Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S: A Definitive Comparison Guide for Serious Gamers

Microsoft shook the gaming world when it unveiled not one, but two next-generation Xbox series consoles. The Xbox Series X instantly tantalized with pure power. But then entered the Xbox Series S – a budget-friendly little sibling offering shockingly solid performance at an irresistible $299 price point.

So which of these cutting-edge Xbox consoles deserves a spot under your TV? Let‘s dig into an exhaustive side-by-side comparison to help you decide!

The March to Next-Gen Gaming Greatness

Before evaluating Xbox Series X and Series S specs, it helps to review the console gaming advancements that got us here.

The original 2001 Xbox wowed gamers with its sheer muscle and popularized connected online multiplayer. Xbox 360 took things mainstream in 2005 thanks to trendsetting motion controls via Kinect.

In 2013, the ambitious multimedia vision behind Xbox One foretold today‘s convergence with entertainment beyond gaming. Its ideals lived on through ongoing innovations to the controller, Xbox Game Pass service and Xbox ecosystem.

Now in 2020, Microsoft‘s veteran Xbox team stands poised to push this generation even further…

Introducing the Power vs Portability Champions

Xbox Series X – a matte black rectangular prism of power hiding raw bleeding edge advancements behind its 12.8-inch tall imposing frame.

Xbox Series S – an arctic white wonder, packing shockingly strong next-gen gaming performance into a tiny 10.8-inch tall chassis a mere 4.25 pounds in heft.

Despite a $200 price gap, both of these consoles share the same modern Xbox soul. Let‘s examine what that means in regards to their specifications and performance capabilities.

Xbox Series X and Series S Specs: What‘s Under the Hood?

While the Xbox Series X thoroughly outpaces its little sibling, both consoles represent enormous generational leaps over Xbox One:

Xbox Series XXbox Series SXbox One X
Release DateNov 10, 2020Nov 10, 2020Nov 7, 2017
GPU Teraflops1246
CPU8-Core AMD Zen 2 @ 3.8GHz8-Core AMD Zen 2 @ 3.6GHz8-Core AMD Jaguar @ 2.3GHz
Memory16GB GDDR6 w/560GB/s10GB GDDR6 w/224GB/s12GB GDDR5 w/320GB/s
Storage Type1TB Custom NVMe SSD512GB Custom NVMe SSD1TB HDD
Storage Speed2.4GB/s (Raw)2.4GB/s (Raw)130MB/s
Dimensions15.1cm x 15.1cm x 30.1cm27.5cm x 15.1cm x 6.4cm30cm x 24cm x 6cm

While the Series S features a cut-down GPU and memory subsystem compared to Series X, its CPU, SSD and new Xbox Velocity architecture match the Series X. This allows last-gen titles to hit the same peak performance targets on either console, although native rendering resolution differs.

These generational advancements around CPU parallelization, storage speed and memory bandwidth combine to enable up to 120 frames per second on select titles. That‘s double the 60 FPS ceiling of Xbox One X!

Understanding the Resolution Reality

The Xbox Series X readily chews through native 4K visuals at buttery smooth 60 frames per second. And it has spare overhead for enhancing effects thanks to its beefed up GPU.

By comparison, the pared back 20 compute unit GPU inside Xbox Series S tops out at 1440p resolution. But clever upscaling techniques help it adeptly emulate 4K‘s crisp clarity. Its HDMI output supports 4K screens with HDR as well.

So while Series S renders natively at 1440p or 1080p then uses machine learning wizardry to fill in a 4K pixel grid, many games defy expectation and end up looking fabulous regardless.

It‘s What‘s Inside That Counts

Glossing over specs reveals just part of the performance picture. The secret weapon inside both machines lies within their custom NVMe solid state drives and new Xbox Velocity system architecture.

These cutting-edge SSDs deliver 2.4GB/s of raw throughput paired with dedicated hardware decompression blocks. This equates to 100x faster read speeds than Xbox One‘s sluggish hard drives.

