Xbox Series S Announced For $299! What Compromises Should We Expect?
Microsoft announced the Xbox Series S after many leaks and rumors, and while no one is surprised, the price point was certainly interesting. This second next generation console is only $299! Despite this, they are promising it will have 1440P at up to 120FPS, raytracing, VRS and VRR, a custom 512GB SSD, and 4K upscaling.
Interestingly, the Series S has a similar CPU to the Series X, but the main difference here is going to be resolution and graphics for favor of performance. Power-wise, the Xbox Series S is about on par with the Xbox One X, which is impressive given that it's $299. You can check out a full specs comparison between the two models below:
CPU GPU RAM / Memory
Perhaps the biggest question when it comes to the Xbox 2 is what will actually power it. We now have that information.
Fellow gamers, it’s time. Microsoft published a blog post on March 16th, 2020 that full details everything there is to know about the Xbox Series X specs.
Let’s get into the details and find out what the next generation console from Microsoft looks like under the hood!
For the CPU, we’re looking at an 8 core AMD Zen 2 with 3.8 GHz, and the GPU is a RDNA 2-class with 12 Teraflops and 52 compute units at 1.825 GHz, also from AMD. The teraflops in particular are impressive, and all of this points towards Microsoft’s promise of DirectX Raytracing (simulating light and sound in real-time with far more accuracy than ever before) and frame rates up to 120fps at 4K resolutions.
To give you an idea of what this looks like, check out the images below from Minecraft, with and without Raytracing:
Now, obviously this is Minecraft, but notice how the second shot has amazing light and reflections. Now, apply that kind of detail to something like Halo and you’ll see why Raytracing is such a game-changer.
The team also confirmed that Gears 5 will offer Xbox Series X enhancements at launch to take advantage of this horsepower. It’s not going to be a full remaster or anything, but the game will operate at a higher frame rate (current tests hit 100fps in single player), and additional graphical features beyond what the Xbox One X or PC could do at launch.
Players will get this upgraded version for free as part of the Smart Delivery feature, which ensures you’re always playing the best version of the games you own on Xbox. Microsoft confirmed this as a feature for all their first-party titles, but others like Cyberpunk 2077’s developers, have also committed to using the feature if and when they release a next-gen version of the title.
There’s also the subject of latency, which Microsoft has tackled in several ways:
A new innovation called Dynamic Latency Input combines with a Variable Refresh Rate and Auto Low Latency Mode to deliver better synchronization with your TV and your controller. These things have small impacts on their own, but put together they can effectively remote input lag and screen tearing from the equation.
For those who want a deep video dive into these new specs, check out the Digital Foundry video below for everything you could ever want:
Storage - Hard Drive
The Xbox Series X has promised a solid-state drive (SSD), but what does that mean? Essentially, this storage will make loading times a thing of the past. It goes past this, however, and into something called Xbox Velocity Architecture.
This integration between the drive and the software allows the speed of the drive to deliver 100 GB of assets instantly, which is going to make games bigger and more detailed than ever as developers won’t be held back by limitations in terms of assets and in-game streaming.
"The CPU is the brain of our new console, and the GPU is the heart, but the Xbox Velocity Architecture is the soul…"
- Andrew Goossen, Technical Fellow on Xbox Series X at Microsoft
Open world games will benefit from this, as it allows developers to make worlds bigger and more detailed since the SSD can provide that level of detail without delay. Beyond better games and lightning fast load times, the new Quick Resume feature here is something people will love.
This feature lets you swap between titles that you can suspend. Essentially you can leave a game, jump into another, and come back right where you left off, even if you turned off the system. It’s mind-boggling, but you can see it in action on the video above.
For those who are struggling with the terminology, or want to hear more about some of the features Microsoft has talked about, there’s an entire Glossary page where you can read up on what everything means.
In terms of storage size, you’re getting a 1TB SSD with the system. A proprietary 1TB expansion card is also an option that will allow you to double the system’s space while still keeping all the features of an SSD.
That being said, you can still use an external hard drive, but only with your Xbox One, 360, or original Xbox games. The next-gen titles need to run on the system’s memory, or through this expansion card that Microsoft developed with Seagate.
XBox 2 Controller
The new controller looks pretty similar on the surface, but Microsoft has been working with their design teams to ensure their designs are as inclusive as possible for all types of players. To this end, the new controller has rounder bumpers, reduced space around the triggers, and sculpted grips.
The new D-pad also offers a deeper dish and finely tuned angles to give you superior responsiveness. It’s designed to allow for precise cardinal directions, but also gives you the ability to pivot to other diagonal directions without issue.
Taking a page from Sony’s book, the new controller also features a share button for quick and easy posting of screenshots or videos. Finally, the controller has a matte finish and some tactile dot patterns on the trigger and bumpers, which gives you a better grip.
The Future Versions of Xbox
The name for the new system, Xbox Series X, implies that there will indeed be multiple models. While not confirmed, we have heard that a lesser version of the system may be available at a lower price, with this being the superior model.
One thing that Microsoft has been great about is compatibility. The Xbox Series X will of course play Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox games that are currently compatible with the Xbox One. Not only that, the system will supposedly make them look and play better, even if they don’t have an official next-gen version.
Sharper graphics, higher resolutions, there’s a lot of possibility there. It will be interesting to see if there are two models at launch, but suffice to say, the specs here do not disappoint. What do you think of the revealed hardware and features? Let us know in the comments!
What do you the Gamers think?
Do you have any thoughts about the specification of the Xbox Series X? What do you think will power the future of gaming? Have your say in the comments below!