We break down everything about the model of benefits and reduced price of the new generation of Microsoft consoles, a product that gives a lot for very little.
Skepticism around Xbox Series S has been a constant since before its introduction. A model with reduced benefits compared to Xbox Series X and that still feels like a new generation machine? It is logical to consider the dilemma between an Xbox One X and the one that is today the protagonist; as well as wondering what the fine print is for Microsoft to tell us that for 299 euros we can jump to the next gen. That is why we are here, to try to clarify all your questions and find the good and the bad of the white of the house, which we already anticipated has pleasantly surprised us and we think it is a purchase whose value for money is surely unbeatable today. . It is not exempt from objectionable aspects.
Initial thoughts on Xbox Series S
The intention with this Reviews is not to constantly report specifications – for that, we invite you to consult this technical comparison between both models in the Series range -, but to tell you about our user experience after more than two weeks playing afternoons and nights, completing titles backward compatible earrings and many others to which we have already had access optimized for this opportunity. To be honest, we have to advise that updates are being a constant since we received the console; Things have been optimized and there is still room for some of the weaknesses that we are commenting on today to be solved as of this November 10. If so, we will update this content accordingly to bring it as close as possible to what you can receive in your homes from the launch date.
That said, a small basic review that answers what is Xbox Series S, who is intended and what is not Xbox Series S; In other words, why those 200 euros of difference with respect to the powerful black monolith that Salva Fernàndez has been in charge of analyzing. Broadly speaking, the difference stems from the absence of the disc reader; absence of 4K resolution (can reach up to 2K, 1440p); 512 GB instead of 1 TB of storage; 10 GB of RAM instead of 16 GB, a slightly less powerful CPU and 4 TFLOPS instead of 12 TLFOPs on its GPU. Both have Xbox Velocity Architecture to take full advantage of SSD, VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) and VRS (Variable Rate Shading) memories, a technology that will optimize image quality and fluidity in a fairly sophisticated and effective way. Therefore, here is the first advantage of Xbox Series S over Xbox One X in the technological plane: it is a next-generation console. But how much? Let’s go step by step.
How about playing with Xbox Series S: Auto HDR, SSD …
During the Reviews period, there were initially few games that took advantage of the 2K resolution of the console, so most of the titles were run under their version of Xbox One at 1080p. That wasn’t an impediment for games like Monster Hunter World to guarantee a constant rate of 60 frames per second. During this Reviews period we have tested already optimized titles, such as Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Sea of Thieves, DiRT 5, Gears Tactics, Manifold Garden, The Touryst, Gears 5 or Forza Horizon 4. Is the experience better than with Xbox One ? Yes, much better, because the optimization of some and the Auto HDR of others allows that, without doing anything, the games that did not have HDR look with more tone, with greater interpretation of the colors on the same screen, which makes up for the absence higher resolution.
Auto HDR is one of the big surprises of Xbox Series X | S
An example of optimization is Forza Horizon 4, whose difference from the Xbox One X version is notable. Despite being 4K there, its rate is 30 FPS; However, in Xbox Series S we enjoy native 2K and 60 FPS without any drop, better lighting and color nuances that, without doing anything at all, show a clear improvement. The other side of the coin is Yakuza: Like a Dragon, which made us choose between 1440p and 30 FPS or 900p and 60 FPS, which we do not understand at all and invites us to think that it was Capcom’s decision and not the inability of the console, given that Forza Horizon 4 is spectacular in 2K and 60 FPS. Everyone can choose what they like best in the cases where these options are presented, but in this particular title, taking into account that it is a JRPG in turns, we have not accused the absence of 60 FPS and everything looked great; better than the Xbox One X version, which we were also able to test for a strictly aesthetic comparison. Mind you, the 2K and 60 FPS should have been achieved. Evil.
For the rest, playing on Xbox Series S is better in everything but the 4K capability compared to Xbox One in general and Xbox One X in particular. Forza Horizon 4 has more detail in its textures, has a more visible draw distance and did not suffer a single drop in performance. The same is the case with games from previous generations, such as Banjo-Kazooie or Alan Wake, with more color and visual fidelity. The optimization is real, but the biggest differences are in the speed of the loading times. Both when starting games and when resuming and loading games, the difference is more than half. Monster Hunter World loads missions in about ten seconds (instead of the usual minute of yesteryear); In Forza Horizon 4 fast travel says goodbye to its long waiting periods to last for a short snap of the fingers; And in indie games like The Messenger, The Touryst, Manifold Garden is straight out of the box.
We can put more examples, such as Tales of Vesperia, whose color palette is now much sharper and more defined than on Xbox One X, where by the nature of the game all the color ranges were somewhat off. Not here, not only are the black loading screens testimonial, it is that the color is better. Great implementation of Auto HDR, although a TV compatible with high dynamic range is required. For its part, Gears Tactics, Gears 5 or Sea of Thieves also improve thanks to the optimization, whose nights or sunsets look significantly better on Xbox Series S than on Xbox One X (regardless of the resolution, we insist).
