Microsoft is fully detailing its new Xbox Series S console today. The $299 next-gen console will arrive on November 10th, designed to be a more affordable option for 1440p gaming. Microsoft is using the same CPU from the Xbox Series X inside the Series S, running at 3.6Hz. This is only slightly slower than the 3.8GHz speed the Zen 2-based CPU runs at in the Series X. “The primary difference between Xbox Series X and S is the GPU,” explains Jason Ronald, Microsoft’s director of Xbox program management.
“Xbox Series S delivers four times the processing power of an Xbox One console and supports experiences up to 120fps,” says Liz Hamren, head of platform engineering and hardware at Xbox. “The primary difference between Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S is in resolution. Through talking to our customers, we found that many of our fans prioritize framerate over resolution, so we wanted to build a console that didn’t require a 4K TV.”
That led Microsoft to use a different GPU inside the Xbox Series S to bring the price down, one that the company promises is around three times more powerful than the Xbox One. The Xbox Series S has 20 CUs at 1.565GHz, which calculates to 4 teraflops of performance, compared to the 12.15 teraflops (52 CUs at 1.825 GHz) found on the larger Xbox Series X. There’s an obvious power gap here, but Microsoft is targeting the Xbox Series S at 1080p or 1440p monitors and TVs, so you don’t need the same GPU power required for things like 4K gaming.
Microsoft is using a hardware scaler on the Xbox Series S to scale up games for 4K on TVs, and there’s even full hardware support for AMD’s latest RDNA 2 feature set, including hardware-accelerated ray tracing, mesh shaders, and variable rate shading. Xbox Series S includes 10GB of GDDR6 memory running at 224Gbps, compared to the 16GB of GDDR6 found on the Xbox Series X.
Here’s a full spec comparison between the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, from Microsoft:
Xbox Series X vs. Xbox Series S
|Xbox Series X||Xbox Series S|
|Xbox Series X||Xbox Series S|
|8-core AMD Zen 2 CPU @ 3.8GHz (3.6GHz with SMT)||8-core AMD Zen 2 CPU @ 3.6GHz (3.4GHz with SMT)|
|AMD RDNA 2 GPU 52 CUs @ 1.825GHz||AMD RDNA 2 GPU 20 CUs @ 1.565GHz|
|12.15 teraflops GPU power||4 teraflops GPU power|
|custom 7nm Enhanced SoC||custom 7nm Enhanced SoC|
|16GB GDDR6 RAM||10GB GDDR6 RAM|
|4K @ 60fps, up to 120fps||1440p @ 60fps, up to 120fps|
|1TB PCie Gen 4 NVME SSD||512GB PCie Gen 4 NVME SSD|
|1TB expansion card||1TB expansion card|
|4K UHD Blu-ray||Digital only|
|HDMI 2.1||HDMI 2.1|
What all these specs mean is the Xbox Series S should be more than capable of running next-gen games at a lower resolution than the Xbox Series X. The smaller console also has Microsoft’s Xbox Velocity architecture for the custom 512GB SSD, which enables features like Quick Resume to rapidly switch between games. Microsoft is using the same expansion slot found on the Series X, allowing Xbox Series S owners to purchase expandable 1TB storage cards to increase storage space for games.
Microsoft is also using sampler feedback streaming, allowing the Xbox Series S to only load the portions of textures required to render the scene, which should improve memory efficiency and I/O speeds. We’ll know for sure once we get to review both the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X later this year, but the differences between the two are clearly related to GPU performance.
Microsoft is now planning to launch both the Xbox Series X and Series S on November 10th. The Xbox Series X will be priced at $499, with the smaller Series S priced at $299.
Update, September 9th 11AM ET: Updated with more specs from Microsoft.