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Is Microsoft’s tiny console a better alternative?


The PS5 console is famous in its own right, but not many people consider checking out Microsoft’s smaller console, the Xbox Series S. But is this more affordable console the better option for you?

The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S launched more than two years ago and still hold the titles of Sony and Microsoft’s newest consoles, including the Xbox Series X. Since we’ve already explored how the PS5 stacks up against the Xbox Series X, we thought it was time to see how it compares against its younger sibling, the less powerful Xbox Series S.

We’re going to be taking a look at the price, specs, features and online gameplay of each console so you can decide which one is best for you, as you may find that an affordable price and Xbox Game Pass make up for the power difference between these devices.

Read on to find out everything you need to know.

Price

The PS5 console launched with a £449/$499 price, putting it at the same price as the Xbox Series X. However, Sony has since raised the price to £479.99 in the UK.

The Xbox Series S is by far the more affordable option, costing £249/$299. The lower price is due to the lower amount of power and SSD storage space compared to the Series X, but it is still a reliable console.

Design

Both consoles have very specific designs. The PS5 weighs 4.5kg and can be positioned horizontally or vertically, sporting a sleek and two-toned design. It features a USB-C port, three USB-A ports, a storage expansion slot as well as an Ethernet port.

When looking online for the new PS5 make sure you're frequenting reputable websites and keep an eye out for suspicious listings or messages.
Image Credit (Sony)

The Xbox Series S is a lot smaller, similar in size to a hardback book. It weighs 1.9kg and can also be configured in a vertical or horizontal position, with its smaller size making it easier to house inside a TV cabinet or on a desk.

The Series S is white and black and looks like a Microsoft console, sporting a 1Gbps Ethernet port, two USB 3.1, an HDMI 2.1 and a storage expansion slot.

Specs

In terms of power, the PS5 does come out on top. For an in-depth look at how the internals of these consoles differs, check out the specs breakdown below:

Xbox Series S PS5
CPU 8x Cores @ 3.8 GHz (3.66 GHz w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU 8x Cores @ 3.8 GHz (3.66 GHz w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU
GPU 4 TFLOPS, 20 CUs @ 1.55 GHz Custom RDNA 2 10.28 TFLOPs, 36CUs @ 2.23GHz
Memory 10 GB GDDR6 16 GB GDDR6/ 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 224GB/s 448GB/s
Internal Storage 512GB Custom NVME SSD Custom 825 GB SSD
Optical Drive Digital only 4K UHD Blu-ray Drive
Performance Target Up to 1440p @ 120 FPS 4K @ 60 FPS, Up to 120 FPS

If you’re looking for raw power, the PS5 is the way to go. It offers a higher target performance than the Series S, with 4K at 60fps compared to the 1440p at 120fps, since the Series S does not support native 4K.

The Series S offers just 512GB storage, which will not last long if you’re hoping to play large triple-A titles like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 or FIFA 23. This can be resolved by purchasing an official memory card.

The PS5 does not support memory cards, but Sony has upgraded the PS5’s firmware with support for additional storage via the NVMe M.2 solid-state drives, meaning that it now has an 8TB maximum capacity.

Storage on the Xbox Series S
Image Credit (Microsoft)

It’s also worth noting that unlike the PS5, the Series S does not have a disk drive, making it an all-digital console, like the digital-only version of the PS5.

However, the Series S does still offer features like ray tracing and the NVMe SSD does offer speedy loading times. This console is by no means powerless, but it may be better suited to those who do not own a monitor or TV that supports 4K and do not put as much emphasis on high-quality graphics.

Controllers

The PS5 comes with the latest DualSense controllers, which feature haptic feedback and adaptive triggers for a more immersive and realistic experience. At the end of January 2023, Sony will be offering the DualSense Edge Wireless controller, which will allow users to remap specific button inputs, replace stick modules with other designs, swap out stick caps and switch up the back buttons.

DualSense Edge front
Image Credit (Sony)

The Xbox Series S controller is not as advanced as Sony’s alternative, with no haptic feedback or adaptive triggers present. It offers a serviceable experience, but it is a more noticeable downgrade if you’re already using the DualSense controller.

User Interface and features

The user interface on the Series S is the same as the Series X, with few changes overall. Anyone who disliked the Xbox One layout will have the same issues here, although the faster load times and specific sections for Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft Store and My Games do make for a more streamlined experience.

The Quick Resume feature allows players to swap between active states of up to six different games at once, so you can switch in and out of games without needing to wait for the loading screens.

A white XBOB with controller standing on white background
Image Credit (Microsoft)

Microsoft did introduce Xbox Night Mode, which adjusts the brightness to keep the screen dark in a darker environment. The company has stated that it is planning on furthering the customisation options in the Xbox Home UI, with more choices when it comes to Pins, backgrounds and how your games are laid out.

The PS5 has undergone more changes over its almost three-year lifespan; Voice chats are now known as Parties and can be accessed via the new three-pronged Game Base menu, and players can now pin five select games to the screen permanently.

Sony also altered the PS5 firmware to allow users to add another SSD card to the previously dormant expansion slot, increasing the console’s overall storage capabilities.

Exclusive games

If you take performance power out of the equation, then one of the biggest deciders between these two consoles is the exclusive titles available on each platform. Sony has an extremely impressive list of titles, with the standout possibly being God of War and its critically acclaimed PS5 sequel, God of War Ragnarök, one of the best games of 2022.

The PS5 boasts a plethora of other titles, including DeathloopRatchet and Clank: Rift ApartDeath Stranding: Director’s Cut, Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and more.

More PS5 exclusive titles will be coming over the next few years, such as Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, Forspoken and Final Fantasy XVI.

The Starfield Xbox game poster
Image Credit (Bethesda)

2022 was not the best year for Microsoft when it came to exclusive releases, but it does look like the company has a few titles up its sleeve for 2023, including Forza MotorsportStarfield, Replaced and Ark II. We’re also expecting to see future Elder Scrolls, Doom and Fallout games become exclusives on Xbox.

Personal preference will have a massive impact on this category, as you may find that you’re more interested in checking out the latest Forza title than catching up with Spider-Man. Overall, Sony seems to be more reliable and consistent in its releases, but Xbox is only going to improve in this area following many studio acquisitions.

Verdict

Out of the two consoles, the PS5 is the one to go for if performance is a priority for you. It features more storage space and a more powerful GPU, making it the better option in terms of graphics.

However, the Xbox Series S should not be passed over just because it’s not as powerful. If you don’t own a 4K monitor or TV, then the Series S may be a better and more affordable fit, especially since you can expand the storage using a memory card. The inclusion of Game Pass only boosts this console’s appeal in terms of value for money.

The selection of exclusive games on each platform will play into how alluring each console is, so you will want to consider which upcoming games catch your eye. We think that you can have a blast on either console, just consider how much performance power and affordability mean to you and we’re sure you can figure it out from there.



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