Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S: Which console is right for you?

Xbox Series X (left) and Xbox Series S on a red background

Verizon and Best Buy

Choosing the right game console comes down to three things: budget, capabilities, and availability. The first thing to find out is how much you are comfortable spending. Next, find the console with the best capabilities within that price range, and then determine if it’s available; supply shortages have made popular gaming systems like the playstation 5 unavailable for months at a time.

Xbox Series X and Series S are currently available and offer different capacities at significantly different prices.

If you don’t want to spend $500 on the Xbox Series X, but still want to choose from hundreds of games, the Series S is more than $250 cheaper than the Series X. (You have the option to pay in monthly installments without the use of a third party like Klarna if you buy a Microsoft Xbox directly.)

Here are the key reasons why you should choose either a Series X or a Series S over the other.

Also: The 5 best game consoles


xbox series x

xbox series s




maximum frame rate




12 teraflops

4 teraflops

game resolution

true 4K


optical disk drive

4K UHD Blu-ray Drive

Not included


High dynamic range up to 8K

8K capable with Ultra High Speed ​​HDMI cable, sold separately


Physical and digital games

discless games


Stream 4K Ultra HD video

Stream 4K Ultra HD video


6″ x 6″ x 12″

6.5 x 15.1 x 27.5cm


9.8 pounds

4.25 pounds


From $499

From $230

You should buy an Xbox Series X if…

Xbox Series X (black, square) on red background

Best Buy

1. You want an optical drive

The Series X has a 4K UHD Blu-ray drive, just like the PS5, so you can watch 4K Blu-ray movies and download disc games. If Blu-ray is an integral part of your entertainment experience and you don’t want to download all your games digitally, the Series X is the way to go. The Series S is a smaller, all-digital version of the Series X, so even though it lacks an optical disc drive, you can still stream movies and shows and download games.

2. You want to play games at a higher resolution with a better processor

Series X displays games in true 4K, while Series S offers a 1440p gaming experience. The Series X also has a 12 teraflops processor, while the Series S only has a third of that, at 4 teraflops. The more than double the price of the Series X might be worth it if better resolution and processor are important to you. The frame rate, which determines how smooth a game is, is impressive for both consoles: both the Series S and Series X have frame rates of 120fps. Taking into account that most video games are developed to achieve between 30 fps and 60 fpsboth Xbox consoles potentially offer smooth gaming experiences.

3. You want more storage

The height and length of the Series X and Series S are comparable (around 12 x 6 inches), but the S is less than half the width of the X and half its weight, too. In terms of data, the Series X has 1TB of storage and the Series S has half as much, 512GB. You can expand the storage of both consoles with a storage expansion card. You can get them separately in 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB quantities at prices of $110, $200, and $360 respectively.

Also: Game console showdown: PS5 vs. Xbox Series X vs. Series S vs. OLED switch

You should buy an Xbox Series S if…

Xbox Series S (white, slimmer) on red background


1. You are comfortable getting the same games as Xbox X through the cloud

The Series S lacks the option to play physical game discs, so it’s restricted to digital games. However, if you subscribe to Xbox game pass, you get instant access to the same digital library of over 100 high-quality games offered on Series X, with all games saved and backed up securely in the cloud. You can also live stream and record clips in 4K resolution at 60 fps, and pre-install new games to play instantly when launched.

2. You want the same audio and video capabilities for less money

Both systems support Dolby Atmos, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, and Windows Sonic. When it comes to video, the Series S and Series X support Dolby Vision, Auto Low Latency mode, and Variable Refresh Rate technology. While the Xbox Series X has built-in high dynamic range of up to 8K, the Series S requires the additional purchase of an Ultra High Speed ​​HDMI cable to get 8K.

3. You want the same 4K Ultra HD stream

Series S gives you the same access to hundreds of apps and streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video, with the same 4K Ultra HD video that Series X offers.

Also: We found the best gaming SSDs to level up your PC, Xbox, or PS5

Alternatives to consider

Are you open to other game console prospects? Consider these ZDNET recommended devices:

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