A little over a year ago, when the next generation of consoles was released, I was perfectly content only with my PS5. Since I already own a gaming P.C. that is more than capable of running all the latest Microsoft titles, I never saw any reason to upgrade to an Xbox One S. Even though I didn’t require an Xbox, the smaller, less expensive Xbox Series S kept calling to me. I decided to buy one for myself earlier this year, and it didn’t take long for the most basic console of the current generation to become my favorite.
(image courtesy of Microsoft)
I still use the Series S more than the PS5, despite having access to the more powerful PS5, because it has enough redeeming features that I don’t feel compelled to acquire the Series X just yet. The Series S is readily available, in contrast to the PS5 and Xbox One Series X, for which people worldwide are still desperately refreshing their browsers in the hopes of snatching up a copy during restocks.
For these and other reasons, the Xbox Series S is the gaming system I recommend the most. I’ll explain why in detail.
The Xbox One Series S is the most aesthetically pleasing current-generation gaming system
One of my main draws in purchasing the Xbox Series S was its aesthetic design. The Series S is a cute white rectangle that resembles a prominent Bluetooth speaker, in contrast to the bulky tower shape of the Xbox Series X and the enormous size of the PS5. It’s much smaller and lighter than the two more premium consoles. This little box is a sight to behold when placed next to my white Switch OLED.
The Series S may have an aesthetically pleasing design, but its functionality is not sacrificed. It was much easier than lugging my PS5 from the lounge room to my P.C. area every time I streamed on Youtube or Mixer (R.I.P.). Even if I were to take a long trip in the future, the Series S would be the only system I could bring along because of its compact size.
(image courtesy of The Verge)
Some of the best features of the Xbox Series X are in the Xbox Series S, and it works great for the price
The Series S is the least expensive current-gen gaming console without sacrificing any of the next-gen feel, thanks in large part to its inclusion of many of the same significant characteristics as the more expensive Series X. The solid-state drive inside means that modern games practically never have loading times, but for me, the “Quick Resume” feature changed the way I played in the first few weeks.
Quick Resume, a feature shared by the Series X and S, allows you to switch between multiple games without losing your progress. If I pause Halo: The Master Chief Collection to play some Doom 64, I can pick up where I left off without having to reload the entire game. It’s a fantastic improvement over previous consoles and something the PS5 lacks.
Usually, I only play one or two games simultaneously. Still, I’ve found myself wanting to dabble in far more than that between Quick Resume and Xbox Game Pass’s seemingly endless library of games. Thanks to the console’s excellent work in eliminating much of the wait time that arises with booting up a video game, I found myself quickly downloading and switching among games I might not have tried otherwise, such as Rage 2 and Xenocrisis. Long periods of inactivity are supported; I used to be surprised to find my Halo game paused after being away from it for a month.
Xbox Series S isn’t quite as advanced as Xbox Series X, but it’s still a great way to enjoy next-gen gaming. Even though Microsoft’s tiny console isn’t designed for high-resolution displays, games like Mass Effect Legendary Edition and Dirt 5 nevertheless display stunning levels of detail and color.
Both consoles can reach frame rates of up to 120 fps, but the Series S’s 1440p output falls short of the Series X’s 4K output. This means that games like Star Wars: Squadrons or Forza Horizon 5 provide a smooth and responsive experience, on par with what I get on my PS5 and my high-end gaming P.C. A 1080p T.V. owner who has no plans to upgrade to 4K will see even less of a difference between the Series S and the Series X or PS5.
Comparison of the Xbox Series S and the PlayStation 5
On top of holding its own against its more powerful sibling, the Series S sees more playing time in my house than my PS5, thanks to the little things.
Unlike in the past with other consoles, I find the Xbox interface more intuitive and enjoyable than that of the PlayStation. It’s much more adaptable to the user’s preferences, both in terms of the variety of aesthetic adjustments available (such as changing the wallpaper) and the convenience of pinning frequently used apps and games to the home screen. The PS5 menu system appears barren in comparison. The ability to create folders to store games in (a function that the PS4 had) and the ability to set a personalized wallpaper are still missing.
And even though the DualSense gamepad that comes with the PS5 is superior in every way, I still prefer the latest Xbox controller. Since the Xbox Wireless Controller has been updated with a more elegant design, textured grips, and a superior D-pad, it fits comfortably in my hands and feels responsive when I use it.
