Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S: which should you buy?

November is gearing up to be a big month in the gaming world. Microsoft is launching both the Xbox Series X and Series S, while it’s also highly likely the Sony PS5 and its disc-less sibling, the PS5 Digital Edition will also touch down around the same time.

While Sony’s consoles boast plenty to get excited about, we’re going to focus on the Xbox pair. Recent reveals mean we can now see how the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S stack up against each other in terms of power, price, availability and looks. Wondering which new Xbox console to buy? Step right this way and we’ll explain all…

Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S: price

Microsoft Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S: price

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Given that the Xbox Series S is lower-specced than the Series X, you would expect it to be cheaper. And you’d be right.

The Series S will cost £249.99 ($299, €299). That’s a lot cheaper than the $499 (most probably £499) that Xbox will reportedly charge for the Series X.

The pricing is in line with the original Xbox One and Xbox One S, which on the face of it, seems like pretty good value to us.

Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S: specs

Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S: specs

(Image credit: Xbox)

The Series X is the bigger, more powerful and more capable console. According to head of Xbox Phil Spencer, it’s four times as powerful as the Xbox One X. Inside you’ll find 12 teraflops of GPU.

Compared to the Xbox One’s eight-core 1.75GHz CPU, or the One X’s eight-core 2.3GHz CPU, the Series X’s eight-core 3.6GHz Custom AMD Zen 2 chip should improve every aspect of how games run. We’re promised that loading times will be virtually eliminated, meaning you’ll be able to fire up a game and get going almost immediately. Amazing.

The Series X also boasts variable rate shading and hardware-accelerated DirectX raytracing, which should make for better graphics. Quick Resume will mean you can nip in and out of games (picking up where you left off) with no delay.

On the connections front, you’ll get an HDMI output and Microsoft has confirmed that an Ultra High-Speed HDMI cable will be included in the box, which is handy if your display of choice supports HDMI 2.1. Through that, gamers will be able to enjoy frame rates up to 120fps and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) technology too.

Microsoft has confirmed that the Xbox Series X won’t have HDMI input nor an optical digital out – both of which can be found on the Xbox One X and Xbox One S. The HDMI input was introduced to Xbox consoles so you could plug in and control a set-top box, although many felt it was never really implemented properly.

The loss of the optical output could have a bigger impact on users, though. It means if you want to enjoy home cinema sound from your Xbox Series X, you’ll need an AV receiver or a soundbar with HDMI connectivity.

So how about the Series S? It only has 4 teraflops of GPU, which is nowhere near the grunt of the Series X. According to recent reports, it also only uses a 512GB solid state drive. This seems pretty miserly, especially when you compare it to the Series X’s 1TB hard drive. We’ll have to wait and see just how quickly games fill the space available.

It will also be interesting to see how both consoles stack up when it comes to loading games and switching between them. Will the Xbox Series S’s reduction in horsepower be obvious?

Like the Xbox Series X, the Series S supports 120fps gaming at a resolution of 1440p, DirectX raytracing, variable rate shading, and variable refresh rate (VRR). It will play games in 4K, and upscale non-4K games to that resolution. It also promises ‘4K streaming media playback’, presumably from online services such as Netflix.

Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S: design and build

Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S: design and build

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The Series X measures 30.1 x 15.1 x 15.1cm (hwd) compared to the Xbox One X’s 6 x 30 x 24cm. Its weight is 4.45kg, vs the 3.69kg of the older machine.

We don’t have the exact dimensions or weight of the Series S, but as you can see from the above video, it’s quite a bit smaller than the Series X. In fact, it’s almost 60 percent smaller, meaning not only is it the smallest Xbox to date, but it can also fit inside the body of a Series X.

The two consoles also look quite different. The Series S is a lighter colour, and is a lot less imposing than the X. It also has its cooling vent on the side (that bit that looks like a speaker grille), whereas the X passes air out of the top.

What do you think? Which console design do you prefer?

Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S: verdict

Microsoft Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S: which should you buy?

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The X and S are two quite different propositions. Sure, they both connect to the internet, both play the same games and both will let you access video and music streaming services. But which is right for you really depends on your needs.

If you’re ready to wave goodbye to the disc format, you don’t mind the drop in power and your budget can’t stretch past £249/$299, the Xbox One S looks like the console for you.

But if you want the ultimate next-gen Xbox experience, it’s likely that you’ll have to stump up for the Series X. On paper it’s bigger and more powerful, although only time will tell if this affects the user experience. If games look better and load quicker than on the S, it might make the Series X the only option. It also has a disc drive onboard, so you can play Blu-rays and CDs too.

All this extra power will come at a price though – about £250 (or $200) to be exact. Once we’ve had time with both consoles, we’ll be able to tell you definitively whether the Xbox Series X is worth it.

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