Xbox Consoles in Order: What You Need to Know

This post was last updated on August 1, 2022

While not the first console war, the battle between the Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox has defined 21st-century gaming. Both manufacturers have aimed to produce video game consoles that outshine each other.

Despite its ups and downs, the Xbox has remained a strong contender, offering gamers unique experiences and various memorable games. So let’s take a trip down memory lane to go through all of the Xbox consoles in order.

Xbox Console (2001)

We start off our history of the Xbox consoles in order with November 15, 2001, which was the first Xbox release date from Microsoft. Microsoft had focused previously on PC gaming, so this move represented a huge shift for the company. The console was a serious competitor in a market saturated by Sony’s PlayStation 2 (released a year earlier), Sega’s Dreamcast, and Nintendo’s GameCube.

Despite initial skepticism, the original Xbox console outperformed both the GameCube and Dreamcast, selling over a million units in the first three weeks and 24 million during its lifetime. Though it trailed the PlayStation 2’s 155 million sales, it established Microsoft as a serious contender in the console market.

Ethernet and Xbox Live

The original Xbox featured smart design choices, with four controller ports and a pioneering built-in Ethernet port, which allowed gamers to connect to the internet and enjoy a unique gaming experience that neither the original PlayStation 2 nor GameCube provided.

The Xbox Live online service let users link games to their accounts and take advantage of online matchmaking for multiplayer sessions.

Xbox Game Classics

The online connectivity probably boosted the popularity of the original Xbox games, especially multiplayer games such as Halo and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. Halo remained one of the Xbox’s flagship series and a best-selling game, mainly due to its multiplayer aspect.

The Halo series felt like a breath of fresh air for original Xbox gamers in a world packed with PC-based first-person shooters. Halo 2 was the best-selling game of this Xbox generation, selling just under 8.5 million copies. Other notable original Xbox titles of the era included Fable, Forza Motorsport, and Ninja Gaiden.

Specs

  • CPU: Intel Pentium III – 733 MHz
  • GPU: NVIDIA NV2A – 233 MHz
  • Memory: 64 MB DDR SDRAM
  • Hard Drive: 8 GB HDD
  • Optical Drive: CD Rom, DVD Rom
  • Video Output: S-Video, SCART (RGB)
  • Network: Fast Ethernet
  • Audio: 5.1 Surround Sound, Stereo

Xbox 360 (2005)

The second Xbox generation’s release date of November 22, 2005, was a full year before the PlayStation 3, giving the Xbox 360 a head start in the next iteration of the console wars.

In addition to making a beefy console, Microsoft also focused on expanding its live services and making the Xbox 360 a comprehensive entertainment system. In addition to being able to play games, the Xbox 360 supported YouTube and Netflix and played CDs and DVDs.

Unfortunately, despite Microsoft’s head start on the PlayStation 3, the Xbox 360 faced a rocky launch. The system overheated quickly thanks to its powerful processor, internal power supply, and poor cooling capacity. This heat caused massive damage to the console, resulting in the dreaded “Red Ring of Death.”

While Microsoft repaired or replaced these faulty products, it took the Xbox 360 a lot of time to recover its reputation as a high-end console manufacturer.

The shaky launch wasn’t the last of Microsoft’s troubles with the Xbox 360. The company aggressively expanded the Xbox Live service, offering console bundles and regular free games, but also kept hiking subscription prices. While Xbox Live contained several innovative features, such as the ability to earn achievements and increase your “gamer score”, the rising costs of the service pushed many gamers away.

Despite these challenges, the console sold almost 86 million units from its release date to April 2022, making it the best-selling Xbox console generation, largely due to its excellent game selection.

Microsoft sold two versions of the original Xbox 360: the Xbox 360 Core and Xbox 360 Pro. The Pro came with a larger hard drive, letting gamers download their music, video, and games onto the console itself. Microsoft later released the Xbox 360 Elite, which had a significantly bigger hard drive (120 GB) and a higher price tag.

The Xbox 360 underwent several minor changes over the years, including redesigning the wireless controller and headset. The biggest shake-up was introducing the Kinect system, which let users interact with the Xbox 360 via a motion control system.

The Kinect launched as a stand-alone peripheral, containing a Kinect controller and sensor bar. The Kinect accessory sold over 80 million units in two months, making it the fastest-selling consumer electronics device to date.

Kinect games were so popular that one of the best-selling titles on the Xbox 360 was Kinect Adventures!. It beat out Grand Theft Auto V and three Call of Duty games (Modern Warfare 3, Black Ops, and Black Ops 2), selling 24 million copies on the Xbox console, while GTA only managed to sell 23 million on multiple platforms.

