Should I buy an Xbox Series S?

The Xbox Series X is brilliant. But the S is also brilliant, and it's cheaper too

Xbox Series S
(Image credit: Microsoft)

I love my Xbox, and I particularly love the fact that Xbox Game Pass gives me access to tons of games that I actually want to play. But if you haven't already bought one, you might be unsure which model to buy: do you want the flagship Xbox Series X, or would the much more affordable and all-digital Xbox Series S be the better buy?

I think they're both superb consoles, and the decision in part depends on what kind of games you're going to play and what you're going to connect your Xbox to.

As such, here I list six very good reasons to consider the Xbox Series S as your next console, as well as a few caveats to consider before ringing one up.

Xbox Series S console

(Image credit: Microsoft)

1. Xbox Series S is a lot cheaper

Price isn't the only consideration, of course, but with absolutely everything from energy bills to streaming subscriptions going up in price it's still a pretty important one. Where the Xbox Series X is $499 / £449, the Xbox Series S is a whopping $200 / £200 cheaper ringing in at just $299 / £249.

What's more, if you're buying your Xbox on All Access the Series S is £20.99 / $24.99 a month, which is £8 / $10 cheaper than the Xbox Series X and includes Game Pass, which is the gaming bargain of the decade. I mean, seriously, $24.99 / £20.99 per month for a new console and hundreds of awesome games to play, including brand new blockbuster exclusives like Halo: Infinite and Forza Horizon 5 is just incredible.

Xbox Series S console in front of box

(Image credit: Future)

2. Xbox Series S looks better

The Xbox Series X is a big black monolith of a thing that wouldn't be out of place in 2001: A Space Odyssey. There's no getting away from it, it's just a big black box and, as such, is really rather fugly. It's not something  you have out on display for the eye candy.

The Xbox Series S, on the other hand, is much smaller - 6.5 x 15.1 x 27.5cm compared to 15.1 x 15.1 x 30.1 for the bigger Xbox - and its white finish looks nicer in a typical home entertainment setup. Yes, technically the Series S is also a white box of sorts, but its dimpled vent, smaller proportions and white colorway make it more stylish.

Xbox Series S ports

(Image credit: Future)

3. You can easily expand Xbox Series S storage

The internal SSD here is 512GB compared to the Series X's 1TB, but the Series S supports the same Seagate Expansion Card for Xbox and USB 3.1 external drives, so you can up the storage incredible easily. Getting near 1.5TB of space for games and media is one plug and play port away.

And that's a great thing, as an Xbox Series S being fed digital games from Xbox Game Pass or the Xbox Store means you can load up your new console with more games than possible on a stock storage Xbox Series X.

Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S

(Image credit: Microsoft)

4. Xbox Series S is still powerful

Although the Xbox Series S doesn't have the same 4K gaming resolution output as its more expensive sibling, it delivers a very respectable 1440p at up to 120fps and it's capable of playing video at up to 8K HDR. It has Variable Refresh Rate to eliminate on-screen issues, it has Dolby Vision support, and it also does DTS, Dolby Diigital and Dolby Atmos. The HDMI port is HDMI 2.1 and there are three USB 3.1 gen 3 ports.

Elden Ring knight charges at player on horseback

(Image credit: Bandai Namco / FromSoftware)

5. Xbox Series S plays all the same games as Series X

Oh, and guess what, Xbox Series S also plays all the same games as Xbox Series X, too. If you want to play Halo: Infinite on S you can. If you want to play Assassin's Creed Valhalla on S you can. If you want to play Elden Ring on S you can. All those hot new games are all available on Series S.

Yes, you can't play them at as high a resolution, but 60fps framerates are on lock at 1440p and that means buttery smooth gaming awesomeness.

Xbox Series S box

(Image credit: Microsoft)

6. It's easy to get one

Our Xbox Series X tracker has helped Xbox buyers navigate the often very frustrating problem of stock shortages, but things have been much easier for Series S buyers: where Series Xes were as rare as hens' teeth the S didn't suffer from the same stock problems, so you can actually get them without having to pay the scalper tax. There are also lots of great Xbox Series S bundles out there.

Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Xbox)

Then again... reasons not to buy the Xbox Series S

The Xbox Series S is a great buy, but there are some caveats. If you're planning to play games on one of the best 4K TVs rather than one of the best gaming monitors, you're not using your TV to its full potential. And while it's much more powerful than the Xbox One the Series S isn't as powerful as its more expensive stablemate, so you may encounter performance issues in really intense, heavily populated games. And with no optical drive you can't play pre-owned games you've bought on disc and you can't use your console as a DVD or Blu-Ray player. Game pass and streaming apps address that somewhat but if you need an optical drive you'll need the Series X.

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).

With contributions from