Order Xbox Series X and you get this: Our unboxing and first impressions

This is the Xbox Series X, a gaming console released in late 2020 by Microsoft. It'd been 7 years since the release of the console called Xbox One, and high time we saw a relatively massive change in the design of the hardware. We'll be looking at the software, the games, and the overall experience in our full review, soon. Today it's all about the size, shape, and feel of the console hardware itself.

Outer box design

The box Microsoft sent us for our Xbox Series X review won't necessarily be identical to what you get when you order an Xbox Series X VIA a retail outlet. The brown cardboard with the black printing inside – that's not likely universal. The box inside that box – that box is the box you'll see on store shelves and appearing in your living room when you first receive the machine.

The retail box shows the console up close, concentrating on the unique industrial design that makes this console look lovely from the outset. Here you'll notice the version of the console which which we are working for our Xbox Series X Review on SlashGear. This is the 1TB version of the Xbox Series X.

On the side of the box you'll notice features and a lovely image of the board that rests at the heart of the machine. Again, the photos above and below show the retail box surrounded by a brown cardboard box with black printing on the inside – the brown box won't likely be part of your purchase if you purchase the Xbox Series X from a store.

Inside the box is a significant amount of padding. This console was released at around the same time as Apple announced they'd no longer include a charger or earbuds in the box with their newest iPhone. While Apple seems to be all about saving space Microsoft's Xbox Series X is not taking any chances when it comes to surrounding their product with protective foam blocks and a cleverly constructed cardboard container.

This packaging also serves to delight and excite the new owner of the console. Gaming console packaging in the past hasn't been considered an important part of the experience. Here in 2020, the Xbox Series X follows the lead of products like Microsoft Surface, making certain that the new product user knows that Microsoft is proud of the device they've made.

Unwrapped, the Xbox Series X box reveals its contents: The Xbox Series X console itself, one Xbox Wireless Controller, one power cord, and one HDMI cord. We also get a bit of paper documentation, but that's it!

The Console

The Xbox Series X console is surprisingly heavy, small, and beautiful. When I saw the console for the first time, I expected that it'd be much larger than it's turned out to be. Because the device is shaped like two cubes combined into one rectangle, we have a design that feels more intentional than any other Xbox.

The console no longer feels like a modernized Atari. It's not just a big lunch box anymore. The Xbox Series X has a design that is at once brutal, understated, and precise.

The most obvious flourish on the machine is the head, where an array of circles allows a single massive fan to cool the console's components. It is here that the Xbox Series X stops living as Microsoft's gaming console, and starts busting out as a unique and beautiful centerpiece. It is here that the Xbox places a major point of reference for all future home entertainment and gaming device designs of the future.

Up or down

The Xbox Series X has one large circular pad on its short side (AKA bottom) and four bumper pads on its long end (AKA right side) . Much like the Xbox Series X (and similar consoles), the Xbox Series X can operate just as well standing in a sort of portrait mode as it can a landscape mode.

You'll need to accommodate the side (or the top, whatever you'd like to call it) with the array of holes, regardless of your chosen placement for the console. This is the part of the console you'll need to avoid blocking. The same goes for the bottom (seen below) which also has an array of holes for airflow.*

The front side of the Xbox Series X includes a disc drive, a hardware button to eject disks, an Xbox logo button (with LED light) for power, and a USB port near another hardware button. The button near the USB port is living a double life! It functions as a pairing button (to easily pair the console with accessories), but it also contains an infrared receiver for multimedia controllers.

The only part about this machine's design that I remain bummed about is the Xbox logo, which stands sideways if the console is placed in landscape mode. It can safely be assumed that the designers of this console meant the portrait mode to be the "on display" mode for the console – hence the Xbox logo sitting upright and correct. Landscape mode was likely intended for those users that'd choose a more discreet location for the console, thereby rendering the logo position irrelevant.

*While not absolutely necessary, it's likely a good idea to allow as much space as possible on all sides of this console so that it might stay as cool as possible while operating. This suggestion is based solely on past experience with machines that've given clear indication of one or more locations where venting is placed to allow airflow. You'll notice just a BIT more of this multi-hole venting action on the back of the device near the ports.

Ports and Access

Included among the ports are 2x USB-A ports (the USB up front is also USB-A), one HDMI-out (2.1), and one Ethernet port. There's a figure-8 power socket there that's identical to that of the Xbox One series, a Kensington lock, and an SSD expansion slot.

Just to the side (or below) the HDMI and power ports, you'll see a pill shape. That pill shape is a plastic cover for the key screw to access the rest of the device. You'll only really need to know this if you plan on voiding any warranty you have on the hardware, and want to give your Xbox Series X a full teardown.

Do NOT remove this plastic if you think there's ANY chance you'll need to get technical service from Microsoft. The plastic plate is attached with a bit of glue that will not necessarily hold if the plastic is removed and/or replaced.

Wrap-up and preparation for play

The Xbox Series X was announced with a release date of November 10, 2020. The version we've got here is the same version you'll be able to purchase in stores. We'll have a full Xbox Series X Review on SlashGear soon (if it's not up already when you read this unboxing post): take a peek! If you have any questions about the Xbox Series X that we've not yet answered, ask away!

Stick around SlashGear for more Xbox Series X news and features through the future, too. We'll have reviews of games, important updates, and notes about odd, fun, and/or interesting features that you might not otherwise happen upon elsewhere.