The Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X are the fourth-generation gaming consoles from the Xbox product line of Microsoft. These two are also part of the ninth generation of consoles alongside the PlayStation 5 Disk Edition and PlayStation 5 Digital Edition. Both compete with the previous eight-generation consoles that include the previous generations of Xbox and PlayStation and the handheld Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite. This article provides a list and discussion of the differences between Xbox Series S and Xbox Series based on their respective hardware or technical specifications, gaming performance, unique features, and price.
A Definitive Guide: The Difference Between Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X
Microsoft Gaming introduced to the worldwide market both the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X in November 2020. These two products follow the same product strategy used in the previous Xbox One and Xbox 360 gaming consoles. The main reason behind these two product versions centers on the need to cater to the different budgets and needs within the market. Hence, due to this product strategy, the Xbox Series S vs Xbox Series X debate is a staple conversation within the gaming community. Below are the key differences between the two:
1. CPU and GPU Specs
The main difference between Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X is their respective hardware and technical specifications. Both are equipped with a custom 8-core AMD Zen 2 CPU and a custom AMD Radeon discrete GPU based on the RDNA 2 microarchitecture. The difference is that the Series X has superior processor specifications with a CPU clocked at up to 3.8 GHz frequency and a GPU clocked at 1.825 GHz and with 52 compute units and 12.16 TFLOPs. The Series S has a CPU with a max clock speed of 3.6 GHz and a GPU clocked at 1.565 GHz frequency and with 20 compute units and 4.01 TFLOPS.
2. Memory and Storage
Both use a GDDR6 Synchronous Dynamic RAM or SDRAM for system memory and a Non-Volatile Memory Express solid-state drive for internal storage. The Series S specifically has 8GB at 128-bit and 2GB at 32-bit for a total of 10GB memory. The Robot White variant comes with 512GB of storage while the Carbon Black variant comes with 1TB of storage. The Series X has 10GB at 320-bit and 6GB at 192-bit for a total of 16GB of memory and 1TB of storage. Both gaming consoles support storage expansion of up to 2GB via a PCIe 4.0 Storage Expansion Card from Seagate or Western Digital.
3. Video and Audio Output
These two gaming consoles support video output at 720p or 1280×720, 1080p or 1920×1080, 4K or 3840×2160 high-definition or HD resolutions. Take note that 720p is considered progressive HD standard and 1080p is regarded as Full HD standard. 4K resolution is considered Ultra HD. The difference between the two consoles is that the Series X supports up to 8K Ultra HD resolution. Both have the same audio output specifications. These include the Custom Project Acoustics 3D Audio acoustic engine, the eight-channel 7.1 Surround Sound standard, DTS:X codec, and the Dolby Atmos surround sound technology.
4. Running Video Games
Another critical difference between the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X centers on how each console uses media to run video games. The Series S is a digital-only device similar to the PS5 Digital Edition. This means that it only supports digital copies of video game titles that are either downloaded on the internet or transferred to the device. The Series X supports both digital distribution and physical media distribution via Blu-Ray, DVD, and CD. This is similar to the PS5 Disc Edition. Both are still backward compatible with titles from older Xbox generations and also support cloud gaming via Xbox Cloud Gaming.
5. Gaming Performance
Based on their different CPU and GPU specifications, and in consideration of their different system memory specifications, the Series X provides a superior gaming performance and better overall gaming experience than the Series S. This comes from its higher-frequency CPU and a GPU with higher compute units. The better SDRAM specification is also an important factor in the overall gaming performance. The Series X can run 120 fps games at native 4K resolution while the Series S is more suitable for running 60 fps games at 4K resolution or 1080p resolution and will struggle running games at 4K and higher frames per second.
6. Dimension and Pricing
The Xbox Series S measures 5.9 in × 2.6 in × 11 in and weighs 1.93 kg. The Xbox Series X is a little bit larger at 5.9 in × 5.9 in × 11.9 in and heavier at 4.4 kg. The former has a smaller profile because of less powerful hardware and it does not come with a disc drive. Microsoft also designed it with portability in mind. Another obvious difference between the Series S and Series X is their respective prices. The former retails for USD 299.00 at introduction while the latter is priced at USD 499.00. The higher price point of the Series X comes from its more powerful hardware components and the inclusion of the disk drive.
Rundown and Takeaway: Choosing Between the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X
Nevertheless, based on the aforementioned list and description of differences, the Xbox Series S vs Xbox Series X debate is a straightforward discourse. The former is a relatively inexpensive and less powerful gaming console that only supports digital distribution while the latter is a more powerful but relatively more expensive that supports both digital and physical distributions. The gaming performance of the Series X is similar to the PlayStation 5.
The most ideal option between the two is the Series X. The Series S is still suitable for those with budget constraints but the obvious downside is that its users are limited to digital downloads and would also need to mind about the available storage space. This console can also struggle in handling demanding game titles such as Triple-A games, those with open-world environments, and next-generation titles built for high-end hardware specifications.