Microsoft Xbox One, The Full Review

Introduction and Specifications

The Xbox One is more than just a game console. We know that may be blatantly obvious to many of you, but we want to drive that point home from the get-go. The gaming, home entertainment, and mobile/computing industries are vastly different than they were when the previous-gen Xbox 360 launched in late 2005. Since then, there’s been unprecedented intermingling and consolidation across these markets and Microsoft took it all into consideration in the design of the Xbox One.

Of course, the Xbox One plays games—really well, actually. With its updated hardware, more refined controllers, new Kinect sensor, and a wealth of developer support, the Xbox One is an excellent gaming platform. But Microsoft’s incorporation of a hypervisor that allows the Xbox One to run the Xbox OS and Windows 8 kernel simultaneously opens up a world of additional possibilities. Couple the new hardware, innovative software implementation, and capabilities of the included Kinect sensor and you’ve got a device that’s equally as adept at running a cutting edge game as it is playing back HD video, browsing the web, or video conferencing.

Xbox One with Kinect Sensor and Wireless Controller
The Xbox One with Kinect Sensor and Wireless Controller

In some ways, the Xbox One is like a small form factor Windows PC, that also happens to run a close-to-the-metal gaming OS. While there’s plenty to talk about today, it’s clear that Microsoft will evolve the Xbox One over time and that the device you’ll all be able to buy in a few days, won’t be the same next week, next month, or even next year, at least in terms of its features and capabilities. If the last-gen is any indicator, however, the Xbox One’s hardware specifications shouldn’t change all that much for quite a while. Check out our hands-on coverage of Microsoft's cutting-edge console below in our quick-hit video review, then dig in with us for a deep dive look at the Xbox One on the pages ahead.

Microsoft Xbox One
Specifications & Features

CPU 8 Core AMD semi-custom APU
  Frequency: 1.75 GHz CPU
GPU 768 Cores (GCN Architecture)
  Frequency: 853 MHz GPU
RAM 8GB DDR3 + 32MB eSRAM embedded memory
Flash Storage 8GB Flash Memory
Bulk Storage 500 GB Internal HDD, External HD Support
Optical Drive Blu-Ray (DVD compatible)
USB USB 3.0 (2 x Back, 1 x Side)
Network Controllers Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Support 802.11 (A/B/G/N dual-band at 2.4GHz and 5GHz)
Game DVR Yes, Upload Studio
HDCP Encryption Yes (Not for games)
Second Screen SmartGlass App on Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Windows 8
Cloud Storage Yes, Skydrive
Internet Connection Required No (Yes for on-line play)
Used Game Fee None
Live Streaming Yes, With Twitch.TV
Backwards Compatible w/ 360 No
Chat Capabilities Skype, Party Chat
Motion Controller Kinect 2
Voice Commands Yes (w/ Kinect)
Subscription Services Xbox Live
Inputs/Outputs HDMI input and output (w/ 4K support)
API  Xbox API / DirectX 11.x
Pricing MSRP $499

The Xbox One's specifications read somewhat like a mainstream PC. At the heart of the Xbox One is an AMD-built, semi-custom APU (Accelerated Processing Unit), featuring 8 low-power "Jaguar" x86-64 CPU cores clocked at up to 1.75GHz and a GCN-based GPU with 768 stream processors, clocked at 853MHz. The APU also features a 32MB eSRAM cache. All told, the chip, which is built on TSMC’s 28nm process node, is comprised of roughly 5B transistors and has a die size of approximately 363mm2. Though it leverages many technologies employed in AMD’s PC-centric products, make no mistake, the APU in the Xbox One is unlike anything you could put in a PC today.

The APU is paired to 8GB of DDR3-2133 memory and the storage subsystem features 8GB of flash memory, a 500GB hard disk drive for game installs and bulk storage, and a slot-loading Blu-Ray drive. The Xbox One also sports a trio of USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, dual-band 2.4GHz + 5GHz 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and a dedicated audio off-load processor.

In a way, the Xbox One is returning to its roots. If you remember, way back in 2001, the original Xbox featured a Pentium III-class central processor with NVIDIA graphics. The Xbox 360 was a complete departure from the original, however, and featured a PowerPC-based triple-core CPU with custom ATI Xenos graphics processor. With the Xbox One, x86 is back, though the hardware is far more powerful than its predecessors.

Xbox One Retail Packaging
Xbox One Retail Packaging

If you’re one of the lucky folks to have pre-ordered an Xbox One, you’ll be receiving one of two editions this coming Friday, November 22—which incidentally is exactly 8 years since the Xbox 360 was released, to the day. The two versions shipping this week are the “Day One” edition, which will be going out to early pre-order customers, and the “standard” edition, for those that jumped on the bandwagon a little later.

Both of the editions include the Xbox One console itself, a Kinect sensor, a chat headset, a power supply, a category 2 HDMI 1.4 cable, and various pieces of documentation like a quick start guide and user’s manual. There is also a single wireless controller included in each package, though the “Day One” edition’s controller it outfitted with a chrome D-Pad and is emblazoned with “Day One 2013”; the standard edition has a regular wireless controller. The “Day One” edition will also include a "digital achievement," though it’s not exactly clear what the digital achievement is at the moment.

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