The Xbox Series X console definitely has a peculiar form factor compared to the usual gaming system. The closest match might be Nintendo's GameCube in that regard, although Microsoft's upcoming next-generation console is about twice the size.
Speaking to Eurogamer's Digital Foundry, Chris Kujawski (principal designer at Microsoft) revealed why the team went with this choice for the Xbox Series X.
Kujawski also expanded on how the large holes, needed for air exhaustion purposes, became part of the design signature.Jim mentioned how the optical disc drive sets one dimension, the volume of the heat sink sets the other dimension, the height is set by airflow and throughout this kind of complex negotiation of figuring out how this stuff comes together, we landed on a square form factor which we love.
The cooling system of the Xbox Series X, which is poised to be the most powerful next-generation console with 12TFLOPs, had to be really strong. According to director of mechanical engineering for Xbox hardware Jim Wahl, the Xbox Series X has been engineered to allow for 70% more airflow compared to the previous generation while remaining quiet.We decided to really focus on this as the signature surface on the product. We started off by creating some extra depth by making them each about a centimetre deep. And then carving out this surface, it changes the look of it as you approach it - and as you raise and lower your sight line, you see more or less in there. Then we amped it up by adding that green layer underneath and that's got its own variable depth, so it's thicker in the middle and it's thinner on the edges.
Andres Hernandez, director of electrical engineering, added that the vapour chamber in the Xbox Series X is also used to dissipate the console's GDDR6 memory.With all that power, you have to move a lot of air and you want to move it quietly. We studied many different ways of doing air movement in a product and a single axial fan was the most efficient, the quietest air mover for our system... we do a bunch of customisations here, so the number of blades, particularly the blade geometry, is highly, highly optimised to operate within the confines of our system.
We also have to have good air in to the enclosure, so you have certain venting and large holes. You have exhaust out the top and we have large venting holes, but the net effect of putting all of this together, having parallel paths, having this really powerful quiet fan at the top, is that we get 70 per cent more airflow through this console than the past generation and we get 20 per cent more airflow through our heatsink alone than in the past generation.
We have these very powerful regulators, so one of the challenges is how do we actually cool that much power density? So, we actually ended up using the vapour chamber for a couple of things. The first one is we also heat sink our GDDR6 memory to the vapour chamber. That made a lot of sense because when you're pushing a lot of bandwidth, those chips are thermally high. And then the second piece is, as I mentioned, the regulators. It's one of the most power-dense pieces of our box.
According to Microsoft, the Xbox Series X has 70% more airflow compared to the Xbox One. The vapour chamber also dissipates the GDDR6 RAM.