Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S: Which One Should You Buy?
The next-generation consoles are finally here. Those who’ve already decided to go with Microsoft face a tough choice: should they go for an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S? This year’s launch is unlike anything else in history, so it’s only natural to expect a bit of chaos as well. The good news and we have to highlight this from the very beginning, is that there’s no wrong option. Both consoles are immensely powerful and are way stronger than any gaming console in the past.
Still, there are a couple of key differences here, and you need to keep them in mind when making your purchasing decision. Whether you go for an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S will heavily depend on your needs and how you intend to game. We’ll completely ignore the existence of the PlayStation 5 in this piece because we’re assuming you’ve already made up your mind and are going with Microsoft. If you’re still thinking of maybe going with Sony on this one, make sure to check our direct comparison.
With that out of the way, let’s get down to business!
Ways to Game — Discs or Digital?
The first key difference (but by no means the most important) is that the Xbox Series S doesn’t have a disc drive. This means that it’s entirely limited to digital media. If you’re already buying your games online, then this isn’t that big of a deal. Still, there’s a large number of people who still prefer to go the old-fashioned route. Buying discs is also fairly practical as you can easily sell the game after beating it and therefore recoup a bit of your investment.
Physical media will also come in handy as next-gen games will require a metric ton of storage. Most titles will be well over 50GB in size. Some of them will require even twice as much. That’s nothing to scoff at. Suppose you prefer to have a bevy of titles at your disposal at any given moment. In that case, it’s best to go for the Xbox Series X. If you’re okay with having three or four games on your console and don’t mind uninstalling them every so often (to make room for new ones), then the Series S will be more than sufficient.
Let’s Talk Storage
Both consoles have obscenely fast NVMe drives underneath the hood. But speedy though they are, they certainly don’t come cheap. Expansion options are available, but they’re insanely expensive. Heck, maybe that’s even an understatement. At $219.99, they retail for nearly the same price as the Xbox Series S! This, of course, is absolute madness, but it’s the only option at the time of this writing. Plus, even if you are willing to splurge another $200 on an external drive, odds are, you’ll struggle to get one.
Cheaper storage options are bound to pop up over the coming months but think of these consoles as having a fixed amount of storage for the time being. If you need lots of it, then there’s no other option than the Series X. If, however, you’re the frugal type of person, then you’ll be good to go with the Series S.
Granted, next-gen titles will always optimize for your console of choice. This means that Cyberpunk 2077 will come with 4K textures for the Series X but 1440p ones for the Series S. This, of course, will cut down on your storage needs but not in any truly meaningful way.
The Series X comes with a 1TB drive, although nearly 200GB are reserved for system files. This means you have 800GB at your disposal. It’s not a meager amount by any means, but it’ll whittle down faster than you realize. The Series S, on the other hand, has just 364GB of usable storage. That’s quite a problem, as you can imagine. Again, if you don’t mind uninstalling games on a relatively frequent basis, you’ll be good to go.
Next-gen gaming comes at a price, and at this point, the biggest obstacle isn’t the hardware itself but rather storage.
Let’s Talk Performance
This is where things get a lot more interesting. If you’re after the best possible graphics and the latest bells and whistles, then the Series X is the way to go. Still, the Series S is more than capable of running next-gen titles at 2K resolution and up to 120 FPS.
What more can you ask for? Well, there’s 4K, but most folks don’t have a 4K display/TV in their home, so they won’t be able to reap the benefits. Don’t buy in on the hype. 4K gaming is overkill. If you’re playing in your living room (i.e., at a distance), you won’t notice a difference between 2K and 4K.
Most importantly, you’re getting the most important next-gen improvements like Quick Resume (the ability to juggle between multiple games in real time), high-resolution textures, higher graphical fidelity, insanely fast loading times, and high frame rates (120 FPS). Of course, not all games currently support these nifty features, but updates are being rolled out as we speak, so have patience.
So, if you have the right TV and want a slice of that next-gen goodness, then sure, go for the Series X. But the difference between that console and its cheaper alternative isn’t nearly as big as you’d think. Some would argue that it’s quite minuscule and relatively imperceptible.
Games, Or Lack Thereof
As far as console launches go, this one is arguably quite underwhelming. Still, you’re buying the hardware itself for the future rather than the present. You’ll have more than enough games at your disposal to survive the winter. Even though some of them are last-gen titles, they’ll be updated in nuanced and important ways. Gone will be the glitches and stutters, the painful frame drops and frequent dips in performance. Instead, we’re getting improved textures and often double the frame rate!
The gap between these two consoles is quite negligible when it comes to the end result. What’s important is that you’ll game at higher frame rates, with better graphics and fewer frame drops. That’s all there is to it. The user interface will be the same, the overall experience too. There’s no need to splurge extra money for the Series X unless you’re into having the latest piece of tech.
The Series S is by no means a budget console or a gimped alternative — it’s nearly the same thing, but with less graphical prowess that most gamers won’t even harness. The storage mentioned above limitations will definitely prove problematic down the line. Still, by then, we’ll probably have cheaper expansion options, so there’s no really no need for concern at this point.
In any case, both consoles will blow your mind with their performance and are more than worth the asking price!