September 26, 2020
Xbox Series S: Rumor roundup and everything we know so far

Xbox Series S: Rumor roundup and everything we know so far


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Microsoft’s next-gen Xbox Series X console will be hitting store shelves later this year, we know this. But recent months have seen rumors swirl around a less powerful, less expensive version targeting 1440p, all-digital gameplay rather than 4K. The cheaper console had a rumored code name of said to Xbox Lockhart, but leaked packaging for a next-gen Xbox controller, discovered on sale by a Reddit user, shows its official name as the Xbox Series S. Now, after a dribble, the leaks have ramped up to include some basic specs; notably, that it uses the same processor as the X but a lesser GPU, has no disc drive, and is about half the size of its big brother. 


For: Xbox Series X/S, the packaging notes. 

Reddit user Zakk_exe

The controller packaging notes that the controller works on Xbox Series X, Series S, Xbox One, PC, Android and iOS devices. The user, Zakk_exe, claims to have bought it on OfferUp for $35, and that it came with a code for Microsoft’s Game Pass Ultimate subscription service.  If the the leak is accurate, it would be the second one to beset the Xbox console. The existence of a second next-gen Xbox that would launch alongside the more powerful Series X was made known thanks to leaked developer notes in June.   

How much will it cost and when can we get it?

As with the Series X, we have no idea when or how much, but it’s possible that Microsoft will formally announce it at its next event, which is rumored for the end of August, and which we’re hoping includes the pricing for both consoles. The Series S is more than likely to ship in time for the holiday shopping season — I can’t imagine Microsoft holding it for 2021 — though it’s not clear whether it would be concurrent with the Series X in November.

The common expectation is that the Series X will come in at about $500, so pricing the Series S at $300 or so might make sense. Microsoft discontinued the Xbox One X and Xbox One S, and if it’s planning to replace them with this model it might be closer to $400. However one possible scenario is that the Series S will replace those two at $500, with the Series X launching at a much higher price than we’ve expected. 

This model would also give Microsoft a less costly version to bundle with its Xbox All Access subscription, despite having announced that subscribers will get the Series X last year when it was known as Project Scarlett.

How does it differ from the Xbox Series X?

As you can tell from the leaked photo, if you use the controller size as a reference, the Series S is about a third of the height of the Series X. That’s in line with the rumored spec differences, which include the same 8-core AMD processor (though there’s no info about the clock speeds), but a GPU with half the compute units (20), a slower clock speed (1.55GHz) and only 10GB GDDR6 (compared to 16GB); the result is a third the bandwidth, 4TFLOPS instead of 12TFLOPS. As a result, it will generate far less heat and require less power, which means less active or passive cooling required. Combine that with the lack of an optical drive, and you can cut a lot of volume out of the console.

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The console is supposedly targeted at 1440/60p gaming, rather than the Series X’s 4K/120p, which matches up with the specs as well. While it probably uses the same storage subsystem, (PCIe 4.0), we don’t know how much storage it will have, whether it will support the Velocity Architecture, or if backward compatibility will work the same. It will probably support Smart Delivery, though. 

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