Xbox Series X is getting a 4K upgrade, but not how you might expect

Microsoft has revealed that it will soon bump the resolution of the Xbox Series X dashboard up to 4K for Xbox Insiders in the Alpha and Alpha Skip-Ahead ring.

In a blog post on Xbox Wire, Microsoft said: “Alpha Insiders on Xbox Series X consoles connected to a 4K display can begin flighting an increased resolution UI. This change means Home, Guide, and other areas of the UI will be displayed in a higher native resolution for increased sharpness and text readability.”

Unlike the PS5, which outputs its UI at a native 4K resolution, the Xbox Series X dashboard only displays at 1080p, even when connected to a capable display. This was apparently a deliberate decision to save on hardware resources at the time, though Xbox’s partner director of program management Jason Ronald has confirmed that the new higher resolution dashboard won’t change the amount of memory available to Xbox developers.

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The new Xbox Series X dashboard doesn’t look like it will receive HDR support just yet, however, which is available for PS5 owners. It’s also unclear whether the Xbox Series S – which can technically output at 4K – will benefit from the dashboard resolution upgrade. 

The higher resolution Xbox Series X dashboard announcement comes shortly after Microsoft revealed it was testing a new night mode that lets Xbox owners dim their displays, as well as the controller and console’s LED brightness. Night mode should help circumvent eyestrain, and make winding down from those late night gaming sessions a little easier.


Analysis: A crisper, cleaner dash makes sense 

It might not seem like much, but having the Xbox Series X dashboard output at a higher resolution makes sense, especially as so many users have the console hooked up to 4K TVs. Bringing up the Xbox Guide during a game did look rather jarring, as it was obvious the console’s UI is running at a lower resolution, especially after playing a game that displays at a pristine 4K.

Xbox Series X isn’t the first console to display its UI below its native resolution, of course. The Nintendo Switch outputs its UI at 720p when docked, despite being capable of outputting at 1080p resolution.

While having a higher resolution dashboard isn’t an essential feature by any means, having more eligible text is always a plus, so we’re glad to see that Xbox Series X owners will soon be able to enjoy a crystal clear 4K output when browsing the console’s UI.

Microsoft has rolled out a number of quality of life updates for its Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles since launch, including new dynamic backgrounds and improvements to Quick Resume. Sony's next PS5 system update, which finally lets you upgrade the console's internal storage, is currently being tested by beta users.

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