Yesterday, we showed you what the PlayStation 5 looks like in the wild. But that’s not the only next-gen console coming out next month. In the event you’ve been living under the planet’s most soundproof rock, on November 10, the Xbox Series X—and its less-expensive, less-powerful counterpart, the Xbox Series S—will be out.
Earlier this week, Microsoft sent units of these next-gen consoles to several of us at Kotaku. Two of us (Mike Fahey and I) received a Series X, while one (editor-in-chief Stephen Totilo) received the Series S. Since these units were provided by Microsoft, we have to follow their pre-release rules and can’t tell you yet whether or not these machines run great. We can’t discuss the noise or heat they might (or might not) generate. We can’t talk about the games. But we can show off how both machines look and talk about how they feel. Read on for an initial peek.
When Microsoft offered to send me an Xbox Series console, I asked them to send an S. It’s the unit that Xbox chief Phil Spencer expects will sell better long-term, so I wanted to see what kind of experience it provides. I can get an X down the line.
First impression? Holy shit, this thing is small. It’s the size of a box of tissues or a Bible. It looks like the PS5 could swallow it whole. It’s far smaller than my Xbox One S. Will the small size result in an insufficiently powerful console, or will it be good enough for people not fiending for 4K? I shall see.
How big is the Xbox Series X? What’s it feel like? Does it really look like a top-of-the-line Viking refrigerator? We’ll get there in a second. But first, there’s something we have to discuss: the power cord. With this next-gen console, Microsoft has (finally) righted the wrongs of Xboxes past by including a seriously slimmer power cord.
Owners of the original Xbox 360 and Xbox One can attest to the sheer encumbrance of those machines’ power cords. With the base models, at least, there was the main cable itself, but then you’d have to plug it into an additional power supply unit that, no joke, was the size of a clay patio brick. (Microsoft’s mid-generation consoles, the Xbox One X and S, weren’t saddled with this.) Finding the space for a console was one matter. Figuring out where to squeeze a secondary piece of technical equipment was another entirely. I move often (every two years or so), a process that usually results in a different, if not exactly new, TV stand. After a decade-and-a-half of cable Tetris, man, enough is enough.
With the Xbox Series X and S, Microsoft has completely done away with the brick in lieu of a singular, streamlined cable. Those looking to KonMari their homes will be happy to hear that this new cord is the very same two-slotted one Sony uses to juice up the PS4 and PS5.
So, is the Xbox Series X big? Sure, but it’s certainly smaller than I anticipated. Laying horizontally, it’s about the same width as a 2013 Xbox One, but twice as tall and half as deep. Before unboxing my Series X, I fretted over where I’d put the thing. In reality, those worries were needless; I had no trouble slotting it into either of my TV stand’s bottom slots, where it currently shares space with my awesome Smash Bros.-themed Switch. Sadly, though, I’ve had to turn the Switch dock sideways to make room. (When I inevitably retire my launch-edition Xbox One—which has been a true workhorse over the past seven years and deserves a forever vacation—I’ll find a better space for Mario and co.)
The real catch in its physicality is less to do with dimensions and more to do with density. Maybe I’m weaker than I thought (gut check: extremely possible), but the Xbox Series X is heavy. Each of those dozen teraflops equates to a little less than a pound. Lifting a Series X calls for some legitimate effort, rather than the flippancy one might exhibit when picking up a PS4, an Xbox One, or, I imagine, an Xbox Series S. If you told me the Xbox Series X was full of whatever extrasolar material composes Master Chief’s armor, I wouldn’t be surprised. No wonder some of my colleagues wouldn’t mind using it as a desk chair.
As for the fridge thing? You tell me.
Can you spot the Xbox Series X in this photo? There it is, tucked neatly between my red Audioengine speakers, which are slightly taller and deeper than Microsoft’s new console laying on its side. I expected something much larger. This is the size of a shoebox-sized. Smaller than a shoebox, really, but I wear size-17 sneakers. Your results may vary. I worried I would not have the space to install it on the over-bed table I game from. I worried for nothing. I’ve still got an inch clearance between the console and my monitor. That’s where I shall keep my Hot Wheels.
Compared to the PlayStation 5, the simple shape of the Xbox Series X pleases me. This Xbox is a box. There is an X on it. It’s simple and gorgeous. My fingerprints have already found it, which I hate and will rectify at my earliest convenience.
My only peeve with the console design is that I cannot rotate the damn power button so it’s right-side-up when the console is on its side. How annoying is it? One day it will kill me. Mark my words.