New hardware means new enjoyment of games thanks to more modern technology, but also a new set of teething troubles that early adopters get on the cookie.
Microsoft’s Xbox Series X console, which has only been available for a few days, struggles with a whole bunch of small ailments, but not all of them can be grown on Microsoft’s crap. It is uncertain whether all of them can be ironed out.
It’s a beast, the new Xbox. Damn strong, whisper quiet and easy to use. Thanks to the nimble SSD and convenient functions such as quick resume, anyone who was able to get hold of a copy should already be able to put all memories of long loading times on hold. There is no going back once you have accepted it
Even setting up the console is astonishingly quick for owners of the previous model. A few clicks on the Xbox mobile app for Android and iOS are enough for the familiar settings to be adopted by the new generation, regardless of whether it is account preferences or network settings including IP frills.
Ingenious and comfortable, but unfortunately not perfect, because there are a few inconsistencies in the details. On Twitter and Facebook there are increasing reports of complaints, and even documented hardware failures caused by striking Blu-Ray drives, rattling or non-functional fans and consoles that can no longer be switched on. The malfunctions mentioned are annoying for the individual, but in the global one must not be too hasty to assume sloppiness. There are always failures caused by assembly equipment, and given the quantities delivered, there are few exceptions.
It is completely different with the teething problems of the console, which affect pretty much every device, or at least have the potential to do so. Just like those things that Microsoft has apparently forgotten or that the developers have given too little weight to.
The Xbox Series X / S cannot be switched on (anymore)
A common problem cited by early adopters is sudden console failure. You play, don’t think of anything bad and bang, the screen goes black. A software bug? Probably not, or if so only in exceptional cases. The fussy connection for the power cable is to blame for these failures. If its end is not properly plugged into the socket on the back of the console, it will easily come loose or cause a loose contact that cuts the connection with the slightest vibration.
The solution to the problem is obvious: The cable must be pushed in to the end, so a little further than the first gut feeling due to the tightness of the socket. Well, if that’s all. We haven’t seen this symptom so far, but it is currently appearing more frequently in German-speaking social media. There are also confirmations that the problem was resolved by plugging it in deeper. Hopefully it is really just a negligence on the part of the user and does not turn out to be an internal fault with some buyers, such as a cold solder joint.
Controller without connection
We encountered this ailment ourselves, but we are not the only ones affected. It can happen that the controller specifies functionality, but no longer sends commands to the console. So you can neither control the game nor switch to the console menu. The controller also refuses to pair with the console again. If you try, both components look for their communication partners, but cannot find any. Not even if you remove the rechargeable battery or batteries from the control unit. A connection via USB cable is also unsuccessful.
At least if you try it with the controller that has failed. The connection of a second joypad – such as an Xbox One model – works without any problems. The software-side error must still lie with the console, because after a cold start, the problem disappears with pleasure. The reason for the failures is unfortunately not understandable. It sometimes happens in the middle of a game session.
Problems with 120 Hz televisions
The promise of ultra-fast image sequences is one of the main arguments of the new generation of consoles. Not only Microsoft, but also Sony promises faster response times. The Xbox One X already enabled 120 Hz, but was bound to a maximum resolution of 1440p due to the limitations of the HDMI 2.0 standard. Both next-gen platforms break this limit by using HDMI 2.1 connections. If your television is also HDMI 2.1. understands, nothing should stand in the way of 120 frames per second at full UHD resolution. A cable with the appropriate bandwidth is included with the respective console.
That’s the theory. Unfortunately, the practice is currently different. In particular, owners of OLED screens from the LG brand are currently looking straight into the tube, because the image signal on the Xbox Series X is constantly interrupted when you switch to 120 Hz. It is not known whether this really affects all LG TV models, but there have been a lot of reports from owners of the C9 and CX series. Tragic, as these televisions in particular were praised in advance by various testers and recommended for the new generation of consoles. Our C9 model is also affected. A possible reason for this and a solution can be found below under point 4.
The symptoms consist of constantly recurring signal interruptions when switching between the resolution and display modes. For example, when switching to 120Hz everything seems to be okay, but if you switch to HDR calibration mode immediately, the picture fails. The assumption is that the switching process is too fast or that there is another problem with the resumption of the data stream, because if you briefly switch the television off and on again, the picture can be seen and runs in both color depth and in Things refresh rate correct.