Specs

  • CPU: Microsoft XCPU (Xenon), 3 cores – 500 MHz
  • GPU: R500, Xenos chip by ATI – 500 MHz
  • Memory: 512 MB GDDR3 RAM
  • Hard Drive: 250 GB HDD
  • Optical Drive: 12x DVD
  • Video Output: HDMI 1.2a in/out
  • Network: Ethernet, IEEE 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
  • Audio: Multichannel 5.1 Surround Sound

Xbox 360 S (2010)

Following the rising popularity of the original Xbox 360 console, Microsoft set a release date of July 2010 for a new version of the 360, the Xbox 360 Slim, or 360 S.

The Xbox 360 S had a brand new CPU and motherboard that were less prone to Red Rings of Death plus some peripherals to keep the console feeling modern. These included a WiFi connection, two additional USB ports, and an HD-DVD drive.

Specs

  • CPU/GPU: Custom ATI-designed, combo single chip
  • Memory: 512 MB of GDDR3 RAM
  • Hard Drive: 250 GB HDD
  • Optical Drive: DVD
  • Video Output: HDMI 1.2a in/out
  • Network: 802.11b/g/n, Fast Ethernet
  • Audio: 5.1 Channel Surround Sound

Xbox 360 E (2013)

The final iteration of the 360 console generation was the Xbox 360 E, which offered minor improvements to the 360 S. It came with a Kinect port and was slightly smaller and quieter than its older counterparts. The main purpose of the Xbox 360 E was to give players an alternative to the newer-gen console that Microsoft was releasing in the same year.

Specs

  • CPU: IBM custom-designed Xenon – 3 cores
  • GPU: ATI Xenos – 10 MB DRAM
  • Memory: 512 MB GDDR3 RAM
  • Hard Drive: 250 GB HDD 2.5″ SATA
  • Optical Drive: HD DVD
  • Video Output: HDMI, Up to 100a
  • Network: 802.11b/g/n, Fast Ethernet
  • Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound

Xbox One (2013)

The third Xbox generation, which Microsoft oddly called “Xbox One,” was a move toward a complete entertainment system. The Xbox One release date was November 22, 2013.

The Xbox One contained cutting-edge technology, enabling 4K resolution at higher graphics settings. Many fans still consider the revamped Xbox One controller the best in the business for PC and Xbox games.

Unfortunately, Microsoft released the Xbox One with a Kinect sensor as a built-in peripheral, which raised the console’s cost by $100. With several user-unfriendly features, such as no game sharing and requiring an internet connection, this next-generation Xbox had a very rocky start.

To salvage its reputation and compete with the more gamer-friendly PS 4, Microsoft added backward compatibility, allowing gamers to run older Xbox 360 “backward-compatible games” on their new Xbox One console. They also made the Kinect peripheral an optional extra, lowering the price to a more competitive level.

Combined with several high-quality exclusive games, such as Gears of War, Forza Horizon 3, and Titan Fall, the Xbox One eventually started to recover, but sales never reached the dizzying heights of the Xbox 360. Since its release date, the console has sold an estimated 51 million copies worldwide, compared to the PlayStation’s 114.93 million units.

Specs

  • CPU: AMD 8 Core APU – 1.75 GHz
  • GPU: AMD Radeon GCN architecture, 853 MHz
  • Memory: 8 GB DDR3
  • Hard Drive: 500 GB HDD
  • Optical Drive: Blu-Ray/DVD
  • Video Output: HDMI 1.4 in/out, 4K support
  • Network: Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi 
  • Audio: 7,1 Surround Sound

Xbox One S (2016)

The Xbox One S console launched in 2016, offering better capabilities and a more minimalist aesthetic than its larger predecessor. It also came with a larger hard drive, better GPU, and a revamped Xbox wireless controller.

The Xbox One S continued to provide gamers with the opportunity to play backward-compatible offerings from all the Xbox consoles while enjoying the best new Xbox products. Unfortunately for lovers of Kinect Adventures and other Kinect-based games, Microsoft decided to suspend support for the Kinect after releasing the Xbox One S.

But while some people enjoy the Xbox One S for nostalgia-fueled gaming, the console also had several exciting exclusives and best-selling games, including Dead Rising 4 and Sunset Overdrive. One Xbox One exclusive, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, sold over 30 million copies.

