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The Series X could have a major problem

In recent days, journalists have finally been able to go hands-on with the Xbox Series X. So far, critics have responded quite positively to Microsoft's new console. However, there is apparently one issue with the Series X that everyone seems to agree upon: it runs way too hot.

One of the most intense reactions on record has been from Jeux Video's Ken Bogard, who recently had a chance to test out the Series X for himself. The original video featuring Bogard's comments has apparently been deleted, but a partial translation of his thoughts on the Series X has been helpfully provided by VGC.

"The Series X is hot, like really hot! It doesn't make any noise, but damn it's hot!" Bogard said of the system. "The console is emitting heat like crazy. It's almost like a fireplace shaft. You can heat up your flat with it."

Bogard reportedly explained that his interaction with the Series X has mostly been to play a few backwards compatible games. In addition, he checked out the various menus on the console's dashboard. It is unclear why the video clip of Bogard's comments has been removed. Even so, Bogard was not the only person to bring up this issue.

When asked about the console, Twitch streamer Stallion83 concurred that it ran a little hotter than he expected. However, he clarified that his unit didn't really start to heat up until after an extended amount of play. Stallion83 also pointed out that the consoles people have been testing out have been "preview units."

This is a real shame, since the console's quiet fan has been cited as a plus in many early hands-on reviews for the Series X. For instance, IGN's Ryan McCaffrey described the console as "almost inaudible when it's idle," even while playing a graphically intensive title like Red Dead Redemption 2. At this point, nobody has been able to review how the Series X performs while playing next-gen games. There's a chance that firing up an even more demanding Series X game, such as the upcoming Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2, could be even more taxing on the console's cooling system.

It seems as though Microsoft may have anticipated this cooling issue, because the Xbox Series X is practically covered in spots where the console can vent excess heat. During a recent episode of The Giant Beastcast, co-host Jeff Bakalar brought along an Xbox Series X to show off to the other hosts and the audience. According to Bakalar, the Series X is virtually covered in vents. When asked if the vents were only on the side, Bakalar said that there are also vents on the bottom, top, and back. The vents are presumably laid out in this way so that players can choose whether to lay the system on its side or stand it upright without worrying about cutting off a vital ventilation point. Still, it paints a picture of a system that gets too warm for its own good.

This theme continued through the hands-on report from The Giant Beastcast. Shortly after describing the various vents on the console, Jeff Bakalar removed the external SSD from the system to show off how small it was. Bakalar attempted to hold it up to the camera, but had to put it down shortly thereafter. As he told the other panelists, it felt like Xbox's costly new external memory device was "on fire." Bakalar also mentioned on the show that his Series X was running extremely hot, even though it was just plugged in and idling at that time, not actively engaged in gaming.

Quiet console fans have become something of a point of pride for Xbox in recent years. Just a few years ago, Windows Central's Richard Devine broke down the thermal differences between the Xbox One X and the PlayStation 4 Pro. The results were a bit of a surprise, especially given how hyped up the performance of the PS4 Pro had been. Despite the console's other strengths, it ran significantly louder and hotter than the Xbox One X. According to Devine, "Most noticeable day-to-day has actually been the noise and heat — the Xbox One X is usually barely above a whisper while the PS4 Pro's fans are comparatively deafening." He also discovered that the PS4 Pro got extra hot around its vents and the top corners of the console.

While it's unclear if there will be a similar performance gap between the PS5 and the Series X, it is already becoming obvious how the Series X is falling just short of the Xbox One X's technical achievements. Hopefully this problem is simply more prevalent in the review units sent to various publications. It could be that the cooling issues aren't quite so severe on the retail version of the console. Fans will find out soon enough; the Xbox Series X and Series S will be released Nov. 10, 2020.