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The biggest problem with the Xbox Series S really isn’t that bad

Published Sep 14th, 2020 6:50AM EDT
Xbox Series S
Image: Microsoft

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  • The $299 Xbox Series S is more powerful than all previous-generation Xbox models, including the Xbox One X. However, the Series S does have one huge backward compatibility flaw you should be aware of.
  • The Series S doesn’t support Xbox One X games that have been enhanced for Microsoft’s former Xbox flagships.
  • However, Microsoft confirmed that the new budget console would be able to run all the old games that are compatible with the Xbox One S consoles.

The $299 Xbox Series S is just too good to pass up if you want a next-gen console this year, but not necessarily the best possible next-gen Xbox money can buy. The Series X has the same processor and SSD drive as the Series X and supports the same speedy external SSDs made for the new Xbox. It’s in the RAM and GPU department that the Series S can’t exactly compete against the Series X and the PS5. For that reason, we told you that the biggest flaw of the Series S concerns backward compatibility. The $299 gaming rig won’t be able to play 4K game versions of Xbox One X games, which is something that potential buyers need to be aware of. However, it turns out that Series S will play a lot of Xbox One games.

“Xbox Series S was designed to be the most affordable next-generation console and play next-generation games at 1440P at 60fps,” a Microsoft spokesperson told VGC.

“To deliver the highest quality backwards compatible experience consistent with the developer’s original intent, the Xbox Series S runs the Xbox One S version of backward compatible games while applying improved texture filtering, higher and more consistent frame rates, faster load times, and Auto HDR.”

In other words, the Xbox Series S will still run all the games that can run on the One S, so upgrading from the last-gen Xbox One model won’t be that problematic. And those games should offer an improved experience thanks to that faster SSD that’s powering the Series S. It’s just the Xbox One X-specific higher resolution that won’t be compatible with the Series S console.

Before upgrading to the Series S, you might want to see what you stand to lose when it comes to backward compatibility. If you own an extensive library of One X games that you still want to play, you might want to go for the Series X instead of the cheaper console. Otherwise, the Series S might still be the best possible Xbox purchase this winter for gamers and families looking for an affordable, brand new console.

As for the next-gen games, this will support both the Series S and Series X, so there’s no reason to worry there.

The Xbox One S will still be available in stores this year, and that would make it the cheapest Xbox that you can purchase. The console has a retail price of $299 right now, but Microsoft will surely discount it once the Series S and X are available to order. Furthermore, the holiday season will bring over several old-gen Xbox sales, where stock is available. That said, the Series S will be a much better choice than the One S, considering the considerable performance bump you’re going to get from it.

The Series S and Series X go on sale on September 22nd and will hit stores on November 10th.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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