Xbox One S

Just what should you get if you're looking to buy an Xbox One? This is our full buyer's guide.

After E3 2017 there is a whole family of Xbox One consoles to enjoy. Three different consoles, 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 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.

The Xbox One X

Xbox One X

The first thing you should know about the Xbox One X is that it is an unrivalled beast of a console. 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 game 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. 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 additional cost, but as yet those details are unknown. Pre-orders are set to open once the console has cleared the FCC.

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% 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 as a whole.

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.

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The 'old' Xbox One

Xbox One

The 'old' Xbox One is large, it's less attractive and has less features than the sleek upgraded models. But that doesn't mean it's bad, after 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 high-definition 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 also come in many bundles, some including Kinect, some including games. You can pick up either a 500GB or a 1TB storage size.

One that stands out is the Elite bundle, which includes a hybrid hard drive inside at 1TB, but more so bundles 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. You can still get them new, not to mention the abundance of pre-owned or refurbished units out there. This is the cheapest way to get an Xbox One.

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Special editions

Halo 5 edition Xbox One

There are a few special edition consoles floating around that have been tied in with some popular games. Prior to the Sony deal with Activision, Microsoft was in tight for Call of Duty and the first 1TB console was an Advanced Warfare special. You're unlikely to find any of these new, but as folks trade in for an Xbox One S you might pick one up used.

Microsoft also has a couple of special consoles for first party exclusive titles. There's a fetching Halo 5: Guardians edition with a snazzy silver and blue paint job with a matching controller. There's also a blue Forza Motorsport 6 edition with matching controller that makes the noise of a car starting up when you turn the console on.

Again, these aren't necessarily going to be the easiest things to find new, but you might luck on to a decent pre-owned option as folks trade up to the Xbox One S. Like the COD console, both have the 1TB storage option.

The first special edition Xbox One S came out to coincide with the launch of Gears of War 4. It has since been followed by a military green, storm grey and deep blue version to coincide with special bundles including games such as Battlefield 1 and FIFA 17. These aren't the easiest things to get hold of, but if you're happy to shop around you'll still find them.

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Which console should you buy?

Xbox One

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

  • If you want to play the latest games like never before, with enhanced graphics (even at 1080p), Ultra HD resolution and general all-round badassery, then 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 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.

Accessories

Kinect

Now 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 as well as 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, you'll save a whole chunk of change on it.

If you're buying a 500GB console we'd highly recommend investing in an external hard drive. Xbox One games are getting bigger and bigger, especially with all the DLC available. Halo 5: Guardians will take up approaching 90GB which is a big chunk of any internal storage. 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 with 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

Games

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 then check out the links below where we'll hopefully be able to help you on your way.

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 below!

Updated June 21 2017 to add in the Xbox One X to the buyers guide.