Xbox Series S: Power With Precision
Words: Kenn Leandre
I’ll skip the introductions for the next-gen Xbox consoles as my colleague Jon has explained them thoroughly earlier. I will, however, focus on this pocket dynamite which is the Xbox Series S.
In a time where next-gen consoles adopted the “bigger is better” mentality, I am pleased with the route Microsoft took with its much more affordable, space friend offering in the Series S.
My biggest concern when it comes to fitting a next-gen console onto my already packed tv shelf was – how would they fit in? Not planning on ditching my PlayStation 4 Pro which has been my primary console gaming workhorse for a while now, shelf footprint was a definite and legit worry. Thankfully though, the Xbox Series S pretty much solves the conundrum by being super-efficient when it comes to filling in real-estate.
To be honest, it is much smaller than I anticipated and I can easily prop it squarely on top of the good old PS4 Pro. No fuss, no foul.
Shape-wise, it’s a million times better than the Xbox Series X. It’s small, compact, and quite a looker and needless to say, I am a fan of the retro vibe. The Series S does come across like a mini boombox from the late 80s and early 90s yet fit perfectly with a modern entertainment shelf setup. That, my friends, is a rare feat. Some may opt to make it stand upright just like how its chunkier brethren, the Series X would mostly be put. However, I would not recommend that – even more so if you have pets, especially cats at home. As solid as it is standing upright, the Xbox Series S will topple nine times out of ten your cat decides to treat it as a cheek scratcher.
The speaker-like grille which serves as primary hot air outlet is a definite cat magnet, as are its perforated panels around the console. In turn, this is easily one of the quietest gaming consoles I’ve ever played on.
I do have reservations about the color, as I fear it may turn yellow over time. It is sleek, it is modern looking. But I’d be damned to see it form yellow stains on its edges simply due to exposure to the elements. I do live in a tropical climate anyway. Only time will tell.
Accompanying the (mostly) white Series S is a matching Xbox Controller. Xbox has always excelled with its asymmetrical thumbsticks placements so full points there. It does carry a slightly more premium feel from the default Xbox controllers of past gens; the matte finish, grips, and triggers do feel great and can help with sweaty hands. However, it still comes with a feature I dislike the most: a battery-powered controller.
We live in 2020, Microsoft. How hard is it to just build in a controller with a rechargeable battery just like on the PlayStation? It is also worth mentioning that for those migrating from the PlayStation ecosystem, some of your headsets may not work, as you have to rely on either a new, Xbox-compatible plug-and-play headset, or via the stereo headset adapter.
Games, Set, Match?
Just like the Series S, we were sent several Series S and X optimized titles to play with and I agree with Jon, DIRT 5 is the one that is able to really show what next-gen home console gaming is all about. Those with an active Game Pass are instantly able to download and play previous-gen titles, instantly boosting the compatible game count for next-gen Xboxes immensely. If you thought Halo Reach via the Master Chief Collection was stellar on last gen’s Xboxes, prepare to be blown away.
While of course, the performance of the S is slightly inferior when compared to the Series X but do not let that dissuade you from investing in this. Make no mistake, this is definitely a next-gen gaming console which would put all previous iterations of the Xbox One a good run for their money.
However, one issue that really bugs me is that despite having 512GB written on the box, the Series S only have 364GB worth of storage remaining, since a chunk of it being allocated to the operating system. While this can be remedied with the proprietary expansion memory card or an SSD external drive, you should be aware of this limitation, especially if you’re already planning on installing several next-gen release titles alongside a current-gen space-eating behemoth. (I’m looking at you, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare / Warzone!)
I feel that the Series S is geared more for the no-frills, casual and more budget-conscious gamer out there, who prioritizes form and function over power. It is also a great entry unit for those foreign to the Xbox ecosystem, open to something new without carving a huge hole in their wallet.
Our verdict: If you want a much more affordable entry point into next-gen gaming, isn’t bothered with purchasing physical copies, and is solely focused on future-proofing, look no further than the Xbox Series S.
Final Score: 80/100
CPU: 8 Cores @ 3.6 GHz (3.4 GHz with SMT), Custom Zen 2 CPU
GPU: 4 TFLOPS, 20 CUs @ 1.565 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU
SOC Die Size: 197.05 mm
Process: 7nm Enhanced
Memory & Storage
Memory: 10 GB GDDR6 with 128-bit bus
Memory Bandwidth: 8 GB @ 224 GB/s, 2 GB @ 56 GB/s
I/O Throughput: 2.4 GB/s raw, 4.8 GB/s (Compressed, with custom hardware decompression block)
Expandable Storage: Support for 1TB Seagate Expansion Card for Xbox Series X|S matches internal storage exactly (sold separately). Support for USB 3.1 external HDD (sold separately).
Performance Target: 1440p at 60 FPS, up to 120 FPS
High Dynamic Range: Up to 8K HDR
HDMI 2.1 Features: Auto Low Latency Mode. HDMI Variable Refresh Rate. AMD FreeSync.
Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, Dolby TrueHD with Atmos, Up to 7.1 L-PCM
Ports & Connectivity
HDMI: 1x HDMI 2.1 port
USB: 3x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports
Wireless: 802.11ac dual band
Ethernet: 802.3 10/100/1000
Accessories radio: Dedicated dual band Xbox Wireless radio.