The Xbox One S has been joined by the
Xbox One X, a souped-up version of the console now available to buy around the world – essentially Microsoft’s equivalent of the powerful
PS4 Pro. If you want to find out more, take a look at our
Xbox One X review.
That leaves potential purchasers in a prickly predicament though. Should you buy an Xbox One S or get the more powerful offering? A lot hinges on the differences between the two devices.
We’ve done our best to break down the differences in price, specs, features, and games between the two, to help you decide which Xbox is the One for you.
Pricing and availability
Unsurprisingly, the Xbox One X costs more than the One S – but what might be surprising is just how much more it costs.
The Xbox One X sells for £449.99/$499.99, which gets you the console along with one controller and a 1TB hard drive. If you’re in the UK, head to
Argos and the
official store; in the US check out
Amazon, and the
By contrast, the Xbox One S is sold by Microsoft in the UK for
£249.99 (500GB) or
£299.99 (1TB), while in the US it starts from
$249.99 (500GB) or
$349.99 (1TB) – though the US prices include a bundled game.
Prices are even cheaper if you don’t buy direct from Microsoft, with Amazon UK listing the
1TB Xbox One S for only £210. US gamers can get similar deals, with some
1TB bundles from just $273.
That means that the One X is just about double the price of the base Xbox One S, so you’ll have to be pretty committed to the enhanced specs and features to justify the price bump.
Xbox One S vs Xbox One X: Design
This is an area where there’s not too much in it – and it mostly comes down to whether you’d prefer your console in black or white.
The Xbox One X boasts a very similar form factor to the One S, though is in fact just slightly smaller – despite packing in considerably more power. It has the same rough dimensions, including the lip to accommodate a beefier top half, though it’s all black, in contrast to the black and white finish on the One S. It has one USB 3.0 port on the front, with two more on the back along with the HDMI, audio, and ethernet ports.
The One S is actually already a redesigned version of the original Xbox One – sleeker, simplified, and with ever so slightly improved internal specs. It comes in a slim white design with a black base and a dotted grille effect on half of the body. The front has a disc drive and USB port, and just about every other port is kept to the back of the box.
Xbox One S vs Xbox One X: Specs
We know the full specs of both the Xbox One S and the One X, and they confirm one thing: the new console is very, very powerful.
The One X boasts a custom-built eight-core CPU, with each core clocked at 2.3GHz. That’s miles ahead of the 1.75GHz CPU in the One S.
That’s backed up by the biggest improvement, the GPU: a custom AMD chip that boasts 40 compute units each running at 1172MHz – a huge upgrade on the 12 compute units running at 914MHz in the Xbox One S (itself a small upgrade on the original Xbox One).
Elsewhere, the One X has 12GB of GDDR5 RAM, compared to 8GB of slower DDR3 RAM in the One S, and a memory bandwidth of 326GB/s, up from 219GB/s supported by ESRAM in the One S.
Finally, the One X comes with a 1TB hard drive as default, while the One S offers a choice between 500GB and 1TB. Both consoles come with a 4K UHD Blu-ray drive, a universal benefit when compared to Sony’s console offerings.
The end result of all that power is that the One X runs games with better graphics, at higher resolutions, and with better framerates, with the aim to hit 4K graphics at 60fps for the majority of titles – something the One S just can’t handle.
It’s worth bearing in mind though that you won’t really be able to take full advantage of that horsepower unless you have a 4K TV to play it on. If your TV is just HD you’ll enjoy better framerates, but won’t make the most of the new resolutions, which will severely limit the benefit of the extra power.
The other point worth mentioning is that the beefed up specs could allow superior support for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). We know Microsoft is working in both areas, especially AR with its HoloLens tech, but we don’t yet know what plans it has for Xbox – but it’s a safe bet that whatever they are, they’ll run better on the One X, and may not be compatible with the One S at all.
Xbox One S vs Xbox One X: Games
Games are always one of the biggest factors in any console purchase, but here there’s not much in it. Because the One X is a mid-generation console, not a full replacement to the One S, it plays exactly the same games.
That means all the existing
best Xbox One games like Halo 5, Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2, and Forza Horizon 4 run on both devices, as will any future releases on the Xbox platform.
In terms of games then, the only difference between the two is how well they run. Future titles will be developed with the One X in mind, to take full advantage of the potential 4K resolution and higher framerates, so it’s likely we’ll see bigger and bigger gaps develop in terms of performance and graphics.
But there’ll be a difference even in terms of older titles, as the One X is fully backwards compatible, and will run every existing Xbox One game with some sort of performance boost. That means games will be smoother and faster on the new console, with better load times and sometimes improved graphics too.
Of course, how much that matters will vary from person to person. The Xbox One S will still be able to play exactly the same games, and they’ll still look great – they’ll just be HD rather than 4K, and closer to 30fps than 60. But for the average player that really won’t be an issue, so the Xbox One S should do just fine.
Xbox One S vs Xbox One X: Verdict
For most people, the Xbox One S will prove a better purchase than the One X – it’s cheaper and it runs the same games.
Still, if you’re the type to care about getting the absolute best graphical output, want to make the most of your 4K TV, or just want to be in a position to enjoy Microsoft’s possible future VR plans, then put your orders in now – the One X is the most powerful console on the market, and power users won’t want to miss out.
Microsoft Xbox One X: Specs
- 2.3GHz custom AMD octacore processor
- AMD GPU with 12GB GDDR5 RAM
- 1TB storage
- Bluetooth + Wi-Fi
- 3x USB 3.0, optical audio out
- 4K Blu-ray drive
- 300 x 239 x 61mm