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Xbox Series X vs Xbox One X: will it be worth the upgrade?

Xbox Series X vs Xbox One X
(Image credit: TechRadar)

Xbox One X vs Xbox Series X: it's not an easy decision. Not just because the names are somewhat similar, but when it comes to choosing between Microsoft's high-end current-gen console and its ultra-powerful next-gen successor, it might not be immediately obvious which is the best for you.

The Xbox One X – the mid-gen refresh of the Xbox One and Microsoft's answer to Sony’s PS4 Pro – is the best games console available right now when it comes to sheer computing chops. It’s for console players who want the best of the best in terms of specs with native 4K and HDR support. 

But when the Xbox Series X launches on November 10, 2020 that will all change – especially as the Xbox One X (and its cheaper Xbox One S All Digital Edition sibling) is being discontinued to make way for its next-gen successor. As long as Xbox One X consoles are still available to buy, though, you may be wondering whether now is the time to nab one, while those of you currently with an Xbox One X chugging away at home may be considering whether or not you really need to upgrade when the time comes.

Fortunately for the Xbox One X, power isn't everything. There are many things to consider when it comes to consoles and before choosing between the Xbox One X and the Xbox Series X or deciding whether or not to upgrade, it's worth comparing and contrasting the consoles to determine where your money will be better spent.

To help you in your decision making, here's a break down of everything we know about the two consoles so far, including price, specs, and existing or expected games.

If you're more interested in the disc-less and significantly cheaper alternative to the Series X, you can check out our Xbox Series S guide too.

Xbox Series X vs Xbox One X price

Xbox Series X vs Xbox One X

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The Xbox Series X price and the PS5 price came out on top in a Twitter poll of the most important factors for those looking to pick up a next-gen console. Neither company intends to repeat the mistakes of the widely overpriced ($599!) PS3 in 2006, but Microsoft has finally revealed that its flagship console will indeed cost the rumored $499 / £449 / AU$749.

Phil Spencer had stressed that Microsoft won’t be making the same mistake that hampered its start to the current console generation. Speaking with The Verge, Spencer said “we will not be out of position on power or price”. Despite playing a prolonged game of chicken when it comes to price, Microsoft has made the first move and has set the tone for the incoming console generation.

In terms of the Xbox One X launch RRP of $499 / £449 / AU$749, you can do an awful lot better than that nowadays. At time of publication, some of the best Xbox One X deals see you picking up the console for less than $300 with a month of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate in the US or the console and every numbered Gears game for £299 in the UK. However, expect the Xbox One X to be reduced even more now Xbox Series X pre-orders have launched on September 22, 2020. 

Overall, it seems safe to assume the Xbox One X will be the more affordable option, though the Xbox Series S promises to replace it as a great value option for only $299 / £249 / AU$499.

Xbox One X vs Xbox Series X specs

Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Xbox Series X boasts seriously impressive specs, and they paint an exciting picture for next-gen gaming. Here’s what we know:

  • 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

With a 12 teraflop GPU capable of up to 120 fps, the Series X is twice as powerful as the One X. It’s also got the computing muscle to support ray tracing, the demanding lighting tech only available on cutting-edge Nvidia RTX graphics cards right now.

The Xbox Series X will include a super-fast NVMe SSD, which opens up all sorts of possibilities: part of its storage system can be used to boost load times by up to 40 times and Quick Resume allows users to jump between multiple games at once without closing each game.

The NVMe SSD is just a part of the console's Velocity Architecture which Microsoft claims could reduce loading times and game file sizes, while boosting the console beyond the power of its raw specs. 

Alongside the SSD the console uses an industry standard LZ decompressor alongside a new proprietary algorithm that specifically compresses game texture data (a meaty part of the overall game data) which should mean shorter download times and smaller game file sizes.

There's also the new DirectStorage API which gives developers more control over their I/O operations, allowing them to take full advtage of raw I/O performance and resulting in the virtual elimination of load times.

Finally there's Sampler Feedback Streaming (SFS) which intelligently loads in textures when they're needed instead of keeping them loaded in the background taking up memory. This means the Xbox Series X should have more free memory allowing for more effective I/O throughput, resulting in richer and more immersive games.

Meanwhile, here are the Xbox One X specs:

  • 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 innards of the premium Xbox ensure it’s the most powerful console available today and the best way to play with native 4K and HDR. That said, its 1TB mechanical hard drive holds it back: it’s slow and can hold disappointingly few triple-A titles. For a console aimed at those who accept nothing less than the best of the best, there can only be one winner in this category.

Xbox Series X vs Xbox One X games

Halo Infinite

(Image credit: 343 Industries)

As the November 10 release date of the Xbox Series X draws closer, we're seeing some exciting titles announced for the console. Between first-party titles like Halo Infinite, Hellblade 2 and third-party blockbusters like Cyberpunk 2077 there are a growing number of Xbox Series X games to look forward to. 

Some of the games that have been confirmed to be Xbox Series X compatible include:

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 confirmed for the Series X, which allows you to play games from previous generations on your new system, 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 supports Smart Delivery, so owners of the game on Xbox One X will benefit from a free upgrade to Series X. 

Microsoft has recently encouraged developers to make these upgrades free through Smart Delivery in light of some publishers opting to charge more for cross-gen bundles

Smart Delivery also means if buying a One X has cleaned you out, you can buy the likes of Halo Infinite – which launches on Game Pass day one – and play it on your current-gen console, safe in the knowledge that you won't have to buy it again for Series X when you’ve cobbled together the cash for an upgrade. Your save data will even be carried back and forth too.

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, which is an accessible approach but perhaps frustrating for those who like to feel like they're really getting that fresh next-gen experience. 

While the Series X will offer the best version of a game, the One X will still be able to play that game at what is still a very high 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 few years, and that Xbox One players won't be left behind in the leap to next-gen.

With all that in mind, there isn't really an exclusive game incentive for you to make the upgrade to the Xbox Series X. Making the jump will be more about wanting to see those games at their absolute best running on a faster console.

Xbox One X vs Xbox Series X verdict

Xbox One X vs Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Micosoft)

The Xbox Series X is an increasingly enticing prospect. Its graphical grunt combined with the excellent Xbox Game Pass subscription service means Xbox fans should be getting seriously excited. 

For early adopters, the Series X’s lack of exclusive games is at least ameliorated by an instant collection of great games thanks to Game Pass and backwards compatibility. And with Smart Delivery, those looking to upgrade from their 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 One X will plummet once the Series X launches on November 10, 2020, there are few reasons to buy a new version now. Even then the better value prospect is the cheaper, but less powerful, Xbox Series S. 

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 that want the best of the best from an Xbox.