There’s never been a console like the Xbox series s not to be confused with the series x. This much smaller and much cheaper next generation Xbox doesn’t just sacrifice an optical drive. It’s significantly less powerful than its bigger sibling and aims for up-scaled 1440P resolution instead of true 4k. The results are mixed depending on how you plan to play the S might make a ton of sense and it’s only three hundred dollars instead of five hundred dollars of the x but anybody who is serious about gaming on Xbox.
Its shortcoming may leave you kicking yourself for not springing for the series x instead.
The series s’s hardware is similar to the series x’s rdna 2 architecture but its CPU is clocked and it has less ram. In short it’s a 4 teraflop console versus the series x’s 12.1. Think of it like a base model car with a V6 and a very few options compared to the fully loaded V12 that is the series x the difference between the s and the x is well black and white. It’s significantly smaller even smaller than the Xbox one S but there is no disk drive so there is no way to install disk based games or watch blue-rays.
I wouldn’t call it ugly but its shape and appearance is slightly awkward in sort of an adorable way. The large black air vent on the top makes it resemble a speaker more than a console on the front there’s the offset power button and one USB 3.2 port on the back.
It has all the same ports as the series x the HDMI out port two more USB ports an Ethernet port a storage expansion slot and of course power thankfully there’s no brick of course sharing ports with the series x means there’s none of the Xbox one’s TV pass-through or optical audio here either for a controller. It uses the exact same one that the series x does and it’s compatible with just about all of the Xbox one’s accessories.
setup and transferring games from an old Xbox is easy especially with the slick smartphone app at the first glance the series s seems capable enough though it;s clearly a step down from the series x in image quality. I connected to the series s to the same LG B9 4K oled tv i used with the series x and to my eyes the upscale image quality was noticeably muddy compared to the crisp clean native 4k of the series x as you always you get what you pay for there actually looked better connected to a 1440P gaming monitor with no up-scaling.
However i pleased to see that gears 5 versus multiplayer and the falconer are able to run at 120 frames per second if you are willing to take a hidden resolution just on the series x. I did see some minor screen tearing and mild frame rate choppiness in the falconer at 120 frames and in gear 5’s versus at 120 frames as well as the 60 frame per second campaign.
I spotted noticeable dips here and there is wasn’t anything major but it’s a worrying warning sign that brand new console is already missing a few steps through all of that the series s maintained the same whisper quiet noise level as the series x registering just 38 decibels in dirt.
While its temperature topped out at 55 degree Celsius in the same on the series x it was 40 decibels 42.5 degrees Celsius respectively both outclassed the Xbox one x which blast out 62 decibels and 56 degrees Celsius the interface is basically identical to what we’ve bad on Xbox one for years now so it’s an unexciting upgrade there but it’s dependable and fully featured.
The main advantage the series s has over the comparable powerful Xbox one x is that its loading times are identical to the series x and that is to say very very quick and that includes the wonderful quick resume feature that allows you to resume right where you left off in any of the last several games you’ve played. It’s all just as life-changing on the series s.
The down side though is that you’ve only got a woefully small 364 gigabytes of usable space to install games and apps on and that can go quick. I was at 96 capacity with total of eight games five beefy blockbusters and three smaller indie games that’s even with Microsoft’s smart delivery system that lets developer tailor their games specifically to the series s gears 5 for instance is only 55.5 gigs compared to 71.9 gigs on the series x because the S doesn’t need the full 4k textures your mileage may very of course.
if you play a lot of smaller indie games off of game pass you can still load up a bunch of them sure you can expand the storage using the slot on the back but the one terabyte sea gate expansion card is a horrible buy with the series s.
If you’re willing to spend another 220 dollars on one of those you’d be much better off just buying a series x instead to be clear you can use a USB 3.0 drive as a pack mule to stash games you aren’t currently playing to avoid having to re-download them later in fact i recommend that you do by the way. You can also play your back catalog of Xbox one and Xbox 360 games straight from that external USB drive but you won’t gain any of the loading time benefits that way.
all in all the series s offers plenty of present day value considering it only costs 300 dollars. It’s limited to 1440p resolution and has a claustrophobic-ally small storage space but it’s tiny and quite with snappy load times and can play games at up to 120 frames per second. If you can support it. I’m mostly concerned about its long-term viability games are only going to get more demanding going forward so the series s isn’t something i’d recommend as your main gaming platform but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have it’s place.
The series S is an excellent second like if you want something for a kid who plays on a smaller screen or if for example you have a ps5 but want to occasionally dip into the smorgasbord that is Xbox game pass.
As long as you’re clear on what the series s’s strength and limitation are it’s a unique budget-friendly way to take your first steps into the new console generation for more on the nest generation Xboxes check out our reviews of the Xbox series X and our unboxing of the series S and for all of your next-gen gaming needs keep it right here on.