Xbox 360 Impressions
The final criteria we chose to test the Xbox 360 Slim on was speed. While all Xbox 360 games are programmed with a specific set of hardware limitations in mind, meaning you won’t suddenly get crisper textures in Gears of War 2
if you use a Slim Xbox 360, there’s no reason why loading times can’t be reduced.
Alas, when it came to measuring boot times there was actually very little difference in it – the Xbox 360 Slim took 19.5 seconds to get from pressing the on-button to actually being in control on the main menu. The Xbox 360 Premium was only the barest fraction behind at 21 seconds.
The results of measuring the load time of most games was similarly underwhelming, with barely any appreciable difference in any of the five games we tested (results in the table below). For each game we measured the length of time it took to move from the equivalent of ‘Start Game’ to actually seeing the first level, discounting cutscenes. All games were run from the disc apart from Hexic HD
, which comes pre-installed on the hard drives of all Xbox 360 consoles.
It’s hardly a huge improvement, is it? In fact, for most games there’s barely any improvement at all.
All in all, we have to admit that we were a little bit disappointed at how the Xbox 360 Slim performed during our testing. The new SKU doesn’t seem to be faster in any real sense and, while it may be better at cooling itself off, there’s a part of us which thinks that should never have been a problem to begin with.
Still, it’s hard to be actually angry with the Xbox 360 S. It now features fast WiFi, more storage and more USB ports. It doesn’t cost any more than the Elite model either - in fact, it costs the same as the Elite did, while all the older bundles have been discounted
and discontinued. That’s one of the reasons that Microsoft isn’t marketing the S model as ‘Xbox 360 Slim’ – that’s just the unofficial name. To Microsoft, the Slim is
the Xbox 360. Soon you won’t be able to buy older SKUs at all.
There have been no changes to the interface or firmware
Incidentally, that’s why we're choosing not to score this new Xbox. That's really only useful if you have a choice between comparable products. If you want a 360, this is it. Microsoft is eliminating the choice here and comparing the Xbox 360 to a Wii or PS3 is a fool's game.
So, what are our conclusions? The Xbox 360 Slim is a revision rather than an entirely new machine. It doesn’t offer any new features which will blow you away, nor will it provide faster or better looking games. It’s hard to feel short-changed – you are still getting an Xbox 360 for a penny under £200 – but nor were we honestly impressed. It’s nice that Microsoft appears to have solved the design flaws at last but it's taken them quite some time.
The new Xbox 360 doesn’t massively update the platform in any real way, so we can't see why anyone who already owns an Xbox would upgrade. If you’re planning on picking up an Xbox then it’s definitely worth opting for a Slim over a discounted older model, thanks to the WiFi, improved storage and the increased robustness of the cooling design.