Xbox Series X vs Xbox One X: is it worth upgrading to Microsoft's next-gen console?

The Xbox Series X and Xbox One X games consoles
(Image credit: TechRadar)

The Xbox Series X vs Xbox One X, which console should you buy? That answer depends on two things: your budget and preferences. We’re taking a look at both consoles to determine which one is right for you.

The Xbox Series X is the newest and, objectively, the best Xbox console of the two, bringing us a truly next-gen gaming experience. As Microsoft’s flagship console, it can hit higher framerates, up to 120fps, alongside almost eliminating load times completely thanks to its SSD. The console also offers far greater visual fidelity than the now-discontinued Xbox One X ever could. 

What’s more, the Xbox Series X boasts numerous quality-of-life features, including Quick Resume and FPS Boost. That allows you to suspend multiple games at once so you can pick up at the point where you left off, as well as potentially quadruple the frame rates of older titles. So you should get the Xbox Series X, right? Not necessarily. 

If you already have the older Xbox One X, you don’t need to rush out and upgrade to Microsoft’s brand new system, it’s still an advanced and highly capable console. The Xbox One X is Microsoft’s mid-gen refresh of the Xbox One. Think of it as Microsoft's answer to Sony’s PS4 Pro, containing numerous performance upgrades like native 4K resolution support and HDR. 

As such, we think it's the best one for players who want a tangible upgrade over the base consoles they’ve previously had. But now the Xbox Series X is here, the Xbox One X’s original appeal of being the most powerful console on the market doesn’t hold up. Microsoft’s new tower of power is significantly more powerful than the One X, eclipsing the older Xbox console in practically every other department, too. 

Choosing between these two Xbox consoles isn’t as straightforward as it seems if you don’t have an Xbox One X already either. They cater to different people, different budgets, and different needs. It’s more than just sheer power, price can often be the biggest deciding factor in any purchasing decision or potential upgrade. 

So, what are the key differences? And is there a point when you know you want to upgrade to the newer model already? The guide below will put the two Xbox machines head-to-head to help you decide.

Xbox Series X vs Xbox One X: price

The Xbox Series X costs $499 / £449 / AU$749 and matches the original MSRP of the Xbox One X. Admittedly, that’s very expensive, but the Xbox Series X packs a lot of technology into its cuboid frame. While the console had been notoriously hard to get hold of, stock shortages seem to be easing nearly two years on, making it easier to find where to buy an Xbox Series X

As for the Xbox One X, well, Microsoft ended production of all Xbox One consoles back in 2020, it’s now officially been discontinued, which makes finding new stock tricky. If you do see an enticing deal, then, it’s worth snapping it up straight away. The good news is that its price is now significantly cheaper than the Xbox Series X, even though you may have to go second-hand.

Xbox Series X vs Xbox One X: specs

The Xbox Series X console

(Image credit: Microsoft)

When it comes to specs, this is where the Xbox Series X really differentiates itself. The console is packed with some seriously impressive hardware, many of which allow for technological advancements that you simply won’t find on Xbox One X, such as graphically intensive ray tracing support and frame rates up to 120fps. Check out the Xbox Series X specs below: 

  • CPU: Eight-core 3.8GHz (3.6GHz with SMT) custom AMD 7nm
  • GPU: 12 teraflops 1.825GHz (locked)
  • RAM: 16GB GDDR6
  • Frame rate: Up to 120 fps
  • Resolution: Up to 8K
  • Optical: HD Blu-Ray disk drive
  • Storage: 1TB NVMe SSD

The console’s GPU also dwarfs that of the Xbox One X when it comes to computational power. It boasts a 12 teraflop GPU instead of the Xbox One X’s 6 teraflop GPU, making it essentially twice as powerful as Microsoft’s older machine. 

The Xbox Series X also comes with a super-fast 1TB NVMe SSD, which has a transformative effect on games. Its storage system can boost load times by up to 40 times higher than a regular mechanical hard drive, and the new storage format allows for features such as Quick Resume, where you can suspend and switch between multiple games at a time.

The SSD is used in conjunction with Microsoft’s new Xbox Velocity Architecture which, while in its early stages, promises to leave load times in the past and help overcome previous developer bottlenecks such as slow I/O performance and texture streaming.

The Xbox Series X CPU is also a gargantuan upgrade over that found inside the Xbox One X. It’s capable of pushing out 120fps frames per second at 4K resolution (providing you have an HDMI 2.1 compliant display), and many games that were previously capped to 30fps can now reach 60fps with ease for a more silky-smooth and responsive experience.

The Xbox One X, while certainly showing its age, is no slouch, though. Check out the Xbox One X specs below:

  • CPU: Eight-core 2.3GHz custom AMD
  • GPU: Six teraflops 1172 MHz
  • RAM: 12GB GDDR5
  • Frame rate: Up to 60 fps
  • Resolution: Up to 4K
  • Optical: HD Blu-Ray disk drive
  • Storage: 1TB HDD

The console is still capable of outputting a crystal clear native 4K resolution, and is compatible with all of the latest Xbox Series X games, though this may change in the future. Like the Xbox Series X, the Xbox One X also comes equipped with a 4K HD Blu-Ray drive, making it a great choice for home cinema enthusiasts who are looking to upgrade their setup for less.

