Why is the Xbox Series S so much easier to buy than the Series X or PS5?

Xbox Series S
(Image credit: Shutterstock/Miguel Lagoa)

One-and-a-half years since their release, both the Xbox Series X and the PS5 are still frustratingly difficult to find. Considering the impact that global supply chains issues and chip shortages have had on console production, this is hardly a surprise as both consoles are in high demand.

And yet somehow, the Xbox Series S has managed to evade the same troubles of its more expensive counterparts, given how it almost always seems to be in stock at major online retailers such as Amazon

The Xbox Series S has even gone on sale multiple times, with its price dropping as low as $249.99, which is $50 off its usual retail price. And now, according to GamesIndustry.biz, its widespread availability has even helped Xbox’s latest generation of consoles outsell the PS5 in Europe for the first time ever – not bad for a box that seemingly no one wants.

If you’re anything like me, you might have been wondering why the Xbox Series S appears to be significantly easier to buy than the Xbox Series X, the PS5, the Nintendo Switch OLED and even the PS4. We’re here to break down the reasons as to why that is.

Simpler manufacturing process 

Xbox Series S insides

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Ultimately, the reason why the Xbox Series S is so much easier to obtain than the Xbox Series X or the PS5 boils down to differences in their manufacturing processes. Each packs a semi-custom AMD accelerated processing unit (APU) that consists of an octa-core Zen 2-based CPU and RDNA 2 GPU, which supply the consoles with the power needed to push 4K resolution at 120 frames per second.

According to industry insider Daniel Ahmad, these powerful chipsets make both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X similarly difficult to manufacture. Meanwhile, the production process behind the Series S is significantly less resource-heavy - so much so that Xbox system architect Andrew Goossen confirmed to Eurogamer that its chipset was even more simple and cost-efficient to produce than that of the previous-gen Xbox One X.

Microsoft is understandably still quite secretive about the difference in how the Xbox Series X and S are made. But even taking a look at their tech specifications, we can see that the Xbox Series S’s APU is half the size of that of the Series X and contains half as many transistors (8 million vs. 15.3 million). This could translate to mean that the APU featured in the S model could be twice as easy to produce.

When you consider the fact that the Series S doesn’t have a disk drive, uses less RAM, has a smaller SSD, and comes in a smaller plastic chassis, it becomes clear as to why Microsoft’s entry-level console is easier to manufacture quicker and in greater quantities than its more premium sibling.

Scalpers aren’t targeting the Series S 

PS5 scalpers

(Image credit: Shutterstock/swissmacky/Future)

It’s fair to say that the Xbox Series S may not tempt some consumers, despite its affordability and widespread availability. Although $250 is a bargain for a next-gen console, skeptics may still be holding out for more expensive options such as the Series X and the PS5, which they believe would arguably serve them better in the long run.

Thankfully, scalpers and resellers don’t seem to be very interested in the Xbox Series S due to the relatively low markup they can put on the console, and the fact it’s in plentiful supply. A quick Internet search shows that on websites like eBay, there are significantly fewer Series S models being sold than the Series X. To be exact, at the time of writing there were three times as many listings for the X than the S in the UK. 

Not only is the S model being resold less frequently, but it’s also going for less than its original price. By contrast, the Xbox Series X can often be spotted on sale for approximately $750 (£600), which is significantly higher than its MSRP of $499 / £449. 

The Series S still has a bright future 

Xbox Series S against a stark black background

(Image credit: M. Andrei)

None of this is to say that the Xbox Series S isn’t worth buying, though. It’s a great choice and a relatively affordable gaming console that’s more than capable of handling modern games. And at the end of the day, a less flashy console that you have is always better than a premium one that you can’t get ahold of. The console has also helped Microsoft’s sales in Japan, a market that it has notoriously struggled to compete in. 

Compared to all other options available on the market - including other consoles and even the best budget gaming PCs - the Xbox Series S is a great entry point into the vast world of gaming. With the Series S, you can take advantage of Microsoft’s great selection of games via Xbox Game Pass, including Forza Horizon 5, Halo Infinite, and Psychonauts 2. According to our gaming hardware editor Adam Vjestica, it even makes for a great travel companion. 

Even prior to the release of the latest generation of Xbox consoles, Phil Spencer himself expects that the Series S will sell more in the long run. 

“I think, over the generation, our expectation would be that price really matters and that you would see the Series S sell more,” Spencer told Kotaku

This sounds highly plausible too, particularly as gamers continue to grow impatient and opt for the Series S instead of waiting around for new waves of PS5 and Xbox Series X restocks.

Ilyas Kanapyanov

Ilyas is a freelance writer and technology communications specialist based in London, United Kingdom. On the rare occasion that he’s not working, you can find him either binge-watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe or doom-scrolling on Twitter. You can reach him anytime at ilyas@snackable.tech.