Should you buy the Xbox Series X or Series S?

Decisions are hard.

Image via Xbox

The launch of Microsoft’s next generation of consoles is fast approaching with pre-orders for the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X starting Sept. 22. 

While you won’t be able to get your hands on either of the consoles until Nov. 10, the differences between the two products leave consumers with a lot to contemplate in the coming months as they decide which one to buy.

On the surface, the smaller Series S appears to be a budget version of the Series X. Costing $299, the console is significantly more affordable than the Series X, which will cost $499.

But the Series S also boasts some features that might make people think twice about spending an extra $200 for the Series X.

Xbox Series X

For any hardcore gamer, the decision between which console to get might be easy. The Series X is notably more powerful than its alternative, but you’ll be dishing out more cash to get it.

The console is capable of up to 120 frames per second and can provide 4k gaming. Meanwhile, its 1TB custom SSD is something that the Series S can’t match. 

As the strongest console Microsoft has ever built, the Series X has a processor made using AMD’s Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architectures. Additionally, it has 12 teraflops of processing power.

Lastly, the console’s shape and components have been specially designed to maximize air-flow and keep the equipment temperature controlled even during long play sessions. With three air-flow channels, a split motherboard, a vapor chamber, and a heat-sink chassis, the Series X is made to withstand the heat of battle.

Xbox Series S

The Series S might not be as powerful as the Series X, but it’s nothing to scoff at.

Perhaps the most immediately noticeable difference between the two consoles is their size. Sitting 60 percent smaller than the Series X, the Series S will be the smallest Xbox ever, according to Microsoft. That will make its performance slightly less than that of the Series X, but not by much. 

The Series S will still be able to get you up to 120 frames per second, but it won’t be able to do so at 4k quality. Instead, the console will only be able to run games at 1440p at that frame rate.

That doesn’t mean that the console isn’t 4k capable, though. A trailer by Microsoft said the Series S will be able to stream media playback and have upscaling for games at 4k resolution. You just won’t be able to do it at the same frame rate as you could on a Series X. 

Additionally, the smaller console has a smaller SSD of just 512GB, making it unable to store as much as the Series X.

Which one should you pick? 

The answer lies in your personal motives as a consumer. If you’re a hardcore gamer with a 4k resolution TV and you plan on doing everything in your power to wreck noobs all day, every day, the Series X is a no brainer.

But if a 4k TV isn’t in your budget or your monitor doesn’t have a 120hz refresh rate, there isn’t much of a point in spending the extra money to have the higher performance console. The amount of power that the console has will only truly show if you have a TV that can handle it.

At the same time, if you’re the type of person who plays a wide variety of games and downloads new content regularly, the Series X’s SSD space might be a necessity. If you only have a select few things you use your console for, though, the 512GB SSD that the Series S provides might do the trick.

There’s no universally right or wrong answer to the question “which console should I get?” Ultimately, picking between the Series X and Series S will require you to consider your budget, the TV you’ll be using for the console, and the amount of SSD you need.