Should you buy a discounted Xbox One S or wait for the One X?

With Microsoft's aggressive push into 4K gaming, while pledging to bring the Xbox One, Xbox 360 and original Xbox ecosystems into the fold via backward compatibility, the Xbox platform has never been more attractive. That's due to constant updates via Xbox Live, free games every month, Netflix-like game pass subscriptions with over a hundred games, and a vast lineup of first- and third-party games that will look and play better on the new Xbox One X.

If you're already inside the ecosystem, we have a post looking at whether or not you should upgrade your existing Xbox One to the upcoming Xbox One X, slated for launch in November 2017. This article is designed to guide newcomers toward the ecosystem, focusing on what you'll gain, and what you'll lose, depending on whether you choose the One S or One X.

Tech spec breakdown

For the sake of comparisons, here's what you'll get between the Xbox One S and Xbox One X.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
ConsoleXbox One SXbox One X
Optical drive4K UHD Blu-ray4K UHD Blu-ray
Hard drive500GB/1TB/2TB1TB
Memory bandwidth64 GB/s326 GB/s
CPUEight Jaguar cores
(1.75 GHz)
Eight custom
cores (2.3 GHz)
GPU12 CUs (914MHz)40 CUs (1,172Mhz)
Teraflops (TF)1.3TF6TF
Price (approximate)$249.99$499.99

The Xbox One X is more powerful in every single respect, rocking more advanced processing, far more compute units, and an incredible 6TFs of computational power. It's also more expensive, and the Xbox One S is still capable of outputting 4K for media and video. The choice isn't as clear-cut as it might seem.

Do you need a 4K TV?

The noteworthy differences pertain to power. The Xbox One X is ridiculously more powerful than the Xbox One S. The Xbox One X is designed to power 4K games, complete with HDR and wide color gamut. All games will look and run better on an Xbox One X, regardless of whether you have a 4K TV or not. And it's worth noting that the Xbox One X will have no "exclusive" games or accessories, they'll all work on the Xbox One X, and vice versa.

The Xbox One X uses supersampling to improve the image quality of games running on 1080p screens. For more details on how supersampling works, take a look at the post linked below. You'll benefit from better draw distances, better lighting, texture filtering, and other visual upgrades developers bake into their games designed for the Xbox One X. Of course, to get the most out of the Xbox One X, you'll need a 4K television, which can be rather pricey. If you have a 4K TV already though, the decision essentially boils down to one thing: price.

How supersampling works on Xbox One X

Price wars

The Xbox One S can be purchased for around $250 these days, often with a game. The Xbox One X will set you back $499. The Xbox One X is more expensive due to the engineering effort and super-powered hardware inside the machine. Microsoft developed new techniques to increase the speed at which the Xbox One X's parts communicate, increasing the console's value and power without simply stuffing in more powerful parts. To obtain the feature set of the Xbox One X with a Windows PC, you'd have to spend significantly more than $499.

On the other hand, the Xbox One X won't have a huge amount of games with 4K updates at launch. Some notable titles include Forza Motorsport 7, Crackdown 3, Assassin's Creed: Origins, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, and a few others, that will output at native 4K with boosted draw distances, texture density, and other features.

Games that have been developed with "change resilience" in mind will also run better on the Xbox One X. Games that utilize dynamic resolution scaling to maintain frame rates during intensive sequences, such as The Division, and Battlefield 1, will look better on the Xbox One X even without a patch, hitting their target frame rates and resolutions more frequently. However, many games will be getting upgrade patches too, including the aforementioned Battlefield 1, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

However, those games will all still look and run great on an Xbox One S, too, which is significantly cheaper. The Xbox One S also comes with HDR and a 4K media capabilities, and even if it's not powerful enough for 4K games it serves as a cheaper entry point to the ecosystem. If you're not particularly interested in getting the best visuals and you just value gameplay, the Xbox One S is still a compelling option. And, hey, it's available right now unlike the Xbox One X, which is expected to launch this fall.

Xbox One S vs. Xbox One X: Wrapping up

The Xbox One X is a pricey option at $499, but Microsoft demonstrated the value very well at E3 2017. The Xbox One X packs 6TFs of computational power, making it the most powerful console ever built, designed for 4K resolutions. It's also the smallest Xbox ever made.

The Xbox One S is significantly weaker than the Xbox One X, with games generally targeting resolutions around the 900p mark. The Xbox One X will produce better visuals even on 1080p screens, but if you don't particularly care about graphics, games running on the Xbox One S can still look truly stunning.

