The Xbox Series S is a next-generation console with a couple of caveats

ByAdam VjesticaContributions fromNick Pino, Henry Stockdalelast updated 24 May 22


The Xbox Series S is a great entry point into next-gen gaming for those who have no qualms about buying games digitally or subscribing khổng lồ Xbox trò chơi Pass. It"s a great option if you want to avoid the sizable financial outlay required lớn own a full-blown next-gen console, but there are some drawbacks. It has significantly less storage, prioritizes 1440p resolution for gaming, and does without the 4K HD Blu-Ray drive of the Xbox Series X.

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The smallest Xbox ever made


Compact design, powerful specs


Completely silent in operation


Faster load times


Targets 1440p resolution when gaming


512GB SSD fills up fast


No disc drive


UI can be overwhelming at first

Xbox Series S two-minute review

The Xbox Series S is a next-gen console that takes a radically different approach khổng lồ the Xbox Series X, Microsoft"s flagship model. It"s designed lớn offer the same generational leap as Microsoft"s more powerful system, such as high frame rates, ray tracing, and super-fast load times, but at a considerably lower price – & inevitably, this means it has a few notable compromises.

Despite being a digital-only console, the Xbox Series S has significantly less storage than the Xbox Series X and primarily targets a resolution of 1440p instead of 4K for gaming. It will upscale to 4K when connected to lớn an Ultra HD display, và a handful of titles are capable of running at a native 4K resolution such as Ori & the Will of the Wisps. However, the console is primarily designed lớn run games at a lower resolution first và foremost.

Microsoft"s more affordable Xbox also does away with the 4K HD Blu-Ray drive of the Xbox Series X, which means it"s a digital-only affair. If you"ve amassed a large library of physical games over the years, this alone could be a deal-breaker, and means you"re at the mercy of Microsoft"s store pricing when it comes lớn buying new titles.

These cutbacks might be too much for some users, then, but it makes the Xbox Series S a much cheaper & an almost impossibly small device as a result. Crucially, it"s still capable of playing next-gen games và is a great entry point into the Xbox ecosystem.

Xbox Series S one year on

(Image credit: Shutterstock/m.andrei)

We"ve updated our Xbox Series S đánh giá to reflect our impressions after using the console for over a year. Microsoft has rolled out a few welcome improvements lớn the Series S, & we now finally have exclusive titles that take full advantage of the hardware"s power like Halo Infinite & Forza Horizon 5.

During our time with the Xbox Series S, we tested dozens of games – from last-gen Xbox Series X/S optimized hits including Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Forza Horizon 4, Doom Eternal, & Gears 5, to lớn launch titles like Yakuza: like a Dragon.

Each one impressed us, with smoother frame rates, increased resolutions (when compared khổng lồ Xbox One và Xbox One S), and faster load times, even if the games didn"t look quite as pretty as they did running on the Xbox Series X. But that"s mostly due to Xbox Series S targeting a lower resolution.

That said, for gamers who have no qualms about buying games digitally, or subscribing to lớn Xbox trò chơi Pass, you’re getting the full suite of next-gen features on Microsoft"s cheaper console: Quick Resume, tự động hóa HDR, 120Hz, you name it. The Xbox Series S is a great option for those who want to lớn experience next-gen gaming, then, without the sizable financial outlay required to own a full-blown next-gen console.

(Image credit: Future)

As we"ve alluded to lớn already, there are drawbacks to lớn consider. If you prefer lớn purchase games physically, or have amassed a large collection of Xbox One games over the years, the Xbox Series S"s lack of disc drive may put you off.

You only get a 512GB SSD, too, as there"s no higher-capacity option. Và while the console"s SSD is dramatically faster than the old mechanical drives in the Xbox One X & Xbox One S, it can fill up fast.

The five games we mentioned above almost took up the entire 512GB SSD on our nhận xét unit (you only get 364GB of usable space), leaving us with just 30GB of storage khổng lồ play with. That means if we wanted to lớn install a trò chơi of that size to the system"s internal drive, we"d likely have lớn delete something first (or additionally purchase the console"s expansion drive, which costs nearly as much as the Xbox Series S itself).

Xbox Series X review

(Image credit: Future)

The Xbox Series X utilizes its powerful specs lớn significantly reduce load times and increase overall trò chơi performance and visual fidelity. But, while features such as Quick Resume, Smart Delivery, và backward compatibility give it that extra boost, it"s hard to deny that it’s lacking in key areas, notably significant UI improvements and captivating exclusive launch titles.Read our Xbox Series X review

The other factor that may deter people from buying Microsoft"s more affordable Xbox is the fact that outputs at 1440p for gaming. This lower resolution is a firm favorite in the PC gaming space due to lớn the superior image chất lượng it provides over 1080p, & the lower amount of graphical grunt it requires from developers to lớn achieve, which has allowed Microsoft khổng lồ create a lower-spec machine that still boasts next-gen features.

