The Xbox One X will have a big impact on PC gaming… but not in the way Microsoft want

Microsoft Xbox One X vs. PC

Project Scorpio, Xbox One X, the weak-hearted mini-PC - call it what you will, Microsoft’s new console is going to be one of the most disruptive forces in modern gaming. But while the big M might think they’re going to corner the market with the most powerful console the world has seen yet, they may be in for a rude awakening when their fanbase goes PC instead.

PC gaming performance is all about the GPU, so check out our pick of the best graphics cards around today.

The One X is a big gamble by Microsoft. It’s the equivalent of them swaying drunkenly at the blackjack table, screaming ‘double-or-nothing!’ in response to the comparative bust of the original Xbox One. And if it fails again, what does that mean for the Xbox division? Nothing good...

Microsoft got lucky with the Xbox 360. They managed to get a 12 month jump on their complacent Sony rival, bringing a new ‘next-gen’ console out before the competition and, when PlayStation did finally hit the shops with the PS3, managed to do it cheaper too. Of the new consoles, the 360 was a comparative joy to develop for as well, with PS3 devs struggling to get the most out of the impressively awkward Cell processor until the very end of the console’s life.

That was the Xbox team’s high-water mark though. Sony learned their lesson and the big M got over-excited with the new hardware (and unforgivably unambitious with the VCR-like styling) of the Xbox One. They gambled that having the most powerful technology would automatically build on the 360’s generational dominance. But Sony’s PS4 was smartly designed, better-looking, and undercut Microsoft’s gaming slab by just enough to make a big difference. 

That means, as of July this year, the PS4 has sold more than twice as many consoles as the Xbox One. And when we’re talking at the scale of Sony selling around 30 million more, it’s clear who has won this generation’s console war.

But Microsoft have seemingly decided that was but a mere aberration, and surely, surely  if they produce an even more powerful console people will jump ship from PlayStation and come back into the Xbox fold. The Xbox One X is the most powerful console ever made, so even if the One X costs more than the PS4 Pro, or a second-hand car, people will still hungrily sell their first born for one. Well, that seems to have been the hope, anyway.

Sadly, for Microsoft, I can’t see the new machine being the suture that halts the hemorrhaging of their Xbox user base. It seems to me that even more gamers will be ditching the Xbox franchise this time around - because of, not in spite of, the One X and the expensive, mid-generation hardware upgrade it represents.

But this time they’re not just going to be running into Sony’s waiting arms, they’re going to come and join us in PC-Land too, where the ethernet cables are coated in gold, our Steam libraries fit to bursting, and the thought of replacing our entire system every few years a complete anathema.

Microsoft are trying to trade on the Xbox One X being the most powerful console around, but that’s getting into dangerous marketing territory, as it’s definitely not the most powerful gaming machine - that’s the PC. The PC is where you’ll get the definitive experience for any cross-platform game; it’s where you’ll get the slickest frame rates, the greatest graphical fidelity, and more mods, updates, and total conversions than you can shake a joypad at. So if they’re preaching to gamers about the absolute best gaming experience - and hang the expense of it - those folk will quickly start looking towards the PC instead of the One X.

Don’t get me wrong, PC gaming is still very expensive in comparison with either console, and $500 for a 4K-capable PC seems like a bit of a bargain, if you look at the One X like that. But if you’re trading on being the most powerful, the folk who might buy into Microsoft’s vision of ditching the standard Xbox One in favour of something with more gaming grunt could very well end up going all the way and getting themselves a serious gaming PC. 

I’ve already had dyed-in-the-wool Xbox gamers asking what sort of PC they should consider instead of going for an Xbox One X, and I doubt they’re alone in asking their PC buddies for upgrade advice.

All consoles can really offer now is game exclusivity, and when it comes to Microsoft all they’ve got to offer is timed exclusives. The unnecessarily staggered launch of Destiny 2, pushing back the release of the best-looking version, is testament to that. The PS4, then, is the only high-end gaming platform to offer genuine content exclusives - unless, of course, you count the Switch’s Mario/Zelda antics - with Microsoft’s hands tied wanting to deliver cross-platform goodness between Xbox and Windows.

Back in the Xbox 360 days of actual exclusives (I still curse you, Rockstar, down through every sordid level of Hades, for never giving me the definitive PC version of Red Dead Redemption) there were a whole lot of PC gamers with a 360 too. I dare say there’s still some who have Xbox Ones as well, but I can almost guarantee right now there’ll be fewer people who own both a PC and a One X than names on Katie Hopkins’ Christmas card list.

So, where does that leave the Xbox One X? Possibly wishing it was more PC.

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QDP2 avataricyReaction avatarX1xclutchx8X avatarDave James avatarCalibretto9 avatar[ZZZ] Ronin avatar+7
[ZZZ] Ronin Avatar
16
2 Weeks ago

You prefer an easiest environment to configure than PC ? You want to play 4k title at 60 fps on your big TV ? You don't have enough money to get a PC that can do the same as this new Xbox X ? Or you just prefer to play on a console ? All this questions are enough to explain the move made by Microsoft for this new release.

