Microsoft reveals what’s inside the $299 Xbox Series S

Laurent Giret

Xbox Series S Internals

Following months of leaks, Microsoft officially announced the Xbox Series S yesterday, which will be a $299 discless console providing gamers an affordable entry point into the next console generation. The company has followed up this morning with another post that reveals what’s inside this cheaper alternative to the Xbox Series X, which will be priced at $499.

First of all, the Xbox Series S will nearly 60% smaller than the Xbox Series X, and it will feature the same “Robot White” color previously seen in the Xbox One S back in 2016. The console will also come with a matching white next-gen controller, which will also be available for purchase separately this holiday season.

Under the hood, the Xbox Series will include a 512GB custom NVMe SSD that supports Microsoft’s new Xbox Velocity Architecture, and providing more than 40x the I/O bandwidth of the Xbox One. Microsoft highlighted that this NVMe drive has identical I/O performance as the one in the Xbox Series X, which is 2.4 GB/s raw and 4.8 Gb/s compressed with a custom hardware decompression block. Just like the Xbox Series X, the Xbox Series S will support the 1TB Seagate Expansion cards that will provide the same speeds as the console’s internal NVMe SSD.

The Xbox Series S also shares a similar CPU with the Xbox Series X, and that’s a custom-designed AMD 7nm eight-cores Zen 2 CPU running at 3.6 Ghz. On the GPU side, the 4 teraflops AMD RDNA 2-based GPU will deliver “approximately 3x the GPU performance of Xbox One.” The console also comes with 10GB of GDDR6 memory, compared to 16GB on the Xbox Series X.

Overall, the Xbox Series S should be perfect for gamers who prefer smoother frame rates of a native 4K resolution as it’s designed to play games at 1440p at 60 frames per second, with support for up to 120fps. The Xbox Series S will also be able to upscale games to 4K when the console is connected to a 4K TV set. It remains to be seen how Microsoft’s upscaling technology will compare to native 4K graphics provided by the Xbox Series X.

“With the increased efficiency we get from the next generation AMD RDNA 2 graphics architecture combined with the virtual memory multipliers enabled through the Xbox Velocity Architecture, Xbox Series S will deliver performance and experiences well beyond the raw specs,” the Xbox team emphasized. Additionally, the Xbox Series S will share its development tools with the Xbox Series X, and it should be pretty straightforward for developers to optimize their games for the entry-level console.

Xbox Series X/S Tech Specs

If Microsoft introduced an “Optimized for Xbox Series X” badge earlier this year, the company clarified today that “games built for the next generation will be optimized for both Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.” For next-gen games that will Smart Delivery, this means that gamers will automatically receive the best version of the game that’s optimized for their console, whether it’s an Xbox Series S, an Xbox Series X, or an Xbox One.

If you already have the 4K-ready Xbox One X, the Xbox Series S should still be an excellent upgrade. With smoother framerates (up to 120 FPS), 4K upscaling, and support for next-gen features like DirectX Ray-tracing, this is a console designed for next-gen games. Faster loading times and the ability to resume multiple games almost instantly should also be a real game changer.

Again, the most important differences between the Xbox Series S and the Xbox Series X is the support for native 4K resolution, and the amount of internal storage, and the presence of a 4K Blu Ray Player. If these features are not essential for you, the $299 Xbox Series S should be a very interesting proposition.

Both the Xbox Series S and the Xbox Series X will be available on November 10, with pre-orders set to open on September 22. If you don’t want to pay $299 or $499 upfront, Xbox All Access will also offer either console with 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for a low monthly price.