If you own an Xbox One X, the drop to lớn 1440p from native 4K can be noticeable. The Xbox One X could deliver games lượt thích Forza Motorsport 7 at 4K/60fps and is still capable of some sumptuous visuals. It"s easy, then, lớn think that the Xbox Series S is a step back – however, it"s capable of a lot more than Microsoft"s aging Xbox One X, even if it doesn"t always beat it in terms of resolution.

Looking at the system internals, the Xbox Series S separates itself from the One X with its vastly more powerful CPU and more technically capable GPU, courtesy of AMD"s RDNA 2 architecture which enables cutting-edge features lượt thích ray tracing. Yes, the Series S has fewer teraflops than the Xbox One X (four compared lớn six), but teraflops are no longer the defining factor in how GPU nguồn is determined.

For Xbox One owners looking lớn upgrade without breaking the bank, the Xbox Series S is a great option, if you can accept what it"s been designed khổng lồ achieve. If you"ve already got the Xbox One X & a 4K display at home, however, we suggest considering the Xbox Series X instead. Read on for our full Xbox Series S review.

Considering the bigger sibling? kiểm tra out our Xbox Series X video clip review below.

Xbox Series S: price & release date

Xbox Series S release date: Out now (released November 10, 2020)Xbox Series S price: $299.99 / £249.99 / AU$499Can be bundled with Xbox trò chơi Pass Ultimate for $24.99 / £20.99 / AU$33 a month

The Xbox Series S is available now for $299.99 / £249.99 / AU$499 & was released on November 10, 2020. That"s the same release date as the Xbox Series X, though the price is significantly cheaper than the Series X"s price of $499 / £499 / AU$749.

Keep in mind however that, without a disc drive, you won"t be able to buy used games or trade games with your friends: you"re dependent on the Xbox Store for any purchases, which means you won"t always get the best deal.

That issue is negated somewhat if you subscribe to Xbox trò chơi Pass (a separate expense, but exceptional value nonetheless), or if you only buy the occasional trò chơi at full price around launch. Still, it"s not ideal for those who rely on physical game sales or trade-ins lớn fund their favorite pastime.

Speaking of discounts, it"s worth pointing out that the Xbox Series S is also available on Microsoft"s Xbox All Access subscription service in select regions, including the US, UK, & Australia.

Xbox All Access bundles the console with Xbox game Pass Ultimate on a 24-month plan (giving you access to lớn the latter for the duration) for $24.99 / £20.99 / AU$33 a month, with no upfront costs – that"s a good khuyến mãi and one that works out cheaper than if you were khổng lồ buy the console và pay for 24 months of Xbox game Pass Ultimate separately.

Of course, Microsoft isn"t the only one with newer hardware out. Sony released the PS5 & PS5 Digital Edition soon after the Xbox Series S and Series X dropped, so if you"re still on the fence then it"s worth checking out our PS5 nhận xét before committing.

(Image credit: Future)

Xbox Series S review: design

Looks great when placed horizontally or verticallyCan comfortably fit into any setupThe console và controller look great in white

While the hardware powering the Xbox Series S is brand-new, the thiết kế of the Xbox Series S is reminiscent of the now-discontinued Xbox One S All-Digital Edition.

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The Xbox Series S has a distinctive black tín đồ vent, almost like a speaker grille, on the đứng đầu that breaks up the swathe of trắng which encases the rest of the console, & it"s where the majority of the heat is exhausted. It"s the smallest Xbox that Microsoft has ever made, with a plain front face that sports a single USB port and a power nguồn button. It"s a clean, understated, và functional design.

For ports, if you spin the Xbox Series S around you’ll find an HDMI 2.1 output, two USB 3.2 ports, an Ethernet port, a storage expansion slot, & an AC input.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Xbox Series S doesn"t have a port for Kinect, Microsoft"s now-defunct motion-sensing camera, or a HDMI input for cable boxes. (Note, however, that the Xbox Series S only ships with a High-Speed HDMI cable, not an Ultra High-Speed HDMI cable.)

With weight and size, the Xbox Series S measures in at 6.5 x 15.1 x 27.5cm và 4.25 pounds (around 2kg). Its kích cỡ should ensure it easily fits into most entertainment center cabinets và on TV stands, and it"s light enough lớn pack up & bring khổng lồ a friend"s house or take with you on vacation.

As we mentioned above, the Xbox Series S is smaller than the Xbox One S, which is an impressive feat considering that it’s packing a 4 TFLOP GPU and an octa-core Custom Zen 2 CPU that needs lớn be cooled.

While some might not lượt thích the way Microsoft has aped its own kiến thiết from the last generation, we"re okay with it. It"s nice khổng lồ have some continuity, especially in products that are advertised as a family of devices instead of a whole new line, although it is fairly straightforward and industrial-like in its appearance.

(Image credit: Future)

Xbox Series S review: performance

Upscaled 4K looks great, & native 1440p is a nice compromiseOffers smooth and fluid 120fps gameplayXbox Velocity Architecture is fast… but not instantaneous

The Xbox Series S"s strong suit is its value proposition – it"s a compact powerhouse. It can offer either upscaled 4K gaming, native 1440p resolution, or a 1080p picture.

