Ultimately the battle between the Xbox One S and One X boils down to whether you have a 4K TV to go with it. If you have a 4K television or monitor, an Xbox One X will provide the best visuals the video game industry has to offer outside of a high-end gaming PC. Even on 1080p sets, many games support Xbox One X-exclusive 60 FPS modes, but you’ll be paying a premium for the privilege.
However, the real answer is: Don’t buy either. Really. The next-gen Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are here, and they have far more power than either of these consoles, with better loading speeds, faster processing, next-gen graphics features like ray tracing, and much, much more. Additionally, supplies of these consoles are short, and it doesn’t look like Microsoft is going to manufacture more. The Xbox Series S replaces the Xbox One S, and the Xbox Series X replaces the Xbox One X.
At this point, the only reason to buy an Xbox One X or One S is for collecting, or if you can get one extremely cheap via eBay, specifically for older games. The next-gen Xbox Series X and Series S can run ALL Xbox One X and One S games, often with performance enhancements for free. There are stock shortages of the new 4K Xbox Series X console, but the cheaper, less-powerful Xbox Series S is easier to get ahold of, and is arguably better than the previous-gen 4K Xbox One X anyway.
Xbox One X vs. Xbox One S: Spec showdown
|Category||Xbox One X||Xbox One S|
|Processor||8-core Jaguar “Evolved” CPU at 2.3GHz||8-core Jaguar CPU at 1.75GHz|
|Storage||1TB||500GB, 1TB, or 2TB|
|Memory||12GB GDDR5 RAM||8GB DDR3 RAM|
|Graphics||40 CUs (1,172MHz) 6 TF GPU||12 CUs (914MHz) 1.23 TF GPU|
|Ports||HDMI-in, HDMI-out, one front-facing USB 3.0, two rear-facing USB 3.0, IR receiver/blaster, SPDIF digital audio, Ethernet||HDMI-in, HDMI-out, one front-facing USB 3.0, two rear-facing USB 3.0, IR receiver/blaster, SPDIF digital audio, Ethernet|
|Optical drive||4K UHD Blu-ray||4K UHD Blu-ray|
|Design||Matte black||Matte white|
|Price||See at Amazon||See at Amazon|
HD vs. UHD
With the Xbox One X being around $200 more expensive than the Xbox One S, it’s fair to expect some massive gains. Microsoft has delivered. The Xbox One X packs well over 130 visually enhanced games with more on the way, taking advantage of the console’s beastly 6 teraflops (TF) of graphical power. By comparison, the Xbox One S only has around 1.2 TF, which often struggles to handle games at a native 1080p resolution. But what does all of this mean?
Source: Windows Central Resolutions, charted. 4K/UHD in red, 1080p/HD in bright green.
4K is referred to as “UHD” or ultra-high definition because the images contain many millions of additional pixels (8,294,400 to be precise) versus standard high definition (2,073,600). Each pixel represents a single point of colored light, which combine to create the images on-screen. More pixels mean sharper images, more detail, and, thus, more immersion. Both consoles also support HDR, which allows games to achieve more vivid colors and leverage more realistic light tones and contrasts, producing spectacular effects.
Even owners of 1080p TVs can get in on the Xbox One X action.
Fallout 76 is an excellent example of the differences between 4K on the Xbox One X and HD-level visuals on the base Xbox One S, showing how resolution bumps could instantaneously enhance visual quality. It isn’t all about raw resolution, however, and even owners of 1080p TVs can get in on the Xbox One X action to some degree. Many games support 60 FPS modes exclusive to the Xbox One X, which you’ll be able to enjoy on a 1080p set. Fallout 76, for example, will have far better detail in its trees and environments, even on a 1080p TV, when using an Xbox One X.
Source: Windows CentralHighly detailed “AAA” games like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey truly come to life in 4K, with unprecedented detail.
Many games on the Xbox One X enhanced list won’t output at native 4K resolution. Instead, they will either use checkerboard rendering techniques or use sub-4K resolutions, using computing power to add physical details and improved effects (or in addition). Even if they are using UHD resolutions your HD set can’t accept, the Xbox One X will use a technique called supersampling to take the 4K image and improve its visual quality at an HD level. You’ll also benefit from faster loading speeds, due to the X’s upgraded HDD.
The new-gen Xbox Series S doesn’t have the raw graphics power of the Xbox One X, but it does beat the One X on speed. It beats the One S on both speed and power, too, meaning that games will not only generally look crisper, but they’ll hit higher frame rates for a smoother gaming experience. The argument, at this point in 2022, once again boils down to skipping Xbox One-gen consoles, and simply going for either the Xbox Series S for 60 FPS 1080p gaming, or Xbox Series X for 4K 60 FPS gaming.
So, we know that dozens and dozens of games will look significantly better on the Xbox One X, but what about other features?
The first thing to note is that the Xbox One X is slightly smaller than the S. It’s not so much smaller you’ll choose based on that fact alone, but it’s worth being aware of. Both consoles can also be positioned vertically with an additional vertical stand.
