The Xbox Series X looks like a mini-tower PC for a good reason.
„The optical disc drive sets one dimension, the volume of the heat sink sets the other dimension, the height is set by airflow and throughout this kind of complex negotiation of figuring out how this stuff comes together, we landed on a square form factor which we love,” Chris Kujawski, a principal designer at Microsoft, told DigitalFoundry.
He also explained how the large holes on the console are an essential part of the design: „We decided to focus on this as the signature surface on the product. We started by creating some extra depth by making them each about a centimetre deep. And then carving out this surface, it changes the look of it as you approach it – and as you raise and lower your sightline, you see more or less in there. Then we amped it up by adding that green layer underneath and that’s got its variable depth, so it’s thicker in the middle and it’s thinner on the edges.
With all that power, you have to move a lot of air and you want to move it quietly. We studied many different ways of doing air movement in a product and a single axial fan was the most efficient, the quietest air mover for our system… we do a bunch of customisations here, so the number of blades, particularly the blade geometry, is highly, highly optimised to operate within the confines of our system.
We also have to have good air into the enclosure, so you have certain venting and large holes. You have exhaust out the top and we have large venting holes, but the net effect of putting all of this together, having parallel paths, having this really powerful quiet fan at the top, is that we get 70 per cent more airflow through this console than the past generation and we get 20 per cent more airflow through our heatsink alone than in the past generation,” he added.
Andres Hernandez, the director of electrical engineering, explained how the vapour chamber of the Xbox Series X is also used to dissipate the GDDR6 memory of the console: „We have these very powerful regulators, so one of the challenges is how do we cool that much power density? So, we ended up using the vapour chamber for a couple of things. The first one is we also heat sink our GDDR6 memory to the vapour chamber. That made a lot of sense because when you’re pushing a lot of bandwidth, those chips are thermally high. And then the second piece is, as I mentioned, the regulators. It’s one of the most power-dense pieces of our box.”
Why does the controller of the Xbox Series X still use AA batteries? Jason Ronald, the partner director of Xbox, explains: „What it comes down to is when talking to gamers, it’s kind of polarizing and there is a strong camp that wants AAs, so just giving flexibility is the way to please both [sets of] people… You can use a rechargeable battery pack and it works just like it does on the Elite, [but] it is a separate thing.”
And Jason Whitaker, the senior designer, revealed how more people can use the controller properly, being more inclusive for those with smaller hands – instead of the 5th to 95th percentile with the Xbox One controller, the new one now goes from the 3rd to the 95th percentile. „By slightly shrinking some areas of the controller, we found that we can reach a lot more people and at the same time make it more comfortable for everyone,” he says, adding that the design is not changed much due to muscle memory. He also said that the bumpers and triggers both have a matte finish instead of gloss to maintain the grip if our palms get sweaty.
The Xbox Series X – which got a new video to showcase how it is built – is going to launch this Holiday season.
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