The Xbox Series X is Microsoft’s most powerful next-generation console, with an 8-core CPU, a GPU with 12 teraflops of processing power, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB custom NVMe SSD.
The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are now available globally for $299 and $499, respectively.
We’re going to try to help you decide whether or not you need a new Xbox this year.
Whenever a new video game console launches, the first question that everyone wants answered is whether or not they need to rush out and pick it up on day one. Some people are going to grab a new Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo console no matter what, but for those of you who are on the fence, we’re here to help.
Below, we discuss some of the reasons you might want to buy an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S right away, as well as the reasons that you might be better off waiting until 2021. If you find yourself leaning in one direction or the other after reading through both sections, you should hopefully have a better idea of what to do next.
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Reasons to buy an Xbox Series X|S in 2020
Xbox Game Pass: The best reason to own an Xbox in 2020 is to have access to Xbox Game Pass. The monthly subscription service is the best value in gaming, offering well over 200 games for $10/month. Pay an extra $5 for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and get EA Play as well, which expands the library even further. Xbox Game Pass is available on Xbox One, Series S, and Series X, but there’s no better place to play these games than on the next-generation consoles, which boost visuals and cut load times significantly.
Backward compatibility: In 2015, Microsoft announced that it would bring support for Xbox 360 games to the Xbox One. Five and a half years later, Microsoft confirmed days before the launch of the Xbox Series X|S that the two consoles can play every Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One game, other than those that require Kinect. There is no other gaming company that takes backward compatibility as seriously as Microsoft, and if you have a sizable Xbox game library, you can bring all of those games with you to the new generation.
Quick Resume: If you hooked up an Xbox One to one TV and an Xbox Series X to another in the same room, you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart, as they have the exact same UI. But there are a few key differences. One of the new features that Microsoft has brought to its next-generation boxes is Quick Resume, which allows you to jump between active games without having to reload them. The PS5 can’t do this, nor can the Xbox One. If you like to multitask (or have a short attention span) you’re going to love this feature.
Xbox One vs. Xbox Series S: The fact of the matter is that if you want an Xbox and don’t currently own one, the Xbox Series S costs about the same as any Xbox One bundle you will find in the wild this holiday season. There’s certainly a chance that Black Friday will bring huge discounts to the Xbox One lineup, but if you’re set on buying a new console in 2020, there’s no reason to get an Xbox One over an Xbox Series S.
Reasons to wait to buy an Xbox Series X|S
Launch lineup: The number one reason to buy a PS5 at launch is the best reason to wait on upgrading to an Xbox Series X or Series S this holiday season. There is not a single game that you can play on an Xbox Series X|S that you can’t play on an Xbox One. If you never owned an Xbox One, this isn’t going to matter much, but if you were hoping to experience something on the new Xbox that you couldn’t on the old Xbox, you’re out of luck. We don’t even know when the first next-gen exclusive game is coming to Xbox Series X|S.
The right console: Both the Xbox Series X and Series S are incredibly capable game consoles, but the Series X is unquestionably the more powerful of the two. It’s also $200 more expensive. So which one should you pick up? The longer you wait to pick one up, the more time you’ll give others to determine the strengths and weaknesses of each, so you’ll know which one is worth shelling out for when you’re ready to take the plunge.
New controller: Microsoft’s updated Xbox Series X|S wireless controller is not nearly as big of a leap as Sony’s DualSense, but it is a better controller. It has a convenient Share button, the D-pad is brilliantly clicky, and the grip has been adjusted to make it more comfortable for long play sessions. But it’s also compatible with the Xbox One, so if you really want the new controller, you can buy it use it with your last-gen console.
Expandable storage: Unlike on the PS5, you can buy and use external SSD cards to expand the storage of your Xbox Series X|S right now. The problem is that the 1TB Seagate Storage Expansion Card costs $219.99, which is 4-5 times more expensive than an external hard drive of the same capacity. The prices will (hopefully) eventually drop, but the only way to play Xbox Series X|S games from an external drive is to buy this specific card, so it wouldn’t hurt to hold off for a few months and see what happens to the price.
The complicating factor here for many consumers is that Xbox Series X and Series S consoles are going to be very difficult to find for the foreseeable future. If they come back in stock, there are plenty of reasons to grab one, but the gamers who already own an Xbox One aren’t missing out on anything by waiting until next year.
Jacob started covering video games and technology in college as a hobby, but it quickly became clear to him that this was what he wanted to do for a living. He currently resides in New York writing for BGR. His previously published work can be found on TechHive, VentureBeat and Game Rant.