Xbox Series S review: next gen games, less graphics

The Xbox Series S allows Microsoft to start the next gen at 300 euros. At the cost of great sacrifices? Yes, but it all depends on what you are looking for.

Microsoft has decided to see double with the new generation of consoles. As it has articulated its gaming proposition around a coherent ecosystem, it wants to multiply the entry points to its catalog of video games. In addition to the expensive Xbox Series X, oriented high-end gaming, Microsoft is launching the Xbox Series S – a console offered under the bar of 300 euros.

With such a low price, the Xbox Series S is necessarily a solution to consider for those who want to spend little money. It is the cheapest of the four new generation consoles (the PS5 Digital Edition costs 400 euros). Obviously, the 200 euros difference with the Xbox Series X implies concessions, which are primarily graphics. However, these sacrifices to be accepted by no means mean that the Xbox Series S loses all interest.

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Xbox Series S review: next gen games, less graphics

The Xbox Series S when it’s standing

Source: Maxime Claudel for Numerama

What changes compared to the Xbox Series X


Silence and heat

The Xbox Series S is very quiet (unless you stick your ear against its air outlet, which is obviously of no interest). It doesn’t get too hot either.

The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S don’t have much to do with design. The first looks like a mini PC tower while the second has a more traditional silhouette. The Xbox Series S is the smallest Xbox ever, which gives it significant go-anywhere status. Its contained measurements make it almost a console cute, which can be easily hidden in a cabinet – unlike the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5. Its white dress is directly reminiscent of the Xbox One S and only the huge black air inlet in the shape of a circle denotes and breaks the visual harmony a bit.

Like the Xbox Series X, the Xbox Series S can be laid out horizontally or vertically. On this point, it will be noted that the console seems designed to be lying down. This is what suggests the orientation of the letter X dressing its luminous logo. If you place the product vertically, the X will be oriented at 90 degrees – which is immediately less pretty. Funny fact: it’s the opposite for the Xbox Series X, more elegant standing than lying down. We can in any case say that the Xbox Series S displays a design more mainstream, the target targeted by Microsoft.

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The Xbox Series S is based on a much more modest technical sheet than the Xbox Series X, justifying the 200 euros price difference in its favor. In terms of graphics computing power, we still go from 12.15 to 4 teraflops. With its most affordable console, Microsoft does not promise 4K but lower definitions – 1080p and 1440p -, with a framerate that can climb to 120 fps. Ray tracing technology is also on the program, even if we can immediately doubt what it offers.

On paper, the Xbox Series S is less powerful than the Xbox One X (6 teraflops). In practice, this is felt. Just roll to see slight visual differences, to the advantage of the Xbox One X. The Xbox Series S scaling job is good, but doesn’t deliver such a fine and precise rendering. than with a true 4K stream. This disadvantage, the Xbox Series S overcomes with its speed allowed by its SSD, which is based on the same architecture as that of the Xbox Series X.

In view of its characteristics, the Xbox Series S involves visual concessions, even for backward compatible games (is less fluid than on Xbox Series X). It belongs to the new generation, while initiating another paradigm since it is aimed at players who do not make graphics a priority. Normally, we buy a new console to be amazed. The Xbox Series S doesn’t offer that luxury – rather, very affordable access to the games that will be available for the next five years. However, we must hope that it will not pull the performance of other consoles – more powerful – down.

Access time to the game from the main menu

Xbox Series S Xbox Series X Xbox one x
Cuphead 20s 21 s 32 s
Doom Eternal 55s 50s 1min24
Marvel’s Avengers 1min12 1min04 2min25
Ori and the Will of the Wisps 50s 48 s 1min32
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice 43 s 32 s 57 s

* average of two measurements, always starting from the main menu.


The Xbox Series S has a 500 GB SSD, or rather very exactly 364 GB of free space in reality. It is the main defect of the console as it can be quickly filled depending on the size of the games – knowing that the next Call of Duty will reach … 136 GB. Microsoft wanted to reassure by saying that the weight of the titles will be less heavy than on Xbox Series X. But for a new generation console, it is very little, especially when you have access to Xbox Game Pass. The subscription video game service makes you want to install as many productions as possible, for the pleasure of discovery. Once again, this is a concession that will have to be made, unless you invest in a proprietary memory card – billed at 269.99 euros, you might as well buy a Series X – or install / move the games on a hard drive. external to connect to USB. The second option has limits: we will not be able to play an optimized Xbox Series S game or take advantage of the virtues of the SSD for a backward compatible game.

