Xbox One X vs Xbox One S: Microsoft’s two games consoles serve two different audiences, but which is right for you? The decision isn’t as easy as you’d think.
XBOX ONE X VS XBOX ONE S: WHAT’S THE SAME?
In order to make this buying decision as simple as possible, we’ve decided to start with the features that are common across both devices. If nothing else, this will ensure you don’t buy the more expensive One X if the feature you really wanted was already part of the One S.
Xbox One X
The main similarities come in the form of ports, connectivity and media playback. Both consoles have three USB 3.0 connectors, one on the front and two at the rear. Also at the rear, the consoles have a pair of HDMI ports (2.0b out and 1.4b in), Ethernet, S/PDIF audio and an IR output.
Both consoles support 4K HDR content through the HDR 10 standard, and both have UHD Blu-ray disc drives. Dolby Atmos is present, as is Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. For home theatre enthusiasts, both consoles excel. Of course, these are on-paper specs. It could be that Microsof is using higher-quality components in the One X, and this could make a difference. But, as it stands, all we have are paper specs.
Both consoles support HDR in certain games, but as we’ll see in the ‘What’s different’ section, it’s not quite that simple.
Xbox One S
XBOX ONE X VS XBOX ONE S: WHAT’S DIFFERENT?
Design: The One X is slightly smaller than the One S. We don’t have official dimension info, but it’s slightly thinner with a smaller footprint as well. The One S comes in white only, while it seems the One X will only be available in black for the time being.
Performance: In terms of technical prowess, the two consoles are very different. Without getting deep into talk about specifications, the Xbox One X is a thoroughly modern console with components that are a match for today’s mid-range gaming PCs. The One S is no slouch, but it’s using very similar technology to the original Xbox One that launched in 2013.
This means, in gaming performance, the two will handle very differently, even though on the face of it they both deliver the same UHD resolution.
Xbox One X
In the case of the Xbox One S, it delivers UHD gaming that’s been upscaled from Full HD. The console is using clever so-called ‘checkerboarding’ anti-aliasing technology to create pixels where there are none, giving the impression of a sharper, clearer image. It works well, but it’s not ‘true’ 4K by any means. The console also supports HDR gaming at any resolution.
The One X, meanwhile, has massively beefed up specifications. While, again, the console is likely using some form of upscaling, it’s powerful enough to render games at a much higher resolution than the One S, so there’s a lot less upscaling to be done when the time comes. This makes for a much richer ,more detailed image. The increase in video memory means textures in games will be higher resolution, and there’s more scope for big effects such as smoke and explosions.
Games: While the One S and One X will share an identical library of games, certain titles will launch with the ‘Enhanced for One X’ label, which means they will have extra visual fidelity that you won’t see in other versions of the game. It’s not clear how this will work when the One X launches, or indeed what extra goodies games with the label will actually get.
Hardware: Away from performance, the Xbox One X has a new cooling and power delivery system. This is crucial for such a small and powerful box, where keeping temperatures down and efficiency up is top of the agenda. It’s not clear whether the cooling system will result in quieter or, heaven forbid, more noisy running. We’ll have to wait for our review unit to test that.
Xbox One S
Storage is different, too. The One S can be found with as little as 500GB of storage, up to 2TB, all on mechanical hard disks. The One X comes with a 1TB hard disk with 8GB of flash storage. This sounds confusing, but what this secret 8GB does is help speed up the operating system by storing the most frequently-access filed (the operating system) on faster solid-state storage.
Value: The final difference is, of course, price. The One S can be found for as little as £200/$300 in the UK, while the One X will cost more than twice as much at £450/$675. That in itself will make a huge difference to which you buy, especially if you’re not convinced by the promise of 4K gaming.
For home cinema enthusiasts who want to watch 4K video content and play a few games, the One S continues to be a great choice. For gaming fiends who want the absolute best technology, the One X will be the best choice.