Test: Xbox Series S – Perhaps the best console purchase

Finally, the new game generation is here. First out of the starting block was the Xbox Series X which became available in Norwegian stores on Tuesday 10 November. Only nine days later came PlayStation 5 to Norway, and Norwegian players face a busy and eventful autumn and winter.

We have already tested lightning-fast Xbox Series X, which you can read about here, and now the turn has come for the Xbox Series S. Microsoft’s small but powerful game console as the undersigned has great faith despite its limitations. More about that later in the test.


TV BENCH: The Xbox Series S is so small that it easily fits in the TV bench. Photo: Martin Kynningsrud Størbu
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This is the Xbox Series S.

In the in-depth test of the Xbox Series X, you can read a lot about the technology that the Series S will also benefit from – such as lightning-fast SSD storage, Quick Resume, beam tracking, variable frame rate and the like – so in this test we do it a little differently and will focus on the following points:

  • What’s the difference between Xbox Series S and Series X?
  • Why the Xbox Series S is a bargain
  • What you should think about before you possibly buy the console

We also want to mention a couple of nice Xbox news that we did not get in the test of the Xbox Series X.

But first let’s consider the design. The first thing that struck us when we opened the box was how small the Xbox Series S is. Even after seeing pictures and videos online, the modest size came as a positive surprise.

When placed upright, it is about as wide and tall as the Series X, but it is much slimmer. In fact, it’s almost half the size of both the Xbox One S and One X, which we see as compact consoles.

In other words, Microsoft has managed to push a lot of power into a small package.

The almost all-white design is stylish and simple, except for the black, round grill on one long side, which I love.

Connections are the same as on the Xbox Series X: one USB connector on the front, two on the back, along with HDMI out, ethernet, power connector and Microsoft’s storage port.

The box also comes with Microsoft’s new and impressive Xbox controls in the color white.

The differences between Xbox Series S and Series X

Besides the design and the fact that only Series X has disk drive, there are briefly summarized two differences between the powerful Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. Namely, graphics cards and the number of gigabytes of memory.

The former has a much more powerful graphics card and allows the console to deliver 4K graphics with a frame rate of 120 frames per second. At the same time, the console has 16 GB of memory compared to the S’s 10 GB.

In contrast, the Series S can play games in a resolution of 1440p at 120 frames per second, but among other things “Ori and the Will of the Wisps” actually runs in 4K. The same game runs in 6K on Xbox Series X.

The processor is virtually the same in both – it is clocked a little lower in the Series S – and both the Series X and Series S use the same storage technology, but note that the former has 1 TB of SSD storage against 512 GB for the Series S.

LESS: Xbox One S on the left and Xbox Series S on the right.  Photo: Martin Kynningsrud Størbu

LESS: Xbox One S on the left and Xbox Series S on the right. Photo: Martin Kynningsrud Størbu
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Specifications set aside, we can sign that the games look great on the Xbox Series S on the OLED TV LG C9, which we borrow on the occasion of testing the new Xboxes.

What we notice most is how nimble the console is. It has loading times on par with both PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, although it costs 1500 less than the PS5 version without optical drive.

This is due to a combination of fast processor, the same SSD card technology as in Series X and the fact that the games run lower resolution so that there are less textures to load.

Either way, it’s fast, and it’s fading the Xbox One X, even though the latter is capable of delivering 4K graphics.

For a deep dive into the Xbox Series S ‘graphic and visual features and capabilities, I highly recommend reading Eurogamer’s in-depth test of the console.

Things we did not get

3D sound

Like the Xbox One family, the new Xbox consoles also support 3D audio such as Dolby Atmos via external speakers, but also headphones.

You can connect a standard pair of headphones with standard audio jack and experience 3D sound. This option can be found under audio settings and you can choose between Windows Sonic, DTS: X and Dolby Atmos. Note that DTS and Dolby Atmos cost money, while Windows Sonic is free. Both have a free trial period anyway, which we recommend you test out.

In the link below you can read more about 3D audio on Xbox, the guide is written for Xbox One, but it is similar on Xbox Series X | S, and Windows 10.

HDMI-CEC

CEC in HDMI-CEC stands for “Consumer Electronics Control” and may not say much about what the function is for something, but can be easily summed up by the fact that you can control everything on the TV with one remote control.