The UHD Blu-ray player

Unlike the Xbox Series X, the Xbox Series S does not have a UHD Blu-ray disc drive. It therefore offers a 100% digital experience, which implies having to download the games. This feature requires above all a good internet connection, otherwise you will have to wait several hours before you can play.

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Xbox Series S review: next gen games, less graphics

Xbox Series S in operation

Source: Maxime Claudel for Numerama

What doesn’t change from the Xbox Series X

The games catalog

The Xbox Series S is from the same generation as the Xbox Series X, which means that both consoles will run the same games. In this case: the hundreds of backward compatible titles, from the first Xbox to the Xbox One, as well as the future productions which will be released only on Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X. To put it simply, acquire an Xbox Series S today n is not a sacrifice for the future.

The Xbox Series S also benefits from Smart Delivery, which allows you to benefit from the best version of the game according to your console, without having to pay again. For example, you can very well buy on Xbox Series S, play it on the Xbox One S located in your bedroom, and find it later on Xbox Series X – with better graphics. Smart Delivery is a technology designed to ensure continuity within the Xbox ecosystem. However, it remains at the discretion of the developers.

To end on the catalog, we should not forget to mention the Xbox Game Pass, the real strength of Microsoft for the future generation. The service, available from 9.99 euros per month, provides access to dozens of games, whether recent or old. This is the ideal companion for the Xbox Series S: you pay 300 euros per console, then 10 euros per month to play a rich and varied selection without any fuss. The fight seems to be a winner for the general public.


Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X share the same interface (we can add Xbox One S and Xbox One X to the equation). For this new generation, Microsoft did not want to change everything, simply to rely on all the changes made to the ecosystem born on Xbox One. Xbox users will not be at all disoriented, if not by the speed of execution and fluidity which bring a lot of comfort to navigation.

As a bonus, we find the Quick Resume feature, which allows you to suspend several parts at the same time to find them again in a few seconds. As on Xbox Series X, we see the same fault: the inability to manage Quick Resume (example: keep two games in memory forever) or even completely deactivate this feature.

Xbox Series S review: next gen games, less graphics

The Xbox Series X and its controller

Immerse yourself in the 2019 Water Festival!

Source: Maxime Claudel for Numerama

Streaming services

Deprived of a UHD Blu-ray player to play movies and series in the best format of the moment, the Xbox Series S however does not ignore streaming services. We find exactly the same as on Xbox Series X, with the same display quality (4K, HDR, Dolby Vision) and the same advanced sound formats (DTS: X for headsets and Dolby Atmos). Obviously, you have to be equipped accordingly to have fun in the best conditions.

List of streaming apps found on Xbox Series S: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney +, Apple TV, OCS, MyCanal, YouTube, Twitch, Spotify, Deezer or even NBA.

The remote

There is absolutely no ergonomic difference between the controller of the Xbox Series X and that of the Xbox Series S. Only the finish changes: black for the high-end version, white for the affordable console. As on Xbox Series X, all old accessories are compatible.

The console in picture

Xbox Series S review: next gen games, less graphics

Source: Louise Audry for Numerama

Xbox Series S review: next gen games, less graphics

Xbox Series X when lying down

Source: Maxime Claudel for Numerama

Xbox Series S review: next gen games, less graphics

Source: Louise Audry for Numerama

Xbox Series S review: next gen games, less graphics

Source: Louise Audry for Numerama

The verdict

The Xbox Series X when she is lying down // Source: Maxime Claudel for Numerama


We liked

  • Cute design

  • The Xbox ecosystem

  • 300 euros

We liked less

  • Graphic concessions to make

  • Laughable storage space

  • Strong internet connection required

The Xbox Series S is a funny new generation console. With it, Microsoft is betting on concessions, those that will have to be made by those for whom visual rendering is not a priority. Apart from technical sacrifices, the Xbox Series S has nothing to envy the Xbox Series X: same interface, same ecosystem, same library of games. For those who want an additional console and / or do not have a state-of-the-art UHD TV, the Xbox Series S is a real springboard towards the Xbox experience, at the center of which we find the Game Pass. There is even a very interesting commercial argument: for 300 euros, then 10 euros per month, you have enough to play for hundreds of hours for a very long time. We will still give a red card for storage: a little over 300 GB for a console geared towards 100% digital is a real defect, especially when the additional SSD cards cost almost the price of the console.

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