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Should you buy the Xbox One S or wait for Project Scorpio?

Microsoft wowed the gaming world with the announcement of not one, but two gaming consoles that are coming to the Xbox One range at E3 2016. The Xbox One S will arrive later in August, while the other, dubbed only as Project Scorpio, won't be here until at least November 2017.

The big question for many is which should you get? It is a tough question, but I'll walk you through the pros and cons of each choice.

Xbox One S – Affordable, here today (almost)

The Xbox One S could be considered at most a 'sidegrade' for a current generation Xbox One. The One S features the same CPU and GPU as the current Xbox One, but brings these new features:

  • 40 Percent Smaller Console
  • 2TB Hard Drive
  • 4K Ultra HD Video and High Dynamic Range
  • 4K Blu-ray player
  • 1 New Streamlined Controller
  • Xbox One S Vertical Stand

Also, you lose the Kinect port, although you can still add a Kinect using a USB adapter (which Microsoft will give you for free if you are upgrading, a $50 value).

Starting price for the Xbox One S is $299 for the 500 GB version, which is not yet available for pre-order, while the 2TB version goes for $399 and you can pre-order it now to get it shipped to your home by August.

Who is the One S for?

If you currently have an Xbox One getting a One S does bring some unique features like 4K streaming and a 4K Blu-ray player. Those features are not completely mainstream, yet, and the streaming depends on your available bandwidth, but they are good future-proofing abilities.

For reference, Netflix recommends (opens in new tab) an internet connection speed of at least 25 megabits per second or higher for Ultra HD streaming.

The Xbox One S does not, however, do 4K gaming, which would be a big deal. Save that for Scorpio.

Being smaller with a slightly updated design is nice, but hardly a reason to drop $400 on the One S unless you want those space savings. The One S puts the clunky power brick into the unit itself, which certainly makes it more appliance-like for your living room. Some of that clumsiness comes back though if you add a Kinect and its USB adapter.

Because of those reasons, the One S is aimed not at current Xbox One owners, but rather people who still only have an Xbox 360 who are considering going to the Xbox One. And there are a lot of those people out there still using a 360!

Sure, Microsoft will take your money for a new console, but I do not think they are expecting current Xbox One to be the primary audience. Instead, the Xbox One S will be for those purchasing an Xbox One for the first time, and it should do very well around the holiday season.

See at Microsoft (opens in new tab)

But wait…

Then again, if 4K Blu-ray is your thing consider this: Samsung's new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player retails for $399.99 (opens in new tab) and it does not even do "Xbox things". If you were considering a 4K Blu-Ray player, why not just jump for the Xbox One S and get a lot more bang out of your buck?

If you really want to save some money, wait for the $299 Xbox One S with 500GB of storage as you get the same 4K Blu-ray player.

Personally, I am not into physical media anymore so the idea of a 4K Blu-ray is nice, but not something I would use all that often. Sure, if I could buy Star Wars in 4K Blu-ray, I might do that, but the 4K streaming is the selling point for myself not the player. Either way, consider your options.

Project Scorpio is for the Pros

What is Project Scorpio? Microsoft announced new hardware today without actually showing off said new console. Rumor has it this announcement was pushed forward because of Sony's expected "PlayStation 4.5" and leaks suggesting Microsoft also had a next-gen console in the works were too hard to ignore.

With that in mind, let's be clear: Project Scorpio, while sharing Xbox One lineage, is going to be an extreme gaming console. To wit, it:

  • Supports VR hardware like Oculus and HTC Vive
  • Supports 4K gaming at 60 FPS
  • 8-core CPU
  • Boasts a six teraflop GPU (way ahead of Sony's supposed 4.14 teraflops)
  • Interchangeable hardware (rumored)

Project Scorpio is basically a high-end gaming PC with an Xbox interface and Live services. It's a console experience, but finally something hardcore PC gamers will not be embarrassed to use either. If you do not get that joke, then Scorpio is also likely not your first choice.

