How Xbox Series S Compares To Series X

Image: Microsoft
Image: Microsoft

Microsoft is releasing two consoles this spring, and while they’ll both play all the same games, they won’t play all of them the same way. So just how much more powerful is the Xbox Series X than the Series S?

It’s impossible to say without actually being able to test both consoles, but based on the Series S’ newly revealed specs alone there are some big and not-so-big differences. Important context for any comparison between the two consoles is that the Series S only costs $499 while the Series X costs $749. Here’s how the cheaper, smaller console stacks up against Microsoft’s next-gen flagship:

CPU

  • Xbox Series X: Custom AMD Zen 2 CPU at 3.8 GHz (3.66 GHz with Simultaneous Multithreading)
  • Xbox Series S: Custom AMD Zen 2 CPU at 3.6 GHz (3.4 GHz with Simultaneous Multithreading)

GPU

  • Xbox Series X: Custom AMD RDNA 2, 12.15 TFLOPS, 52 CUs at 1.825 GHz
  • Xbox Series S: Custom AMD RDNA 2, 4 TFLOPS, 20 CUs at 1.565GHz

Memory

  • Xbox Series X: 16GB GDDR6, 10GB at 560 GB/s, 6GB at 336 GB/s bandwidth
  • Xbox Series S: 10GB GDDR6, 8GB at 224 GB/s, 2GB at 56 GB/s bandwidth

Internal Storage

  • Xbox Series X: 1TB Custom NVME SSD with 2.4 GB/s (Raw), 4.8 GB/s (Compressed)
  • Xbox Series S: 512GB Custom NVME SSD with 2.4 GB/s (Raw), 4.8 GB/s (Compressed)

Performance

  • Xbox Series X: Targeting 4K at 60 FPS and up to 120 FPS
  • Xbox Series S: Targeting 1440p at 60 FPS and up to 120 FPS

Interestingly, the two consoles’ CPUs aren’t that far off from one another. Instead, the major difference is in the GPU. On paper the Series S actually has fewer teraflops of graphical computing power than the existing Xbox One X, if you’re into counting that sort of thing. This comes through most in the fact that the Series S also doesn’t support native 4K, instead rendering games at 1440p and only supporting upscaling to 4K.

Of course, the Series S’ GPU is based on the same architecture as the Series X’s, which is much newer and likely much more efficient than the Xbox One X’s older GPU. So it remains to be seen just how noticeable this graphical difference will end up looking. If you don’t currently own or plan on buying a 4K TV, it might not be big at all, especially since both consoles are still aiming to run games at 60 FPS at their respective target resolutions.

The Series X has an edge on the Series S when it comes to CPU power and memory as well, but the real difference between the two consoles is their storage. The Series X’s SSD is 1TB, whereas the S only has half that. That extra 500GB of space on the Series X could come in handy, especially for people whose internet speeds are slower and have monthly caps (the Series S is digital-only with no Blu-Ray drive). We don’t yet know how big next-gen games will be, but if it’s anything like the Xbox One and PS4, 500GB will just be enough for a handful of big games.

Both consoles look pretty affordable when viewed in the context of the “All Access” financing plans Microsoft is running for them. Series S is $33 a month for two years and the Series X is $46 over the same period. If you subtract the two years of Game Pass Ultimate that’s included in the program, both consoles actually end up being cheaper to buy this way.

But given the Series S’ limited storage, the real test could end up being the price of the consoles’ proprietary 1TB storage expansion cards. They’re set to release this holiday, but so far Microsoft hasn’t announced the price. It’s hard to imagine not needing one with the Series S, at which point the total cost of the console might not end up being that much cheaper after all.

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