Why the Xbox Series S deserves more love from gamers
Microsoft's pint-sized console is always the butt of the jokes, but it's time to give it its flowers
Despite being an affordable way into the current generation of consoles, the Xbox Series S has been under fire from the moment it was announced.
Many believe the smallest Xbox ever made is underpowered and unnecessary. Its biggest critics argue that Microsoft's console is holding back the potential of the Xbox Series X and PS5.
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The possibility of future titles being unable to run on the system has also sparked debate. For example, will it be able to run GTA 6? Will it be obsolete in a few years time?
Seriously, give me a break.
Praise where it's due
I've never understood the hate shown towards the Xbox Series S. The console has proven itself to be a fantastic little machine and I think it deserves more respect.
The Xbox Series S, priced at $299 and often available for less during sale periods, has been able to handle everything that developers have thrown at it. It retains next-gen features such as superfast load times, 120fps support, and even ray tracing.
Some developers have publicly complained about the Xbox Series S's capabilities, but so what? Devs always want more power and resources to work with, just like a soccer manager wants a massive transfer budget every season.
But as history has shown, some of the best games ever created aren't defined by the hardware they run on. We've seen amazing titles that can run on a mobile phone, let alone on a high-end graphics card that costs thousands of dollars.
Limited resources can also lead to optimization improvements, as was the case with Baldur's Gate 3. The game was notably delayed on Xbox Series consoles because of difficulties with implementing local split-screen co-op, which triggered further discussions about the viability of the Xbox Series S.
But as it turns out, developing for Microsoft's less powerful system actually ended up benefiting the Xbox Series X and PS5 versions of the game. Optimizations were found that may have been overlooked if the developers were only working with the same hardware specifications.
The rough with the smooth
That's not to say that compromises aren't made to get games running on the Xbox Series S. And for some, they may be too much to bear. Games often run at lower resolutions and frame rates compared to the main consoles, and developers may even remove some graphical features or modes.
However, this really shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. If you want the best experience possible, you need to get an Xbox Series X or PS5 for $499. If you're willing to accept some disadvantages but still want access to the top Xbox games, then the Xbox Series S is the perfect choice and the best value in gaming.
It's easy to overlook that not everyone is obsessed with having the best visuals - many people simply don't care. People aren't buying a PS5 vs Xbox Series X because it's the more powerful console, either. It's the quality of Sony's exclusive games, the amazing DualSense controller, and the fact that the PS4 generation solidified the PlayStation 5 as the console of choice for many.
While the misplaced rhetoric around the Xbox Series S thankfully hasn't affected the majority of consumers, as it's actually the best-selling current-gen Xbox, I still find it difficult to understand when some people claim the Xbox Series S shouldn't exist.
Console comparisons and the value proposition apart, did you know most PC gamers are playing on less powerful machines than the Xbox Series S?
The Steam hardware charts show that 21.15% of PC gamers use a CPU with speeds between 2.3Ghz and 2.69Ghz, which is slower than the Xbox Series S's 3.6Ghz CPU.
But what about GPU performance? Well, the Xbox Series S has a significantly weaker GPU than the Xbox Series S and PS5, but – console optimizations aside – it's generally seen as the equivalent to an Nvidia GTX 1650. That's the second most popular graphics card according to the Steam hardware charts for November 2023.
It appears that the Xbox Series S isn't a fossil by any means, then, but what about its real-world performance? Many people criticize the Xbox Series S for running some games at lower resolutions, but according to Steam's hardware charts, the most popular resolution is 1080p, chosen by 60.09% of gamers.
Clearly, the Xbox Series S is getting a rough ride from some corners of the internet. Arguing about whether the console will be able to run certain titles in the future, as if it's a ticking time bomb, is somewhat insulting to Microsoft's engineers and developers altogether. GTA 6 will indeed run on Xbox Series S. As will all the other new games that were announced at The Game Awards 2023.
If you go in with realistic expectations, the Xbox Series S is an excellent console and a fantastic way for more people to join the pastime we love. It deserves the utmost praise for that reason alone.
Check out our Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S comparison to find out which of Microsoft’s consoles is right for you.