Xbox Series S review: Affordable and capable gaming console for beginners


Microsoft this year launched not one but two – the top-end Xbox Series X and a cheaper digital-only model Xbox Series S. The Xbox Series X is a premium gaming console that boasts the best of the company’s technological prowess, being the most advanced gaming console available in India at present. It is no surprise that the Xbox Series S pales in comparison to this high-tech model, but by no means is the affordable model incompetent. Instead, it seems just about perfect if you drop the comparison and just it as a standalone product.

The Xbox Series S is the smallest Xbox ever made – merely 27.5cm tall, 15.1cm deep, and 6.5cm broad in the vertical position. Its petite form factor makes it stand comfortably next to a TV or a gaming monitor, even if there is not much space to accommodate anything else. Moreover, it can be placed in both vertical and horizontal positions. Therefore, you have the choice to stand it next to the screen or slide it under just like a soundbar audio system. The Xbox Series S looks good and complements the TV or gaming monitor space, irrespective of its placement orientation.


As for ports, the Xbox Series S features three – USB 3.1 Gen 1, an HDMI 2.1 out, an Ethernet port – and a storage expansion slot. Except for one USB port on the front, all others, as well as the storage card slot are on the back side. The ports on the rear side are easy to access, thanks to the dotted textured pattern next to the ports. While everything seems in place, the absence of USB-C port/s might make the Xbox series S less appealing to those who have supporting display and accessories. Disc drive is another piece of hardware missing here. Therefore, you will not be able to use any of your previously purchased Xbox game discs. It is a digital only model with built-in Xbox Store to purchase and download digital versions of a game.

Coming to the Xbox Series S’ game controller, here you see a significant improvement over the previous iteration.

The game controller features an improved D-pad, texture on the triggers and bumpers button for enhanced grip, and a new share button for the quick screenshot feature. Besides, there is the USB-C port for wired connectivity and battery charging. Surprisingly, the Xbox Series S comes with non-rechargeable AA batteries and you cannot use USB-C cable to use the controller without batteries.

Xbox Series S controller

The Xbox Series S is a Microsoft Zen 2 architecture-based octa-core processor, capable of hitting up to 3.6GHz operating frequency. The processor is paired with 10GB GDDR6 RAM and 512GB custom-built NVME SSD. Visuals are handled by RDNA 2 graphic chip, capable of rendering up to four-teraflop per second (TFLOPS).

Technical details aside, the Xbox Series S is a competent gaming console for playing games at 1080p resolution. Important to note that the Xbox Series S supports up to 1440p resolution, but there currently are few gaming titles that natively support this resolution. The Xbox Series S, connected with a 4K screen, can upscale 1080p content to 4K resolution, which does not deliver the same experience as games with native 4K resolution support. Nevertheless, gaming at 1080p resolution is good, unless you are a power gaming user looking for top-notch experience. Speaking of power features, the Xbox Series S support 120 frames-per-second (FPS) gaming and it manages to hit the numbers in supported games like ‘Gears 5’ (versus Multiplayer mode).

As for features, the Xbox Series S has a quick-resume function which lets you resume the play from where you left off in any of the games you last played on the console. Unfortunately, there is not enough available storage space (364GB) to download more than seven games (popular titles) to the console. There is a storage card slot to expand the storage by another 1TB (Seagate expansion card only) but the card is expensive (around Rs 50,000) and not easily available in India.

Verdict

Priced at Rs 34,990, the Xbox Series S is an affordable gaming console which is good for beginners but not for power users. It makes a perfect gaming console for newbies to experience the console quality gaming. However, existing gaming console users, especially those with stock of Xbox game discs, would find this digital-only model less attractive. The Xbox Series S is a competent gaming console but it comes with too many caveats like limited on-board storage, no USB-C port, no Wi-Fi 6, no 4K resolution support, etc.

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