Folks, this console will cost you a lot of money.

In fact, I would be shocked if Microsoft could bring the price down to $1,000, which would be a bargain. (Although, see below if they go with a lower-cost AMD solution; pricing could go down to the $600 range, which would be impressive).

For perspective, the ASUS Oculus Certified Gaming Desktop (no display) with a Core i7 and GTX 980 starts at $1700. Sure, there are cheaper VR-ready PCs out there, but whatever is in Project Scorpio will likely give any high-end PC on the market today a run for its money.

One of the fastest video cards available right now is the new GTX 1070 and it can do 6.5 teraflops. The GTX 1070 starts for around $400 (the faster GTX 1080 can do nine teraflops and starts at around $600), so you could imagine something comparable being in whatever Scorpio is when it launches in 2017.

Update: One possible strategy here may involve Microsoft using something from AMD along the lines of the new RX 480, which starts at $200. While the RX 480 falls short of six terflops (it's "just over five") it is close enough to think Micorosoft may go with AMD in 2017, as has been rumored, to keep the Scorpio price lower

Remember, that $600 is just for a GPU, no CPU, PCB board, RAM, storage, or any components like a 4K Blu-ray player.

It is worth mentioning that on stage it said "Beyond Generations" for a reason. Scorpio should have user-upgradeable hardware making it the one device to last a long time. The idea here is to get rid of hardware generations and let the user decide just like a real PC. That feature could be a huge selling point.

My point is this: Microsoft is not cannibalizing Xbox sales with Project Scorpio. If you are holding off for Project Scorpio, you are likely going to be giving Microsoft 2x to 3x more money for the experience, and that is being conservative.

If you are a casual gamer who wants 4K media, you will spit your drink out when you see the price tag for Scorpio.

Who is Project Scorpio for?

The answer to this question is easy: Scorpio is not targeting teenagers or casual gamers, it is going for the lucrative and premium hardcore PC gaming crowd. These are the people who routinely consider dropping $3K on a high-end gaming laptop, who spend $800 on video cards for their PCs every other year, who constantly tweak their hardware to push gaming to the extreme.

Some of this may vary, of course. I would not be surprised if Microsoft offers different configurations of Scorpio, possibly knocking the price down a bit.

Just take into consideration that if you find the $399 tag for the Xbox One S Launch Edition a bit pricey, Scorpio will likely make it look like chump change.

And that's okay.

Microsoft said Scorpio, which is fully backward compatible with all Xbox One games, is one of a few Xbox One consoles targeting different customers. Now that Windows 10 and the Xbox One overlap in features and even games (see the current list of Play Anywhere game) it makes sense for the company to make a console that can be upgraded and compete with high-end PCs. Why not, either? We have $100 Compute Sticks and $600 Compute Sticks too for the same reason.

What you should do

If your budget is ample and you do not mind spending money, I am sure that an Xbox One S will be a great holdover for the next 16-18 months before Project Scorpio will hit store shelves. Even then, you may want to tack on a few extra months for special deals, reviews, and to see if Microsoft launched it with any issues that need to be addressed. That begins to push the two-year mark for an Xbox One S, which is not crazy.

Later, you could then move your Xbox One S into your bedroom, which is a great second-use scenario for the powerful media device.

For those with an Xbox One already who think they want a very pricey Xbox at some point, I would start saving now for Scorpio and skip the One S. Its pricing won't be near the entry-level Xbox One consoles, it's a different league.

Xbox 360 owners would likely benefit from buying the Xbox One S. After all, if you are still okay with gaming on the 360 in 2016, you are likely not going to be the first in line to go for the most extreme version on day one in 2017.

What about PC gamers? Well, your situation is unique. For some, gaming on a PC will never be the same as using a console in your living room so Microsoft has a lot of work to do to convince you otherwise. If, however, you always wanted a console with the power of a spec'd out PC, you may finally get that chance in late 2017.

