Xbox Series X vs. Xbox Series S: which one should you buy?

Microsoft next generation consoles launch in November 10, and here's what's different and the same between the two.

Xbox Series X vs. S / Image: Microsoft
Xbox Series X vs. S / Image: Microsoft

The Xbox Series X and S consoles are available on November 10 in several countries, including the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. And, since Microsoft is releasing two new consoles at different price points to play next-generation games, it’s important to understand how they differ to decide which is better for you.

So, how do these two game systems differ? Price is perhaps the most important factor, the Xbox Series X has a retail price tag of $499, while the Xbox Series S is more affordable at $299.

In terms of size, the Series X is a black cube-like device with an exhaust vent at the top. It also includes a disc drive, which means that you’ll be able to play physical media and digital downloads, and with an optional drive that supports Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. On the other hand, the Series S is a white rectangle-like device with an exhaust vent on the side, and since it doesn’t feature an optical drive, it’s relatively 60 percent smaller. Also, this means that you can only play digital downloads.

Xbox Series S vs. X tech specs
Xbox Series SXbox Series X
Dimessions275mm (10.8in) tall and 151mm (5.95in) in depth and width301mm (11.85in) tall and 151mm (5.95in) in depth and width
Processor8x Cores @ 3.6GHz (3.4 GHz w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU8x Cores @ 3.8GHz (3.6 GHz w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU
Graphics4 TFLOPS (teraflops), 20 CUs (compute units) @ 1.565 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU12 TFLOPS (teraflops), 52 CUs (compute units) @ 1.825 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU
System on a Chip (SoC)Custom 7nm Enhanced SoCCustom 7nm Enhanced SoC
8GB @ 224GB/s
2GB @ 56GB/s
10GB @ 560GB/s
6GB @ 336GB/s
Performance Target1440p @ 60 FPS (up to 120 FPS)4K @ 60fps (up to 120fps)
Storage512GB PCIe 4.0 NVME SSD
2.4GB/s (uncompressed)
4.8GB/s (compressed)
2.4GB/s (uncompressed)
4.8GB/s (compressed)
Expandable Storage1TB Expansion Card1TB Expansion Card
Disc DriveNo (Digital Only)4K UHD Blu-Ray Drive
Display OutputHDMI 2.1HDMI 2.1
Ray TracingYesYes
AudioAudio out only, through HDMI portAudio out only, through HDMI port
Backward CompatibilityMost Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox.
Xbox One accessories are backward compatible.
Most Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox.
Xbox One accessories are backward compatible.
Other specsFull tech specsFull tech specs

Either system features an AMD’s Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architectures, but the Xbox Series X offers 12 teraflops of processing power and 16GB of memory for up to 4K resolution and up to 120fps. However, the Xbox Series S provides up to 4 teraflops of power and 10GB of memory that limits resolution to up to 1440p resolution and up to 120fps. You can still use the console on a 4K TV, but it will upscale the native resolution without actually rendering the content in 4K.

Also, both consoles come with fast SSD storage, but the one on the Xbox Series X includes 1TB of storage, while the Xbox Series S only ships storage with 512GB.

Although these two systems are significantly different in design, graphical power, and storage, they share some core similarities. They both use the same processor architecture to play the next-generation games. The Xbox Series S may include a smaller drive, but it’s as fast as the one in the Series X, and both consoles include the same expansion slot to add more storage. The consoles can stream and output content at 4K resolution, and they both support DirectX ray tracing, variable refresh rate, and variable refresh shading.

Which Xbox Series should you buy?

The answer depends on the kind of gamer you are and your budget. If you already have a collection of physical game discs, you want to watch movies using physical media, and you want the most performance, then the Xbox Series X is the best choice for you.

Otherwise, if you prefer downloading your games, you stream all your content using streaming services like Netflix and YouTube, and you are a casual gamer, then the Xbox Series S is the best console for you.

The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S will be ready for preorder on September 22, and they’ll be officially released on November 10 at the Microsoft Store, Amazon, and many other retailers around the world.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 15 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 21 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].