We must mention right off the bat that we tested the American version of the Xbox using the NTSC system, as well as the games and accessories available in the United States. For our European readers, we will provide any necessary corrections once the PAL version is available.
The Xbox is more or less a closed, non-evolutionary PC. This choice is an obvious one, and besides, other console manufacturers will inevitably follow Microsoft's lead. Let me explain. For example, up to now, with the PS 2, the development of a console and its SDK was a huge enterprise. The electronic components had to be adapted or specially manufactured, and then put together to form a coherent whole. However, since competition in the PC arena necessitates a certain standard as well as constant technological progress, in order to make a state-of-the-art console, the smart choice is clearly to ally oneself with PC experts. Nintendo has just proven this by entrusting the graphics to ATI. Thus, the Xbox choice is very smart. It is said by some that in selling a disguised PC, Microsoft shows that it doesn't give a damn about the world, but this argument does not hold water.
Using a PC as a basis is one thing, but making a coherent whole out of it and selling it at a low price and making it last for at least a few years is not an easy task - there's no leeway for mistakes! To summarize: yes, the Xbox is a PC, but no, it's not that simple! On the contrary. Let's look at the innards of the beast. For every computing device designed for entertainment or leisure, the decisive factor in 2002, and presumably, for at least several years following, is the graphics. 3D games are the order of the day and 90% of the console's resources must be used to perfect the display of an increasingly sophisticated world. With this in mind, Microsoft has quite logically returned to the most advanced manufacturer in this arena - NVIDIA. Just like ATi, NVIDIA is actually capable of producing a chip that takes care of all data calculations and processes the original code to create what you see on the screen. Once this problem is solved, the rest of the console becomes much simpler to complete. And if this 3D is easy to work with, at least from the programmer's point of view, one can be happy (and we will see that, basically, this is the case). Later, we will discuss the graphics in greater detail, and how they affect the performance of the console.