Can’t decide between an Xbox Series X or Series S? Well, Microsoft’s current generation console is great however you decide to go, but there are key differences to take note of.
The Xbox Series X and S are magnificent consoles. Effectively now gaming jukeboxes of a massive slew of games thanks to Game Pass, it’s getting harder and harder to call for one or the other.
A new year sometimes means that this might be the year you bite the bullet. The bullet of getting a new console. Maybe you’re looking at the various Xbox consoles on the market, or perhaps hinted towards a particular family member who doesn’t really ‘get it’.
So let’s lay it out on the table right now: Don’t buy anything that isn’t an Xbox Series S or Series X in 2023.
The older consoles, while still supported in some capacity, aren’t relevant anymore and newer games aren’t including them in the release cycle. A few years ago, the suggestion to maybe look into an Xbox One X would have made sense. However, with nearly three years of Xbox Series consoles now existing, it’s no longer the case.
Why buy an Xbox?
Both Series S and X have their own benefits, but the main reason to get an Xbox is Game Pass.
The Xbox, as of right now, when combined with a Game Pass subscription is genuinely one of the best deals in gaming.
Not only do you get a regular carousel of games, but all Microsoft games will be available for download day and date of their release. There’s also a different tier that will give you full access to their cloud streaming, and a tonne of titles from EA Play too.
While Microsoft’s first-party output hasn’t really shaped up to be too great, having games like Persona 5, High on Life, and a lot more third-party games at your fingertips makes it an exciting prospect.
There’s also the fact that if you’re a PC aficionado, you’ll also get access to most of the games on your gaming rig anyway.
Xbox Series X | S specs
|Spec||Series S||Series X|
|CPU||8X Cores @ 3.6 GHz (3.4 GHz w/SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU||8X Cores @ 3.8 GHz (3.66 GHz w/SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU|
|GPU||4 TFLOPS, 20 CUs @1.565 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU||12 TFLOPS, 52 CUs @1.825 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU|
|RAM||10GB GDDR6 128 bit-wide bus||16GB GDDR6 w/320 bit-wide bus|
|Storage||Internal Storage. 512GB Custom NVME SSD||Internal Storage. 1TB Custom NVME SSD|
|External Storage||Support for 1TB Seagate Expansion Card/Support for USB 3.1 external HDD||Support for 1TB Seagate Expansion Card & Support for USB 3.1 external HDD|
|Framerate||Up to 120 FPS||Up to 120 FPS|
|HDMI features||Auto Low Latency Mode/HDMI Variable Refresh Rate/AMD FreeSync.||Auto Low Latency Mode/HDMI Variable Refresh Rate/AMD FreeSync.|
|Disc drive||None||4K UHD Blu-Ray|
|HDR||Support for HDR||Up to 8K HDR|
|HDMI port||1x HDMI 2.1 port||1x HDMI 2.1 port|
|USB ports||3x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports||3x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports|
|Wi-Fi||Wireless. 802.11ac dual band||Wireless. 802.11ac dual band|
|Ethernet||Ethernet. 802.3 10/100/1000||Ethernet. 802.3 10/100/1000|
|Audio||Dolby Digital 5.1 DTS 5.1 Dolby TrueHD with Atmos Up to 7.1 L-PCM||Dolby Digital 5.1 DTS 5.1 Dolby TrueHD with Atmos Up to 7.1 L-PCM|
As you can see, the major differences between the two consoles actually have to do with the resolution – which the Xbox takes care of for the most part – and storage.
If you can sacrifice the true 4K from the Series X, you can probably save yourself a couple of hundred dollars when purchasing the Series S. However, the 512GB SSD inside the Series S is horrible to deal with on a regular basis.
We fully recommend grabbing a decent external HDD or SSD to ensure that your older titles from Xbox One and Xbox 360, or the original, aren’t clogging up your main drive. Newer games, like the recent Dead Space Remake or the upcoming lineup this year, will require that super fast NVMe drive inside to use quick resume and various improvements to loading.
While the disc drive is missed for older titles, picking up cheap pre-owned or discounted games from your local stores, isn’t all bad. Microsoft runs some cracking deals on a regular basis for a lot of major titles, new and old. We managed to pick up every Assassin’s Creed game for just under $60 a sale towards the end of 2022.
What is Game Pass?
Game Pass is Microsoft’s subscription service that collates a few hundred different titles. They range from JRPGs to first-person shooters and include some pretty major titles. Recently, Ubisoft games like Assassin’s Creed have made it to the service. EA Play has fleshed the store out even further.
Upgrading to Ultimate will give you access to the streaming and EA Play, as well as additional ‘perks’ which are given out every month.
Series S vs Series X: Which Xbox should you buy?
Outside of 4K gaming, discs, and bigger storage, there’s very little difference between the two versions. Of course, the Xbox Series X can play your 360, and Xbox One games through the disc tray. However, the Series S is primed for that all-digital future and by shedding the weight, is perfect to slot in just about anywhere.
Resolutions and prices
Seriously, the Xbox Series S comes in at a cool $299.99. It offers 4K as well, but not natively. This console can technically do around 1080p or 1440p.
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That’s not a bad thing, as most games today aren’t going to natively display at 4K on any of the consoles. Very few titles will actually be at that native 4K resolution.
Some games might say they are, but they’re all using similar blow-up techniques to get it to look pretty on your TV.
Again, this isn’t a bad thing, it’s happening everywhere. Even in our various GPU reviews, including the 4090, it’s still best to run 4K games with these supersampling and upscaling techniques.
The Xbox Series X is a bit more expensive, but out of the box, offers 1TB of storage and of course, access to your disc games. If you’re someone who still wants to grab a disc copy of the latest game, this will be your path forward.
You’ll find Xbox Series X going for around $200 more, at $499.
Both consoles can run games at 120FPS, but only the Xbox Series X can run them at 4K/120FPS. You will find that if this is important to you, you should go for the Series X regardless. That way you won’t have to refer to a guide.
There are also some games that won’t support the Series S, but there are usually some caveats on the X as well.
For example, Halo Infinite is locked at 1440p/120FPS on the Series X, while 1080p/120FPS on the Series S.
You’ll also need a monitor, or TV that supports such a resolution and frame rate. Our recommendations for that front will always remain the LG C1 or C2 for TVs, while with monitors, you can get away with almost any modern gaming monitor.
Xbox or PS5?
In no way, in 2023, will we stoke this fire. Both consoles are now seeing games get released on both, and the ongoing Activision purchase by Microsoft will have no true bearing on the conversation for a long time.
If you want those Sony exclusives, and don’t want to wait a year for them to appear on PC – or have no interest in PC gaming – you’ll find that the PS5 might suit you well. Plus, if you’re like us and have accumulated a tonne of PS4 games over the last few years that you can’t bear to let go of, then yes, go for a PS5.
For those looking for a jukebox of titles, or a cheaper entry point into this generation, a Series S is your best bet. If you want the same thing, but with better support for 4K and to play all your old games on, the Series X might be your console.
The fact of the matter is, with cross-platform play becoming more of a staple, as well as everything barring the major first-party titles coming to both consoles, it simply comes down to which one you’ve invested more cash into in the last generation.
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