The aggressive pricing of the Xbox Series S has put Sony in an awkward position. The PlayStation 5 makers have to compete against a $299 console that promises next-gen 1440p gaming at 120fps with ultra-fast load speeds and ray tracing support. That’s a tough match.
We’re not here to discuss the console war, though. We’re also not here to discuss how to get a next-gen budget console. We’re not discussing the PlayStation 5 vs. the Xbox Series S either. Instead, we’re looking further into the possibilities and capabilities of Microsoft’s smaller solution.
So far, the Xbox Series S is the most affordable solution to play the upcoming Assasin’s Creed: Valhalla at ultra graphical settings.
Remember, the Xbox Series X is releasing on November 10 for $299.
Here’s all we know on Ubisof’ts next entry of the Assasin franchise:
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“With higher framerates, faster load times, and richer, more dynamic worlds, Xbox Series S delivers next-gen performance and speed in a compact, all-digital form factor at a great price ($299 ERP).” – Xbox.
Microsoft’s “entry-level” gaming console gives the top features of the Xbox Series X within a small enclosure. Consider it’s 60% smaller than its bigger brother while featuring a top-tier cooling solution.
Releasing two different consoles is a new approach from the repeated formula of a single-size to Rule Them All. Now, they are following the trend they set with the Xbox One S and the Xbox One X, each one covering a different segment in the market. The new consoles even match the same release prices of Microsoft’s current devices.
Xbox Series X vs. Xbox Series S
Comparing the XSX and the XSX back to back delivers an intriguing response. For $200 less, you would be abandoning 4K graphics plus about 500GB of SDD storage. Other than that, both consoles will behave the same.
The lineup is featuring the same Zen 2 AMD CPU plus Big Navi GPU architecture. Both units are custom-made and feature an OS in-built into its 10GB of Ram instead of the CPU for extra-fast performance. That said, I have to note the Xbox Series X has a more prominent and faster RAM module, so it’s probably faster and better-behaved than the XSS. However, the difference might go unnoticed on 1440p/1080p gaming.
It differs on TFLOPs (Teraflops, a measure that details how many operations can the GPU do per second). The Xbox Series S is expected to deliver 4 TF, a third of the 12TF, the XSX packs.
In practice, though, it only means the XSX can’t play 4K graphics, but it can upscale graphics.
The Xbox Series S can upscale Xbox 360 games and older to HDR. It can also upscale Xbox One and XSX games to 4K.
Xbox Series S specs
Microsoft ensures the Xbox Series S delivers the same experience as the Xbox Series X without any rendering downgrade.
Let’s take a rundown on the Xbox Series S specs:
- CPU: It has the same 8-core Zen 2 CPU as the XSX. It has a 3.6GHZ and 3.4GHZ with SMT.
- GPU: whereas the Xbox Series X can deliver native 4K with 60fps, the Xbox Series S can have 1440p at 120fps. Additionally, it can upscale graphics up to 4K if you connect the console to a 4K TV. It has a 4 TFLOPs GPU.
- RAM: 10GB GDDR6 running at 224GB per second.
- Custom PCle NVMe 512GB SSD: it’s the 4th gen storage drive with a dedicated hardware decompression feature.
Simultaneous Multithreading improves CPU efficiency by splitting its physical cores into virtual cores. That enables the processor to work on independent threads to utilize its resources better.
Xbox Series S features
Here’s a rundown on the Xbox Series S features:
- Hardware scaler: it’s the CPU feature that allows the XSX to upscale the game’s graphics.
- Hardware-accelerated DirectX Ray Tracing
- Hardware-accelerated mesh-shaders
- Hardware-accelerated variable-rate shading (VRS).
- Hardware.accelerated variable refresh rates (VRR)
- Xbox Velocity architecture: it delivers faster load times, quick resume, and consistent frame rates.
