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Xbox One S vs Xbox One: Worth the upgrade?

Andy Vandervell


Xbox One S vs Xbox One: Is it worth upgrading to the slimmer, more efficient Xbox One model before the launch of Project Scorpio? Trusted Reviews has compiled everything you need to know

Compared to Microsoft's Project Scorpio, the Xbox One S is a minor upgrade over the original Xbox One. Delivering HDR support and an ultra HD Blu-ray player for some 4K goodness. It's also much smaller than its predecessor, no longer taking up most of your shelf space.

But is the Xbox One S worth the investment? In short, we think existing owners have no reason to buy unless they're desperate to own an Ultra HD 4K blu-ray player, as it's currently the cheapest one on the market.

If you don't already own one, though, it's a must-have. Read on for more details on the differences between the Xbox One S vs the Xbox One.

Xbox One S FAQ

Xbox One S release date? Available now.

Does it support 4K? Yes, for video and Blu-ray, games are only upscaled.

Is it more powerful? Yes, there's a slight boost to processing power over the Xbox One to accommodate HDR gaming, but the difference is marginal.

Xbox One S Price: How much should you pay?

There are three different capacities. Prices started at £239 for the 500GB version, moving up to £299.95 for the 1TB and £399 for a massive 2TB. Prices have tumbled since launch, however, so you can get better deals that include bundled games.

Related: Nintendo Switch Preview

Best Deals for Microsoft Xbox One S

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Xbox One S is 40% smaller, has built-in power supply

The Xbox One S is 40% smaller than the original – it's a huge reduction. Given how big the original Xbox One is – at 333mm x 276mm x 78mm, it dominates the comparatively slight PS4 – it's an important change. However, PS4 Slim gives Xbox One S a run for its money in terms of sheer dimensions.

Watch our Xbox One S video review

Even more impressive, the power supply is now built-in. The bulky power brick on the Xbox One was annoying as hell and was another con against it given the PS4 has it built-in.

So, 40% smaller and no bulky power supply? That's a pretty big tick in favour of the Xbox One S.

4K Ultra HD, 4K Blu-ray and High Dynamic Range support

This is arguably the most important feature of the Xbox One S. Not only does the Xbox One S support 4K video playback from streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, it also has a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray built-in.

This is especially good news for AV fans as the $299/£249 starting price makes it excellent value compared to the price of dedicated Ultra HD players currently available.

Our testing suggests the Xbox One S is a more than competent Ultra HD Blu-ray player, so AV fans should hold no fears in that regard.

Related: Ultra HD Blu-ray: The ultimate guide

Xbox One S 3

While the original Xbox One is technically capable of supporting 4K gaming and video, it comes with an HDMI 1.4a port, which means it can only output 4K at 30Hz, which is useless for games and problematic for some video. The Xbox One adds support for HDMI 2.0a, so it now supports proper 4K 60Hz output.

Watch: 4K and HDR explained

HDMI 2.0a, with its capacity for a deeper colour space, also allows for High Dynamic Range (HDR). If you're yet to catch up on exactly what this HDR stuff is all about, check out our HDR TV guide for a full rundown.

Related: HDMI 2.0 vs HDMI 1.4

In short, you can expect more natural colours, deeper blacks, and brighter whites from an HDR image, providing you have a compatible TV. It could be great for games and video, so this is another major plus point.

There's been some talk that old Xbox Ones could be upgraded to the new HDMI standard through a firmware update, but we've heard nothing since E3 so it seems a distant hope now.

Xbox One S 5

Xbox One S specs: Turns out there is a performance difference

Much like PS4 Pro, the Xbox One S will not mark the beginning of a new console generation, but an expansion of a platform we already know and love. Initially then, it looked like the new Xbox wouldn't come with any extra processing power, but it seems that wasn't quite true...

The Coalition head Rod Fergusson revealed to Polygon that his team had taken advantage of additional raw GPU and CPU power for Gears of War 4 , which runs in HDR. This was apparently just to improve frame rates and not to improve the graphics in any other way.

Ferguson claimed his engineers have been able to, as Polygon puts it, “leverage the additional power to reduce the frequency of the frame rate or resolution penalties.”

Related: Xbox Scorpio: Release date, specs and performance revealed

Xbox One S

A Microsoft spokesperson then confirmed, via The Verge, "We have the same SoC architecture as Xbox One today.

"For games that want to take advantage of HDR, we gave developers access to a small amount of additional processing power."

In use, early analysis suggests the Xbox One S does run games slightly better than the original console. But the differences so far seem relatively minor and are limited to small improvements in frame rate. Existing games won't look better on an Xbox One S compared to the original console.

However, we will be looking into this area in more detail when we publish our full review of the Xbox One S.

