PS5 Digital Edition gets upper hand on Xbox Series S

Microsoft's Xbox Series S details tip the balance in Sony's favor ahead of PS5 event

Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Last week, Microsoft confirmed the news that we’d speculated for a long time: a cheaper next-gen Xbox is on the way for those who don't want to spend hundreds this holiday season. 

The Xbox Series S sits alongside the beefier Xbox Series X, offering the same next-generation experience; but instead of games targeting 4K resolutions, they’ll target 1440p. 

Priced at $299/ £249 / AU$499 compared to the Xbox Series X’s $499/ £449 / AU$749, the Xbox Series S is half the size of the Series X, but the smaller footprint and price tag are a trade-off for less power, giving rise to doubts that it'll be able to surpass the current-gen Xbox One X.

Comparing the upcoming consoles, the Xbox Series X is the more powerful of the two, with an 3.8GHz 8-core processor, 1TB SSD, and 16GB RAM, while the Series S has a 3.6GHz 8-core processor, a smaller 512GB SSD, and 10GB RAM. 

However, they'll both play exactly the same games, so if you don’t have a 4K TV, or simply want to save a few hundred dollars, this little console makes a lot of sense.

But the specs have thrown up some questions, as Digital Foundry pointed out in a recent video, highlighting that the Xbox Series S also has less RAM than the current-gen Xbox One X – 10GB compared to 12GB. 

As it stands, many Xbox One games are “enhanced for Xbox One X”, which means playing those games on Microsoft’s high-end console gives a better experience than on the Xbox One S (the revamped model of the Xbox One). Typically, this enhanced version of the game will have better textures, performance, and resolutions than the standard version.

The lower RAM in the Xbox Series S has many wondering whether it will enhance backwards-compatible games in the same way. It turns out that the answer is no: in a statement from Microsoft, published on VGC, the company confirmed that the console will not utilise any Xbox One X enhancements in backwards-compatible games. 

But that doesn’t mean that your current-gen games won't get any upgrades whatsoever; rather than using those Xbox One X enhancements, the Series S will automatically apply its own console-specific improvements. They include “improved texture filtering, higher and more consistent frame rates, faster load times and Auto HDR.”

So current-gen Xbox One games will still get a bump to their performance on the Xbox Series S. The console will just use its own power to improve how games look and perform, rather than tapping into any specific enhancements that developers programmed into games for the Xbox One X. 

Xbox Series X/S pre-orders open on September 22, and the console launches on November 10, so don't forget to sign up below for notifications on when they go live.

Source: VGC