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Xbox Series S complete breakdown – price, performance, storage, compatibility

Microsoft’s Xbox Series S is launching globally on Nov 10, leading into an exciting fall season for console players. It poses an interesting dilemma for would-be buyers, as Microsoft is not only releasing the low-cost Series S on that day, but also the full scale version of their next gen offering, the Xbox Series X. Obviously, there is also Sony releasing the PlayStation 5 two days later on Nov. 12.

It can feel a bit overwhelming to parse through all the detailed information, pondering over which console is suited for your living room, playstyle, and budget. We’ve broken down the main points of the Xbox Series S to help determine whether the console is right for you.

Pricing

The Xbox Series S will be priced at $299.99 USD when it releases. The price tag of the console is exceptionally lower than the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. Microsoft has designed the console to break down barriers, and invite as many people as possible into the Xbox ecosystem.

If we take a look at the last generation, the Xbox One launched at $499.99 USD back in 2013. Taking inflation into account, the Xbox One would cost roughly $549.99 USD today. The Xbox Series S is objectively more powerful and costs a fraction of the price of older consoles.

Power

Naturally, in order to get the price tag as low as it is, Microsoft did have to take some liberties in the console’s internal specs. The Xbox Series S features an 8X Cores @ 3.6 GHz (3.4 GHz w/SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU, and 4 TFLOPS, 20 CUs @1.565 GHz Custom RDNA GPU. Additionally, the console targets 1440p with 60 FPS support, up to 120 FPS & 120Hz.

All this is to say that the Xbox Series S targets next-gen performance and optimization. While it may not reach the higher milestones of the Xbox Series X, the Xbox Series S does improve graphical fidelity and shorten load times. Speaking from experience, the Xbox Series S noticeably cuts down the load times of a number of AAA games, including Gears 5, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and Fallout 4.

While the Series S does not support true 4K, many new games hit the targeted 1440p. Games will perform three times better on it than on Xbox One. All this is possible because of the Custom SSD. Games installed on the internal SSD will perform better thanks to the Xbox Velocity Architecture.

The console itself powers up in a swift two seconds.

Backwards compatibility

The Xbox Series S is fully compatible with all games on the Xbox One. This includes backwards compatible Xbox 360 titles, and original Xbox games that currently run on the Xbox One. The only caveat is that the Xbox Series S will not support Kinect games. The peripheral has effectively died off from the Xbox ecosystem.

Digital only

The Xbox Series S is an entirely digital console. To keep costs down, Microsoft has decided to not include a 4K Blu Ray disk drive. This means that all physical games you may have from previous generations will not be compatible with the console. As of now, there is no way to trade in disks for a digital license. If you’re coming into the Xbox ecosystem fresh, you have to keep in mind that your game library will be entirely digital across the generation.

Storage

The Xbox Series S console features a 512GB SSD. If you’re coming from the Xbox One, you’ve likely amassed quite the library of games to bring along with you. However, the SSD is partially taken up by the OS and system files. In the end, 346GB remains to store your digital library.

This may be a cause for concern for some purchasers. Some games, such as Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and  (notoriously) Warzone take up over 100GBs. This may lead you to invest in an SSD expansion, which is currently offered by Seagate. Alternatively, you can hook an external HDD into one of the three USB ports for additional storage. However, only games installed on the SSD will be properly optimized for the console. Speaking from experience, you may have to shuffle your games to and from the SSD on a regular basis.

Design

The Xbox Series S is a fairly traditional console from an aesthetic point of view. The console is compact: only 10.8” x 5.9” x 2.5”, quite a bit smaller than the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. It should also fit in most entertainment units without having to worry about disrupting the cooling system. It is only available in Robot White at the moment.

For reference, the front only features the power button, a pairing button, and a USB port. Though, the rear of the console has an HDMI port, ethernet, SSD expansion slot, two USB ports, and a power supply port. It’s not an invasive console at all. Microsoft has dubbed it the “smallest Xbox ever”, and they’re right, it’s quite the tiny piece of tech.

The controller has also been refined to incorporate elements from the Xbox Elite Series controller. Microsoft has added textured grips for a more tactile feel. The D-Pad has been improved as well. The controller also has the added Share button for quickly taking screenshots and recordings when playing.

We hope that our rundown has helped you decide if Xbox Series S is the console for you this fall season. We’ll have more analyses on this year’s consoles, so stay tuned.

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Steve Vegvari

Steve is based in Toronto, Ontario. His adoration for everything gaming began very early on in the SNES-era. He’s gone on to write honest content around the web. While not writing about games, Steve is often looking for the next big narrative-driven title. Something with an impactful story, regardless of genre or platform. Bonus points if it has an appealing achievement/trophy list!
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