All this speed couples with the new Velocity architecture to fundamentally overhaul how games access assets. The GPU commands direct storage access now instead of dealing with bottlenecks across CPUs and operating systems.

This radical overhaul completely eliminates loading screens in some titles. Even huge open world games like Assassin‘s Creed Valhalla see 4-5x faster level loading. And swapping between multiple titles becomes seamless as well!

Great Power Demands Great Cooling

Tighter integration and efficiency gains let this level of performance squeeze into such tight chassis. The Xbox Series X measures just 15.1cm x 15.1cm x 30.1cm tall while Series S shrinks to a mere 27.5cm x 15.1cm x 6.4cm.

Advanced vapor chamber cooling and bifurcated motherboards inside both consoles quietly whisk heat away from heat-generating components instead of relying just on noisy fans. This thermal engineering allows the Series S to pack mighty power into a build small enough to conceal discretely behind a monitor.

Total Backwards Compatibility

This shared next-gen architecture also enables full support for all Xbox One games, along with hundreds of select Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles as well. Both consoles play them with the benefits of steadier framerates, faster loading and Quick Resume.

The Series X and S also automatically heighten image quality on backwards compatible titles via features like Auto High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Auto 4K Upscaling. They breathe new visual life into aging classics!

Certain Xbox One games also receive optional FPS Boost to hit 60 or even 120 frames per second. And additional Xbox One X Enhanced games continue seeing benefits on Series X hardware.

Physical Discs vs Digital Game Libraries

Of course, the biggest divergence comes down to physical media support. The Xbox Series X proudly retains a 4K UHD Blu-ray disc drive granting access to a global trade market of game discs, movies and legacy content.

The Xbox Series S embraces a radical all-digital vision. It focuses solely on downloading titles through the Xbox Store or streaming via Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming.

The cost savings from ditching a disc drive allowed pricing the Series S at just $299. But it means relying exclusively on internal or expandable solid state storage. Speaking of which…

Expandable Storage Options

Even huge 1TB NVMe SSDs fill quickly with 100GB+ next-gen games. So Microsoft developed the Xbox Series Storage Expansion Card to perfectly complement their new super speedy architectures.

These expansion cards slot unobtrusively into the back side to instantly grow capacity without comprises. Currently offered in 512GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities, their slim designs measure just 3.47cm x 5.75cm x .85cm thanks to a custom alternate form factor.

Pricing sits around $140 for the 512GB model. So while still costly compared to classic external USB hard drives, their plug and play integration makes for good future investment.

Game Library Support

Gamers on both consoles enjoy access to the same expansive library spanning over 100 next-gen optimized Series X|S games and thousands more backwards compatible titles.

Flagship blockbusters like Forza Horizon 5, Halo Infinite and Starfield look utterly fantastic while smaller ID@Xbox indie darlings like Unpacking benefit tremendously from faster load times. Casual multiplayer phenomena like Fortnite and Rocket League shine brighter than ever at up to 120 FPS.

And with Xbox Game Pass included, gamers on a budget access hundreds of games for one low monthly price. Keep games manageable with Quick Resume support for suspending up to 6-8 titles in memory for near-instant swapping.

Which Xbox Series Console Should You Get?

So now to answer the critical question – which of these consoles deserves that spot under your TV?

The Xbox Series X stands as Microsoft‘s new flagship. Its substantial GPU horsepower readily powers pristine native 4K gaming while providing plenty of overhead for boosting visual effects in the years ahead.

The Xbox Series S packs shocking next-gen performance into its tiny frame. Clever upscaling helps it punch above its weight class to admirably emulate 4K gaming at more modest pricing.

If budget sits below $300 or small spaces demand a petite footprint, the Series S keeps you gaming in high style. But for uncompromising native 4K gaming with support for physical media, the Xbox Series X simply can‘t be beat.

Hopefully breaking down these similarities and differences helps better match you with your perfect next Xbox!

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