(image courtesy of Microsoft)
The DualSense’s futuristic features, such as its comprehensive haptic feedback and adjustable triggers, make for a more authentic simulation of actions in games like “Spider-Man’s” web-slinging and “Deathloop’s” rifle firing, and I still find myself enjoying many of its aspects. However, I find the Xbox pad more ergonomic than Sony’s controller.
Games available on these machines are the most crucial aspect. It is much more difficult for me to choose a favorite among the available games. With regards to major first-party games, the PlayStation 5 is a resounding victor: This past year has seen a slew of critically acclaimed releases, including Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls, and Returnal, which collectively do a fantastic job of showcasing the system’s capabilities. I’ve recently played some paid games that weren’t as good as the free game that comes preinstalled on the PS5, Astro’s Playroom.
The Xbox platform may be lacking in blockbuster titles right now, but it more than makes up for it in terms of sheer value. Combine the Series S (which retails for $300) with an Xbox Game Pass membership (which costs as little as $10 per month), and you have a gaming system with access to hundreds of games.
(image courtesy of Microsoft)
All Microsoft first-party releases such as Halo and Gears, some prominent third-party names such as Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Destiny 2, and a plethora of great indie games that I probably wouldn’t have tried otherwise are all included in the Game Pass library.
Forza Horizon 5 and the early stages of Halo Infinite show that Microsoft is raising the bar with the production value of its exclusive games. All of Microsoft’s new releases are available on Game Pass on the day they are released. In contrast, new PS5 exclusives individually cost between $50 and $70. While I fire up my PS5 once in a while to play the big exclusives, I find myself returning to my Series S a lot more frequently because there’s always something new to play on it that doesn’t cost me anything extra.
The Series S holds its own against the PS5 and Xbox Series X, but it has some limitations. Only about 364GB of the console’s 512GB S.S.D. is usable, so newer games that can take up to 100GB of space will quickly fill it up. It’s possible to delete and re-download games as needed, or you could buy a Seagate expansion card, but doing either can be a pain.
(image courtesy of Microsoft)
Some games only work with the more powerful Xbox Series X, even though the Xbox Series S is capable of ray tracing (a snazzy technology that allows for ultrarealistic shadows and reflections). Finally, the Xbox Series X and PS5 are better long-term investments if you already have or intend to upgrade to a 4K T.V. or monitor.
|Xbox Series S||Xbox Series X||PlayStation 5 Digital Edition||PlayStation 5 Disc Edition|
|SoC||8-core AMD Zen 2||8-core AMD Zen 2||8-core AMD Zen 2||8-core AMD Zen 2|
|Resolution||2560 x 1440||3840 x 2160 (4K)||3840 x 2160 (4K)||3840 x 2160 (4K)|
|Important features||Fast load times, 120Hz refresh rate support, Quick Resume, ray tracing||Fast load times, 120Hz refresh rate support, Quick Resume, ray tracing||Fast load times, 120Hz refresh rate support, ray tracing, DualSense controller haptics||Fast load times, 120Hz refresh rate support, ray tracing, DualSense controller haptics|
|Size and weight||10.8 x 5.9 x 2.6 inches, 4.3 pounds||11.9 x 5.9 x 5.9 inches, 9.8 pounds||15.4 x 10.2 x 3.6 inches, 8.6 pounds||15.4 x 10.2 x 4.1 inches, 9.9 pounds|
|Compatibility||Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One games (digital only)||Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One games||PS4 games (digital only)||PS4 games|
I’m not trying to convince you that the Xbox Series S is the best gaming console on the market; if you’re interested in 4K gaming and need a more future-proof device, the PS5 or the Xbox Series X are better options.
However, Microsoft’s cheapest gaming box continues to impress me with its design, performance, and overall value. The Series S is your safest bet if you’re looking for a system this holiday season when everything else is sold out.
The latest Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Madden games, among others, can be played on this system, and they look great for just $299. With Xbox Game Pass, you can play the newest Halo, Forza, and Gears of War titles as soon as they are released, in addition to hundreds of other games. Not only is it possible to purchase a Series S, but it also offers the best value among current-gen gaming consoles.
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