The Xbox Lockhart has been rumoured for about two years now, and leaks had been ramping up over the past month or so. They ramped up so much, in fact, that Microsoft were basically forced to reveal the console – officially called the Xbox Series S – in full. Now, after a flurry of activity over the last couple of days, we know the crucial launch information for Xbox’s next generation that we’ve been waiting for for months. Here, we’re going to focus on one of the two consoles it’ll be entering the ninth console generation with, and talk about the key things you should know about the Xbox Series S.
Microsoft already surprised quite a few people when they revealed what the Xbox Series X would look like back in December, and it’s fair to say that they did so once again with its less powerful counterpart. With the black circular vent dominating one side of the console, the Xbox Series S definitely has a unique look. It’s much slimmer than the Series X, and it’s being billed as the smallest Xbox console ever. While we don’t know the exact dimensions of the box, we do know that it’s 60% smaller than the Xbox Series X.
Microsoft have been moving further and further into digital territory these last few years. It started with the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition, and for next-gen, they’ll be continuing that trend. The Xbox Series S is going to be an all-digital console, which means that if you want a disc drive in your Xbox, you’re going to have to go with the Xbox Series X.
1440p AT UP TO 120 FPS
4K gaming is something that many people have been hoping will become the industry standard with next-gen consoles, and while that’s definitely what the Xbox Series X is going for, the Xbox Series S is still going to fall short of that. Microsoft have designed the console to target 1440p resolutions- that said, it won’t be making any sacrifices in the frame rate department. As per Microsoft, the Xbox Series S is capable of achieving frame rates of up to 120 FPS, and while it remains to be seen just how frequently (or how well) it will do that, we can at least be assured (hopefully) that it will regularly hit 60 FPS.
The inclusion of a solid state drive is something that both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X have been emphasizing quite a bit, and the Xbox Series S, too, is going to have an SSD. It will feature the same NVMe SSD as the Series X, with the same 2.4 GB/s uncompressed and 4.8 GB/s compressed bandwidth. As far as storage capacity is concerned through, it will be making some sacrifices, coming in at 512 GB as compared to the Xbox Series X’s 1 TB.
512 GB is not a lot of storage space, especially seeing as games just keep growing larger and larger as time passes- you will, however, have the option to expand your storage. Microsoft have confirmed that the 1 TB SSD expansion card they’re releasing in partnership with Seagate will work with the Xbox Series S, just as it will with the Series X. What the price of that SSD expansion will be remains to be seen, but a recent report suggested a rather steep price of $220.
The Xbox Series S’ CPU is perhaps its most impressive element. While it’s making sacrifices to varying degrees in many areas in order to be sold at its much cheaper price, as far as its processor is concerned, the console is more or less identical to the Series X. It has the same 8 core AMD Zen 2 CPU, with a nearly identical bandwidth of 3.6 GHz, which comes to 3.4 GHz with SMT enabled (as opposed to the Series X’s 3.8 GHz, or 3.6 GHz with SMT enabled).
While its CPU is impressive, the GPU is probably where the Xbox Series S has taken the biggest hit. Though built on the same RDNA 2 architecture, the Xbox Series S’ GPU hs 20 compute units at 1.565 GHz as compared to the Series X’s 25 compute units at 1.825 GHz. In terms of clock speeds, this comes to 4 teraflops, which is significantly lower than the Series X’s 12.15 teraflops.
3X THE GPU PERFORMANCE OF XBOX ONE
Just because the Xbox Series S is going to be noticeably weaker than the Series X in the GPU department doesn’t mean it’s not going to be next-gen. Microsoft have stated in pretty explicit terms that its GPU is still a huge step-up over current-gen console hardware. In fact, Xbox Series S’ GPU allegedly offers three times the performance of the Xbox One GPU. How accurate that is in practice remains to be seen, but here’s hoping it will be enough to be able to keep up with what developers will need to make true next-gen experiences.
Xbox Series S’ RAM, too, makes some sacrifices to ensure a cheaper price for the console. It has a 10 GB GDDR6 RAM, which is split across two pools. One is an 8 GB pool which will run at 224 GB/s, while the smaller 2 GB pool will run at 56 GB/s. While we’ll need to wait a while to see how this affects development of next-gen games, the hope remains that the RAM won’t prove to be a bottleneck for developers.
RAY-TRACING, VRR, VRS, AND MORE
Though the Xbox Series S is less powerful than the Xbox Series X in many ways, Microsoft have ensured that the weaker console still boasts of many of the most important technical leaps the latter is making. That means that the Xbox Series S will support hardware-accelerated ray-tracing, variable rate shading, variable refresh rate, ultra-low latency, and other system-level features, such as Quick Resume.
The one aspect of the Xbox Series X’s hardware that Microsoft have been touting more than anything else is the Xbox Velocity Architecture, the catch-all term they’ve given to several elements that work together to make streaming much faster, including hardware decompression, Direct Storage, and Sampler Feedback Streaming. Collectively, they reduce the workload usually put on the CPU for data transfers, make streaming of assets more efficient, and also make on-the-fly decompressing faster. Crucially, the Xbox Series S makes use of the Velocity Architecture in all its glory, without any cutbacks.
The audio department is another area where Microsoft are looking to keep their next-gen experience uniform across both their new consoles, which means the Xbox Series S boasts the same audio tech and features as the Xbox Series X. To be more specific, the Series S will have Spatial Sound, which includes support for Dolby Atmos.
While the technical aspects of the console are, of course, perhaps the most crucial element that you’ll be considering before deciding whether or not to purchase the console will be its library. So what games is the Xbox Series S launching with? Well, we’ve known for a while now that Bloober Team’s ambitious horror game The Medium is going to be a launch title. On top of that, recently, many other games have also been confirmed as launch titles for the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X, including the likes of Watch Dogs: Legion, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, DiRT 5, The Falconeer, Tetris Effect Connected, and more.
PRICE AND PRE-ORDERS
Outside of the game, the other most crucial thing most prospective consumers will be considering is the price, which is something that Microsoft have finally revealed after months of waiting. The Xbox Series S will launch at a shockingly reasonable price of $299. Sure, that comes with some sacrifices in terms of the hardware, but $299 at launch for a next-gen console is a very compelling price. Pre-orders for the Xbox Series S will be going live on September 22.
Microsoft have made it abundantly clear on multiple occasions over the last few months that they’re going to go big with Xbox All-Access, their financial program, and they’ve revealed the full details on that now. With Xbox All-Access, for no upfront cost, you will be getting an Xbox Series S along with 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for $25 per month for 24 months. The total comes up to $600, which, incredibly enough, is lower than the cumulative price of the console and 24 months of Game Pass you’d be paying otherwise (which would come up to $660). Starting this Holiday, Xbox All Access will be available in 12 countries, namely the United States, the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, Sweden, Poland, South Korea, Finland, Denmark, and Norway.
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