Is this the new people’s console? The target group of the Xbox Series S are more casual gamers. In the test, the Xbox Series S convinces as the little sister of the Series X. Unlike Sony, Microsoft not only omitted the optical drive and changed the form factor, but also installed less powerful hardware.
Xbox Series S Review
The GPU does less and the storage space of the SSD has been halved to 512 GB. But the performance is still fun in practice. Many games ran in the test with 60 fps (mostly rendered in WQHD not in 4K), sometimes even with 120 fps, and looked really good.
In addition, the Xbox Series S is very quiet in operation. But if you tend to install several games on your console, you could run out of space on the SSD.
- Strong enough for 1440p (WQHD) with 60fps
- Very quiet
- Attractive price
- Very light at 1.9 kg
- Quick setup via app or manually
- Storage space on the SSD is running out quickly
- Controllers do not have an integrated battery (but standard batteries)
- Usually too little performance for 4K (native) with 60 fps
XBOX SERIES S: SMALL NEXT GENERATION CONSOLE
|CPU||Custom Zen 2 CPU with 8 cores at 3.6 GHz (3.4 GHz with SMT)|
|GPU||AMD RDNA2 20 CUs @ 1,565 MHz|
|Random Access Memory (RAM||10 GB GDDR6, 128 bit wide bus|
|SSD||512 GB custom NVME SSD|
|connections||1xHDMI 2.1 port, 3xUSB 3.1 ports (Gen. 1), WLAN 802.11ac, Gigabit LAN|
|Video||4K via upscaling at 60 fps, with WQHD resolution (2,560 x 1,440 pixels) up to 120 fps (more often: 60 fps), Dolby Vision|
|Audio||Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, Dolby TrueHD with Atmos, Windows Sonic|
|Dimensions||Width: 6.5 cm, depth: 15.1 cm, height: 27.5 cm|
Xbox Series S in the test: the new people’s console?
The Xbox Series S has proven itself in our test as the little sister of the larger Xbox Series X (for testing). The console is not only smaller, it is also significantly lighter than Microsoft’s enthusiast console at just 1.9 kg.
Since Microsoft not only dispenses with the optical drive in the Series S, but also uses scaled-down hardware in some cases, it made perfect sense to create a different design for the smaller model.
Once picked up, you immediately notice that the Xbox Series S can be set up vertically as well as horizontally. In addition, there are no manufacturing defects – no annoying burrs or sharp edges.
The small console also has an SSD optimized for the console. However, at 512 Gbytes, it is only half the size of that of the Xbox Series X, and around 200 Gbytes have to be deducted for the system.
Accordingly, only around 364 GB remain for game installations. So the space is very limited. For this reason, the Series S also has a slot on the back of the console in which you can insert special memory expansions. Microsoft is developing this in cooperation with Seagate.
Of course, you can also connect an external USB 3.1 hard drive to the console, but this is only available for older games of the previous generation. The games developed for the Xbox Series models depend on the performance of the optimized SSD and can therefore not be transferred to a standard HDD or an ordinary USB SSD.
When you start the system, you notice that the boot process has been significantly reduced. Games and game sections now load much faster than on the Xbox One X, but the loading times have not completely disappeared.
Compared to the Series X, the Series S has a smaller processor and a weaker graphics unit. Nevertheless, you can also enjoy games in 4K with 60 fps via upscaling. According to Microsoft, however, their performance target is WQHD resolution (1440p) with 60 frames per second.
The Series S usually does not render games natively in 4K resolution. Assuming the right television set, the console also supports HDMI 2.1 features such as a variable refresh rate. Sometimes 120 fps in WQHD (2,560 x 1,440 pixels) are also possible.
Controller improved in all the right places
Compared to its predecessors, Microsoft has further optimized its new controller. So the handles were roughened a little. As a result, the controller is now more secure in your hand when your hands start to sweat in the heat of the battle.
At first glance, the new control pad that Microsoft has adopted from the Xbox Elite controller catches the eye. This allows movements to be carried out more precisely and thanks to clear acoustic feedback you also know that your action is being carried out.
One point of criticism remains: the delivery of the controller with batteries and without an integrated battery. Microsoft could have used Nintendo or Sony as models, who have been using batteries for a long time.
If you already own an Xbox and have equipped your gamepads with battery packs, you can also use them with the new controllers.
The appearance of the new controller has only changed slightly – for example the new control pad or the roughened handles.
Heat development, volume and power consumption: Hard to hear, but noticeably warm
In our test, the Series S was significantly warmer than the Xbox Series X. This is not surprising, because the case is also much smaller, so that the air heats up faster.
During ongoing operation, it reached a maximum of around 49 degrees Celsius. For this reason, the console should always be placed in a place where it can draw in enough fresh air.
When it comes to volume, the Series S is also exemplary – whether it’s gaming, streaming or scrolling through the menu. In none of these tasks did it exceed 0.3 sone. Microsoft really did a great job on both consoles in this regard.
Thanks to the weaker hardware, the power consumption is not as great as with the Series X. For example, the Xbox Series S needs 28 watts to display the menu; if you move through the individual items, the consumption increases to 41 watts, and we observed a slight increase in video streaming Increase to 43 watts.
And when playing Gears of War 5, it used around 83 watts. All in all, it only needs half as much electricity as its big sister.
In one point the console topped its big sister – in a negative way: When switched off, it still consumed 19 watts – here the consumption of the Series X was a good 10 watts. It is possible that we had not yet installed the final series firmware at the time of testing. We will check that and then add it at this point.
Quick setup and a well-structured user interface
The Series S can also be set up vertically or horizontally. Whichever position you choose, the ports on the back are easily accessible so that you can wire up the console quickly.
Our time to set up and then set up was around 10 minutes. When you want to get the Series S up and running, you have the choice between manual installation or an app, which is available for both Android and iOS devices. Both worked perfectly, only the digital version was a bit faster.
The start-up sequence runs much faster thanks to the SSD, so that the start menu was visible in around 12 seconds. Xbox One users will immediately feel at home in the new dashboard. Calling up and moving around in the submenus feels faster.
A highlight is the new “Quick Resume” feature that enables you to switch from one title to another quickly and easily. A short press of the Xbox button on the controller, you can already select the next game and seconds later you land in your desired title.
Backward compatibility: classics ahead
Thanks to the downward compatibility, older games can now also benefit from the current hardware. Because they start automatically with higher fps (frames per second, images per second) and the content is loaded and reloaded faster.
In addition, the Auto-HDR feature automatically adds high dynamic range effects to the old titles. And the resolution should also be adjusted up to 4K.