If you can afford it, I recommend the Xbox One X and a good 4K TV every time. Seeing Assassin's Creed: Origins running at True 4K was eye-wateringly beautiful, and that alone sold me on the console. You could also buy the Xbox One S today, and trade it in for an Xbox One X come November 7, 2017.

If you'd rather save money, the Xbox One X will still be around in a year and will get plenty of price drops of its own - along with the 4K TVs it really requires to shine. The best part: Any games you purchase on the Xbox One S will work on the Xbox One X, and they'll look better too.

If you have any questions about the Xbox One X that I've left unanswered, hit the FAQ in the link below or leave a comment and I'll get back to you.

Xbox One X FAQ

See Xbox One S at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • A far better output (on paper) would be an Xbox One X with a Freesync 2 display but seeing as MS have said nothing so far we don't know how the implmentation works on Xbox. But you will be paying big money for a One X and Freesync 2 monitor or TV (if such products come to market), Samsung 32" CHG70 monitor costs $599 so any Samsung TV that has it is likely to carry a high price tag.
  • Yeah, the Xbox One S should be most people's cup of tea. Unless you have a 4K TV, AND are desperate for 4K graphics, then the XBOS will suit you fine.
  • One S or PS4. It's not like MS is alone on the market. I prefer Xbox but to be honest most people would choose the PS4.
  • No they would not
  • Yes they would. Which is why the PS4 outsell the Xbox 2 to 1. Those are just facts.
  • lol looks like you aren't looking sales figures... :)
  • As I've said before. Sony can sell twice as many consoles but main people own one to five games. Xbox has less consoles sold but more people playing. That's the difference.
  • You're basing your argument on Microsoft's way to try to go around the numbers by counting only Xbox Live versus PSN subscribers. Thing is...whilst most people who buy an Xbox WILL buy Xbox Live (look at the Xbox demographics), people buying the PS4 will not buy into PSN...because they simply don't need to. The only thing the PSN and Xbox Live provide to the average user (a young person) is multiplayer. But when you're a kid, you can WAY more easily gather your friends in a home and all play the game. When you're an adult, that goes away.   So yeah, Microsoft manages to sell more Xbox Live subscriptions. But Sony sells more consoles and more games. Which, ultimately is better than being able to sell subscriptions (just do the maths. 50€ per year for subscription versus 250€ per console).
  • "Thing is...whilst most people who buy an Xbox WILL buy Xbox Live (look at the Xbox demographics),"
    That's not even true. Unlike Sony, MS doesn't communicate the number of gold members. The last time they said anything about that was in late 2010 when they said they had 12.5m gold members. At the time there was around 40m Xbox 360 sold.  MS talks of "active XB Live active users" and that includes people on Win 10... There are more PSN active users than XBL active users
  • I interpret that like this: Sony has tons of unique singleplayer experiences like Uncharted, Last of Us, God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, Journey, Flower, Tearaway, LittleBigPlanet and the Quantic Dream games. Among them are absolute system sellers, but few of them have a multiplayer component to speak of. No need for a PSN subscription. Microsoft's handful of exclusives like Halo, Forza and Gears tend to have very forgettable and bland singleplayer experiences and really shine in their multiplayer. Which require you to buy into Live Gold.
  • @xfatalx zero Oh please. Can you actually provide a link to this? Are you making this up? There are so many MS fans who make similar statements but just can't prove any of it. 
  • The PS4 is better than the One S for gaming, sure...BUT the One S does have the UHD player advantage.
  • In my opinion, unless you already have a 4k TV and have the money, the Xbox One S is a fantastic deal. Personally, I don't even care about 1080p gaming. As long as it can play all of my favorite games, I'm happy. Besides, I can always trade it in for an X later.
  • I'm still with the original Xbox One with Kinect and when I will upgrade my TV screen from an old 6/7 years old Sony smart TV in 1080p to a Sony smart TV 4K HDR capable, I will surely think about changing my Xbox One while keeping Kinect (I just love it even if there aren't lots of games using it like Kinect Sport Rivals, Xbox Fitness which is dead now, Dance Central Spotlight and Just Dance or even Forza Horizon with integrated Anna voice commands). Xbox One X is very interesting and at an affordable price in comparison of what it will offer but 499€ without an including game or a 50€ Xbox card is still too much for me.
    Xbox One S at 250€ with a game included or a second controller (I already have 2 controllers so...) isn't really interesting me because the only difference with my Xbox One is UHD playback.
