It wasn’t intended to be major news.
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The Xbox Series X has been shrouded in secrecy since its official announcement last month, but the veil was unexpectedly lifted at AMD’s CES 2020 press conference on Monday. A sweeping view of the console has revealed a few key details about the machine’s hardware, most notably its front and rear port configuration – information that’s previously been kept out of the public eye, as noted by The Verge’s Tom Warren.
The AMD publicity video shows the front of the device in full, with a single USB port visible on the lower right corner of the device – nearly hidden by the nearby controller. The console’s front Blu-ray drive and eject button is also visible. The view then moves to the back, revealing – from top to bottom – an ethernet port, optical audio, two USB-C ports, two HDMI ports and a two-pin (C8) power input.
The HDMI ports should be HDMI version 2.1 in the final product, as this provides the option for 4K HDR at refresh rates higher than 60Hz over a single cable. For example, HDMI 2.1 allows high-end gaming monitors and TVs to be connected at 4K 120Hz. HDMI 2.1 also supports the 8K resolution displays that are plentiful at CES 2020 – but more or less completely absent from the homes of consumers – although it seems unlikely that many games will run at a native 8K 60fps given the massive ramp up in graphical horsepower it requires.
The second HDMI port will likely be used as an input, allowing the Xbox to be used with a set top box – as it worked with the Xbox One. Even the 4K-capable Xbox One X only supports 1080p via the HDMI input, so hopefully that deficit has been remedied in Microsoft’s next-generation console. It’s also a possibility that the HDMI port could be used as a second output, although this seems far less likely as it doesn’t fit the traditional console design philosophy.
Apart from the inclusion of the second HDMI port, the C8 power input also tells us something: Microsoft is relying on an internal power supply rather than an external, laptop-style power brick, continuing the trend of the Xbox One S and One X. With a high-frequency CPU and a graphics card with 56 compute units rumoured to be under the hood, that wasn’t a given – even with the new console’s substantial increase in size over its predecessors allowing for better thermal management.
Expect a steady drip of new information as we slowly approach the console’s holiday 2020 launch window – and with plenty of exciting new hardware on tap, plenty of analysis from Digital Foundry too.