Xbox One X vs. Xbox One S vs. Xbox One

I play almost as many console games, as I do PC titles. I had been playing my original Xbox One and ruled out an upgrade. My logic being that I’d use the PC for 4K and HDR. It turns out that plan was a little short sighted.

I play console games with a lot of friends and family. To be honest, the friends and family thing is the reason I still have consoles at all (except for the Switch). I kept finding myself missing the higher end graphics during these sessions, especially after I got my new HDR screen. Lucky for me, Microsoft discounted the Xbox One X to $399.00 for the Fallout 76 bundle.

At this point, I’ve played hundreds of hours of games: Titan Fall 2, Halo 5, Apex, Battlefield 5, Gears of War 4, and more on all three models of the Xbox One. I’ve even hooked them up side by side just to eyeball the differences.

The differences are both less and more than you might think. Allow me to explain. The Xbox One has great graphics especially when running games that were created specifically for it. I could get all technical about resolutions and frames per second, but specs don’t really matter, experiences do. The Xbox One provides a much better gaming experience than its predecessor was able to.

The Xbox One S introduces HDR (high dynamic range) and slightly higher resolution and FPS. If your screen and the game you are playing supports HDR, the change is dramatic. Colors are richer, shadows deeper, and everything is generally more defined. The improved controller supports Bluetooth connectivity which makes hooking it up to your PC easier and the One S is physically smaller than the original.

The Xbox One X allows for full 4k HDR 60 FPS gaming on the titles that support it. Several games have been updated, just look for Xbox One X Enhanced in their descriptions on the store. The differences between 1080P and 2160P are realized in the texture of materials and objects more than anywhere else. Skin looks almost real, the line between leather and cloth in clothing is clearly defined, wood looks like it would give you a splinter.

The differences in game play are the greatest between HDR and NON-HDR. With HDR capabilities, spotting a sniper hiding in the distance is easier because the character is more clearly defined. Nailing the corner at eighty miles per hour feels safer because the road’s surface and transitions are more obvious.

With the addition of 4K, games are more photo-realistic than ever before. However, beyond pure ascetics, the high resolution doesn’t add anything to the game play. In-fact, you might be able to argue that it causes more mistakes. More than once I was fragged in a game of CoD or Titan Fall 2 because I was busy admiring the scenery instead of watching where I was going. Granted, I got used to the new looks after a while.

I really enjoy my Xbox One X and highly recommend it to anyone looking to get their first unit or to those who are upgrading from the original. If you already have the Xbox One S, I can’t say the upgrade to the X is entirely worth the expense. If you already have an S and aren’t dying to play 4K games right now, holding off for Project Scarlet may be a wiser financial decision. Of course games are rarely about smart money choices.

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About Kevin Trent

IT professional with almost 30 years of experience in Infrastructure, Architecting, Administration, Development, and Communications.

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