Xbox Series S leak hints it could struggle to run next-gen games — here's why

The lower price comes with compromises for those who don't want to fork out on Xbox Series X

Xbox Series X Digital Edition
(Image credit: Reddit - u/jiveduder)

The Xbox Series S is the cheaper, all-digital edition of the Xbox Series X, aimed at gamers who don't necessarily want to shell out $500/ £500 this holiday season. Microsoft is following a similar strategy to that of the current console generation, during which it launched the powerful and pricey Xbox One X, as well as the all-digital Xbox One S.

Sony is following suit with confirmation of a PS5 Digital Edition, but a new report suggests that the Xbox Series S might not be as powerful as the Series X- although consumers paying around $100 less, which is what we've heard about the digital-only PlayStation 5, should expect a somewhat scaled-back experience.

The news comes from The Verge's Tom Warren, who tweeted a cryptic image with the text "just dropped in to say 20 CUs". While he hasn't elaborated on what that might mean, Warren has been tweeting about the Xbox Series X with some frequency this week, so that's immediately what everybody's mind has jumped to.

As Tom's Guide speculates, this could be a reference to computing units, making it a touch slower than Radeon RX 5500 XT graphics card, which has 22 CUs. Naturally, this raises questions as to whether it can comfortably run next-gen games even at 1080p, or if it will even be capable of running them at 1080p/ 60fps.

The Xbox One X offers 40 CUs but the AMD graphics architecture is pretty old now, so will the Xbox Series S outperform the most powerful console of this generation, or will gamers be better off with an Xbox One X? 

The RDNA graphics architecture is much more efficient than that seen in current-gen consoles, so gamers may not have to worry about this question at all, but of course, we won't know until Microsoft fills us in on the Xbox Series S' specs. But if the digital-only edition can't muster up the power to run games at 1080p/ 60fps, it's worth saving up the extra cash and opting for the Xbox Series X.

We can't imagine Microsoft making this kind of blunder going into the next-generation, so we'll reserve judgement until we hear something concrete. 

Source: Tom's Guide

Shabana Arif

Shabana worked at as News Editor covering tech and gaming, and has been writing about video games for almost a decade (and playing them since forever). She's had bylines at major gaming sites during her freelance career before settling down here at T3, and has podcasts, streaming, and video content under her belt to boot. Outside of work, she also plays video games and should really think about expanding her hobbies. If you have any tech or gaming tips, shoot over an email or DM her on social media.