Reports of the Xbox Series X‘s size have been greatly exaggerated: you won’t find anything as big as Snoop Dogg’s monolith-shaped fridge inside the next-gen console’s retail box. But the first thing you’ll notice when unboxing this console in November is that it’s pretty heavy. Despite the countless memes and comparison pictures declaring the Xbox Series X an absolute chonk, I was still surprised by how hefty the console is.
At about 5.9 inches wide and 11.8 inches tall, and weighing in at 9.8 pounds, the console definitely has a commanding presence. Not quite PC tower (or fridge) height when in its natural vertical position, the Xbox Series X is just slightly taller than the Xbox One X if you were to stand it on its side but is nowhere near as tall as the PlayStation 5, which towers over the competition at 15.4 inches in height. The next-gen Xbox is also the third heaviest console ever made behind the PS5, which weighs 9.9 pounds, and the 11-pound PS3.
While you can certainly lay the Xbox Series X flat, the horizontal position is sort of awkward, with the console’s stand sticking out from the left side. This platform looks best when it’s standing, which might mean getting creative when it comes to finding a place for it in your home entertainment center. That’s definitely something I’m still trying to figure out for myself. For now, I’ve given my Xbox Series X, which was provided to me by Microsoft for review purposes, a home on a side table next to my desk.
As you can see, Microsoft’s heavy-hitter absolutely towers over the poor Hulk:
Get a closer look at the Xbox Series X in the unboxing video below:
I should note that I’ve not actually turned on the console yet, so I won’t be talking about any launch games, UI impressions, load times, how hot its components get, or the online experience here. That’ll come closer to launch. For now, what I can say is that the Xbox Series X is a sturdy piece of hardware that looks and feels deserving of its premium $499 price tag. While I wasn’t in love with the design of the Xbox Series X when it was first unveiled late last year, it quickly grew on me once I had the console in front of me.
Microsoft’s console designers clearly took a minimalist approach, one in stark contrast to the PS5, and it really works to the Xbox Series X’s advantage. I like that the front of the console isn’t so burdened by ports and that the outer shell has a smooth, clean finish. Even the vents at the top of the console, which have a bright green coloring on the inside that kind of makes it look like the Xbox is glowing, looks stylish.
One nice touch on the front of the console is the power button, which has a very satisfying click when you press it. I was never really a fan of the touch-sensitive power button on the original Xbox One that I too often grazed by accident, shutting down or turning on the console at inconvenient times. It might have sounded neat on paper, but I prefer a button you actually have to press down on. Anyway, when you power on the Xbox Series X, the Xbox symbol will light up and you’ll hear the familiar power-on chirp that Microsoft is reusing from the Xbox One.
As far as ports go, you’ll find the 4K Blu-ray disc drive as well as a single USB port on the front of the console. Above that USB port, you’ll find the bind button for your Xbox accessories that also doubles as an IR receiver for the Xbox One Media Remote. On the back of the console, clustered all the way at the bottom, you have two more USB ports, an Ethernet port, a port to plug in the power cable, an HDMI 2.1 port, and the expansion slot designed for the 1 TB SSD expansion card designed by Seagate. (That expansion card will set you back $219, but you can also plug in an external SSD to one of the USB ports.)
Just a quick note about the console’s power cable: there’s no bulky power supply attached to it, meaning that it’s easier than ever to run that cable through the back of your entertainment center. The external power supply was one of the most frustrating aspects of the original Xbox One, so I’m glad Microsoft went back to the drawing board on that. Of course, that power supply is now inside the Xbox Series X, which might be one of the reasons the console itself is so big. Still, a small quality of life improvement if you ask me.
The only accessory you’ll find inside the Xbox Series X retail box — and the only one you’ll need to start playing — is the Xbox Series X controller, which closely resembles the Xbox Wireless Controller for the Xbox One. Microsoft hasn’t changed very much about the controller for the next generation, and it has no reason to. The current Xbox controller is perhaps the best gamepad on the market, so why fix what isn’t broken?
That said, the controller still features a few quality of life improvements that should make it more accessible than it’s current-gen counterpart. For one, it’s noticeably smaller than the Xbox Wireless Controller and is slightly lighter, with a more ergonomic shape. A clear attempt has been made to make the controller more comfortable for players with smaller hands. Longtime Xbox fans should be able to feel the difference right away.
All of the buttons from the Xbox One controller have made their way to the Xbox Series X peripheral. But there are also two big additions. The first is the Share button located just below the View and the Menu buttons. With a press of the Share button, you can now capture screenshots and record short gameplay clips to share with your friends or on social media. It’s not a new concept — Sony rolled out this function for the PS4 in 2013 — but it’s one Xbox fans will certainly welcome.
The other tweak to the gamepad is the new D-pad, which is heavily inspired by the Xbox Elite controller. Replacing the traditional cross-shaped D-pad, the new facetted dish is designed to enhance the controller experience, allowing players to do things like “hit accurate diagonals or perform sweep actions,” according to Xbox senior designer Ryan Whitaker. I’ve not tried the controller with any games yet, but what I can say as someone used to the conventional D-pad of countless generations past, the Xbox Series X’s version feels a little weird on my thumb. It will probably just take a little getting used to.
Other, smaller additions include textured finishes for both the triggers and bumpers at the top of the controller. The gamepad also has a USB-C port, meaning you’ll no longer need your collection of Micro-USB cables to charge this controller. Unfortunately, this gamepad still needs two AA batteries out of the box, which seems antiquated compared to PlayStation’s rechargeable DualShock and DualSense controllers. (Like with the Xbox One controller, you will have the option to buy a Play & Charge kit for the Xbox Series X gamepad for $25.)
With everything unboxed but no gameplay impressions as of yet, it’s impossible to give a final verdict on the Xbox Series X. There’s still so much to see and do with the next-gen console (and its Sony competitor), and we’ll make sure to share more of our thoughts as soon as we can. For now, the Xbox Series X is truly a sight to behold, with a bold design that’s clever in its simplicity but also intimidating in scope. The controller is less of an innovative jump, but that’s okay when the console itself is such a different beast than what’s come before.
Stay tuned for our full review of the Xbox Series X closer to the console’s launch date on Nov. 10.