The Microsoft Xbox One X, perhaps the most powerful console released thus far, belongs to a whole category unto itself that it won't even compete with the PlayStation Pro. Microsoft says the Xbox One S will do that job.
Essentially, that means the Xbox One X is placed in the group of next-generation of gaming machines, rivaled by none at this point in time, at least until Sony procures its PlayStation 4 Pro sequel eventually.
But while that's true, not all players will be willing to upgrade at a moment's notice. First, the console is priced a tad bit expensive at $499. Second, potential customers who have the means to upgrade might ask, "Is there something significant to be gained from upgrading to the Xbox One X?"
There might be. But there might be not.
Depending on how you value raw power and how it translates to gaming performance, you'll either balk at the Xbox One X or lend to its appeal entirely. But before we get into all that, let's look at how the Xbox One X, Xbox One, and Xbox One X compare — just the basics.
Xbox One X vs Xbox One S vs Xbox One
• Output resolution: Both the Xbox One X and Xbox One S can output up to 4K (HDR), while the original Xbox One is capped to 1080p.
• CPU: The Xbox One X has a custom AMD, 2.3 GHz 8-core; the Xbox One S has an AMD Jaguar APU, 1.75 GHz 8-core; and the Xbox One has an AMD Jaguar APU, 1.75 GHz 8-core.
• GPU: The Xbox One X tops at 1.17 GHz with 6 teraflops of power, while the Xbox One S only has 914 MHz with 1.4 teraflops — quite a staggering graphical leap, certainly. The original Xbox One, meanwhile boasts 853 MHz with 1.3 teraflops.
• RAM: The Xbox One X has 12 GB of GDDR5 RAM, while the Xbox One S and the Xbox One has 8 GB of DDR3 RAM.
Xbox One X: Should You Upgrade?
With those specs in mind, should you upgrade? Yes, and, well — no.
One of the chief selling points of the Xbox One X is its ability to play titles in native 4K, some titles even at 60 fps — and it takes a staggering amount of power to pull this off. Still, 4K gameplay requires a 4K TV setup, otherwise the player can only enjoy their games in the resolution their TV is capped to. Simply put, if you want to play 4K games on the Xbox One X but only have a 1080p TV, you simply won't get 4K. That's just how it works.
Law Of Diminishing Returns
But suppose you do have a 4K TV to support the Xbox One X's 4K gameplay resolution — how big of a leap is it from 1080p? From 720p? Technically, 4K is a huge leap from those resolutions — but pragmatically? Will it make 1080p and 720p practically ugly moving forward? Is it as big of a shift in resolution as SD to HD was?
The law of diminishing returns plays a role in this situation — the theory that as innovation advances, the practical gains from it decreases. This is especially true for smartphones — the arrival of touchscreens, bezel-less displays, and beefy specs makes for a strong argument: Besides a better battery life, is there any innovation left for phones today?
You can argue that there is, in fact, more innovation to be had. So you can argue that 4K is, in fact, a huge leap from 1080p. But does that leap warrant a $499 price point? Especially for those who already have current-generation consoles than run perfectly fine as it stands?
Xbox One: Future-Proofing
Here's an interesting yet unexplored thought, however: it's arguably almost imperative for this generation's players to get the Xbox One X, if to future-proof forthcoming titles. Yes, the Xbox One X is a powerful beast, and yes, we can't be certain whether developers will be able to take its full advantage.
Still, considering the kind of power the console has, the Xbox One X is basically a way to future-proof games — or basically, to make sure the console will still be a relevant platform six, seven, or eight years down the road because of its inherent graphical performance. Simply put, while there's still no significant pile of titles that directly take advantage of the Xbox One X's raw power now, we're pretty sure that someday soon, it'll be able to power a lot of graphics-intensive titles.
4K is here to stay, and that's what the Xbox One X will be great at. Until 8K rolls around in the mainstream space — 4K has barely arrived, though — the Xbox One X stands to become an essential console for many years. Getting it now ensures you won't have to upgrade for a long time.
In short, if you're doubting whether you should upgrade to the Xbox One X, you probably shouldn't. It's got great specs — beastly. It has 4K, it's got the future written all over it. But if you already have current-generation machines and don't care much for 4K graphics, then don't get it.