  • Does Sony do HDR10 now? Last time I checked they used their own HDR implementation.  Xbox uses HDR10.
  • I confirm, since 2016 models, all Triluminos work pretty well with HDR10. I just read an article about it for Sony XD80 and XD85 which are late 2016 models and are fully compatible with HDR10 thanks to Triluminos but also okay with upscaling Full HD content in 4K even if it's not as perfect as the full 4K content.
  • PS4 has had HDR10.  
  • PS4 is not in this discussion. We speak about Sony TV, not Sony gaming console.
    And if I have an Xbox with games and accessories (and some friends and all my cousins on it), it's not worth selling everything and change platform.
  • I was responding to "deadonthefloor". 
  • He was answering to me and asked about Sony TV, not Sony game consoles...
  • Been waiting for a reason to buy a 4k tv, receiver, and new HDMI cables... this might be it.
  • is there an option for me to play games on the Xbox One X without having the Enhanced Patch? I wanna be able to play the game before the patch then update it afterward to see the difference.
  • I don't think so. Only if the patch is released a while AFTER the game and console is released will you have a window of opportunity to do that. Otherwise, as soon as the update is pushed through the store, you can't play the game before updating (unless *maybe* you go offline and the game works offline)
  • Don't see why not. If you have an external drive, don't connect to net for update, it should then just play it in XO mode.
  • "Seeing Assassin's Creed: Origins running at True 4K was eye-wateringly beautiful, and that alone sold me on the console."   Except Ubisoft has said that is DOESN'T run in "true 4K". It's running in 2K and using checkerboarding to upscale to 4K. Exactly the same trickery the 100€ cheaper PS4 "Pro" uses. Which means the extra 1.8 teraflops of the One X become "worthless" (in the sense they're not being taken advantage of).   So NOT be a stupid fanboy and go for the One X at 500€. You're pretty much throwing money out of the window for nothing. Wait it out. SEE first which games will actually come in true 4K (and not upscalling trickery), see what other SKU's Microsoft will add (because true 4K games will eat up that pathetic 1TB of storage in an instance), see the prices being reduced for Christmas (or at least games being added in to the bundle) and THEN make your decision on whether the One X is worth your troubles or not. 
  • Are you sure about that? I thought it was 2160cb, 2160 (framebuffer) is full 4k res without need for upscale, which something like 1800cb would require?
  • Most people I've seen on comments sections and forums who are getting the XB1x happen to mainly game on the weaker XB1. Many of those also got a XB1s last year.
    I guess I would say it's not much about the power. It's more to do with brand loyalty with these people.
  • Get one for the other room and get the Wife into gaming 😁 Seriously, Zoo Tycoon is Games for Gold if you switch your Xbox region to Japan. Put the One S in her room "So she can watch Blu Ray movies" 😉 then put Zoo tycoon on.... Trust me, it works. 👍
  • Didn't switch my region but simply went directly on the Microsoft Japan Zoo Tycoon page (thanks to xboxstoreckecker to offer direct links) and could take it without changing my region. ☺ Zoo Tycoon is an amazing game, even on Xbox 360. 😜
  • Now all I need a 4K TV review article to round out the XBOX media storm.
  • If you want a 4K TV, go with LG. If you can afford them (and if you're willing to waste 500€ on the One X, you can) go with their new 4K OLED TVs. Both 2016 and 2017 models are amazing.
  • You can get the Xbox One S for $200 really. Newegg has it for that price on eBay at the moment. I swear they've had it on sale for like a week already. After selling all of my included stuff sans the 1 year Live card, my total was $170 Christmas season. So, I say $200 seems like a nice target to get one of those.
  • Personally I would say neither. Just get a PC or even a PS4. But if the HAD to get one of the two, I would say a XB1s. The least amount spent lesser would be any future disappointment. 
  • Have PS4 Slim and Xbox One S, playing on 1080p TV. Don't see the need for either PS4 Pro or Xbox One X. Will only get a 4K TV when my current Full HD one throws in the towel, and that's not about to happen anytime soon...
  • I'm happy with my XboneS, I personally don't need or want the X anytime soon but for those who do, enjoy.
  • Short answer: no.
    Absolutely spent money for wind imho. Few month to get new xbox one x, i absolutely fine with my first revision of xbox one)
  • Wait 6 to 9 months and the Xbox One X will be discounted, it's the retailer's way. They catch all those who just have to be one of the first to own one, so they pay the premium price, after the BRU-HA-HA wear off, the prices will drop, then they'll be sold in bundles with gaming software. Then to, my Xbox One is just fine for what I use it for. Especially since the Xbox One X will not support Bluetooth.
  • definitely xbox one x