Xbox One X and Xbox One S: What's the 4k difference?

Is the world's most powerful console worth the high price?

Credit: Microsoft
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You may have heard that Microsoft announced the world's most powerful video game console at E3 this past weekend. There were a lot of buzzwords and jargon thrown around, but there's no denying that the new "Xbox One X" is an absolute powerhouse. However, if you do even a little bit of research you'll notice that a lot of what it claims to do, the Xbox One S does too—and for about $200 less.

So what is the actual difference between these consoles?

Xbox One S

Xbox One S
Credit: Microsoft

The upgraded and slimmed down version of the original Xbox One, the One S was released in August of last year. Its improvements were largely physical—a 40% reduction in size, in fact. It also shed nearly a pound-and-a-half in weight and ditched the bulky external power brick, and added a 4K Blu-ray compatible drive.

On the digital front, the One S gained HDR and 4K playback support, albeit with a small catch: videos play in native 4K, but games are upscaled. That means your games will look better compared to the original Xbox One, but they aren't actually playing in native 4K. If you're interested, here's the scientific breakdown on upscaling.

Tech Specs
• 1.75GHz 8-core AMD custom “Jaguar” CPU
• Integrated AMD graphics clocked at 914MHz
• 8GB DDR3
• 4K Support – Yes (video playback only)
• HDR Support – Yes
• Price – $299.99

Xbox One X

Xbox One X
Credit: Microsoft

While the One S was a minor upgrade to performance and power, the One X is a whole other story. "The world's most powerful console" might be a marketing campaign, but it's not untrue. The One X features some beefy specs that Microsoft promises will make for truly breathtaking visuals via better textures, smoother framerates, and faster load times. Just take a look at this gameplay footage from Forza Motorsport 7 or Anthem to get a sense of what games will be like on the One X.

The One X also supports HDR and 4K, but while the One S upscaled your games, the One X will play them at native 4K resolution. To be clear, though, not all games will ship with native 4K. Right now, there are a little over 30 games that'll receive free 4K updates as a part of the Xbox One X Enhance program.

Tech Specs
• 2.3GHz 8-core AMD custom “Jaguar” CPU
• Integrated AMD graphics with 6 teraflops of performance
• 12GB GDDR5
• 4K Support – Yes
• HDR Support – Yes
• Price – $499.99

Should you upgrade to the One X and is it worth the price?


First off, if you don't have a 4K TV then no, you shouldn't upgrade. Without a 4K-capable TV, almost all of the improvements the One S or the One X have made will be moot. But if you're looking to go all out and upgrade your entire home entertainment suite, our resident TV expert has already made a list of the Best 4K & HDR TVs for Gaming. Or, if you're looking to save a little money, you could always get one of the more budget-friendly 4K TVs like the TCL P Series.

It's a trickier question if you already have a 4K TV. Will the picture quality be better and will you have faster load times with the One X? Absolutely. Is there enough of an improvement to justify an extra $200 compared to the One S? Harder to say.

If you have an original Xbox One and spend enough time playing games or using your Xbox as a media center, the upgrade to the One X might be an easier pill to swallow. It is, after all, the most powerful console on the market currently; if you demand the best, well, here it is. But for anyone who doesn't need the slightly better picture quality (native 4K vs. upscaled 4K) or a three-second load time on a game compared to five seconds, the $499.99 Xbox One X is the definition of unnecessary.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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