Xbox Series S specs revealed: Here are some key takeaways

Xbox Series S

Yesterday, a surprise leak forced Microsoft to announce the Xbox Series S early. Today, the company went full steam and released detailed specs for its other next-gen console.

To start, it appears the Xbox Series S will indeed utilize the same 8-core AMD Zen 2 processor as the Series X. The Series S will drop the max clock speed of that processor a tad bit from 3.8GhHz to 3.6GHz. This is, in the grand scheme of things, not a very substantial drop.

The Series S will also come packing an AMD RDNA 2 GPU. In this instance, the power gulf between the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X is a little wider. The GPU on the Series S boasts 20 compute units (CUs) and a clock speed of 1.565GHz. The Series X GPU, meanwhile, has 52 CUs and a clock speed of 1.825GHz.

The Series S also lags behind the Series X in GPU power, as well — 4 teraflops (TFLOPS) to 12.15 TFLOPS, respectively.

As far as RAM goes, the Series S has 6 less GBs (for a total of 10 GB) than the Series X. RAM speed is 224 GB/s for 8 GB of RAM and 56 GB/s for 2 GB of RAM. Those specs are toned down from what the Series X can do.

For storage, the Xbox Series S comes with about half the space — 512 GB to the Series X’s 1 TB.

And, of course, the Xbox Series S is a great deal smaller than the Xbox Series X. You could very well fit two S models into the hollowed-out shell of an Xbox Series X, which itself isn’t all that large to begin with. The thing is tiny.


Takeaways

You might recall we had some questions yesterday about just how viable the Xbox Series S’s target was. The system is aiming for games running at 1440p and 60 frames-per-second. Before we saw the official specs, that claim seemed almost too good to be true.

Seeing the specs now in great detail, it seems likely the Xbox Series S will indeed be able to hit that mark with many titles. That makes the $299 price of the machine utterly absurd in the best way possible. This system puts console gamers on par with PC gamers who are perfectly happy with a rig that can do 1080p or 1440p at 60 frames-per-second. It doesn’t try to be a goliath. It doesn’t do more than it has to. And it’s extremely, extremely affordable.

This console, as we speculated a few weeks back, could be the sleeper hit of the upcoming console generation.

Microsoft is essentially offering gamers a choice. If you have a 4K TV, you’re going to require a machine with the horsepower to push that many pixels. Your games are going to take up more space due to those larger assets. You’ll need more RAM to store those assets in memory. For you, there is a $499 console called the Xbox Series X.

If you’re more than content playing on a 1080p TV or a 1440p monitor, however, you won’t need all that beefy hardware. You’ll be able to get by with less GPU power. Your games won’t take up as much space. You’ll survive with a few less gigs of RAM. If you are that person — who doesn’t need top of the line but just wants to play the games you have now with improved visuals and better frame rates — the $299 Xbox Series S will get the job done.

The big question now is, how will Sony respond? Where will the PlayStation 5 be priced? There’s a version with a disc drive, and there’s a version without one. Sony almost certainly intends to hit two different price points with those machines. It wouldn’t totally shock us to see both end up somewhere in the middle of where the Series S and Series X landed. That would make the options available to gamers this generation very interesting.

For now, we have to applaud Microsoft for daring to offer a budget version of a next-gen console that’s actually budget-friendly and actually good. This is the kind of move that can turn a contender into a winner. The Series S is the kind of machine that could fly off the shelves this holiday.

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