Xbox Series S Review: A Remarkable Device with Some Trade-Offs

The Series S is Initially Impressive

When unboxing both the Series S and the Series X, I was pleasantly surprised by the compactness of the former. It reminded me of when I moved to America and had to get a slim PS2 to replace my PAL PlayStation 2. The Series S may not be as small as the slim PS2, but its size is still impressive. Booting it up, I experienced the same snappiness as the Series X. The system update downloaded quickly, and navigating the menus and downloading games from my library was a breeze. Plus, some games had smaller file sizes due to the lack of 4K textures.

However, I soon encountered the first drawback of the Series S: its limited storage space. With only around 370GB of usable storage, I quickly ran out of space after installing just six games. While I have the luxury of high-speed internet to conveniently delete and re-download games, this is not the case for most gamers. The option to expand storage with a $220 Seagate expansion card is available, but once you factor in the cost of both the console and the expansion card, the Series X becomes a more cost-effective choice with its 1TB native storage, disc drive, and better hardware.

Differences in Visual Quality

The visual quality of games on the Series S is noticeably different from the Series X. For example, when playing Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, the game looked worse than it did on the Series X and even the One X. The Series S is limited to a resolution of 1440p, while the Series X can achieve a consistent 4K60. Although Valhalla can be played at 60 fps on the Series S by changing the resolution to 1080p, this compromises visual quality, including disabling HDR.

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Other games, like Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, felt visually competent on the Series S, even without ray tracing and 120 fps modes. Gears 5 was nearly indistinguishable between the Series S and Series X, but Dirt 5 experienced a noticeable dip in texture quality on the smaller console.

Only a Few Scenarios Call for the Series S

Considering all factors, I believe that most people should opt for the Series X instead of the Series S. The Series S is small, but it does not provide significant advantages in terms of portability or space-saving compared to the Series X. If you need a second console for another room, the Series X’s quick startup and Quick Resume feature make it the better choice. The only scenario where the Series S is a strong contender is when buying it for children. However, it is worth considering whether Xbox will release more powerful consoles or midcycle refreshes in the future.

Our Verdict

As someone who has experienced both the Series S and Series X, I think the $200 extra cost of the Series X is justified for the additional capabilities it offers. If the Series S were priced at $199 and had more affordable storage options, it might be a different story.

Is there a better alternative?
The Xbox Series X outperforms the Series S in almost every aspect, despite the higher price.

How long will it last?
The Series S should theoretically last for years, but its limitations will become apparent over time.

Should you buy it?
I believe that only parents with young children who are just starting to play video games should consider investing in the Series S.

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Editors’ Recommendations

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