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Graphic shows a cutaway of the XBox Series X console, highlighting its technological advances.


The super-powerful XBox Series X console

By Ninian Carter

November 10, 2020 - Microsoft's hotly anticipated XBox Series X game console is finally here. Its simple, box-like design belies the powerful processor it houses – which needs several innovative methods to keep it cool.

Sadly for gaming fans, Halo Infinite, one of Microsoft's most prized gaming asset, has not launched with the XBox Series X – instead its release has been postponed to 2021, with blame being passed to slowed production due to coronavirus-related lockdowns.

The Halo game franchise is a multi-billion dollar American military science fiction series consisting of over a dozen games dating back to 2001. In the main, they are first-person shooters that pit you (playing as Master Chief) against an alliance of aliens hell-bent on ending humanity.

The lack of a Halo title at launch means the new console does not have a "killer app" to drive console sales in the lead up to the holiday season, when it is facing off against stiff competition from Sony's new PlayStation 5.

Instead, Microsoft hopes a library of 50 new games, its Game Pass subscription service, and the new machine's backwards compatibility will be enough to draw in customers. The XBox Series X can play select popular games from XBox (launched in 2001), XBox 360 (2005) and XBox One (2013).

The design of the XBox Series X is built around its need to cool down a powerful custom 8-core processor can can generate 12 teraflops of power. Their solution is to place a large fan at the top of the machine that doesn't need to spin too fast – thereby generating less annoying sound. All the hot electronics reside underneath the fan, with the motherboard split in two and further cooled by a large heat sink and vapour chamber.

With many of the world's economies dive-bombing following months of pandemic lockdowns, tumbling GDPs and rising unemployment, both Microsoft and Sony could face an uphill struggle to sell their new, technologically advanced and expensive consoles. The XBox Series X retails for $499 (€500, £449).

PUBLISHED: 11/11/2020; STORY: Ninian Carter; PICTURES: Microsoft/343 Industries