Quick Resume: we are still not aware of how comfortable it is
As in its day we get used in a matter of seconds to having several applications in the background while sending messages to our friends or watching a YouTube video, Microsoft has wanted to take advantage of the comfort, the suspension of games, so that resuming a game is a matter of —literally— seconds. And yes, we have done tests by disconnecting the console from the power, restarting the machine or after applying an update: everything was maintained.
From the fourth or fifth Xbox One game we have noticed that some started from scratch, but as a general rule that half a dozen titles in suspension (up to 7 games if any are independent, light weight) will always be guaranteed, with waiting about five seconds between jump and jump. It’s very convenient to be able to do a couple of races in Forza Motorsport 7, complete a couple of Banjo-Kazooie levels, and get back to that pending phase of Hollow Knight.
How much do the games weigh? The Xbox Series S Big Problem (364GB)
The biggest headache we’ve had in this review period with Xbox Series S has been the internal storage. On paper, what the box says is that we have 512GB of storage. The reality is different: it is 364 GB of free space. Why this difference? Operating system, updates and applications installed by default in the system to be able to use all its functions.
As you can imagine, when we start the console and plug in the network cable to reach the maximum speed of our online infrastructure, we start a carousel of indiscriminately playing games and Install: click, Install; click, Install … And we came face to face with reality: “You need to free up space for the installation.” Mathematics is not deceiving. If you need 72 GB to install Forza Horizon 4; 39 GB for DiRT 5; 37 GB for Yakuza: Like a Dragon; 53 for Monster Hunter World and more than 100 to do the same with Destiny 2 or Marvel’s Avengers, you will realize that, no matter how much you want to have Sea of Thieves installed in the menu to play a game from time to time, no you’re going to be able to for a mere matter of space.
Here’s what these titles weigh on Xbox Series S.
Let’s be clear: a real memory of 364 GB is insufficient for a console whose only solution is the digital format. All this not to mention the add-ons, because when you installed the two Forza Horizon 4 expansions, those initial 72 GB became 86 GB. Imagine that with any expansion or DLC of your favorite titles. It can be a problem unless you get used to playing and deleting… and you have a good Internet connection, because if not, titles over 70 GB can take a long time to download.
A shame, honestly, that Xbox Series S has missed the opportunity to play on equal terms with Xbox Series X in this section. Insufficient.
Xbox Wireless Controller: an evolution that justifies the absence of a revolution
The saying goes that “if something works, don’t change it.” In Redmond they have taken the Xbox One Wireless Controller as a base to improve and polish some of the aspects that were most accused in the current generation of Microsoft controls and, why deny it, they have hit the center of the bullseye. It would surely have been more fun and exciting to witness a transition similar to that of the DualShock and DualSense, but the white Xbox Wireless Controller that will arrive with each Xbox Series S unit is, in addition to aesthetically beautiful, one of the best controllers we have. never had in hand.
Ryan Whitaker, senior Xbox designer, said when Xbox Series X | S was introduced, that his goal with this new wireless controller was to provide “a better experience for everyone”, and that also includes people with mobility problems. How could they improve? One of the points where we will all agree is the crosshead (D-pad). Neither two-dimensional platforms nor fighting games were comfortable enough; at least, not like now, believe us. Making a crescent, navigating menus or calculating jumps is, with this eight-point crosshead so similar to the one on the Xbox Elite Controller Series 2, a marvel.
In photos it is difficult for you to appreciate the differences between the Xbox Series controller and the Xbox One controller, but carefully calculated changes have been implemented so that the ergonomics, the grip, are a joy in long games. On the one hand, the edges of the LT and RT buttons have been reduced, which enjoy various vibration motors to generate resistance. In our case, as devotees of the driving genre, the experience has been excellent. Forget feeling those sharp finishes on the triggers, which can sometimes be less comfortable than desired. Now, with the added extra roughness in handles and triggers, it feels like you have a better built body in your hands. The action buttons have also been rounded, giving their convex design more area to be positioned with your fingertips. Finally, the grips, more rounded and easier to hold by people with smaller hands.
On the other hand, batteries are kept instead of battery. We are not going to enter today to debate whether one option or another is better or worse; so we will limit ourselves to saying that the duration of that charge gives a very similar autonomy. What has been improved is connectivity by reducing latency. Dynamic Latency Input (DLI) has now been added, including Xbox Series X | S ready technology. Compatibility with Xbox One, Windows 10 computers, and compatible Android phones is maintained.
Finally, the share button, which obeys the same language as the Nintendo Switch share button: if we press once, we take a screenshot; by holding down, we will record the last 30 seconds. From the configuration menu we can modify if these captures last 30, 45 or 60 seconds and if we want them to change resolution. The gallery will be stored locally in our internal memory and will be added to our Xbox Live profile, thus making it easier for us to share these static or audiovisual content from a mobile device (through the renewed Xbox App).
There is little else we can tell you in this regard: we are delighted with the Xbox Wireless Controller from Xbox Series; a command prepared to last perfectly another seven years without being accused of anything.