- Sampler feedback streaming: it loads the portions of texture required on the scene at each time. It gives the CPU and the GPU some extra leeway to handle its resources better.
- Direct Storage API: it increases load times, boot times, saves times, and the overall UI even further.
- Ultra-low latency: it decreases the response time of your peripherals, which includes your Xbox controller. Even on multiplayer sessions, the XSS will have zero latency.
- Compatibility: both consoles are backward compatibles with all games and peripherals of previous Xbox generations at launch.
- Digital Only: it doesn’t have a Blue-Ray disc-tray like the Xbox Series X.
It has the same features as Microsoft’s pricier alternative. Overall, though, this budget console is 250% times faster than the Xbox One X. It’s efficient, smart, next-gen, and affordable.
The XSS in practice
Microsoft explains the console is so efficient it gives game developers space to focus on other resources. AI, face movement, and depth of field could improve beyond imagination on the upcoming Xbox lineup.
In particular, Microsoft showed how the load times work on The Outer Worlds. On the Xbox One S, a regular load screen took about 53 seconds, whereas the XSS managed to load the game on 12 seconds.
That makes the new console about 4.4 times faster.
Quick Resume feature works. You can simply leave a game and enter the next and resume where you left the game last time without any checkpoints, save, or load screens involved.The company also showcased how the
You’d need to press the home menu button, so the console displays a list of all of the games currently “sleeping.” YOu can then quickly move amongst the games in rotation in seconds.
That makes the new console about 4.4 times faster.
“The Xbox Series S is about 4 times more powerfoul than the Xbox One X”
This is the tweet…
Xbox Series X: $499 (ERP)
Xbox Series S: $299 (ERP)
Release date: November 10
— Xbox (@Xbox) September 9, 2020
Xbox Game Pass
What might be a problem, though, is the 512GB of storage. As this is an all-digital console, it’s wise to think you could eat through the storage pretty soon. Free games like CoD Warzone are already around 200GB of space. Maybe Microsoft intends to sell the console alongside its Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which brings about 100 games plus their xCloud game streaming service.
The Xbox Series X supports 1TB SSD storage. Then again, both consoles have an extra port to extend the storage with a matching 4th gen PCIe NVMe SSD drive.
That said, the Xbox Game Pass service is a great deal. It got even better recently as Xbox added the EA Play service into its catalog.
Electronic Arts subscription system (formerly known as EA Access and Origin Acces) is adding over 60 EA games into Microsoft’s service. That includes FIFA 20, Need for Speed Heat, Titanfall 2, Battlefield, the Mass Effect saga, the Sims franchise, and more. It also adds rewards and discounts for DLCs and add-ons.
— Xbox (@Xbox) September 9, 2020
Xbox Series S controller
The controller remains almost the same, albeit with improved buttons and sticks.
“Building on the Xbox One controller in smart, evolutionary ways while ensuring the muscle memory players have built up over the years remains intact.” – Xbox.
Microsoft improved the ergonomics and made the controller functional with the Xbox One family. They also made it lighter and reduced latency. Moreover, they included a Share button.
Lastly, they added some accessibility features for all kinds of players.
Microsoft explains it very well. To create new games, developers first make them ready for the Xbox Series X. Then, they need to downscale the graphics to 1440p while retaining all of the other next-gen features.
If you can go on without the 4K gaming experience, the Xbox Series S is for you. That is, of course, unless PlayStation’s immersive hardware and games got your attention.
Consider it wisely, though. The Xbox Game Pass is only 1$ a month during your first month!
Overall, the Xbox Series S represents budget gaming at it’s best. Yes, of course, the XSX is better: it has a bigger Ram, a better GPU, and more storage. Still, the XSS targets the budget segment perfectly and makes itself very appealing with Microsoft’s gaming services. Is it the best one? No, it’s not. Is it the best gaming solution at its price point: yes, by far!
And if you don’t even have a 4K screen, there’s no point in getting the Xbox Series X.