Microsoft revealed today the Xbox One Elite console bundle. Set for release in the US on November 3, 2015, this bundle includes an Xbox One console with a 1TB solid-state hybrid drive and the previously announced Elite controller. The Elite console bundle will retail for $499.99. Let’s take a look as to why the new bundle is worth the price.
Solid-state hybrid drive (SSHD)
Current Xbox One consoles have a regular platter-based hard drive. Hard drives generally have various elements that contribute to their overall performance, but perhaps most significantly is the speed at which the platters spin. Xbox One hard drives spin at 5,400 RPM, which is fairly common in most computers and consoles. However, advances in large-capacity media storage have given the world large solid-state drives (SSD).
SSDs are akin to flash drives, wherein there are no platters or moving parts. This helps make them significantly faster than platter-based drives. SSDs are still relatively expensive compared to traditional hard drives, but solid-state hybrid drives (SSHD) are less costly, and maintain some of the performance benefits of SSDs.
Instead of being entirely flash-based, SSHDs are a hybrid of both flash memory and platter-based drives. In a SSHD, common essential software like an operating system are stored on the flash portion of the SSHD, and other apps or games are stored on the traditional platter part of the SSHD.
The only bit of information that Microsoft revealed was that the SSHD in the Elite console bundle is “up to 20 percent faster from energy-saving mode.” It is easy to imagine the Xbox One dashboard being faster in general as well, but at this point, that is pure speculation.
If the Xbox One OS is stored on the flash side of things, we could see not only the dashboard respond quicker, but operations like snapping apps would also see markedly improved performance (it is currently dismally slow with the standard hard drive, at least for me). Combine the SSHD with the new upcoming OS, and current Xbox One users will likely see a world of difference in dashboard and OS performance.
In terms of loading games, whether the new console’s SSHD will improve loading times remains to be seen. Microsoft has not released the spindle speed for the platter part of the SSHD, so it could either be 7,200 RPM, or more likely, 5,400 RPM. If the spindle speed is the latter, then users may not see any decreased loading times. And even at 7,200 RPM, while loading a game will be faster, the difference will not be significant.
Additionally, the SSHD has 1TB of space, which is double the capacity of the hard drives in the standard Xbox One console. This is a fairly large amount of room for plenty of games.
It is important to note that hard drive speeds will not increase visual fidelity in games, nor will they somehow improve your kill/death ratio in first-person shooters. What WILL help you fare better in games however, is the Xbox One Elite controller.
Xbox One Elite controller
When Microsoft took the wraps off of the Elite controller, it stunned the video game world. Microsoft has made different iterations of Xbox controllers throughout the years, but no major changes were made during the Xbox 360 era.
The Xbox One Elite controller is a premium device. The overall ergonomics and profile of the controller remain the same as the standard Xbox One controller, but there are significant improvements and additions that will change the way users play games.
When you pick up and hold the Elite controller, the first thing you will notice is its weight. The elite controller has a bit of heft to it. As you grasp the controller, you’ll appreciate the texture on the rubberized grips, and then you’ll realize that it doesn’t creak or squeak when you squeeze the grips.
The stainless steel thumbstick shafts, D-pads, and paddles are fantastic to look at, but more importantly, feel superb. Newly designed, low-friction, reinforced rings around each thumbstick are so smooth, you’ll swear they were greased with oil (don’t worry – they’re not).
And then there are the paddles on the back of the controller. Four additional buttons that are depressed with paddles give you a new level of control. Nearly every button on the controller (including the paddles) can be re-assigned (or duplicated), no matter what game you’re playing. You can have different button profiles for different games, and you can store your profiles directly onto your controller. The new controller’s app will even allow you to change the sensitivity of the thumbsticks.
It would be remiss of me if I failed to mention the hair trigger locks on the Elite controller. The trigger locks will allow you to reduce the distance you need to press down on each trigger, giving you a distinct advantage in shooting games.
Recent deals have brought the price of the standard Xbox One console (with the slower, 500GB hard drive) as low as $350, bundled with a game or two. The Elite bundle is priced at $499.99, and does not include any games. Here’s why it is considered to be a good value: the Elite controller itself will retail separately for $150, which means that with the bundle, you’re essentially paying $350 for the new console.
Importantly, the console features a 1TB SSHD, which as mentioned earlier, will likely provide increase performance in the dashboard. And while the Elite bundle does not include any games, the SSHD is a good trade-off. Better system performance and inclusion of the $150 Elite controller makes the Elite bundle like a great purchase.
Pre-order the Xbox One Elite bundle at Gamestop and MicrosoftStore.com.