Wi-Fi and cable network connections: substantial improvement over Xbox One
Having a Wi-Fi connection at the height was essential to enjoy the Xbox Series S in optimal conditions. Our game room is far from the router, about 10 meters with the kitchen and a bedroom in between. With the current generation consoles and, specifically, Xbox One X, we did not get more than 45 MB per second with a symmetric 600 MB connection. It left a lot to be desired even though it has dual-band 802.11ac WiFi (5 GHz / 2.4 GHz).
With Xbox Series S the results are excellent with the Wi-Fi network, infinitely better, using the same protocol on paper. In that same place and connected to the 5 GHz frequency of our router, Xbox Series S has been able to download content at more than 175 MB per second, without interference in online games and, in general, making it clear that the antenna it incorporates the console is very good.
Temperature and sound: can you hear it? Does it get hot?
Another one of the million questions, is Xbox Series S hot? Does it make noise after long gaming sessions? The short answer is no, and we assure you that we have gotten into it. The tests have been several. For starters, with no video game on standby — without a higher demand on RAM — the results are absolute silence. It doesn’t matter what game it is; it doesn’t matter if it’s Red Dead Redemption 2; neither if it is The Messenger or Lonely Mountains Downhill, we will not hear anything at all except the rotation of the fan if we approach the ventilation outlet. The black surface at the top of the chassis – horizontally arranged – is generous in size and… makes a difference. When we put our hand on it, we felt a slight breeze, of course, because the machine has to breathe. Also, it wasn’t very hot air at all, but rather room temperature.
The dissipation of that heat is, therefore, good, because even with four games in suspension we have not noticed problems with heating or sound. Silent, even with the TV on mute. Not much less in sleep mode, when, as many of you will remember, Xbox One X sometimes made a very sensitive sound, uncomfortable at night if we had the console near the resting place. Huge work by the Redmond design team, who have managed to build a powerful, silent machine with a temperature according to what is desired in an extremely small chassis. Very very good.
Let’s also talk about aesthetics, size, weight …
Surely taking an Xbox Series X or PS5 to a friend’s house to play during a weekend afternoon requires a good backpack. With Xbox Series S things change; there are much bulkier and heavier laptops. We are talking about a system of only 1.92 kg (4.25 pounds) and only 27.5cm x 15.1cm x 6.5cm; It fits perfectly in a backpack, weighs nothing and has resistant plastic construction materials, with an elegant (and clean) matte white that does not get dirty or accumulate dust, something that may seem silly, but that with the passage of months ends up being troublesome. Its design, as simple as a rectangle, does not hide grids or projections that end up accumulating dirt. In addition, the on / off button is physical, so there will be no problems with wrong keystrokes or temperature sensitive – like the first model of Xbox One. The fact of not having a disc player is an advantage when it comes to noise; space and resources are saved all the time.
We have arranged it horizontally because it looked better on our table and; incidentally, for a matter of coherence with the logo, which in this case is correctly presented when we have the console lying down (on Xbox Series X the logo appears well vertically). When placed vertically we have not noticed major differences in noise or temperature, probably due to the huge circle dedicated to ventilation. For those who ask: Xbox Series S has four rubbers on one of its profiles for those who wish to arrange it vertically; no support needed.
Final thoughts: who is the Xbox Series S for?
Surely, this question will answer itself after the breakdown of the previous sections, but our overall opinion is quite clear. We ask you three questions.
- Are you planning to buy a 4K TV in the short or medium term? We are not talking about a device that we are going to change after a year and a half or two years (like a mobile phone, or so the statistical studies say), so above all you have to buy with your head and perspective. If you play on a monitor up to 27 inches, you must be very close to the screen to tell the difference between 1440p and 4K. We, very little.
- Another question: do you care about the record player? Let’s keep in mind that a disc player is not only good for running Xbox Series games and Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One backward compatibility, but also those Blu-ray movies that you may have at home. You lose that. If you do not mind because this is for you a complement console, “the Xbox Game Pass console”, rest assured, it will be a great company for your monitor.
- Finally, are you installing many games and testing or do you prefer to go one by one? It is difficult to understand that a digital philosophy, which should be more focused on internal storage than one with a physical solution, only has 512 GB (364 GB, speaking in real terms), and that translates between 5 and 12 games, depending on what they weigh, on average. If these three points are not problematic, Xbox Series S is perfect for you for only 299 euros; although we have to say that for that price it should have had the 1 TB of its older sister, because a 1 TB Seagate external memory is going to 249 euros (RRP in Spain), which brings us back to the consideration of this third point, the space, indisputably insufficient.
If any of these three questions falters on your list, our recommendation is the following: wait, save and make the jump to Xbox Series X when you can to have a device prepared and powered, that surely does not fall short of anything with it. Over the years.
For everything else, Xbox Series S delivers a fantastic, next-gen user experience. Speed, practicality, ability to suspend games and benefit from HDR or up to 120 FPS. Your available storage is well below what we demand today, and that is also an important consideration. Guaranteed value for money, which is not unbeatable, but it is recommended for a specific type of audience.
We have carried out this Reviews through an Xbox Series S unit provided by Xbox Spain; a console identical to the one we will find in stores.