Does the original Xbox One still have what it takes to run modern cross-gen games?

The original Xbox One launched in 2013 as an all-in-one entertainment box with a Kinect sensor, TV integration and a hefty £429/$499 USD price tag. Its ambitions as a media center were high – but it came at a cost. The Xbox One was underpowered due to a DDR3/ESRAM memory system with less overall bandwidth than the GDDR5-equipped PS4 and significantly lower GPU compute performance. The launch of the Xbox One S in 2016 was an improvement, not only in terms of form factor but also performance, thanks to a GPU overclock. All of this begs the question: how does the vintage 2013 model perform when challenged with the latest cross-gen games? If the Xbox One S is struggling – which it is – does that mean owners of the OG model are getting an even less impressive experience? We decided to find out.

First, let’s refresh on the differences between the original Xbox One unit, codenamed Durango, and its successor One S (known internally as the Edmonton). While broadly similar to the original unit, the One S features a higher clocked GPU, bumping the GCN-based design from 853MHz to 914MHz, a 7.1% increase in frequency and compute GPU, while memory bandwidth on the integrated ESRAM increases from 204 GB/s to 219 GB/s. Additionally, the new console comes with a host of new display features due to its support for the HDMI 2.0 output standard. The GPU improvements here weren’t massive, but they did give the performance-hungry console a bit more overhead to cope with demanding games.

This new system replaced the original Xbox One for our cross-platform reviews at some point in 2017 and hasn’t been revisited since – and by extension, we have to wonder how much support the older machine has. Full QA on the developer side in a world where the vast majority of Xbox One machines are the new Model S.

Watch the YouTube video to see Oliver’s Xbox One analysis in more depth.
Xbox One Hardware Specifications Xbox One Xbox OneS
GPUs AMD 1.31TF
(12 CPUs at 853 MHz)
AMD 1.40TF
(12 CPUs at 914 MHz)
CPU AMDJaguar
(8 cores at 1.75 GHz)
AMDJaguar
(8 cores at 1.75 GHz)
Memory 8 GB DDR3 at 68.3 GB/s
32 MB ESRAM at 204 GB/s
8 GB DDR3 at 68.3 GB/s
32 MB ESRAM at 219 GB/s
Storage 500 GB 5400 rpm hard drive 500 GB 5400 rpm hard drive
HDR, VRR, 4K output Nope Yes

It’s time to do some testing. The Xbox One we tested is an original unit from 2013, purchased shortly after launch and used almost continuously – a nearly nine-year-old console that should be showing its age. This is the weakest officially supported hardware that can run Cyberpunk 2077, Battlefield 2042, and Elden Ring, blockbuster titles that can have performance issues even on the fastest current-gen consoles. In our tests, shown in full in the video above, we captured seven recent games to see exactly how the One holds up against titles that increasingly seem to target far superior current-gen hardware.

Overall, games on Xbox One seem to fall into two camps: those that work well despite some shortcomings, and those that suffer and clearly fall short of their performance targets. Forza Horizon 5 and Grid Legends are great examples of the first category. There are a few quirks here and there, like streaming issues when moving at high speeds in Forza or low framerate replays in Grid, but overall you can enjoy a perfectly playable experience on the original Xbox One, albeit at a lower resolution and frame rate than later Xbox consoles.


The Xbox One generally suffers from cross-platform titles. In Elden Ring here, the performance is very similar to the Xbox One S, despite its faster GPU. However, in other titles the S may be faster.

The other – and unfortunately larger – category reveals a systemic problem with games on Xbox One, where too often frame rates are low even in less demanding scenes, stutters are commonplace, and shaking often requires the VRR is smoothed – which, as you’ll remember, isn’t an option on the original Xbox One. Cyberpunk 2077, Call of Duty Vanguard, Battlefield 2042, Elden Ring, and Tales of Arise all suffer from these performance issues, and in many cases graphical fidelity should have been sacrificed to achieve a more stable frame rate.

Of course, we can’t tell by just testing the Xbox One if this is specific to the original hardware from 2013, or if it’s something also experienced on the new One S – so we’ve also run a series of benchmarks. on both consoles to find out. .

We know that the GPU clock was increased by 7.1% on the Xbox One S, which should produce a measurable performance gap between these two machines – but the increased ESRAM bandwidth should also improve frequencies. pictures. Tales of Arise is a good test case because it meets three important criteria for evaluating hardware differences: it’s generally GPU limited, with an unlocked frame rate to easily observe performance fluctuations, and static resolution to that the rendering workload is identical throughout. the consoles in corresponding sequences. The increased clock results in a higher frame rate of about two to four frames per second in the corresponding areas, which roughly matches the increased clock speed.

In other titles, the results are understandably less consistent. Cyberpunk 2077, for example, performs noticeably better on the One S in scenes that seem to be more GPU-limited, but elsewhere streaming demands stress the CPU and leave the two machines on an even keel. Elden Ring is pretty much the same and doesn’t seem to show any significant performance differences when navigating the open world. Generally, if a game is CPU-limited, or if a game supports a dynamic resolution system, frame rates should be similar between the two machines.

Apart from the outstanding performance, game load times are also problematic on the original Xbox One, with our tests revealing noticeably longer load times in some games – Forza Horizon 5, for example, loads 35% faster on the One S versus the OG One, and we also see measurable differences in Far Cry 6 and CrossfireX. The results here are unexpected and intriguing and we can offer two potential explanations. Firstly, hard drive specs may be different, with the One S featuring a more modern and capable hard drive. The other potential explanation is that player health on the OG model has degraded over the years due to increased usage, leading to longer load times.

Loading time Xbox One (seconds) Xbox One S (seconds) An advantage S

Forza Horizon 5

144.6 106.8 35.4%
the ascent 162.7 160.0 1.6%
far cry 6 58.4 52.2 11.9%
CrossfireX 78.7 74.4 5.9%

Cyberpunk 2077

50.0 49.2 1.6%

There’s strong evidence that as we move through the cross-generational period, owners of the latest generation consoles are increasingly getting a degraded experience, especially in more ambitious titles. For example, Call of Duty Vanguard performs significantly worse on Xbox One than Call of Duty Modern Warfare, and the same goes for Battlefield 2042 compared to Battlefield 5. images on this hardware if the Xbox One was still a current-gen machine rather than a second-class citizen.

This is a bit of a problem as many upcoming titles are still set to release on this hardware and so we’re bound to see more unsatisfactory Xbox One releases as the cross-gen era continues. Sure, some titles are dropping planned support for next-gen hardware, but many big-ticket games are likely to really struggle here.

Ultimately, while the Xbox One is still capable of running most new releases, the experience leaves a lot to be desired with the potential for even worse performance on the launch model. As cross-generation continues, the Xbox One is caught in a predicament: not only is it the least capable of the last-gen machines, but it also has a much smaller installed base compared to the PlayStation 4, while its DDR3/ESRAM configuration also continues to cause problems for developers.

All of this means that an upgrade can really deliver wonders and while the PS5 and Series X are the go-to options, there is a value-based alternative. Yes, we have some reservations about the £249/$299 Xbox Series S, but there’s no doubt that as an upgrade path for Xbox One users it’s a fantastic machine that offers a a big improvement over its last-gen equivalent – it’s priced right and availability doesn’t seem to be an issue anymore. Its lack of support for disc games is problematic, but Microsoft may have an answer for this. And that’s really the biggest takeaway from this exercise: it’s time to move on, and thankfully console gamers have a range of good choices available.

About Sara Rodriquez

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