The Xbox One S Is Great, But Should You Get One?

STACK reviews Microsoft's Xbox One S gaming console, which is smaller and more powerful than its predecessor.

STACK recently got our hands on a brand new Xbox One S to see what this next generation of Microsoft's popular gaming console has to offer.

The two questions on most gamers' mind are:

  1. If I don't have an Xbox One, should I take the plunge on an Xbox One S?
  2. If I currently have an Xbox One, should I upgrade to the Xbox One S?

The quick answers are "yes" and "maybe."

The Overview

We received the 1TB Madden 17 Bundle, and it was clear from the drop that the Xbox One S looks better than the original Xbox One. The new console is smaller and sleeker, and the bright white finish (Microsoft calls it "Robot White") looks great next to the other consoles in my entertainment center. The newly designed controller is also white and looks just as good.

Besides looking better, and having a 40-percent smaller footprint, the Xbox One S features a built-in power supply so you don't have to find space behind your TV setup for the old-school "brick" that powered the first Xbox One. You can lay the Xbox One S flat or stand it on its side to best fit your gaming space.

The processor inside the Xbox One S supports 4K resolution for streaming video and Blu-ray. Gaming gets an "upscale" treatment that isn't quite 4K but is better than the 1080p resolution offered by its predecessor.

The Xbox One S is more efficient and operates a bit faster (visit xbox.com for all the technical mumbo jumbo), but the performance boost is so slight that you might not notice a difference.

Using the Xbox One S

Our Madden 17 bundle was a breeze to set up. After a short system download, we were up and running.

Besides its upgraded appearance, the biggest selling point for the Xbox One S is its 4K support. This is where things get a bit tricky. You need to understand your TV's capabilities before you throw down the cash for a new console.

We plugged our Xbox One S into the same HDMI port that we used for our original Xbox One and found out that 4K support at 60hz (which is necessary for the 4K goodies) was not available via that port. So we had to switch over to the lone HDMI input on our TV that supported it.

To make a long story short, I had to bounce back and forth between the TV's and Xbox One S's settings to get 4K to work. I also went through a fairly in-depth color calibration to dial in the 4K resolution.

The point is, you're not likely to just plug in the console and be instantly overwhelmed by its new visuals. It takes some tweaking to get it right. And in all honesty, you might not be overwhelmed anyway. That's not to say that the Xbox One S doesn't look great; it does. It's just that the Xbox One already looked good, so the upgrade to 4K (and upscale for gaming) isn't the massive leap forward you might expect. A/V nerds (like me) will notice, but others  may be less impressed.

The Verdict: Should You Buy the Xbox One S?

After a few days of playing the Xbox One S, I was impressed. The new controller feels great, the white console is gorgeous, and its 4K capabilities are an upgrade over the original Xbox One. So, should you buy one?

For gamers who haven't yet jumped on the Xbox bandwagon, I think this is a great time to do so. In addition to Madden 17, Microsoft is offering the Xbox One S bundled with other popular games such as Battlefield 1, the Halo Collection, Gears of War 4 and FIFA 17. These bundles are available in 500GB, 1TB or 2TB versions and start at $299.

We are most excited about the Battlefield 1 Special Edition console in flat military green and the Gears of War 4 Limited Edition bundle, which features a "battle-weathered" Xbox One S in a custom color.

What about gamers who already own an Xbox One console? Is it worth it to jump to the Xbox One S?

It depends. The console's size alone may nudge loyal Xbox owners to upgrade—it's that significant a change. The original Xbox One is a behemoth, and that giant power brick is a nuisance if your gaming rig is in a tight space.

The small uptick in performance and the addition of 4K support are also reasons to move up. But if you don't mind the bulk of the original Xbox One and its power supply, or if you don't own a 4K-ready TV, you may want to hold onto your money a little longer.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: NEWS | XBOX ONE | MADDEN 17