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Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S: What's different?

Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S
(Image credit: Future)

Microsoft has finally taken the covers off the Xbox Series S. That means the company will now have two next-generation game consoles to bring to the Xbox ecosystem

The Xbox Series X will be the powerhouse flagship console, while the Xbox Series S will be a cheaper and lower-powered alternative. Think of it a bit like the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4a, or iPhone 11 and iPhone SE 2020

But the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S will both be released in November, so you might be wondering which one to go for. We’re here to help, so read on.  

Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S release date 

The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are both slated to release on November 10.

Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S: Price 

Unsurprisingly the Xbox Series S is going to be a lot cheaper than its more powerful sibling. Microsoft has officially revealed the price of the Xbox Series S, with it poised to set U.S. buyers back by $299, and U.K. Xbox fans by £249. 

Meanwhile, the Xbox Series X will cost $499 or £449. However, you will have an option to finance it for $34.99 a month via the Xbox All Access program, which also gets you 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. The Series S will start at $24.99 per month on All Access.

But there's no doubt the Xbox Series S is the winner on price, given it’s nearly half that of the Xbox Series X. While it won't be as powerful as it’s larger sibling, the Xbox Series S is still expected to deliver strong gaming performance at 1080p and 1440p resolutions.

For a $299 box that’s pretty impressive, though we’d need to see it in action before drawing any definitive conclusions. 

Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S: Specs 

Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S: Specs
Xbox Series XXbox Series S (according to leaks)
GraphicsAMD RDNA 2 GPU, 12 TFLOPS, 52 CUs, 1.82GHz clock speed AMD RDNA 2 GPU, 4 TFLOPS, 20 CUs, 1.55GHz clock speed
ProcessorCustom Zen 2 CPU, eight cores, 3.8GHz clock speed Custom Zen 2 CPU, eight cores, 3.8GHz clock speed
RAM16GB GDDR610GB GDDR6
Memory Bandwidth10 GB at 560 GB/s, 6GB at 336 GB/sN/A
Storage1TB custom NVMe SSD512GB Custom NVMe SSD
Performance4K at 60 fps (up to 120 fps)1440p at 60 fps (up to 120 fps)

As you can see in the table above, the Xbox Series X and Series S share the same main chip, but the latter console has fewer teraflops of GPU power than the former. 

It also has less RAM - 10 GB of GDDR6 compared to the Series X’s 16 GB - and less storage. We feel 512 GB might be a little small for people who like to download a lot of games and keep them on the console. However, the Xbox Series S is likely to support external storage, like the Series X. 

With the difference in teraflops - going by rumors rather than confirmed specs - the Xbox Series S is set to target 1440p gaming at 60 frames per second, potentially going up to 120 fps if it’s running older backwards compatible games. In comparison, the Xbox Series X will pursue 4K gaming at 60 fps, with the potential to go deliver up to 8K gaming, although that's likely only in less graphically demanding games. 

With only 4 teraflops of GPU power at the heart of the Xbox Series S, there’s an argument to be had that the Xbox One X, with its 6 teraflops of graphics grunt, is more powerful than the Xbox Series S. But the Series S is using the latest AMD RDNA 2 graphics architecture. So even though it has fewer teraflops, it could be more efficient at rendering graphics and thus deliver better performance than the older console. 

Xbox Series S

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S: Features  

The Xbox Series X will be a full-fledged entertainment machine, with not only a whole suite of powerful gaming hardware, but also a 4K Blu-ray player. The Xbox Series S, on the other hand, is a digital-only console with no disc drive. 

However, the Series S will have a lot of similar features to the Xbox Series X. It will support ray-tracing to deliver more realistic real-time lighting effects in games, albeit likely at lower fidelity than the Series X. And it’ll deliver 4K media streaming and 4K upscaling, as well as variable refresh rate support for people with TVs that have a refresh rate higher than 60Hz. 

As such, the Xbox Series X loses out of some of the higher-end features of the Xbox Series X. But the rise of streaming services has arguably made Blu-ray players a little redundant for people with high-speed broadband. 

Upmixing a 1440p image to 4K can deliver a rather pleasing image, as seen with the Xbox One X. As such, the Xbox Series S is looking like a fairly capable console. 

Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S: Outlook 

The Xbox Series X is a headline-making next-generation games console. But the Xbox Series X could steal the headlines. 

For $299, it looks like Microsoft has created a rather capable console that will offer a gateway into next-generation gaming for $200 less than its larger sibling. 

Hardcore Xbox fans will want the Series X, but for those on the fence or new to console gaming, the Xbox Series S is a rather compelling machine. And it could also be the Xbox for PlayStation fans, who, after spending $500 on a PS5, might want access to Xbox-exclusive games without buying another high-end gaming machine.

We’d need to try out the Xbox Series S against the Xbox Series X to conclusively determine the merits and shortcomings of each. But as it stands, it looks like Microsoft has a rather neat, well-priced gaming machine with the Xbox Series S.