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Xbox Series S: Price, release date, specs and details

This next-gen console is cheaper and less powerful than the Xbox Series X, but still plays all the same games.

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On November 10, 2020, Microsoft launches its next-generation consoles across the world. The Xbox Series S, previously known as Project Lockhart, is an all-digital console with no optical Blu-ray drive. It’s also lower specced inside than its big brother, the Xbox Series X. This makes for a console 60% smaller and $200 cheaper. However, it’s still capable of playing the same next-generation games.

“The name we’re carrying forward to the next generation is simply Xbox. At the Game Awards, you saw that name come to life through the Xbox Series X. Similar to what fans have seen with previous generations, the name ‘Xbox Series X’ allows room for additional consoles in the future.” – Microsoft representative

Xbox Series S price and release date

The Xbox Series S launches on November 10, 2020, alongside the Series X. Preorders for both consoles started in September 2020, and retailers have been selling out of stock ever since.

The Xbox Series S costs $299, which is $200 less than its more powerful counterpart. Gamers also have the option to purchase the next-gen console through Xbox All Access. Instead of paying the entire cost for the system upfront, you’ll pay $29.99/month for 24-months and it also comes with Game Pass Ultimate.

Xbox Series X vs. Xbox Series S

A deep-dive into the Xbox Series X specifications reveals a console that’s as powerful as the highest-end PCs you can buy. It comes fully equipped with a 4K Blu-ray disc drive and will have no problems playing any game thrown at it over the next five to seven years.

The Xbox Series S cuts out the Blu-ray drive and is a digital-only version of the console. And it really rolls back the power. The 12.15 TFLOPS of power seen in the XSX drops to just 4 TFLOPS on the Xbox Series S. This is mainly due to a lesser CPU running at 3.6GHz instead of 3.8GHz. Plus it hosts a downgraded GPU from a 52CU (compute unit) RDNA 1.825GHz card to a 20CU, 1.565GHz GPU card.

Additionally, the internal 1TB hard drive is cut down to half the size at 500GB of storage.

As a result, the console is also physically smaller. In fact, it’s 60% smaller than the Xbox Series X. That makes it the smallest console in Microsoft’s history.

The good news is you can still play all the same games on the Xbox Series S as the Xbox Series X. The reduction in power means it’s capped at 1440p instead of delivering 8K. While the resolution is disappointing, the framerate will be at least 60fps with scope for 120fps.

So why would you opt for an Xbox Series S console? Price! At $299, it’s a less expensive entry point for gamers who want to play next-gen games and don’t care about resolution or Blu-rays.

Was the Xbox Series S leaked?

Yes, it was. In fact, it was one of the worst kept secrets in gaming history. On August 10, 2020, a Twitter user by the name of Zak S revealed that he had acquired an Xbox Series X controller from an online retailer. The instruction manual referenced the Xbox Series S as well as the Xbox Series X.

To be precise, the manual and packaging both mentioned the controller as being compatible with “Xbox Series X | S.” It’s also compatible with Xbox One, PC, Android and iOS devices.

While the rumors regarding the Xbox Series S had been rife, this was the first official documentation to show the console’s name. The fact that the new controllers had already identified as being both XSX and XSS compatible also added weight to the belief that the Xbox Series S would be available at launch, if not shortly after.

In response to the controller’s appearance, a Microsoft spokesperson did little to deny speculation at the time, only saying:

“We have a lot in store for Xbox in 2020 and can’t wait to share [it all] with you. However, we have nothing to announce at this time.”

Is Microsoft’s Project Lockhart the Xbox Series S?

Yes, Project Lockhart was understood to be the codename for the digital-only version of Microsoft’s next-generation console. It sits beside the Xbox Series X.

Microsoft has always made it clear that the Xbox Series X, its high-end next-generation console, would have some company. When the console was first revealed late in 2019, Microsoft clarified that the next-generation console wasn’t called the Xbox Series X. It was called the Xbox and the version first revealed was the Series X.

That was a deliberate ploy in the nomenclature to enable Microsoft to release other versions of its next-generation Xbox. Much like we saw with the Xbox One X and Xbox One S, at least one variation of the upcoming console is the Xbox Series S.

When was the Xbox Series S announced?

It’s generally believed that the Xbox Series S was originally going to be announced at E3 in June 2020. However, with E3 cancelled due to COVID-19, that plan was put on hold. It took until September 8, 2020 — at which point numerous leaks had forced Microsoft’s hand — before the industry giant officially acknowledged the Xbox Series S existed.

Top image: Credit to Reddit user jiveduder

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