Its GPU, while not as powerful as the one in the Xbox Series X, can upscale games lớn 4K (in a similar way to the Xbox One S) & still run games at 120fps at 1440p, but you"ll need a HDMI 2.1-compliant TV if you want to lớn keep the resolution at 1440p. It"s also capable of ray tracing, và loads games faster than ever, thanks to lớn Microsoft"s Xbox Velocity Architecture.

Combine Velocity Architecture with the 10GB of GDDR6 memory và built-in SSD, & you’ve got all the makings of a powerful console.

Xbox Series S specs

But bởi vì you actually need a 4K TV? và furthermore, bởi vì you need one that supports HDMI 2.1 for its 120Hz refresh rate? Let’s walk through all the scenarios.

If you"re using a 1080p TV, the Xbox Series S uses a technique called supersampling lớn create better-looking images, even on less-capable displays. Supersampling is a complex process, but the basic idea is that the trò chơi is rendered at a higher resolution, and then the console downscales the image to match the output đầu ra of your TV.

The over result is a noticeable boost in image clarity and anti-aliasing (the removal of jaggies và pixelated edges) & means that gamers who aren"t using a 4K or 1440p -capable screen will still benefit from improved image quality from the Xbox Series S.

Most folks though, we expect, will be pairing the Xbox Series S with a 4K HDR TV – potentially one with a 120Hz native refresh rate, although the majority of displays sold over the last few years are likely to lớn only support 60Hz at 4K & 1440p.If you bởi have a capable display, here"s how lớn enable 120Hz on Xbox Series S.

Hook the Xbox Series S up to lớn a 4K panel, & the console uses a technique called upscaling to lớn convert a non-native 4K signal to 4K. While there"s a stark difference between rendering in 4K, and rendering in 1440p and then upscaling khổng lồ 4K – especially if you"ve got a keen eye for detail – it still makes games on the Xbox Series S look better than if the console was locked lớn a 1440p output.

It"s worth noting that the Xbox Series S can render some games in native 4K if a developer chooses khổng lồ enable that option, but it"s done on a game-by-game basis, & isn"t something you’re going to lớn see on every game on the system.

The upshot here is that the console can utilize HDR (high dynamic range), which enables a wider màu sắc palette, higher peak brightness, & better contrast levels. Skies look bluer, the grass looks greener & colors pop in every scene. If you haven"t had the opportunity to game in HDR yet, you"re in for a treat.

If you are fortunate enough to lớn have a display that"s compliant with HDMI 2.1, you can enable 120fps at 1440p without having khổng lồ drop down to lớn 1080p resolution. To enable 120fps, simply pop into the console"s audio & visual settings, where you can choose from various frame rate và resolution options.

It"s pretty straightforward, but it"s worth noting that not all games can hit 120fps, though Microsoft has amassed a handsome collection of titles since launch including Halo Infinite, Gears 5"s multiplayer, và Call of Duty: Vanguard. Check out the full các mục of Xbox Series S games with 120fps support.

Even if you don"t invest in a new TV, you"re still going khổng lồ see the benefits of the new SSD & Microsoft"s Xbox Velocity Architecture. The latter is a multi-step solution that combines the Series S"s custom NVMe SSD, hardware-accelerated decompression blocks, a brand-new DirectStorage API layer, và Sampler Feedback Streaming (SFS).

That"s a lot khổng lồ parse, but the gist of it is that data is stored in a more efficient way, and can be loaded into memory faster thanks lớn both the physical storage medium và the software algorithms that Microsoft has implemented lớn load the data.

(Image credit: Future)

The result is significantly faster load times compared to Xbox One X – we"re talking about games that now load in a matter of seconds – và the SSD also enables features lượt thích Quick Resume, which we’ll get to lớn shortly.

Of course, the one area that"s less impressive here is the meager 512GB of storage capacity, which most people will fill up fast. While 500GB was sufficient early on during the last console generation, game file sizes have expanded exponentially in the years since, making anything less than 1TB of storage seem lượt thích a raw deal.

And it gets worse when you consider that you don"t even get access khổng lồ the full 512GB of storage. The system OS takes up 148GB of space, meaning you"ve only got 364GB of usable storage khổng lồ play with from the outset.

By the time you"ve installed four or five games, you"ll need to start thinking about what to uninstall, which is never a fun experience. While Microsoft claims that games on Xbox Series S will be up lớn 30% smaller due khổng lồ not having 4K texture files, this won’t stop the system"s internal drive from rapidly filling up.

The good news is that Microsoft has released an add-on storage solution at launch, in partnership with Seagate, that can add 2TB, 1TB or 500GB of extra storage if you run out of room. The bad news? The 1TB Seagate Storage Expansion thẻ costs $219.99 / £219.99 / AU$359 – money that could be spent on buying an Xbox Series X instead.