Microsoft has been playing catch-up with Sony in terms of gaming system sales for the past few years. But things have changed. The Xbox Series S is presently India’s best-selling next-generation console. Yes, the PS5’s lack of availability makes its job simpler, but we shouldn’t overlook the Xbox Series S’s value pitch. We spent some time with the Series S to discover why so many of us have chosen it.
While there are a few omissions in the Series S, it is simple to see why they are not deal breakers for most users. The most notable omission is the lack of native 4K capability; the Series S only supports 1440p at 60fps and 1080p at 120fps. While the system can upscale content, this is only useful for a select games. Watch Dogs: Legion looked great when upscaled to 4K on my television. However, this is most likely due to the game’s setting in wet, dreary London, which obscures many things. Games like Destiny 2 suffered as a result. Gears 5 and Dirt 5 were optimized for smooth 120fps gameplay and look great on the Series S because to their extremely low input latency.
Then there’s the matter of the onboard storage, which is only 364GB. You can always upgrade to the more expensive 1TB extended storage, but doing so will raise the overall cost of your system. Indeed, it would be far more expensive than the Series X with its 1TB of storage (or 800 odd gigs of useable storage). However, when you think about it, not many individuals require more than a couple of games installed at the same time. So perhaps it is not as serious as it is made out to be.
Xbox Series S review: Design
When we initially took the Xbox Series S out of its box, I couldn’t believe how compact it was. The console is 10.8 x 5.9 x 2.6 inches, making it substantially smaller than the PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, or Xbox One. (It’s about the same size as a Wii U, but it can play a lot more games.) The majority of the console is white, with the exception of a circular black vent on top, which contrasts nicely with the rest of the frame. It features rubber feet on one of the horizontal and one of the vertical surfaces, and it offers lots of airflow no matter which way you turn it.
While “the console is quite compact” may not sound like much of a selling factor, I was amazed at how much of a difference the Series S’s size made. My entertainment cabinet is already overflowing with gadgets, but I had no trouble finding a spot for the Series S. When I finished testing, I moved it into my bedroom and slid it between a large TV stand and the edge of a cluttered dresser. Even my domestic spouse, who dislikes consoles in the bedroom due to their huge size, reluctantly accepted this device.
Xbox Series S review: Build
The Xbox Series S’s price tag isn’t the only thing that piques your interest. When you open the package, you’ll be surprised by the size of the console. It’s little in comparison to its bigger sibling, the Xbox Series X, but also to the PS5 and PS5 Digital Editions. The Series S is 28cm broad and 15cm deep when positioned horizontally. In comparison, Sony’s disc-less rival, the PS5 Digital Edition, measures 39cm wide and 26cm deep. This makes the Series S extremely portable, and you’ll be delighted to put it into a knapsack and transport it to a friend’s place. The ‘S’ and its tiny frame will also take up less room in your AV rack.
The chassis is made of an off-white plastic. It doesn’t feel very pricey, which isn’t surprising given that the majority of Xbox’s spending has been spent on what’s inside. In comparison to the eye-catching PS5, the Xbox Series S appears understated. Its single distinguishing feature is a round black fan grill, which gives it the appearance of a wireless speaker rather than a cutting-edge gaming console.
Xbox Series S review: Controller
The Xbox One controller was well designed, with staggered thumbsticks and rumble triggers. Microsoft opted to make some minor tweaks to the new Xbox Wireless Controller, which comes standard with both the Series S and Series X consoles. It did, however, retain the core layout and design of the previous version. Two thumbsticks, a directional pad, ABXY buttons, two triggers, two shoulder buttons, and four center buttons are all present. On the bottom are two ports: one for accessories and one for wired headsets (3.5mm headphone jack).
The principal modifications are ergonomic in nature. The back panels and triggers have been textured for improved grip. The top of the controller, where the Xbox button is located, is now flush rather than indented. In the centre, there’s also a new share button. The directional pad has been smoothed off and made clickier and more tactile. A USB-C port replaces the original micro-USB port on the top.