Source: Windows Central
Both the Xbox One X and One S run incredibly quietly, despite the X’s slim form factor. The X comes with advanced cooling features to help with this, which no doubt, in part, has impacted its price point.
Both consoles support HDMI IN for TV passthrough, meaning that you can connect your cable box or TV receiver to your console, and use it to navigate channels and TV schedules. However, using the Xbox One’s TV tuner accessory, you could eliminate a separate TV set-top box in some territories. Both consoles also have an IR blaster to communicate with other devices, such as televisions, sound systems, and remote controls.
Source: Windows Central
Neither console has a port explicitly tailored for the (now dead) Kinect, sadly, but you can pick up a Kinect USB adapter for that purpose if you still have one. Since the October 2018 update, the Xbox One S and One X can be controlled using an Amazon Echo voice speaker, which is an excellent replacement for Kinect. As for other peripherals, both the X and the S have the same number of USB ports: two in the back, one in the front.
The Xbox One S was updated with support for 1080p 30 FPS game DVR clip recording, after years of being restricted to 720p. The Xbox One X, however, supports full 4K 60 FPS video recording options, complete with HDR. With current technology, the best 4K capture devices are either PCI-e based (for desktop PCs), or professional grade-standalone solutions that cost hundreds of dollars.
Source: Windows CentralShadow of the Tomb Raider looks stunning on the Xbox One X.
Additionally, the Xbox One X supports FreeSync variable refresh rates — Xbox One X enhanced games could offer options for frame rates between the standard 30 and 60 FPS without screen tearing. This will provide a smooth experience even if developers decide to offer sub-60 FPS frame rates to achieve 4K or other visual enhancements in their games.
The Xbox Series S and X feature all of the above, albeit without support for Kinect. The Xbox Series S does not have a Blu-ray drive either, as it focuses entirely on digital media playback and digital games. Both the Series X and Series S support VRR too, which combined with the best TVs for Xbox, produces a smoother gaming experience in general.
So, which should you buy?
Honestly: neither. You should look into picking up an Xbox Series S or a more powerful Xbox Series X. Both of these systems are in the next-generation console family for Xbox gaming, and are future-proofed for at least the next five-plus years. The Xbox One consoles will be riding off into the sunset within the next two years, likely being cut off from future games.
If you absolutely are intent on getting an Xbox One console, and not a Series X/S console, the main issue here is whether or not you have a 4K television. There are gains to be had by using the Xbox One X with a 1080p set, but they will be nowhere near as pronounced as they would be with a 4K display with HDR. I would argue that, unless you’re going to get a 4K TV or monitor shortly, you could probably stick with an Xbox One S. However, as time has gone by, it feels like developers are increasingly prioritizing the development of the Xbox One X versions of their games. Many modern games run far worse on the Xbox One S. Even if you don’t have a 4K TV to enjoy the extra pixels, you’ll enjoy better performance across the board. Seriously though, at this point, you should just grab an Xbox Series S at the very least.
If you’re on the fence about whether or not to join the 4K resolution revolution, it depends on what you want from your console experience. If you’re the type of console gamer who buys all the latest, biggest games and wants the best visual experience possible, the Xbox One X with a 4K TV is the best option by far this year. If you’re a content creator, the Xbox One X will provide you with 4K video clips and screenshots as a bonus.
Source: Windows Central
However, if you’re a little more casual and are more interested in maybe just picking up one or two games per year and occasionally playing in the evenings after a hard day at work, consuming media on the side, the Xbox One S might be a more cost-effective solution. You can always invest in a 4K TV and an Xbox One X later, since all games and all accessories will be fully compatible across both devices. You’ll get the 4K upgraded visuals included for free. 4K panels and the Xbox One X will eventually come down in price, too.
It all boils down to personal preference, but the Xbox One S is going to be the real bargain console for the remainder of the year. The X will compete for the hardcore audience against Sony’s less-powerful PlayStation 4 Pro and even some higher-end gaming PCs.
Source: Windows Central
As someone who primarily plays in 4K with HDR, I frankly never want to see a 1080p HDR-devoid game again. But I’m also the kind of guy who has spent his entire working life picking up all the latest games and consoles too. It all depends on how invested you are in the hobby, but 4K with HDR is genuinely an upgrade that’s hard to give up.
Cheap and cheerful
Xbox One S (1TB)
Thousands of games without breaking the bank.
The Xbox One S might not be powerful enough for gaming on your 4K TV, but it sports thousands of games and 4K media for an affordable price.
4K at 30 FPS
Xbox One X (1TB)
For those who want crisp games.
The Xbox One X is significantly more potent than the Xbox One S, built for your 4K TV, but it’s vastly slower than the newer Xbox Series S.
Xbox Series X
The full next-generation experience.
Xbox Series X is Microsoft’s new flagship, as its most powerful console with over 12TF GPU performance and a custom SSD. It boasts up to 4K resolution and 120 FPS, full backward compatibility across four generations, and ray-tracing support.