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Xbox Series S vs Xbox One S: the cheapest Xbox consoles compared

The Xbox Series S and Xbox One S consoles in white
(Image credit: Future)

Which should you buy, the Xbox Series S vs Xbox One S? Although these consoles have similar names and designs, there are some important differences between the Xbox Series S and Xbox One S you need to know if you’re hoping to choose one.

In this guide, we’ll cover what each console can offer, as well as which one has the features, resolution and power that you’re looking for. This will help you decide which one is right for you, because there’s a solid case to be made for either one, depending on your preferences. 

For starters, the Xbox Series S is capable of 1440p resolution, upscaled to 4K, 120fps and this includes graphical features, such as ray tracing. Although it might not be as powerful as Microsoft's flagship Xbox Series X, it’s still a next-gen console. 

However, the Xbox One S isn’t nearly as powerful as the Series S. But its cheap price point these days makes it a great choice if the Xbox Series S is out of your budget.

We’ve spent a lot of time testing both consoles and putting them through their paces, which you can read more about in our Xbox Series S review and Xbox One S review. This puts us in the best position to say definitively which one is worth your time and your money. 

If you’ve been agonising over which Xbox “S” to buy, our guide below will compare both of Microsoft’s budget-friendly consoles to help you make an informed decision about which one you should buy and which one will best suit your budget and your gaming preferences.

Xbox Series S vs Xbox One S price and release date

The Xbox Series S console

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Both the Xbox Series S and Xbox One S come with similar price points, though we expect the price of the Xbox One S to drop dramatically as time goes on. The Xbox Series S retails for $299 / £249 / AU$499 and is the cheapest next-gen console available. 

The Xbox One S has been out for some time now, making its debut on August 2, 2016. Its price is holding steady at $299 / £249 / AU$499 but can often be found for much cheaper, particularly over sale events like Black Friday. Again, we expect the Xbox One S to drop in price now that the Xbox Series S has been out for a while.

Xbox Series S vs Xbox One S specs

The Xbox Series S console insides

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Specs are where the two consoles differ significantly. The Xbox Series S is Microsoft’s more affordable next-gen console, and while it might not match the Xbox Series X in terms of pure technical prowess, it delivers a massive upgrade over the Xbox One S. Here are the key Xbox Series S specs you need to know: 

  • CPU: Eight-core 3.6GHz (3.4GHz with SMT) custom AMD 7nm
  • GPU: 4 teraflops at 1.550GHz 
  • RAM: 10GB GDDR6 
  • Framerate: Up to 120 fps 
  • Resolution: 1440p with 4K upscaling 
  • Optical: No disk drive 
  • Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD 

The Xbox Series S may be impossibly small, but there’s a lot of power inside. The console will target a resolution of 1440p instead of native 4K (though some titles can output at a full 4K), and is capable of 120fps gaming. Though its GPU is considerably less powerful than the Xbox Series X's, it’s armed with an almost identical CPU and 10GB of GDDR6 RAM. That’s less than the 16GB the Xbox Series X, but it’s considerably more than the Xbox One S which only has 8GB of GDDR3.

One important thing to note is that there’s no disk drive on the Xbox Series S, and you’ll only have 512GB of storage to play with. Unlike the One S, though, it comes with a super-fast NVMe SSD instead of an achingly slow mechanical hard drive, and it can be expanded with the 1TB Storage Expansion Card from Seagate.

The Xbox One S might look similar, then, but it's technologically inferior to the Xbox Series S. It's a great option if you want to play Xbox exclusives that you missed out on like Gears 5 or Forza Horizon 4, or simply want to give Xbox Game Pass a whirl, but if you want a console that has been designed to last the next five or so years, you'll want to opt for the Xbox Series S. Here are the Xbox One S specs you need to know about:

  • CPU: Eight-core 1.75GHz Jaguar CPU
  • GPU: 1.23 teraflops at 914MHz
  • RAM: 8GB GDDR3
  • Framerate: Up to 60fps
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Optical: 4K HD Blu-Ray Drive
  • Storage: 1TB HDD

The Xbox One S only has one real advantage over Microsoft’s newer model: the 4K HD Blu-Ray drive. If you’re looking for a cheap 4K Blu-Ray player that also allows you to stream Netflix and play games, the One S is a great choice. You could make the case that the Xbox One S has more storage space than the Xbox Series S, but the One S still uses a HDD rather than an SSD, so it has a larger capacity at the expense of speed. In every other department, though, the Xbox Series S comprehensively beats the Xbox One S in terms of technical power and cutting-edge design. 

The Xbox One S is a great entry-level system, however. It’s small, quiet and likely to be extremely affordable in the near future. Yes, it won’t be able to deliver the highest quality for gaming, but if that’s not a concern, it’s still a worthwhile purchase. With a similar price point to the Series S for now, though, we’d recommend opting for Microsoft’s newer next-gen console if you have the choice.

Xbox Series S vs Xbox One S games

The Xbox One S console

(Image credit: Xbox)

Even if you don't choose an Xbox Series S, you’ll be able to play almost every new game on Microsoft’s older console. They won’t run as well or look quite as good, but you won’t be forced to upgrade to experience key titles that are coming to Xbox Series X and S like Halo Infinite. The Xbox One S is the console to choose if the idea of downloading a game makes your head spin, though, as it's the only console of the two that has a disc drive. 

You can expect most games to target 30 to 60fps on Xbox One S and 60 to 120fps on Xbox Series X. Xbox One S games will also likely hit a resolution of 900p to 1080p, while Xbox Series S will target 1080p to 1440p output, which can upscale to 4K.

One area where Xbox Series S benefits significantly is in terms of load times. Thanks to its super-fast SSD, games will load much quicker than they would on Xbox One S, so if you hate waiting around for your games to start, or simply want to upgrade your existing experience, the Series S is the way to go.

It's also certain that future games will leave the Xbox One S behind eventually – developers will increasingly rely on the newer system's power as the years go by, and the install base of the new Xbox consoles grows. 

Xbox Series S vs Xbox One S verdict

The Xbox Series S console

(Image credit: Microsoft)

With comparative price points (for now) and similar sleek designs, the Xbox Series S and Xbox One S are easily mistaken at a glance. Delve deeper, though, and the power gap between Microsoft’s two cheap consoles become abundantly clear.

The Xbox One S will soon be seen as a legacy system, unable to provide the next-gen bells and whistles like ray-tracing and blazing fast load times, but it’s a tempting value proposition nonetheless, particularly if you can find a good Xbox One S deal

The Xbox Series S, however, is the console of choice for those looking to experience the next-generation of gaming at a superb price point. It’s digital-only, of course, so you’ll be at the mercy of your internet connection when it comes to downloading games. If that’s a problem, the Xbox Series X might be the next best choice.

Adam Vjestica

Adam is a Senior Gaming Writer at TechRadar. A law graduate with an exceptional track record in content creation and online engagement, Adam has penned scintillating copy for various technology sites and also established his very own award-nominated video games website. He’s previously worked at Nintendo of Europe as a Content Marketing Editor and once played Halo 5: Guardians for over 51 hours for charity. (He’s still recovering to this day.)