On the other side, if you prefer ton invest into a powerful PC, there is no problem there for Microsoft since they plan to release all of their titles as "crossplay", so they win on both side.

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AgentSmith Avatar
4
2 Weeks ago

Easiest environment?? Have you even used Steam, Origin, GOG, etc? They're literally click and install. Nvidia drivers...click and install. Pretty much everything that you need to game today is one click. People that have never tried to use a PC to game (properly) are the only ones scared of it.

Want to use your PC on a TV? Use an HDMI cable or a steam link.

Want to use your Xbox or PS4 controller? Go right ahead, they're compatible.

Want to play a 4k title at 60fps on your TV? Sure aren't doing that with a console. Most PCs can't do a steady 60FPS at 4k.

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[ZZZ] Ronin Avatar
16
2 Weeks ago

I am on PC and Agree with you. But I know people who do not understand anything about computers, the OS, their configuration, updating drivers, and so on. It is for them more easy with a console and more interesting. Also, it takes a recent configuration on PC to do 4k adequately. We will be able to compare the differences with the Xbox X when it comes out and see what investments are needed to have a PC with the same strength.

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Calibretto9 Avatar
5
2 Weeks ago

I guess my point is, a lot of people have a normal desktop that with $500 invested in would have "a powerful PC."

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icyReaction Avatar
2
2 Weeks ago

The Xbox backend is now based on Windows 10, making it a PC for all intents and purposes. They have also showcased running Steam on the Xbox, and I wouldn't be surprised if that was part of a big reveal in Nov. They already support other game libraries like EA Access, so the framework has been built.

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daymon74 Avatar
3
2 Weeks ago

Good luck buying a PC that's going to handle the likes of the triple A games that have come out in the last year or so for $500. Not going to happen! Just go ahead and try. It's more than GPU. It's also CPU, and a motherboard that can handle both. It's your power supply. It's a lot of things, ans a working combination of those things. You can't just go slap any GPU into any old PC. It doesn't work that way. If you want a PC capable of handling modern graphics intense games expect to pay at least $1,200 to $1,500.

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Dave James Avatar
420
2 Weeks ago

Realistically though, you could slap pretty much any new GPU into a six year-old Intel Core i5 2500K machine and get a huge performance boost for less than $500. The old Sandy Bridge chip is obviously not going to be as quick as a brand new Core i5 or Ryzen 5 CPU, but will still comfortably support modern graphics silicon.

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daymon74 Avatar
3
2 Weeks ago

IF, and that's a BIG "if" the other components in your configuration will support it. If that's you, you're in luck. If that's not you your options are upgrade what you can and play what still runs smoothly, get or build a new high-performance gaming PC for $1200+, or buy a $500 Xbox. The GPU argument in this article simply doesn't hold water. I game on PC by the way...

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Dave James Avatar
420
2 Weeks ago

Is it that big an 'if' though? A gaming rig built around a K-series Core i5 from six years ago is still likely to have a PSU that's around 500W and that's going to support pretty much any GPU you want to power, thanks to the increased efficiency of modern cards.

What else would you need from such a machine to support new graphics cards?

I do get what you're saying though, in terms of PC gaming having a much higher barrier to entry, and a $500 Xbox One X is mighty tempting if you're just starting out, but I honestly think the upgrade paths make up for it down the line.

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QDP2 Avatar
809
2 Weeks ago

Misleading title, I assumed you meant that the console would be impacting PC gaming, not shooting itself in the foot :P

There's no suggestion of the effects the true-4K console will have on the PC market. Nothing on how the increased power available to the majority of the player-base (whilst I dislike it, there's no denying there are far more console gamers than there are 'true' pc-gamers) will manipulate titles into the future.

It may all be my misinterpretation, but I feel ripped off by this passage XD Nicely written, and whilst I will always stand on the view that PC > MS > Sony, I can't hide from the statistics. Hell, I agree with most of what you said! (360's success was in no sense 'luck', but I'd rather avoid writing an essay on that argument)

I don't really know where I'm heading with this anymore, so I'll end there :P

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X1xclutchx8X Avatar
1
2 Weeks ago

"They gambled that having the most powerful technology would automatically build on the 360’s generational dominance"

Tough to read on after that.. the PS4 was the clear power leader at launch and thus took control of the exclusives and the market share of users. Sounds like you're a pc guy that doesn't know much of what he's talking about..

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Dave James Avatar
420
2 Weeks ago

It's true that from a pure GPU perspective the PS4 had a lead in the FLOPs race, but the Xbox One went for a more powerful, PC-oriented approach to its memory architecture and CPU. That was designed to allow it to be the master of the living room, and not just for games.