Specs

  • CPU: AMD 8-core APU (2 quad-core Jaguar modules)
  • GPU: AMD Radeon 914 MHz
  • Memory: 8 GB DDR3 
  • Hard Drive: 1TB HDD
  • Optical Drive: UHD Blu-ray, DVD
  • Video Output: HDMI 2.0 in/out, 4K support
  • Network: WiFi, IEEE 802.11n, Ethernet
  • Audio: 7.1 Surround Sound

Xbox One X (2017)

Microsoft released the Xbox One X as an intergenerational release, mainly to compete with the PS4 Pro. It had several upgrades over the Xbox One S, including a better GPU and more power. The Xbox One X was the smallest Xbox console.

To encourage gamers to buy the new Xbox One X instead of sticking to their original Xbox, the console maintained backward compatibility and even offered “enhanced versions” of older games. These versions tended to perform better than on their original Xbox or Xbox 360 console, with better graphics, higher resolution support, and improved performance.

The library of these games kept growing, making the Xbox One X an appealing choice for people wanting to play an old Xbox game on a new console.

Gamers can follow the latest Xbox news to find out which titles are playable on their Xbox Ones.

Xbox Game Pass

2017 was a notable year for Xbox, not just because of the release of the Xbox One X but also the announcement of Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass. This subscription service gave all Xbox One S and X owners access to a library of over 100 games they could play without buying.

The Xbox Game Pass library has expanded dramatically in the five years since its inception and has become one of the key selling points for Xbox consoles.

Specs

  • CPU: AMD 8-core APU – 2.3 GHz
  • GPU: AMD Radeon GCN architecture  1.172 GHz
  • Memory: 12 GB GDDR5
  • Hard Drive: 2TB HDD
  • Optical Drive: UHD Blu-ray, DVD
  • Video Output: HDMI 2.0 in/out, 4K support
  • Network: WiFi, IEEE 802.11n, Ethernet
  • Audio: 7.1 Surround Sound

Xbox Series X and Series S (2020)

Due to disappointing sales of the Xbox One X, Microsoft was determined to make the next Xbox generation something special.

The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S represented Microsoft’s earnest effort to restore its reputation as a great console manufacturer. The consoles have gamer-friendly features such as backward compatibility, Xbox Game Pass, and PC-beating performance at a fraction of the price of a pre-built PC.

The Xbox Series S is the budget-friendly version of the console. It sacrifices some performance with a slower GPU, less storage, and no optical drive but still offers excellent performance for the price. Gamers who don’t need 120 FPS at 4K resolution will be perfectly happy with the Xbox Series S’s capabilities.

Unfortunately, the Xbox Series S doesn’t have backward compatibility for Xbox One games due to its lack of processing power. It can easily run any best-selling game from the original Xbox or Xbox 360, but the lack of an optical drive also means you’ll have to download all games directly to the console. With some larger games, storage can become an issue quickly.

The Xbox Series X has more storage, a beefy CPU and GPU, and an optical drive. Microsoft claims that the Xbox Series X can run most games at 120 FPS on an 8K screen, but that probably depends on the game and developer. The Xbox Series X also has backward compatibility with Xbox One enhanced games, and the optical drive means you can still choose between physical and digital media.

Microsoft has integrated many of its PC and Xbox gaming services for the Xbox Series X. At least three games are currently Game Pass exclusives: Forza Horizon 5, Microsoft Flight Simulator, and Halo Infinite. Both the Series S and Series X can take advantage of new technologies, such as DirectX raytracing, to showcase almost any game’s true potential.

Specs

Xbox Series S

  • CPU: 8-core, 3.6 GHz Custom Zen 2
  • GPU: Custom RDNA 2, 4 teraflops
  • Memory: 10 GB
  • Hard drive: 512 GB SSD
  • Video Output: HDMI

Xbox Series X

  • CPU: AMD Zen 8-core – 3.8GHz
  • GPU: Custom RDNA 2 – 1.825GHz, 52 CUs, 12 TFLOPs
  • Memory: 16 GB GDDR6
  • Hard Drive: 1TB NVMe SSD
  • Optical Drive: 4K UDH Blu-ray
  • Video Output: HDMI 2.1

While many gamers have no trouble finding reasons that the Xbox is better than the PS4, Microsoft may have misstepped with the Xbox One. Luckily, the Series X represents a return to form from the Xbox One. The Series X console has plenty of exciting exclusives and high-end performance at a fraction of the cost of a new PC.

If you want to know more about anything gaming-related or have strong opinions on the Xbox Series X, head over to our main blog site. We’re your go-to gaming site, with Xbox games news, reviews, and the latest scoops on the Xbox Series X and other gaming goodies. We hope you’ve enjoyed our history of the Xbox consoles in order.