Just remember, Project Scorpio is mostly undefined at this point. We don't know what it will look like, what it will cost, and its full capabilities. We do know that in order to hit 4K gaming at 60 FPS and handle VR it will have to pack some serious, and seriously expensive, hardware. That's it.

For now, let's just wait and see.

What are you Xbox plans and rationale for them? Let us know in comments!

Don't forget to catch all our E3 2016 coverage on our main landing page.

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

  • I might get Scorpio, depends on whether I have a 4k TV by then.
  • In a year and a half, I'll definitely have a 4k TV. I may do a XBox One S, and then look to trade up to Scorpio next fall. Hopefully, they have ok trade-in program's. :)
  • Confirmed to be a 4K Blu-Ray player? That's pretty awesome then Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Yes, confirmed. Was in the press release:
    "Stream 4K video on Netflix and Amazon Video, and watch UHD Blu-ray™ movies in stunning 4K Ultra HD. Includes the newly streamlined Xbox Wireless Controller."
  • The cheapest UHD BD player we can get in Sweden now is like 70% more than an XBOS, so this is a great deal for videophiles. ☺ Från min Lumia 1520
  • Except the blu-ray capabilities of the current One (and PS4 for that matter) pale in comparison even to a basic Blu-ray player, I doubt this will be any different. Videophiles should give this a wide berth if history repeats itself.
  • Pale how in terms of picture quality? Från min Lumia 1520
  • Not necessarily. Here're two things the XBone player can't do that a normal Blu-Ray player or the player on the PlayStation 3 (and I assume, 4) can, off the top of my head: - read "home made" blu-rays. You filmed your vacations in glorious 4K and burned the film on a BD disc? Forget playing it on the XBone. - So you bought the latest Blu-Ray set of Game of Thrones. You decide to watch it in "season mode".But in the middle of the viewing, you have to go out. You turn off your console. You come back home. Want to resume from where you left? You can't do it on the XBone. It doesn't recognise resume playing options.
  • I have never tried #1. But you are absolutely, unequivocally wrong about #2. I watched GOT a couple weeks ago, would stop mid way through, go back and pick up where I left off. Watched Terminator The Sarah Connor Chronicles, weas able to resume playback with that, too. In fact, I ejected the disk, watched another movie, reinserted the disk and was asked if I wanted to continue. BTW, they may have fixed it, but what you say about the PS3 is not necessarily true. I had the original PS3 60GB. On some disks if you wanted to stop a movie and have it resume you had to hit the green button to book mark and then press the yellow button to display bookmarks. For other disks you had to press the stop button then you could eject but if you just hit eject it would lose you spot. They may have fixed that, I stopped using my PS3 for a movie player when it broke after a year of only being used for the occasional movie.
  • I am absolutely not wrong about #2 either because I have had that problem with several series and movies. Actually, I don't recall a single one where that worked though I think a couple (very few) did. If you turn off the console, it definitely doesn't resume anymore. So we have conflicting experiences. "I had the original PS3 60GB." Well, I have the last one, the PS3 Slim (? I think that's the name). None of those problems you mentioned are present on that PS3. So they clearly fixed it. And they might have fixed the blu-ray player on the XBoneS too. I don't know. I surely hope so, although I think it's probably more of a problem with the app than anything else.
  • It resumes for me even after powering cycling it several times. The reason I know is we sat down to watch a with the kids that we haven't watched in about a year and it picked up right where the kids left off. The reason I remember that so well is because I was shocked that it remembered. You seem to have lots of problems with Microsoft stuff. Kind of makes a person wonder...