Plus, it can upscale games to 4K

When the Xbox One S was first announced, Microsoft neglected to mention that the new console is also capable of upscaling games to 4K.

The upscaling capabilities were revealed by Jeff Henshaw, Group Program Manager at Xbox at an E3 session.

Related: Best Amazon Black Friday deals

Xbox One 13

Henshaw said: "It's not native 4K, but the Xbox One S can upscale games from 1080p to 4K."

It means the Xbox One S will be able to offer a taste of gaming at a higher resolution than its predecessor, although it won't quite be as good as native 4K.

In our review, we found the Xbox One S is good at upscaling games and no 4K video content – better than the TV we tested on.

It can be stored upright

Yes, that's right, you can store the Xbox One S upright. That's great news, though the stand is an optional extra, unless you buy the 2TB model, which comes with the stand bundled. As it only costs $20, however, it's not a huge imposition.

There's no dedicated Kinect port

Not a huge surprise here. The Xbox One S removes the dedicated port for Kinect. Given its increasing irrelevance this isn't a huge loss, though owners who want to use one can do say via a USB adapter. We assume the adapter will be sold separately, too.

Related: Best Xbox One deals right now

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But there is an IR blaster

In the place of a dedicated Kinect port, the Xbox One S comes with an integrated IR (infrared) blaster. That means you can configure your Xbox One S to turn on other devices, like your TV, audio/video receiver, and cable or satellite receiver.

The idea is that you can reduce the number of remotes you need to control your stuff. Pretty neat.

Related: Upcoming Xbox One Games 2017

Xbox One S IR

New controller adds Bluetooth

Not content with the already excellent Xbox One controller, or the incredible Xbox One Elite Controller, Microsoft's unveiled the Xbox One S controller as well.

Related: PS4 Pro vs PS4

As for the controller itself, it has a new textured grip, exchangeable colour covers, extended range and – most importantly – it now has Bluetooth so you can use it with a PC wirelessly.

Initially, it seemed as if the controller was an optional extra based on a message at the end of a promotional video, but it turns out this was a poorly worded disclaimer on Microsoft's part. So, one controller is included in the box, but they're also sold separately.

Xbox One S vs Xbox One: Should you upgrade?

There's no doubt the new Xbox One S is a better all around console than its predecessor. Not only does it slim down what was an unbelievably bulky case on the original console, and by 40% no less, the Xbox One S comes with a load of features that make it a desirable device regardless of comparisons with the previous model.

Firstly, you get a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player built in. Currently, those things will cost you upwards of £400 on their own. Secondly, you can stream 4K at the proper 60 Hz in HDR from apps such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video. Plus, there's even a slight performance boost. The console benefits from extra processing power which will be used to run games in HDR.

It probably isn't worth it for most Xbox One owners if you don't care about 4K video, especially considering the Project Scorpio launch coming later this year, but it looks like a good upgrade if you fancy getting into Ultra HD Blu-ray.

And if you don't already own an Xbox One, the smaller size and great features make it very tempting indeed.

Best Deals for Microsoft Xbox One

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Will you be buying or upgrading to an Xbox One S? Let us know in the comments.


June 13, 2016, 6:15 pm

I'm glad this article points out that the new Xbox won't be capable of 4k gaming. I'm tired of people being misinformed and thinking the PS4.5 and the Xbox One S will run games at 4k. Resolution isn't just a flip of a switch. You'd need at LEAST $1000 worth of hardware to even pretend to run 4k @ 30fps in LOW settings. No console in this generation or the next will manage that. However, 4k media streaming is totally plausible and worth being excited about.


June 13, 2016, 6:28 pm

They actually announced officially that it's going to be support for true 4k resolution. Although I hope that I don't need to upgrade my PS4 because of PS4 Neo.


June 13, 2016, 6:41 pm

True 4k for streaming and perhaps games will output upsampled 1080p to 4k but thats not the same as true 4k gaming.