Xbox Series S review: Connectivity
With all of those huge games and the Series S being a digital-only system, you’ll be spending a lot of time downloading. There is built-in Wi-Fi and an Ethernet connector on the Series S, so you have alternatives, but a cable connection is the way to go here. we rarely observed more than 150Mbps when downloading over Wi-Fi (compared to the 350Mbps I measured on my HP Spectre x360 laptop in the same room and at the same time). Surprisingly, when I was doing speed tests on my laptop, the Series S download speed plummeted to the low double digits.
Similarly, while a game is running, even in the background, download rates drop into the low teens. On the network status panel when connected over Ethernet, the Series S reported 880Mbps down and 65Mbps up. In terms of what I observe straight at my Eero router, that’s spot true. Actual download speeds peaked at 500Mbps and averaged between 270 to 320Mbps.
Xbox Series S review: Games
Everyone on both sides of these so-called console wars can agree on one point: the PS5 had better launch titles than the Xbox Series X/S, but the tide is turning. While Sony launched with titles such as Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls, the pre-installed Astro’s Playroom, and even Bugsnax, Microsoft’s library comprised of the traditional launch lineup of third-party titles and improvements to pre-existing exclusive games such as Forza Horizon 4.
The vast number of games available on Xbox Game Pass more than compensated for this deficiency, but the lack of “next-gen” games was noticeable. However, in the few months leading up to the end of 2021, Xbox Game Studios have shot out of the gates with hit after success – all of which are playable on Game Pass. Beginning in July, we received Microsoft Flight Simulator, Psychonauts 2, Forza Horizon 5, Grounded, and Halo Infinite, to mention a few titles. With AAA experiences like these, this monthly membership service is starting to come into its own, covering a wide range of genres.
Xbox Series S review: Performance
The Xbox Series S’s bargain pitch is its strong suit – it’s a tiny powerhouse. It may provide 4K gaming, native 1440p quality, or a 1080p image. While its GPU isn’t as strong as the one in the Xbox Series X, it can upscale games to 4K (similar to the Xbox One S) and still run games at 120fps at 1440p, but you’ll need an HDMI 2.1-compliant TV to do so. It also supports ray tracing and loads games more quickly than ever before, owing to Microsoft’s Xbox Velocity Architecture.
When you combine Velocity Architecture with 10GB of GDDR6 memory and a built-in SSD, you have the makings of a powerhouse console. Even better, Microsoft has improved the performance of Xbox Series S games, freeing up hundreds of megabytes of memory. Most importantly, this should assist to improve graphics performance. If you have a 1080p TV, the Xbox Series S employs a technology known as supersampling to provide better-looking visuals even on less-capable monitors. The basic principle behind supersampling is that the game is produced at a higher resolution, and then the console downscales the image to match the output of your TV.
Xbox Series S review: Price
As previously stated, the Series S is significantly less expensive than the Series X. It is significantly less expensive than Sony’s full-fat, 4K Blu-ray-equipped PS5. In fact, its lone next-generation rival is the drive-less PS5 Digital Edition, which has the same specs as the original PS5 but costs £100 less. However, at £350, it is still £100 more expensive than the Xbox Series S.
Of course, there is still some current-gen rivalry. While production has ceased, the old Xbox One S may still be purchased for roughly £220, while the faster, 4K-capable One X can still be bought on eBay for around £250 to £300. Some retailers are still selling PS4 and PS4 Pro systems for £250 to £300. Most crucially, you could get a Nintendo Switch for roughly £280. Unless you’re a huge Nintendo lover, I wouldn’t recommend any of these above a Series S, although the option is there.
The Xbox Series S is the ideal next-generation console for those on a budget or without a high-end 4K TV, with the additional performance capabilities allowing for much better visuals than an Xbox One S. The low 364GB storage capacity, on the other hand, is unforgivable for a console lacking a disk drive, making the costly storage extension a necessary outlay.