  •   When I am wrong, I am wrong and willing to admit to it. However, I was wrong in a way that you will not like. I put GOT season 5, disk 3 in my XB1. Skipped ahead to about the 10 minute mark. Ejected the disk, put it back in, and it played from the start. No auto resume. I took the disk out, put it in my shiny new Samsung, UHD blu-Ray player, repeated, and no auto play. Took the disk out, repeated the process on my PS4, same result, no auto play.  So then I tried with a different series, The Walking Dead, season 4, disk 1. Advanced to the second chapter, ejected the disk, inserted it, and it popped up asking if I wanted to resume playback. I hit yes, and it started playing where it left off.  If I recall, the Blu-Ray spec allows the disk to control if resume can work. It appears GOT does not allow it. Other disks, where it is offered does work. So the XB1 is doing exactly as it should, just like the Samsung player, just like the PS4. I watched THD and GOT back to back, and that is where I got them mixed up, but you were not correct, either, just blaming the XB1 when it is doing what it should, just like the other players. But I was correct in that the XB1 does support it, when it should.
  • Well, then the only possibility is there's some difference between the European Xbox and the American one (be it on the Xbox hardware or its ability to read Region B titles). Because I've tried with several series (GoT, House of Cards, The Musketeers, Black Sails, American Horror Story) and none of them resumed. The fact is: my Xbox doesn't resume Blu-Ray discs. Why, I don't know. It plays them fine. Does everything else just fine. But doesn't resume.
  • Thanks for checking on that. I, too, was wondering whether it worked or not as it seemed to be inconsistent. Now I know it is, stupidly, intended to be inconsistent.
  • I watch a lot of Blu-ray discs on my Xbox One via my Netflix Blu-ray subscription. On February 10th, 2014, I watched the movie "The Words" and returned it on February 18th, 2014. I decided to watch it again and ordered it via Netflix. It arrived on June 7th, 2016. When I inserted the disc last Saturday, I was given an option to restart or resume the title. Out of curiosity, I resumed and it started in the middle of the movie credits. I stopped it and restarted from beginning. So yes, the Xbox One does support resume and yes, its been powered off, restarted, updated several times since February 2014.
  • Mostly lip sync issues.
  • I have seen the occasional lip sync problem. Usually if you hit the stop button then hit play it fixes its self. (and also is counter to Android boy's insistence that resume playback doesn't work)
  • I have an UHD Blu-ray player (Samsung) and a 4K TV. The player is very buggy. This weekend I had to completely shut down the entire system by unplugging the surge supressor because it kept pausing its self. Play 4 seconds, pause. Hit play, play 4 seconds, pause. There are the occasional 2-3 seconds where the screen goes black. And you think the media remote for the XB1 is bad, the remote for this thing is horrible. No separate chapter navigation buttons and scan forward/back, no skip back/forward 15 seconds buttons. Two buttons, and it all depends on how long you hold it down. You could use the remote from the TV (Samsung KS9000) since everything is "smart" (which makes everything a pain in the ass), but the remote on the TV is two buttons. And they both follow Apple's keep making it smaller. The entire up/down/left/right/select button is smaller than my thumb, meaning it is impossible to navigate using the remote. The picture is absolutely amazing, some of the scenes from the Revenant (horrible story, great visuals) are absolutely jaw-dropping so it is worth it. Trust me, if the XB1S UHD Blu-ray software is as good as it is now, it will be far ahead of the standalone players.
  • I'll just disagree with you about the Revenant; I liked it.  It was a bit too pretentious, for a straight ahead revenge story, but Dicaprio and Tom Hardy were fantastic in it.
  • I think that was the problem, too pretentious. I think for revenge stories, True Grit from a couple years ago was far better. You could tell that Revenenant was going more for the art house style of movie, and it just didn't click for me.
  • There is no visual quality differnce between them. Videophile sites have done reviews and said the consoles play Blu rays just as good. Your spouting a bunch of FUD.
  • Roku 4
  • I will certainly buy one just because of that alone. Excited!
  • Ill just buy both and my son can have my s after i collect my Scorpio
  • gaming with you for close over 15 years i cant wait to get this and it will work with my rift thats a plus plus for me   
  • Bought my Xbox One Elite bundle not too long ago. Wouldn't want to spend $300 on another one which basically have almost the same gaming performance. Never used my Xbox for video streaming/playing or anything other than gaming. So one answer from me- Project Scorpio to go!
  • Already have the current ONE in the living room, at $299 might toss in the money to get the S for the bedroom to stream Netflix/prime play the occasional game. Very doubtful I will bother with the Scorpio as I don't drop that kind of money as it is for gaming. My XBox usage is almost entirely media consumption and the S should fit that bill.
