The ultimate Xbox One buyer's guide

After E3 2017 there is a whole family of Xbox One consoles to enjoy. Three different consoles, with different perks to each, but all with the same shared value: playing all the great Xbox One games available today and in the future.

The buying decision is therefore now more difficult. Should you drop the extra cash on an Xbox One S when there are still other, perhaps cheaper, options to spend your money on? Or start saving for the newest and most powerful console yet, the Xbox One X?

Hopefully, that's where we can help. This is our Xbox One buyers guide.

Xbox tech specs

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CategoryXbox One XXbox One S
ProcessorEight-core CPU at 2.3GHzEight-core custom AMD CPU at 1.75GHz
Storage1TB (more options could be announced)500GB, 1TB or 2TB launch edition
Memory12GB of GDDR5 RAM at 6.8GHz with 326 GB/s bandwidth8GB DDR3 RAM
GraphicsSix teraflop GPU at 1,172MHz, 40 compute unitsCustom Radeon GPU with 1.23 teraflops
PortsHDMI-in; HDMI-out; one front-facing USB 3.0; two rear-facing USB 3.0; IR receiver/blaster; SPDIF digital audio; EthernetHDMI-in; HDMI-out; one front-facing USB 3.0; two rear-facing USB 3.0; IR receiver/blaster; SPDIF digital audio; Ethernet
Optical drive4K UHD Blu-ray4K UHD Blu-ray
Price$499From $249

The Xbox One X

Xbox One X

The first thing you should know about the Xbox One X is that it is an unrivaled beast of a console. It;s the most powerful games console ever made, by a fairly big margin.

The second thing is that it doesn't come out until November 7, 2017. So you either wait or you buy one of the other versions of the Xbox One that are currently available.

The Xbox One X will handle games at 4K resolution at up to 60 frames per second (FPS), which for a console is a staggering achievement, and Forza Motorsport 7 will be the poster child achieving just this. Add in generally enhanced graphics, better textures and more, and you have games at a quality that until now were unheard of on a console.

The Xbox One X is also the smallest Xbox console ever made, while retaining things like an internal power supply and 4K UHD Blu-ray player first brought with the Xbox One S. The IR blaster is also retained. And 4K isn't just for games and Blu-ray discs, either, with streaming content from sources like Amazon and Netflix available, and everything can be had in glorious HDR.

The base model will have a 1TB hard drive and will cost $499. We expect other sizes to be available for an additional cost, but those details are unknown. Preorders for the special Project Scorpio edition sold out very quickly, but the regular version is now available for preorder. But get it while it's hot, they're selling fast.

See at Microsoft

The Xbox One S

Xbox One S

The 2016 addition to the Xbox family is going to become the new entry-level model. It's half the price of the Xbox One X yet still offers some of the benefits you get on the forthcoming monster console.

The Xbox One S is 40 percent smaller than the original Xbox One and while there are no internal upgrades in a sense of "better" games and graphics, there are some important bits and pieces that make it stand out.

The first is 4K video output. The Xbox One S was the first console to output at native 4K resolution, though it's limited to video content. Games can be upscaled from 1080p, but true 4K gaming is reserved for the Xbox One X.

With that you also get to watch 4K UHD Blu-ray discs. The Xbox One S is about the cheapest 4K Blu-ray player on the market, which in itself is remarkable. It's also got an IR blaster for easier remote control of other AV components.

The Xbox One S can be used vertically, which is new over the original model, and the enormous power brick was banished. The controller was also refreshed for 2016, with an amended design featuring rear grippy parts and Bluetooth for use with non-Xbox things more easily.

There's little doubt the Xbox One S is worth its asking price, if even just to be a 4K Blu-ray player. Throw in a games console with that, and you've got one hell of a package.

New for 2017 is the limited edition Minecraft Xbox One S, with a custom paint job including a see-through base panel, custom controller, Minecraft game download, 1TB hard drive and an included vertical stand for $399. It's probably only of appeal to a Minecraft fan, but it looks so damn good!

See at Microsoft

The 'old' Xbox One

Xbox One

The "old" Xbox One is large, it's less attractive and has fewer features than the sleek upgraded models. But that doesn't mean it's bad. Sfter all, it's served us pretty well for long enough now. It's also going to cost a bit less than the Xbox One S, which could be the clincher for some.

You still get a Blu-ray drive for all the HD movies you could want, the same exact software and games experience, and you can even get it in white if the color is important.

You're "limited" to 1080p output for video on this console, and you can't use it vertically. You also have to account for the enormous power brick you have to find a home for, too. The original version of the Xbox One has comes in many bundles, some including Kinect, some including games. You can pick up either 500GB or a 1TB of storage.

One that stands out is the Elite bundle, which includes a hybrid hard drive inside at 1TB, but also the incredible Xbox Elite Controller, an expensive item on its own.

With the One S announcement, the original Xbox One enjoyed some deal pricing almost immediately. Microsoft sells refurbished units for $179 currently. This is the cheapest way to get an Xbox One.

See at Microsoft

Which console should you buy?

Xbox One

Only you can make that decision, but we can make some handy recommendations. Here goes:

  • If you want to play the latest games like never before, with enhanced graphics (even at 1080p), Ultra HD resolution and general all-around badassery, you might want to hold out for the Xbox One X.
  • If you're keen on 4K video, the Xbox One S or Xbox One X are for you. The Xbox One S is also about the cheapest 4K UHD Blu-ray player on the market right now with the added bonus of being a games console.
  • If space is at a premium, you'll be happier going for the Xbox One S or One X, too. You can stand them up vertically, they're notably smaller, and don't have a gigantic external power supply to also stash somewhere.
  • If you want to spend as little as possible, go for the original console. There's nothing wrong with it, but it's big and lacks any sort of 4K output.



Now that you've decided to buy an Xbox One, the decision making process doesn't necessarily end. What about accessorizing your new console? The Xbox One has a host of additional bits of hardware available to it that can improve your personal experience. Hard drives, controllers, the Kinect, there's some cool stuff to look at.

The Kinect isn't available bundled with the Xbox One S, and to use one you'll need an adapter. This is free to current owners who are upgrading, but everyone else will need to pay $40 in addition to the price of a Kinect. Microsoft sells them new, but they're a lot more expensive than it's probably worth paying right now. Check out places you can find a pre-owned one, and you'll save a whole chunk of change on it.

If you're buying a 500GB console we highly recommend investing in an external hard drive. Xbox One games are getting bigger and bigger, especially with all the downloadable content (DLC) available. Halo 5: Guardians will take up approaching 90GB which is a big chunk of any internal storage, for example. The Xbox One can utilize multiple USB 3.0 hard drives (so long as they're at least 256GB), and if you shop around you'll always find a deal somewhere. With drives readily available in 4TB sizes, too, this is an easy way to make sure you don't have to worry about deleting games to make room for new ones.

Check out our full guide on using USB hard drives for the Xbox One for everything you need to know.

How to choose and use a USB hard drive with the Xbox One

Elite Controller

There's also a world beyond the controller that comes in the box. Check out our roundup of the best Xbox One controllers to see what else is out there.

The best Xbox One controllers


There are far too many games in the Xbox One Store to go through in one post. But if you're looking for something new to play, check out the links below where we should be able to help.

Hopefully this helps you in your decision making, but if you've got any tips to share with prospective buyers be sure to drop them in the comments. And to keep up with all things Xbox, be sure to bookmark our new dedicated gaming page.

Updated September 25, 2017: We removed some older console information, added a specs comparison for the current consoles and included current preorder links for the Xbox One X.

Richard Devine
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at