Microsoft Xbox One X: Should you upgrade?

Thinking about swapping your Xbox One or One S? Read this first

Last year, Microsoft released a 4K-capable revision of the Xbox One called the Xbox One S. And this week, Microsoft released a 4K-capable revision called the Xbox One X.

Confused? Don't worry: you're surely not alone in that. Last year's console was something of a half-step measure designed to appeal to new 4K TV-buyers, but the Xbox One X is a properly premium upgrade, packing in a huge amount of added processing power to drive smoother, better-looking, and sometimes native-4K games.

But what if you already have an Xbox One? And more pressingly, what if you've already purchased an Xbox One S, whether it was an upgrade or your first of the bunch? Well, then your decision is a lot tougher, since the Xbox One X has a whole lot in common with the other versions.

Need the latest info? Now that we've reviewed the impressive Xbox One X, here's our recommendation on updating from either previous version.

Design

Xbox One: The original Xbox One was a big, bulky-looking rectangle that certainly lacked style but packed in power. And even with the size, it had an external power brick that you'd need to keep nearby. We much preferred the slimmer original PS4 design.

Xbox One S: Now here's an improvement: The Xbox One S trimmed down the console's footprint dramatically while adding a bit of flair to the design with the dotted grill. And better yet, the power supply is built right into the box. Fantastic.

Xbox One X: The Xbox One X splits the difference between the two previous editions. Rather than a mostly flat face, however, the top half juts out on the One X, and the dotted design is less prominent. It's also black, like the standard Xbox One model. However, amazingly enough - even with all that power inside - it's slightly trimmer than the Xbox One S.

Verdict: We would never advise trading in a still-recent console for a slightly different one just because of how it looks. The original Xbox One looks pretty ugly by comparison, while the One S and One X are both significantly more attractive - with the One X having a small edge in size.

Should you upgrade from Xbox One? No!

Should you upgrade from Xbox One S? No!

Power

Xbox One: It's almost four years old now, but the Xbox One is still pumping out solidly impressive graphics today and remains roughly on par with the PlayStation 4 in overall performance. It has an octa-core CPU at 1.75GHz, an 853 Mhz GPU with 12 compute units and 1.3 teraflops of performance, and 8GB RAM.

Xbox One S: Honestly, there isn't a big difference with the Xbox One S over the original: the GPU is bumped up to 914 Mhz to help with the 4K upscaling, and it can make for improved frame rates or added effects in games, but there's no significant distance between them.

Xbox One X: Well, here's where things get interesting. The Xbox One X makes a big leap in terms of performance capabilities, with an octa-core 2.3 Ghz CPU, a 1.172 Ghz GPU with 40 compute units and a whopping six teraflops of output, and 12GB RAM. We see that come through in the startlingly impressive Forza Motorsport 7 and some multiplatform games, which have more detail and smoother performance on the Xbox One X than previous models or the PS4.

Verdict: The Xbox One X can push more detailed-looking games at native 4K resolution at potentially 60 frames per second, depending on game, and it beats out the PlayStation 4 Pro (which does 4.2 teraflops) as the powerful console out today. If you need the best of the best, then yes, this is where the Xbox One X shows its worth.

Should you upgrade from Xbox One? Yes!

Should you upgrade from Xbox One S? Yes!

4K Output

Xbox One: Whether it's a game, Blu-ray movie, or streaming video, the Xbox One tops out at 1080p Full HD resolution. That looks pretty crisp, admittedly, and most people probably have a 1080p TV in their homes, but it's hardly the gold standard.

Xbox One S: With a minor processing upgrade, the Xbox One S can display 4K media from both streaming services and Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, and it can also upscale games and any other 1080p content to run at 4K resolution. Upscaling doesn't look quite as clean as native 4K resolution, where the extra pixels are already packed into the content, but you'll see the added crispness if you have a 4K TV. And it'll do high dynamic range (HDR) lighting too.

Xbox One X: Forget upscaling: the Xbox One X has enough horsepower to display many games natively in 4K resolution and at 60 frames per second too (with HDR, as well). And 4K media, either streaming or on a UHD Blu-ray, will certainly be no problem for this monster. If you have a 4K TV, you'll get the best visual experience with the Xbox One X.

Verdict: Do you have a 4K television? If so, do you want games and media to look as great as they can on it? In that case, yes, you'll definitely want to upgrade to the Xbox One X. However, if you have an Xbox One S already, the move from upscaled 4K to native 4K might not be enough to warrant your immediate £449 investment - especially if you use the Xbox for media more than games.

Should you upgrade from Xbox One? Yes!

Should you upgrade from Xbox One S? Maybe!

Games

We don't need to do a system-by-system breakdown in this category: all three devices run the exact same library of games, and as far as Microsoft is saying (so far), there won't be any new games that will be exclusive to the Xbox One X.

All of this autumn's biggest games, including Forza Motorsport 7Destiny 2Assassin's Creed Origins, and Call of Duty: WWII, are playable on all of the Xbox One consoles. And all of the old games are likewise playable on everything.

It's really just designed as a more powerful edition of the same Xbox One platform, so you will see visual improvements on the pricier hardware, but not gameplay enhancements or additions of any sort. In short, when it comes to game selection and availability, as well as core, non-visual quality, you've got the same options across the board.

Verdict: The Xbox One X offers no advantage with its game library, only in terms of performance and visual output. And that's pretty well covered by the other sections.

Should you upgrade from Xbox One? No!

Should you upgrade from Xbox One S? No!

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