  • Simple. People who wanted a smaller and slimmer Xbox One, got their wish. You don't have to buy the $400 version, the device retails at $299 and a lot of people already have eternal drives which can be faster and certainly are more convenient. And the S is available almost immediately. The Scorpio on the other hand is a different case. It won't be slim, it won't be small. The S won't lose its value. It will still serve the main purposes the people will have bought it for. The Scorpio releases in one and a half year and that's the real upgrade to the X1. And if people want that, they have time to save money. Until then, the S is a terrific little thing and it will do fine. But even after the Scorpio, it will still serve a purpose. The Scorpio won't necessarily cancel out everything before it.
  • I think even more simple is: If you have the money and are hardcore, buy the Scorpio. If you don't have the money, and are more casual, buy the S. I think the S and Scorpio are Microsoft attempting to widen their appeal.
  • The Scorpio will be available one and a half year from now. Plenty of time to save money for it. People who want an Xbox now, won't wait that long for it.
  • Ah, impatient people. They're why I list items on eBay with Buy-It-Now prices higher than I expect to ever have an aution end with.
  • I honestly think Microsoft made it a point to mention it now for that reason. The good thing is, according to Phil Spencer, the games will scale up. He said all games would work with all Xboxes, just with different capabilities.
  • A lot of the negativity surrounding Scorpio are from console only gamers. If you game on a PC this is nothing new. Pc games have always functioned across many different configurations and GPUs. I suspected this would happen as soon as I heard the Xbox One was going with X86 architecture. Think of the Xbox One S as a PC running a GTX 950 and Scorpion a PC running a GTX 1070. I don't see this as a big deal. I do wonder if Scorpion will continue to use esram though as that seemed to be the biggest issue with programming for the Xbox One that developers criticized. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Yeah, you would really hope they address the esram issue, as that is a well-known complaint. My guess is Scorpio will be very much a PC that just boots into the Xbox One "OS" and that also means upgradable hardware. There's a reason why it said "Beyond Generations" on stage, as this device is meant to get rid of the "console generation" wars.
  • that idea kills consoles as they are now. WHY do we need consoles if I can have a PC customized by MY OWN NEEDS??? Console games have one very strong point = you can play everything on "max" settings no matter what happens BUT if you delete this advantage and ADD hw changes than the whole console idea will be dead.. it will be just about exclusive game titles but thats not even true on the Xbox because the cross buy platform... so why would I buy a Xbox?
  • Don't.  Buy a pc.  People need to get over the concept that Xbox is just another Windows 10 tentacle of the same octopus.
  • No one buys consoles to play everything on "max" settings. People buy consoles to play everything without hassle.
  • There are millions of possible PC configurations. With the Scorpio it will be more like a Apple kind of approach with only specific hardware and available upgrades. I think. Easier for gaming studios and MS to troubleshoot for only one device configuration. Consoles are about convenience after all.
  • No. Consoles don't play things at max settings. And Microsoft has mentioned clearly that Scorpio will still be part of the Xbox One generation and all games will run on all threw Xbox ones. Just at different settings, based on what the console supports. It will all be very seamless and still has the convenience of a console. 
  • I don't get why anyone would be negative about it. XOne will have a full console cycle, and on TOP of that it will continue to support future games. And even better, Scorpio will not launch with no games. I see no negatives.
  • I also wonder what GPUs Microsoft will be using. All reports say AMD/ATI is a mess right now. Nvidias new GPUs are quite impressive and use less power. Could Microsoft be switching? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android Oops: Just saw it will be AMD not Nvidia.
  • Million dollar question right there. Will be awhile until we find out. I'm still betting on Nvidia.
