Priced at £249.99/$299.99, the Xbox Series S is most definitely a cost-effective way of entering the next-generation of gaming.
You can read our full review of the Xbox Series S right here, but the gist of it is, if you already have an Xbox One X, you’re probably best off sticking with that until next-gen exclusives arrive. And even then, you’re probably going to want to opt for the Series X rather than the S. It just doesn’t feel like enough of a step-up.
If you’re new to the Xbox ecosystem, however, or simply have a standard Xbox One that you’re wanting to upgrade from, then the Series S does have its merits. It’s small, silent, and, of course, it plays next gen games. When they truly start to arrive, that is. And if you only have a small TV it makes even more sense; the gap in visual quality between the Series S and the Series X will be less apparent.
There is one aspect of the Xbox Series S that we’re really down on though: its internal storage space. A part of the reason why the Series S is a good £200/$200 cheaper than the Series X is because it comes packed with a 512GB SSD rather than 1TB. And of course, you don’t get access to all of that 512GB. Some of its us used by the console’s operating system, and more is reserved for the Quick Resume feature, which unfortunately you can’t disable. And so, out of the box, you’ll find that the Xbox Series S has only 364GB of usable storage.
The news will no doubt fill anyone that has had to deal with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare‘s preposterous install size with dread. Going by current-gen standards, you could potentially find your Xbox Series S hard drive pretty much full after installing just three to four AAA games. If you already have a spare hard drive that you can transfer your Series S games to and from then great, you’ll be okay as long as you don’t mind the admin busywork every once in a while. But if you don’t, you’re going to want to buy one. You perhaps might even be tempted to buy the official Xbox Series X/S 1TB Seagate Expansion Card that costs a whopping £229.99/$229.99.
Once you’ve factored that in, and the fact that the Series S doesn’t come bundled with a HDMI 2.1 cable for 4K 120fps gameplay, the Series S doesn’t really seem to make sense anymore compared to the Series X. The cost of a Series S plus the 1TB Seagate Expansion card is more than the Series X, and while you’ll still have around 500GB extra storage space, you’ll be missing out on the Series X’s extra grunt. And you’ll probably appreciate that extra power when true next-gen games do arrive, especially if by that time you do have a bigger or fancier TV that can make use of next-gen features.
There is a bit of a silver lining when it comes to game installs on the Series S, however; they can be smaller than their Xbox One X and Series X counterparts. Upgrade an Xbox One X Gears 5 install to a Series S optimised one, for example, and you’ll see it shrink by nearly 20%, down to 55GB from 65GB. So, while you do only get 364GB usable space, it should at least go further. And hopefully developers will give users more control over what parts of games get installed as the generation progresses, i.e. allowing single player campaigns and multiplayer modes to be installed separately, or only install dialogue in a specific language.