A further indication of this is revealed by a broad, stretched display in which only half of the menu surface can be seen. A synchronization problem is therefore very likely. The only question that remains is whether it is the console or the televisions, because although LG televisions, where complaint cases are very prominent, there are other models from other brands that also suffer from display problems that may be related to synchronization. Which is not surprising when you consider that most OLED panels come from LG, regardless of who ultimately assembled the device.
But since some Samsung devices with a completely different panel technology are affected, a completely different problem could be the trigger, namely….
Flickering and picture dropouts due to VRR
VRR stands for Variable Refresh Rate. This new technology enables direct communication between the TV and console, so that both devices can synchronize their image sequence even if the console spits out an unclean frame rate. Normally the latter would lead to tearing and, in the worst case, even to visible stuttering of the image sequence. The gameplay would feel unclean.
No longer a problem with the VRR switched on. For example, if the frame rate of the console falls from the targeted, clean 60 FPS to 55, the television adjusts its output speed so that only fully rendered images are displayed and the sequence of images remains reasonably constant. There is only one problem. On the one hand, there are certain limits for the lowest and the highest value depending on the model of the television. LG’s C9 series only manages VRR between 40 and 60 FPS. The newer CX series, on the other hand, can handle VRR at up to 120 FPS.
And yet this is unfortunately only a theory, because as recently became known, the built-in chip that controls VRR in both TV rows suffers from an error and cannot be fixed by either LG or Samsung. The error results in screen areas, the changing brightness of which leads to a slight flickering. The latest LG firmware is supposed to minimize this, if not completely remove it.
We installed this firmware on our C9 model, even before the Xbox Series X was put into operation. We couldn’t detect any flickering, but the above mentioned dropouts at 120 Hz. Possibly both problems are related.
Update: LG has meanwhile installed the firmware update 05.00.03 for the models of the C9 and CX series. After a cold start of the TV after installation (switch off and power plug out) the VRR problem should be resolved.
There is a simple workaround, because at 60Hz the error usually does not occur, even if VRR is active. If you still want to enjoy 120 Hz, you should deactivate the Xbox VRR in the settings. In the German menu, simply go to “General video modes” and uncheck the “Allow variable update rate” option. The synchronization of the devices naturally falls flat. Tearing and stuttering game flow with unclean frame rates can occur again, but at least you can enjoy games with 120 Hz this way.
It remains to be seen whether Microsoft or AMD – the manufacturer of the graphics unit – will be able to offer a driver solution that will circumvent such problems. You shouldn’t count on that.
Steering wheel still with minimal support
After all of these serious teething problems, we now come to a luxury problem. However, one that the Xbox as a platform could cost a few fans in the long run. This refers to simulation friends with a penchant for racing games, i.e. connoisseurs of Forza Motorsport, Assetto Corsa Competizione, Formula 1 and other genre representatives with high standards.
Microsoft promised full compatibility for existing Xbox One steering wheels, and we can confirm that. No matter which steering wheel you used on Xbox One, it will still work on Series S and Series X. However, with the same limited scope as before.
Unfortunately, Microsoft missed the opportunity to expand the steering wheel protocol. While the steering wheels on the Playstation 4 and 5 as well as on the PC allow up to 26 buttons to be freely assigned and enable various status displays on the hardware side – i.e. LCD screens that show the gear or speed that is engaged, as well as colorful REV lights to visualize the speeds – the Xbox Series S / X only has as many buttons as the standard joypad offers, namely just 16 if you include the directional buttons on the control pad. LCD screens and Rev lights cannot be addressed. At least if Microsoft can’t find a way to change that over the lifetime of the new consoles. If that were the case, the new Xbox degenerates to the bottom for simulation fans.
This is not due to the unwillingness of the game developers. Even Microsoft’s house series Forza Motorsport, or Forza Horizon, supports all of this in the respective PC version. The graphically impressive inflated counterpart of Forza Horizon 4 on Xbox Series X, however, still not.
Assetto Corsa, Formula 1 and other racing games now use so many functions that Xbox gamers are at a disadvantage. In the last Formula 1, important commands could only be addressed in the pause menu, and Rev lights are now the lowest standard in every popular racing game apart from the Xbox family.
We cannot provide you with a solution for this problem. But maybe it will help if genre fans keep pointing to Microsoft on social media and forums until they realize what fans are asking of them.