  • No, I guess it will be AMD. They released a statement saying they were providing tech for both. Surprised me a little. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Yeah, more I think about it AMD does have the better performance vs. price strategy that would work in favor of Microsoft keeping the Scorpio price lower.
  • AMD would seem to make the most sense. They come in at a lower cost, and it keeps the development side of things simpler as they can target a single vendor's drivers and only have to worry about relative performance. If the game developers had to target multiple architectures (NV/AMD) it would only make matters worse. Plus, Microsoft would then have to work with both vendors to maintain releases/stability. Easier to focus on one, plus you'll get better pricing through large quantity purchases.
  • Where did you find that it will have AMD?
  • Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I have no experience with that site. Is it seen as reliable?  
  • Very, they have been around for years. That is a definite "goto"site for PC gamers. I've been on the site for over a decade. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Nvidia can't provide a CPU+GPU combo, making things more expensive. The new AMD cards are also quite power efficient (2 RX480 performed better and used less energy than 1 GTX1080, according to AMD).
  • Scorpio for me. I'm all in. Just save about $60 a month.
  • Now Microsoft needs to release a gaming laptop Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Neither. The Xbox One S would have had me if it had the promised DVR capabilities. PS4 Neo This year is your best bet. The One S is dead on arrival. PS4 stil better.
    Xbox 1.5 will be too latw to the game. PS4.5 will beat them to the market by a year.
    I do not have either system but I am in the market to buy a system this Christmas. I had the original Xbox, then had a PS3. Now it looks like Sony will get my money again. It's a shame, I really wanted to get the Xbox because of the OTA HD PVR. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I can't buy Sony PS4 games and play them on PC, so that's no-deal for me at all.
  •   Actually you can play PS4 games but its via streaming, I play on my Win10/8 devices and think they have a Mac client as well.  I believe there is an Android app as well for Android devices, I further stream to the PS Vita.  Yes, natively you can't run PS4 games on Win10, but of course, you can't run Win10 games at all on PS4, although I wouldn't be surprised if Sony starts including Win10 games as part of PS Now.  At this point, if you are buying Xbox products, you are actually buying Win10 products, Xbox for the most part is not going to exist.... you are investing in the MS UWP store and Windows.    MS no longer cares if someone buys hardware from them, why?  Well, they lose money on each sold product, they just want you using their store.    
  • you HAD the original xbox? LOL  It was a last minute console in that console cycle years.  the 360 outshined the ps3 last generation, easily.  you sound more like a bitter consumer and intended on getting a ps4 anyway, so no ones gonna stroke ur ego for getting one.  we have enough fans for the xbox.
  • "the 360 outshined the ps3 last generation, easily" Unless you were an action or RPG fan, or if you go by lifetime sales, of course. But sure, tell someone else who he is as biased while flashing it at the same time.
  • Ah, good idea getting one during Christmas. The PS4 should work wonderfully as a handwarmer for you.
  • Think your missing the point. The point is lack of added features that matter, or make them different\better.
    Danny had an appropriate response with the xbox and PC game sharing feature. That is a good feature, but it does not apply to me. Not a PC gamer, but that would be awesome if I was. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I got a ps4 what's wrong with it?
  • VR still isn't a mainstream thing. Gamers have to buy the new console plus the VR headset. Easily another thousand dollar investment. Most are just interested in the console.
  • I'm in...
  • What a silly question. Should you buy now or wait 18 months for something else. Really??? And after that will be something else. Come on.
  • Yes, really.
  • That's funny. :o) I guess I'll wait for the MS Band 14. There was a time when I asked myself the same question. Then boom right between the eyes. If I'm OK with the price and features buy it now and enjoy it instead of waiting for the next big thing. there will always be the next big thing.
  • You're being completely ignorant because the console market isn't an annualized thing, and the whole thing is very atypical within its own market, eve