The Xbox One X is currently on the market, and it’s without a doubt the most powerful console available to customers, at least for now. Due to a simple matter of physics, power means energy, and energy turns into heat. To avoid having the guts of your new console cooked like roasted giblets, that heat needs to be dissipated.
The easiest and cheapest way to perform heat dissipation is mechanical, with fans, and that produces noise. Of course, there are ways to reduce that noise: advanced engineering can produce quieter motors and aerodynamic blades for the fans, and a powerful dissipation solution can prevent the need for those motors and blades to spin at faster rates.
The Xbox One X includes a single fan mounted on a very effective vapor chamber thermal management design. But just how effective is it? We measured it for you.
Do keep in mind that this kind of measurement always includes a degree of variability, depending on the environment, the software used, the state of the console itself (contrary to popular belief, almost no console is assembled completely equal), and the measuring tools.
We used a non-limited edition retail unit purchased from a major European retailer, and a smartphone app called Sound Meter on a Huawei P9, which is able to provide good results in terms of reliability. The relevant value to look at isn’t the absolute noise level, but the difference between inactive, idle and under load, which removes a lot of the variability mentioned above.
With the console turned completely off, the noise level in our test environment was 21 decibel. This is simply due to light traffic and other environmental sounds. Luckily, we’re on the fourth floor in a suburban area, so environmental noise isn’t that bad.
To give a better idea of how noisy or quiet the console is, we used two recording positions. The first is on top of the unit, while the second is right behind the vents. The first is, of course, more representative of normal usage, and the farther you are from the console, the less noise you will perceive.
On idle, with no games or apps running, the console barely produces any noise at all. The value remained quite stable on 21db on top of the unit, with occasional spikes to 22 db. Placing the microphone just behind the vent caught sound levels of 24 db.
After that, we tried some games, including Forza Motorsport 7, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Middle Earth: Shadow of War. For a sizable percentage of the time, the noise levels remained close to idle, but when things start getting hectic and the fan goes up one “step,” we reach 27-28 db on top of the unit, and 32-33 db right behind the vents.
In our experience with several of the games, there were occasional situations in which the fan stepped up one further gear, pushing up to 33 db on top of the unit, and 36-38 db behind the vents.
In comparison, our PS4 Pro in similar conditions produces between 24 db when idle (29 behind the vent) and 36 db when under heavy load (almost 49-50 behind the vent).
All the three PCs in the room, which are heavily air cooled with 5-8 fans each (I like my components cool, what can I say), are naturally much noisier than both consoles. And yes, they were all turned off while measuring the consoles, of course.
Below you can see a simple decibel scale (courtesy of Shutterstock), comparing the values to common sounds. Basically, the Xbox One X is normally quieter than a whisper and occasionally goes up to whisper level, remaining in our experience quieter than a refrigerator even when you put your ear right behind the vent, which you’ll probably never do (even because it gets really hot at the exhaust, so don’t try this at home).
In conclusion, the black color scheme given to the Xbox One X is quite appropriate: we can easily say that the console is quiet like a ninja, which is impressive, considering the punch it packs in terms of power.