What is the difference between Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Xbox One X, and Xbox One S?

Sean Carey - December 29th 2019

If you're new to the world of Xbox, the sheer amount of consoles on offer can be a little confusing. The Xbox One generation saw four different consoles, all with varying specs and features. As of November 10th, 2020 a new generation of Xbox consoles was born with the Xbox Series X and the Xbox Series S. With so many different Xboxes available, we've detailed what exactly each one is and the key differences between each console.

This guide is part of a series aimed at first time Xbox owners. TrueAchievements is the largest Xbox community site on the internet, allowing players to track their gaming achievements, discuss strategies and compete in contests and leaderboards. Once you have set yourself up on Xbox, you can register with us for free using your Gamertag.

What is an Xbox Series X?

Microsoft's next-generation flagship console is the Xbox Series X, and it's the more powerful of the two Xbox Series consoles. Microsoft touts the Series X as the "world's most powerful console," and in terms of raw performance, it is. The Series X can play games at 4K and up to 120fps and supports HDR. However, to take advantage of games that can be played at 4K/120fps, you will need a compatible HDMI 2.1 display. HDMI 2.0 displays will work, but you will be limited to 4K/60fps. The console also features ray tracing, which allows for better lighting dynamics in games, which up until now, has only featured in top-of-the-line PC graphics cards. Thanks to the 1TB NVMe SSD inside the Series X, installing games is much quicker, and loading times have been drastically reduced. Unlike its younger brother, the Xbox Series X does have a disc drive.

What an Xbox Series S?

The Xbox Series S is a smaller, less powerful version of the Xbox Series X, but it still packs quite a punch. It's an all-digital console, meaning there is no disc drive — all new games will have to be downloaded directly from the Microsoft Store. In terms of the internals, it's very similar. You'll still get blisteringly-fast loading times, ray tracing, and HDR, but you won't get native 4K support. The console has been designed to target 1440p/60fps but can reach up to 120fps in less demanding games and can even upscale the resolution to 4K. One of the console's big drawbacks is its small 512GB NVMe SSD, which will only store a handful of games compared to its older brother. Much like the Xbox Series X, you're going to need an HDMI 2.1 compatible display to reach 120fps.

What is an Xbox One?

The Xbox One is the successor to the Xbox 360 and was released back in 2013, making it the oldest console in the Xbox One family. The original Xbox One came with a 500GB hard drive and supported resolutions of only 720p and 1080p. The Xbox One was first bundled with the Kinect Camera which was met with a negative reception, due to the high price of the machine and the camera. Microsoft dropped the camera in future bundles. A couple of years later, a revised edition of the Xbox One was released with a bigger capacity 1TB hard-drive. Naturally, as subsequent newer models have been released, it lacks a few features its older models currently have such as HDR and an Ultra HD Blu-ray optical drive.

What is an Xbox One S?

The Xbox One S was released back in 2016, three years after the original Xbox One. It is a more streamlined, compact version of the Xbox One and is about 40% of the size of the original. This time the console is all white, comes with a white controller, and features either a 500GB or 1TB storage option. It also boasts a few hardware upgrades, including support for 4K and HDR. Unfortunately, games will not run at 4K, the One S isn't powerful enough, but you can still view 4K content through streaming services like Netflix, or via Blu-ray discs, thanks to the included Ultra HD Blu-ray drive. The One S can also take full advantage of HDR if a game supports it, and is also slightly faster than the standard One by 7.1%. Although not a huge upgrade, some games do see a slight bump in performance.

Another variant of the Xbox One S is the Xbox One S All-Digital. Released in 2019, the All-Digital is considered the budget-friendly Xbox that still offers up the core Xbox experience. The One S and the All-Digital are both exactly the same in terms of specs; the only difference is the All-Digital does not come with a disc-drive, meaning physical media is not an option — games will need to be downloaded. The lack of a physical drive fits perfectly with the likes of Xbox Game Pass and EA Play, where for a small amount each month, you have access to hundreds of games you'd otherwise need to buy discs for.

What is an Xbox One X?

Formerly codenamed Project Scorpio, the Xbox One X is a high-end hardware revision of the Xbox One released in November 2017. In a much smaller form-factor than that of the Xbox One and the Xbox One S, the One X boasts a 1TB hard drive and can render games at a 4K resolution and at higher frame rates of 60 FPS. The One X also supports high dynamic range (HDR). Although the hard drive included is still a normal mechanical drive and not an SSD, loading times are still quicker with the Xbox One X.

In terms of raw power, the One X outperforms the PS4 Pro in most areas. Microsoft dubbed the console the "world's most powerful console" with 40% more power than any other console on the market. It is also the only current console that outputs a true 4K resolution. A lot of games for the PS4 Pro run at a lower resolution and are upscaled to 4K. The One X also features a 4K Blu-ray drive, unlike the Pro which can only stream 4K content.

Can I play Xbox One Games on my Xbox Series X|S?

Yes. Both Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X can play your Xbox One games, bar a few that require Kinect support. They can also play any Xbox 360 and Xbox original games that are backwards compatible.