Mark Hatchman / IDJ

Load times can be so fast – in just seconds – that Quick Resume puts you in a game before you know it.

Instead of stopping a game and loading a new one, the Xbox OS saves the state of the game, so you can simply skip and go through all the introductory sequences. It is equivalent to pressure Skip the introduction while watching Netflix. And even adding Microsoft Quick Resume to Windows, Computers can’t do this. (DirectStorage is the Windows API that might make that happen, though).

Surely you might say, How often do I switch from one game to the next? That’s not the point – in some games, Quick Resume even survived fully operating the console, Including manually shutting down my power strip. Booting the console is a real game-changer – resuming it immediately from the on state, or booting it from the off state in just seconds – then waiting a few more seconds for the game to resume with Quick Resume.

About the only weird thing about Quick Resume now is that it works better with thousands of old original Xbox One/360/Xbox titles, as Microsoft has detected a bug in some of its newer and improved titles. The other is that jumping back and forth through Quick Resume sometimes disconnects the internet – forcing me, for example, to reconnect to the EA servers to Star Wars: Battlefront 2. However, joining again was as easy as clicking a button.

Cloud gaming: Much cheaper than gaming laptops

So if desktop cards are hard to come by, why not buy a gaming laptop instead? Well, for example, mobile GPUs are still a generation behind their desktop cousins, so you won’t be able to buy a laptop with the equivalent of the latest Nvidia laptops for quite some time now.

chromebook xbox cloud gaming Microsoft Mark Hatchman / IDJ

Gaming laptops are great, but if you have an active Game Pass Ultimate subscription, cloud gaming can be a lot cheaper.

Microsoft offers a “free” alternative: cloud gaming, also known as Project xCloud. Cloud gaming works in one of two ways: Stream games directly from your console, or tap Microsoft’s “Xbox in the cloud” to bring games online. Since there is no Windows 10 app yet, your best bet is to use either your phone…or your Chromebook, which gives you a “laptop” experience but with little latency. While we certainly wouldn’t argue that cloud gaming via a Chromebook offers the same experience as a gaming laptop, it’s still a lot cheaper than buying one.

Play Anywhere games can be had on PC

We will not prevent you from upgrading your computer when it loses the lack of components. And if you prefer playing games on your PC, that’s fine too.

What Xbox is now offering – more and more – are so-called “Play Anywhere” games, where the “same” game can be accessed both on your Windows 10 PC as well as on your Xbox. If you don’t mind playing the Xbox console a bit (a number of driving and flying games be Arguably so good with just a console), you can pick up where you left off in a few months, without sitting out of this gaming generation.

My fellow PC enthusiasts will argue that yes, you should spend thousands of dollars on motherboards, CPUs, storage, GPUs, monitors, and more, just to get a few extra details that your tired eyes probably can’t see anyway. I’d say there’s a better way: Xbox Series X.. Your wallet will thank you.

Microsoft Xbox series console and controller Microsoft

If you can’t buy an Xbox Series S, try the $299 Series S instead.