What's the Difference Between the Xbox One X and Xbox One S?

Which Xbox One console is right for you?

Xbox One X and Xbox One S consoles, Xbox Controllers, Xbox 1, XB1

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Microsoft released the Xbox One S in late 2016 and followed it up with the Xbox One X a year later. Each video game console comes packed with a range of media features such as a 4K Blu-ray player, 4K video streaming, and support for the entire library of Xbox One games. We've tested both consoles to help you decide between the Xbox One S and the Xbox One X.

Overall Findings

Xbox One S

  • Less expensive.

  • More variations available.

  • Compatible with all Xbox One games and accessories.

Xbox One X

  • Supports 4K video game graphics.

  • More storage space than some S models.

  • Compatible with all Xbox One games and accessories.

There are two major differences between the two Xbox One models: price and performance. The consoles are evenly matched in almost every other department. If you already own an Xbox One S, upgrading to the X model isn't worth the money; however, if purchasing your first Xbox One system, it may be worth the extra bucks to get the higher-end model.

Performance: Xbox One X Wins Hands Down

Xbox One S

  • No 4K support for games.

  • Play the same games in lower resolution.

  • Equal performance when it comes to streaming and Blu-ray.

Xbox One X

  • Higher resolution graphics for games.

  • Smoother frame rates.

  • Faster load times.

Both the Xbox One S and Xbox One X support HDR for games and videos. Each console comes with a built-in 4K Blu-ray disk drive that can play CDs, DVDs, and 4K HDR Blu-rays; however, only the Xbox One X can render 4K-enabled video games.

While the Xbox One S can still play those games at a lower resolution, they will look significantly better on the Xbox One X. The latter console can also load games and apps significantly faster than the former.

Due to their 4K output capability, the Xbox One S and X are also able to stream 4K movies and TV series via services such as Microsoft's own Movies & TV, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. A 4K television set isn't necessarily required to use either console as a regular widescreen TV will automatically resize the video for its display resolution. Viewers will still experience visual improvements when viewing 4K footage on a non-4K TV.

Compatibility: Both Consoles Play the Same Games

Xbox One S

  • Plays most games for all Xbox consoles.

  • Supports all Xbox One peripherals.

  • Region free when it comes to games.

Xbox One X

  • Plays most games for all Xbox consoles.

  • Supports all Xbox One peripherals.

  • Region free when it comes to games.

The Xbox One S and Xbox One X are part of the Xbox One family of consoles. Both can play all Xbox One-branded video games in addition to a growing number of backward-compatible titles for Xbox 360 and the original Xbox. There is no game disparity between the two consoles.

All Xbox One-branded controllers work perfectly fine with the Xbox One S and Xbox One X. The Kinect sensor, the special camera used for games and voice commands on the Xbox One, also works with both consoles. However, a special Kinect Adapter (sold separately) is required to connect it properly. Only the original Xbox One console (not the Xbox One S or X) can connect to the Kinect directly without the need for additional cables.

All Xbox One video games are region-free, which means that an American Xbox One console can play Xbox One games released in other countries. While the Xbox One games are region-free, the physical disk drive isn't, which makes a difference when playing DVDs and Blu-rays. An American Xbox One will only be able to play Region 1 DVDs and Zone A Blu-rays.

Cost: Xbox One S Is Cheaper Than Xbox One X

Xbox One S

  • Easier to find used.

  • More custom designs available.

  • Choose between 500GB, 1TB, or 2TB of storage.

Xbox One X

  • Can be cheaper used than a new Xbox One S.

  • Only 1TB option available.

The Xbox One X is targeted more toward the hardcore gamer who values high framerates and textures. As a result, it is significantly more expensive due to the additional hardware needed to reach certain technological benchmarks. The Xbox One X is essentially a powerful gaming PC crammed into a console. Thus, the S model is will likely remain the more affordable option for consumers.

In addition to the various storage capacities, there are various themed versions of each console available. For example, the special Xbox One S Minecraft Limited Edition console features a unique Minecraft themed design that lights up and plays sounds when turned on. It can do everything a regular Xbox One S can do.

All special versions will feature the console label in their title. As long as they are referred to as an Xbox One S or an Xbox One X on the box or in the store product listing, you know what you're getting.

The original Xbox One console is no longer in production, so it has essentially been replaced by the Xbox One S. Stores that still have some stock available usually sell it for a lower price than the Xbox One S and X, so it can be a good alternative for those on a tight budget.

Final Verdict

Microsoft has confirmed that both the Xbox One S and Xbox One X consoles will continue to support the same video games, so there won't be any titles made exclusively for one device over the other. Therefore, both consoles are equally solid investments when it comes to video game selection for this generation of gaming.

If media is an important factor to consider in your household, each Xbox One console is equally future-proof as well due to the built-in 4K UHD Blu-ray players. The deciding factor between buying an Xbox One S or an Xbox One X really does come down to your personal budget and how important graphics and framerate are to your gaming preferences.