Nintendo Switch vs Xbox One X: Which should you buy this holiday season?

Nintendo Switch Breath of the Wild

Nintendo Switch Breath of the Wild (Image credit: iMore)

This is something of a David versus Goliath tale. But, we all know how that turned out. The David of the console world is the Nintendo Switch, which falls far behind Microsoft's new Goliath, the Xbox One X.

But there's always more to a story than raw hardware, and so if you're looking to spend your hard earned money on just one new console this year, which one should you go for?

The obvious difference

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch

The obvious difference between the two could ultimately be the dealbreaker for you so it's worth thinking about first. The Nintendo Switch is both a home console and a portable. The Xbox One X is stuck at home under your TV. You can take it on the road with you, but you're not going to sit on the bus playing Halo 5 like you can play Super Mario Odyssey.

Nintendo has essentially dominated the handheld console market for decades. Even now, among all the smartphones and tablets, folks flock to buy Nintendo portables. The Switch is a great experience at home, docked into your TV, but it's just as good with the Joycons strapped on and taking on the road.

The Xbox One X, by contrast, requires a large bag just to move it, an external display and a wired or wireless controller. Companies like [Gaems have some innovative solutions](/In the battle of the hottest consoles of 2017, which one should you buy?) for on-the-go console gaming, but none are as convenient, or fun, as the Nintendo Switch. You do get 4K and HDR with the Xbox One X, though, as you also get a 4K Blu-ray player.

More: The Windows Central Xbox One X review


Xbox One X

The other big consideration is the price. Neither are experiencing any discounts right now, which means you'll be paying $300 or more for a Switch or $500 for an Xbox One X. In Switch terms, you can buy a lot of games on top before you arrive at the spend for an Xbox One X.

Both prices are for the console only, when bundled with games you'll be spending more, but how much depends on the retailer. The Xbox One X may also be harder to come by close to launch, with many retailers quickly selling out of pre-orders and early stocks.


Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch (Image credit: Lory Gil / iMore)

Whenever you buy a console, the first-party exclusives are always something to consider. For Nintendo, the only place you'll find Mario, Splatoon 2, Pokken Tournament DX and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is on the Switch. Eventually, we'd also expect to see a virtual console come to the Switch, too, bringing titles from Nintendo's yesteryear back to life.

Likewise, Microsoft has its own army of exclusives. Titles like Forza Motorsport 7, Gears of War 4 and Halo 5 have all been enhanced for the Xbox One X. Smaller console exclusives are also to be found, like Cuphead and the soon to be arriving PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. Xbox also has Game Pass, a monthly subscription with access to over 100 games, as well as the ability to play titles from the original Xbox and the Xbox 360.

Third-party games are a bit of a mixed bag. A number of indie titles already on Xbox have made their way to the Switch. Titles such as Oxenfree, The Flame in the Flood, Shovel Knight and Snake Pass can all be found on both consoles.

The Switch library is about to get even better, too, with Bethesda bringing DOOM, Skyrim and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus to the Switch. The Xbox One X doesn't let you sit on a train and play DOOM, does it?

However, which games library suits you best will come down to your own tastes. The Xbox One X has a bigger selection of AAA titles, thanks in no small part to the power of the machine. DOOM may well be coming to the Switch, but it won't look like it does on the Xbox One X.

The bottom line

These may well be the latest consoles from Nintendo and Microsoft, but they're two very different beasts for very different people.

The Xbox One X is the most powerful console on the planet. Its games look and perform better, there's a strong library of first and third-party titles and it has the added bonus of 4K gaming and video content with HDR. It's incredible Microsoft packed so much into such a small box.

But there are prohibiting factors with the Xbox One X, not least the $500 price tag. That's a lot of money whichever way you swing it.

Nintendo Switch

But not only is the Nintendo Switch cheaper, it's portable, so you can enjoy all your games wherever you are. Both consoles have great games available for them, and the platform exclusives could be the kicker. Go for the ones you prefer.

But which should you get? If you're OK spending $500 and want the best of the best, the Xbox One X is here for you. If your budget is tighter or you're in love with the idea of having a home console you can easily take anywhere you go, grab a Switch and love it.

Richard Devine

Editor at iMore, part time racing driver, full time British guy. Follow him on Twitter and Google+