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Calibretto9 Avatar
5
2 Weeks ago

I prefer console gaming, but have to admit I'm perplexed by the X1X strategy. It's really hard to justify to anyone $500 on a new console if they can put that money on a new GPU and throw that into a semi-decent PC rig. $500 will snag you a GTX 1080 which is a monster GPU. Also, the titles releasing on the X1X are playable on PC anyways. A hard sell.

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stonelighter Avatar
1
2 Weeks ago

Headline grabbing dribble. Sums this article up! Most of my friends and myself are multi platform gamers. Pc PS4 and Xbone. Most are getting an X. Half own psvr or a rift. We buy what we want as an upgrade.

A ton of people bought slim / upgraded last gen consoles for the simple reason. " We want the latest" .

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cfgare Avatar
1
2 Weeks ago

The Xbox One X is the most powerful console ever made lol.

Nope the developer edition of the XBOX One X has a cool LCD screen and has twice as much ram of which the developers say they need to handle the 4K texture packs.

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Taiga Kagami Avatar
9
2 Weeks ago

The "exclusive" games by Microsoft are all going to be on PC pretty much, so why even buy the thing? PS4 has a strong exclusive lineup from Sony and Japan at least. Why would I want any game on the xbox that I can play on my PC already though?

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Man_Of_Mayhem1344 Avatar
2
1 Week ago

I am in this very boat. I was a huge 360 guy and when the x1 came out had it day one. Took me about a month to be horribly disappointed with the system and go buy a ps4 and was very happy with switching over. Later even my Xbox friends finally joined the ps4 side if for nothing else the console just worked better flat out. Then the mention of mid cycle updates I was actually ok with. Went out bought a Xbox one S as collateral to buy the "Scorpio" and then pre ordered the ps4 pro cause I wanted to maximize my 4k tv. I couldn't have been more disappointed with all 3 purchases. First off 4k in my opinion is a joke, sure HDR is nice but the whole 4k thing....benifits are not worth the price of admission. It doesn't have nearly the wow factor of when we went from SD tube tv to HD flat screens. Then the Xbox one S has the 4k player in it which once again never saw this amazing increase in viewing pleasure not to mention content is super limited. I knew I was in for a bad surprise with the ps4 pro at that point. So the pro comes out I get it annnnnnnd it's a PlayStation....that's about it. I was expecting to also order a XB-OX. After seeing how limited these upgrades were I finally said screw it all Xbox exclusives going to pc? Why not just build one better then the console version. So I have a m5 mother board, gtx 1070, i7 7700k, 16 gb ddr4, 650w power, 1tb ssd, 2tb hdd and a g sync 27" 1440p dell monitor and I will tell you I never been happier gaming. I love messing with the settings getting the best picture to FPS ratio possible. I know there are more powerful rigs out there but my pc handles all my games at 1440p ultra settings 60 FPS or more. Yes it was more expensive up front but as someone who sees themselves as a tech enthusiast and always looking for the new thing this is the answer to all my questions. I'll keep the ps4 cause I love the exclusives and I still enjoy gaming on my projector and surround sound and that's where my friends are for the time being. But I sold my Xbox cause they forced me to not have a need for it. If I can play gears of war 4 at ultra settings on a 1440 monitor what do I need a Xbox for? And my 4k tv is mounted right above my computer so I can also run it to 4k if i feel like it which I never do cause my 144hz monitor is better then my stupid 4k tv. 4k is over hyped and I'm so happy I built the pc finally and wish I hadn't wasted money on mid cycle upgrades. My friends too that have come over and played around on my pc rig are already on board to not buy any new system and just build a rig.

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Chiliraptor Avatar
1
2 Weeks ago

Microsoft will never have a console more powerful or as powerful than a pc that runs at 60fps on ultra settings or as crisp graphics and efficiently, especially on 4K, pc is just getting comfortable on 4K and will be very enhanced, 4K in the next few years with the new i9 processors running 18cores and the new 20 series Graphics cards running on a new architectural design it will be 4K native instead on 1080p at 140fps probably. Microsoft will never be able to sell that till its at least 5 years old because they will lose money as comments will cost around 4000 to own as the new i9 18 core is £2000 alone( so getting) so they would lose money as they wouldn't be able to sell the console cheap with them components and to earn money back they would add on 500 pounds meaning the gamers would save money on getting a pc and building it on their own. So unfortunately whatever Microsoft say about they have the most powerful console is true but it's unfortunately still going to be low quality gaming still? Gamers will just experience what pc gamers have experienced the last 5 years and we will experience new powerful gaming at 4K at its highest point and then Xbox will have that in again 5 years time. Unfortunately Xbox will always be 5 years behind because it won't make its money other wise because let's be honest they will never have a console more powerful than a high end pc because it would be £1300-£5000 to build and sell and no one will buy that.

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