June 13, 2016, 6:47 pm

I don't mean to be an elitist dick or anything, but as someone with extensive knowledge in computer hardware, I'm promising you that at a $300 pricepoint, it isn't going to be native 4k in-game resolution. The main thing holding back 4k media (blu-rays, streaming, etc.) is data transfer; being able to pull data off of a disc or off of a server fast enough to stream it (hence the upgraded Blu-ray drive and hdmi output), but as far as games are concerned, the biggest hurdle is graphical processing power. Even the new AMD GPU coming out soon, the RX 480, one of the best price/performance cards advertised right now, will barely handle 4k, and by barely, I mean low-medium settings @ 30fps. And that card will retail at $200 (supposedly). And honestly, I'm betting that some of the numbers from AMD are a little inflated at this point just to get the hype train going. But $200? That's literally 2/3rds of the Xbox One S price. Before even taking into account RAM, Processor, motherboard, the new internal power supply, the new and upgraded optical drive, etc. I'm not trying to be a pessimistic asshole, I just want people to know the truth about the hype. 4k media streaming? Totally plausible and reasonable. But native 4k gaming? Well.. the new Xbox would have to be AT LEAST $600-700 (assuming they used this new graphics card, if not, it would have to be more), and even then it would be a terrible experience that wouldn't last for very long. The hardware would be surpassed by games within a year or two and you'd need a new system just to run new games at low settings @ 4k again. Keep in mind, I'm only referring to AAA games with ultra gorgeous graphics. Low-end games would be easy to play at 4k, and honestly I think that might be how they can legally say "true 4k gaming". They probably can play low-end games at 4k and they use that as an excuse to exaggerate and say that the system is "powerful enough for true 4k gaming." It's classic advertisement misdirection.


June 13, 2016, 6:52 pm

Xbox One Scorpio will support 4K gaming. Confirmed by Spencer himself.

Muhammad Jihad ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

June 13, 2016, 7:16 pm

What moron wrote this article, why exactly is 4K 30hz useless for video. I suggest you the learn the basics kiddo.


June 13, 2016, 7:30 pm

"Will support"... do you know what that could entail? I'm sure any Xbox could support Angry Birds at 4k, but it won't handle something new like The Division. Not unless the price is at least $500 and the graphics settings are set to ugly.


June 13, 2016, 8:05 pm

nah they said xbox scorpio is comparable to a high end gaming pc and will have graphics at a geforce 1070 rating


June 13, 2016, 8:13 pm

So it's gonna cost over $1000.. just build a gaming PC?


June 13, 2016, 8:16 pm

they confirmed it will also have a console price, so it will be 500-600$ there doing this to destroy "budget gaming" this way you can spend half a g and have high end gaming


June 13, 2016, 8:17 pm

Yeahhh... good luck with that.


June 13, 2016, 11:21 pm

It's a hardware upgrade for the xboxOne, go to youtube and see for yourself.


June 14, 2016, 3:06 am

It doesnt matter anymore. All games will be available on Windows so..pointless :)


June 14, 2016, 3:06 am

"Support" is one thing. Windows is getting all Xbox games anyways so PC + PS4 is combo for further years.


June 14, 2016, 3:07 am

It's not same architecture. That doesn't work like that. Wait and you will see.


June 14, 2016, 3:28 am

I am betting at the price point they are going for with a bulk rate and the fact they use AMD that it will be closer to an RX480.


June 14, 2016, 10:00 am

Perhaps 'useless' is a tad strong, but plenty of video content is above 30fps these days, especially outside movies. Undesirable is probably a better word.

David Markham

June 14, 2016, 10:12 am

Well they did announce the Scorpion project - so next generation WILL have 4K gaming at 60fps. At what price point though...


June 14, 2016, 12:57 pm

The xbox one S can upscale games to 4k.. and supposedly it is more powerful than the standard xbox one.

Ryan Maye

June 14, 2016, 4:43 pm

Waste of money


June 14, 2016, 6:09 pm

i herd it can up scale to 4k.the xbox one is the entry level consoles,the xbox one s is a mid level console that can upscale to 4k and the xbox scorpio is the high end native 4k console.

i have herd and reports are coming out that the xbox one s is upgraded and it has to be with hdr gaming.i cant wait for the specs for the xbox one s to be released.


June 14, 2016, 6:11 pm

thats what i herd its lie entry level xbox one mid lvl 4k upscaled xbox one s and high end xbox scorpio because xbox one s has hdr gaming that means its upgraded maybe not as powerful as the ps4 neo but on par with the ps4 and it can be upscaled to 4k.

if you want to 4k game next year and cant get the xbox scorpio get the xbox one s and upscale it.


June 14, 2016, 6:27 pm

No, they said 980. not 1070


June 14, 2016, 9:23 pm

I will bitch and complain that they've brought out another version of the xbox after I bought it when it first came out for almost 400 quid but I'm probably going to get the newer console when it comes out as well (the 2tb console).

Muhammad Jihad ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

June 15, 2016, 3:52 am

Movies run at 24hz and TV runs at 30hz, unless you like the soap opera effect. Sports would be affected, but I have yet to see live 4K broadcasts of anything, it's certainly not an option on my cable provider. They should offer 4k @ 30hz, after all it's something they made of point of saying at launch, that the XB1 came with a 4K ready hdmi cable. I'm not sure how they could upgrade the HDMI connection to 2.0 via software, but if they can and they're not, then that's really just punishing early adopters for no reason at all. There is plenty of hardware there to run 4K video even if they think the dashboard would be too jerky, and the video being 4K is what 99% of people would care about anyways.

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