HDMI-CEC is not a new technology, we actually wrote about it back in 2007, but is now in place in Xbox Series X and Series S.

If you have a compatible TV or amplifier / audio system, you can make sure that the Xbox also turns on the TV / audio system when you turn on the console, and similarly when you turn off the Xbox, but you can also use the TV to turn on / of the console.

The Xbox can also control the volume of the TV. For example, I use a standard Xbox One media remote control – yes, it also works on the Xbox Series X | S – to control the sound on an audio board connected to the TV via HDMI.

Why the Xbox Series S is a bargain

There are basically three reasons why the Xbox Series S is a really good console purchase this fall: price, availability and Game Pass.

Award: 3299 kroner costs the most affordable Xbox console. It’s around $ 1,500 cheaper than the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition and $ 2,200 cheaper than the Xbox Series X.

Availability: mens PlayStation 5, both Digital Edition and regular edition, and Xbox Series X are sold out for an indefinite time ahead, Xbox Series S is in stock in several stores in Norway.

Game Pass: If you combine price and availability with Game Pass, you potentially have this year’s Christmas gift for the pod or yourself.

If you do not quite know what Game Pass is, it can be summed up with “Netflix for games”. You pay a sum a month and get access to over 100 games you can download and play without paying anything extra beyond the subscription price.

Titles include “Planet Coaster: Console Edition”, “Destiny 2: Beyond Light”, “Tetris Effect: Connected” and “Batman: Arkham Knight”, and recently Game Pass Ultimate was expanded with EA Play, which includes games such as ” The Sims 4 »,« Battlefield V »and« Skate 3 ».

Through the service, I have also played the EA games “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order”, despite no interest in the “Star Wars” universe on my part – I have not actually seen a single movie – and “Anthem”, which are two games that have surprised me greatly.

The carrot in the Game Pass sausage is that Microsoft’s own games will be available in the game service the day they are launched. Xbox Game Studios already has “Halo”, “Forza”, “Fable”, “Sea of ​​Thieves” and “Gears”, to name a few, but also has games like “Microsoft Flight Simulator”, “Grounded”, “Awowed” , “Everwild”, “Hellblade II” and “Halo: Infinite” on the way.

Considering that Microsoft acquired Bethesda earlier this year, the game company behind “The Elder Scrolls”, “Doom”, “Fallout” and “Wolfenstein”, Game Pass players have a lot of fun waiting.

And I think the Xbox Series S, with its low price and no disk drive, could be the perfect Game Pass console.

This tweet is a nice summary of what the Xbox players have in store for the coming years.

What you should be aware of

Before you buy an Xbox Series S, however, you should be aware that there are some drawbacks to Microsoft’s cheap console.

First of all, available storage space, which is a modest 364 GB. It can at least be made if you like to have several games installed at the same time, and games only take up more and more space over the years.

Currently, Microsoft’s 1 TB storage card, which you can use to expand your storage space, is relatively expensive with a price tag of just over 2,600 kroner.

Note that you can play Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One games from a standard external hard drive, but games that are optimized for Xbox Series X | S must be played from the internal storage or the mentioned storage card.

At the time of writing, I have eight games installed on the test console – that includes big games like “Doom” at 61 GB, “Control” at 42 GB and “Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla” at 47 GB, and a couple of smaller indie games.

Another disadvantage is that at this point one does not know how future-oriented the console is. The graphics card is much weaker than the cards in the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, and the amount of working memory is also much smaller, which can create challenges for game developers over time, but it is difficult to say at this time.

And yes, the Series S does not have Blu-ray drives, such as the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition, so you can only play digital games on it. It also means that you can not play the physical Xbox games you may already own.

Conclusion

The Xbox Series S is in a way a different console in the new game generation. While weaker than the Xbox Series X and PS5, it also supports much of the technology that the new consoles have to offer.

It is also much smaller and is virtually silent.

This is the game console for you who are not necessarily a hardcore player, or the one who needs the best and most expensive.

Maybe it’s an add-on console for PS5 owners who want to play Xbox Game Studios games, but don’t play enough to defend the price of the Xbox Series X or want to browse for a gaming PC.

If you can live well with the limitations, like little storage space, you have a lot of gaming fun waiting with the Xbox Series S.

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