For a long time, it looked as though the next-gen console war would be fought between the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X. These two consoles will represent each company’s best effort — their attempts to pack raw power into a living-room-friendly boxes at (hopefully) affordable prices.
Over the course of this summer, however, it’s become clear that Microsoft may very well have a second console in the works. And if specs from the website TweakTown are accurate, this presumed Xbox Series S could actually be the console worth watching when the next-gen officially kicks off.
According to TweakTown, the Series S will shoot for a performance target of 1440p and 60 frames-per-second. It’ll make use of the same 8-core, 16-thread Zen 2 CPU found in the Xbox Series X. It’ll include solid-state storage, but will omit the Blu-ray disc drive.
The biggest difference between the Xbox Series X and the leaked Series S specs comes in the graphics department. The Series S will reportedly come packing 4 teraflops of computing power as opposed to the Series X’s 12.15. That’ll prevent it from reaching the graphical heights of the Series X, of course. But think about this: do most gamers really need that much power?
On Steam, for example, the most popular graphics card continues to be the GTX 1060. With the kind of performance the Series S is supposedly targeting, the console could end up surpassing the 1060’s performance. On top of that, a survey from 2018 found that 4K televisions were present in less than a third of U.S. households. A lot of gamers may not even need all the capability of the Series X, which is why the Series S could end up being a genius move.
It’ll all come down to where the PlayStation 5 is ultimately priced, and how nimble Microsoft can be in responding. If Microsoft can use the Series S to undercut the PlayStation 5 by $100 or $200 — and still provide a solid gaming experience on that machine — it might get away with a Series X that is on par with or even slightly more expensive than the PS5.
If Microsoft can do even better than that — or somehow get both machines under the price of either PS5 — look out.
It’s likely Microsoft will announce the Xbox Series S sometime in the very near future. In my opinion, that is the console that could end up defining the next generation. Microsoft will offer a better machine for the enthusiasts and will push the graphical fidelity of gaming forward, just as AMD and Nvidia do with their higher-tier graphics cards. But many gamers might simply opt for the more basic option that gets the job done. The GTX 1060 of consoles, if you will.