Xbox Series X isn’t getting an upgrade anytime soon — but it doesn’t need one

An Xbox Series X and a Controller on a TV stand
(Image credit: Future)

Have you been squirreling away your pennies in the hopes that Microsoft would announce a power-up Xbox Series X at its recent Xbox Games Showcase? You can shove that change back into that piggy bank.

Phil Spencer, CEO of Xbox Games Studios, recently poured cold water on the prospect of either the Series X or the cheaper Xbox Series S receiving a mid-gen hardware refresh. Speaking to Bloomberg News, the Xbox boss said he “doesn’t feel an imperative” to release upgraded versions of Microsoft’s consoles (that's not including the black 1TB version of the Xbox Series S Microsoft revealed at the showcase).

When pressed further, he added: “Right now, we’re pretty set on the hardware we have.” That’s undoubtedly a blow for gamers hoping to see Pro models of the Series X and Series S. And is surprising given rumors around an upgraded PS5, the so-called PS5 Pro, have been gathering pace lately. 

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Spencer at least sprinkled a little good news during his interview, with a promise Microsoft had “significantly increased supplies” in order to reduce the types of stock shortages that have blighted the Series X since it launched.

Box to box

An Xbox Series X next to an Xbox Series S

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I'm actually all for Spencer’s tactics on this one. After all, Xbox Series X and the less powerful S have only been out for two-and-a-half years. Seeing as the PS4 and Xbox One generations launched back in November 2013 — and both machines remain supported to this day — the idea of upgraded consoles being parachuted into a generation that's only 30 months old feels premature.

It’s not that I don’t love a mid-cycle hardware refresh (when the timing is right). I practically threw my wallet at Sony and Microsoft when they released the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X.

The key difference, all these years later? We simply don’t need a more powerful Xbox Series X at this point in 2023.

Xbox Series X is a powerhouse that in no way needs a mid-generation refresh at this point in its journey

The Series X has a vastly more capable processor and GPU than 2017’s Xbox One X. Microsoft’s high-end Xbox goes toe-to-toe with the PS5 over specs, and both systems have amassed libraries full of games you can play at 4K/60 fps — the gold standard for gaming on consoles in 2023.

Xbox Series X is a powerhouse that in no way needs a mid-generation refresh at this point in its journey. Especially when a good chunk of said journey involved a pandemic that caused brutal production problems.

The lack of need or desire to see an upgraded Series X so soon after launch is in stark contrast to the market Xbox One X entered into.

When Microsoft's first truly 4K-capable console launched, the original Xbox One was already four years old. With so many games from its library outputting at 1080p or lower resolutions, it had become a bad fit for the flood of high-quality 4K TVs that had entered the market since the release of Microsoft's machine in 2013.

Xbox One X

Thanks to a sigificant GPU upgrade over its predecessor, Xbox One X delivered 4K gaming to the console space. Somtimes, mid-gen refeshes are justified. (Image credit: Microsoft)

When faced with putting up with 1080p titles on their Xbox One or choosing Xbox One X to play Red Dead Redemption 2 in 4K, you can see why certain fans made the jump. The increase in image clarity from 1080p to 2160p (3,840 x 2160) is a game-changer; the core of what makes a mid-gen hardware refresh totally justifiable.

There was a clear reason for the Xbox One X to exist back then. It entered into a nearly half-decade-old market where TV tech was outstripping what the original Xbox Box One could handle. That’s just not the case in 2023. In the here and now, Microsoft has a beast of a system that produces impressive 60 frames per second 4K gaming experiences perfectly suited to the best TVs.

Could a mid-gen Xbox Series X successor chase 8K gaming? Seeing as even the $2,000 Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 GPU can’t come close to delivering a playable 8K experiences  — and that's the world's most powerful consumer graphics card — you wouldn't stick your house on it. It's time to bury those dreams of playing Starfield on an 8K Xbox. Chin up. 

A Series matter

The Xbox Series S in black with a 1TB SSD.

Microsoft may not released a more powerful Xbox Series X, but we're glad to see the new black edition comes with a 1TB SSD. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Right now, I just can’t see the justification for a PS5 Pro or a mid-gen successor to Xbox Series X

Right now, I just can’t see the justification for upgrading the Xbox Series X. This is a hugely powerful console that happily runs many of the best Xbox Series X games at 4K/60 fps.

In three years' time, could my wallet be seduced into parting with heaps of cash for a more powerful mid-gen Pro model of these machines? Possibly.

Yet unless Microsoft can stuff in enough CPU cores and GPU teraflops to make 4K/120 fps way commonplace in console gaming, I’ll be sticking with my (only slightly dusty) Xbox Series X.

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Dave Meikleham
UK Computing Editor

Dave is a computing editor at Tom’s Guide and covers everything from cutting edge laptops to ultrawide monitors. When he’s not worrying about dead pixels, Dave enjoys regularly rebuilding his PC for absolutely no reason at all. In a previous life, he worked as a video game journalist for 15 years, with bylines across GamesRadar+, PC Gamer and TechRadar. Despite owning a graphics card that costs roughly the same as your average used car, he still enjoys gaming on the go and is regularly glued to his Switch. Away from tech, most of Dave’s time is taken up by walking his husky, buying new TVs at an embarrassing rate and obsessing over his beloved Arsenal.