What really holds it back, though, is its CPU, which is a huge bottleneck for the developers. The standard mechanical drive means load times in some titles can also be painful to sit through, but this can be circumvented somewhat with an external SSD

The Xbox One X is a great choice if you don’t mind that games will often run at 30fps, then, and we’re still huge fans of the console’s sleek design, quiet operation, and media capabilities. Although its specs don’t compare, you can still play all the latest Xbox One games on this older console as well, minus some enticing graphical bells and whistles. 

Xbox Series X vs Xbox One X: games

A gameplay shot of Halo Infinite

(Image credit: 343 Industries)

At this stage, hundreds of games have been optimized for Xbox Series X (opens in new tab). Between first-party titles like Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5, to third-party blockbusters like Cyberpunk 2077, there’s a growing number of Xbox Series X games available now or launching in the future. 

Some of the best games that are out now on Xbox Series X/S also includes:

The Series X’s impressive specs in combination with the excellent value of Xbox Game Pass gives early adopters a ready-made library that benefits from faster load times, better graphics, and higher resolution.

Backwards compatibility is also excellent on the Xbox Series X. You can play hundreds of games from previous Xbox generations on your new system, including original Xbox titles, but Microsoft has gone a step further with Smart Delivery. Consider this ‘forwards compatibility’ in the sense that when you buy a compatible game, it’s unlocked on all supporting hardware. For example, Cyberpunk 2077 owners on Xbox One X can benefit from a free upgrade to Xbox Series X. 

Microsoft has recently encouraged developers to make these upgrades free through Smart Delivery in light of some publishers charging more for cross-gen bundles. Smart Delivery also means you can buy games like Halo Infinite now and play it later on your current-gen console, safe in the knowledge that you won't have to buy it twice for Series X. Your save data will even be carried back and forth too.

A gameplay screenshot from Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

(Image credit: Ninja Theory)

This does, of course, mean that the Xbox Series X isn't really dangling any exclusives in front of you to force you into an upgrade, not yet anyway, which is an accessible approach. But this may prove frustrating for those who like to feel like they're really getting that fresh next-gen experience.

While the Series X offers the best version of a game, the Xbox One X can still play that same game, albeit at a lower quality. Xbox is being very dogged about its inclusive approach for the next generation, promising it won't have any Xbox Series X exclusives for the first couple of years, and those Xbox One players won't be left behind in the leap to the next-gen. 

However, we're nearly two years in and Microsoft's Xbox One line-up is slowly drying up. Upcoming games like Fable 4, Everwild, Hellblade 2, Forza Motorsport, Avowed and more are all new-gen exclusives. Sure, you can play Microsoft's first-party line-up through Xbox Cloud Gaming on Xbox One if you're subscribed to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, but not everyone has a strong enough internet connection for this.

With all that in mind, there isn't really an exclusive game that will make you rush out to upgrade to the Xbox Series X. We can’t imagine anyone’s buying it purely for Microsoft Flight Simulator, as good as that game is. Making the jump will be more about wanting to see those games running at their absolute best on a faster console, or if you want the very best possible Xbox experience available.

Xbox One X vs Xbox Series X: verdict

An Xbox games controller

(Image credit: Micosoft)

The Xbox Series X is an enticing prospect, especially for those who are already invested in the Xbox ecosystem. Its graphical grunt combined with the excellent Xbox Game Pass subscription service means Xbox fans should seriously consider the latest and greatest console, with its impressive technical specs and plenty of hope for the future.

For early adopters, the Series X’s lack of exclusive games is at least offset by an instant collection of great games thanks to Game Pass and backward compatibility. Numerous games are receiving Xbox Series X optimizations, too, making them look and play better than ever before. And with Smart Delivery, those looking to upgrade from their Xbox One X can buy supported games now and upgrade for free to the Series X version once they can afford the new unit.

Since the cost of the Xbox One X is likely to continue to fall, particularly now the Series X is approaching a whole year since launch, there are few reasons to buy it at full price right now. Even then, the better value prospect is the cheaper, but less powerful, Xbox Series S, though you will have to make do with a 1440p resolution output. 

All things considered, it's not really a battle between the Xbox One X vs Xbox Series X. Instead, Microsoft seems to be ensuring a harmonious, flexible transition between consoles for those who can afford an upgrade and want the best of the best from an Xbox.

Adam was formerly TRG's Hardware Editor. A law graduate with an exceptional track record in content creation and online engagement, Adam has penned scintillating copy for various technology sites and also established his very own award-nominated video games website. He’s previously worked at Nintendo of Europe as a Content Marketing Editor and once played Halo 5: Guardians for over 51 hours for charity. He is now an editor at The Shortcut.