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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)

Should you buy the Xbox Series S vs Xbox One S? These two Microsoft gaming consoles might have similar designs and similar names, but you’ll find some significant differences between them. 

This guide will help you decide which one is right for you, depending on your budget and personal preferences. We’ll cover what each console offers, alongside which one has the features, resolution, and power that'll suit you. As usual with gaming consoles, we can’t tell you which system is right for you. There’s a solid case to be made for either one, depending on what you're looking for.

What’s important to know up front is that the Xbox Series S is the newer console of the two and capable of 1440p resolution, upscaled to 4K, 120fps, and includes graphical features like ray tracing. Granted, this isn’t as powerful as Microsoft's current flagship, the Xbox Series X, but it’s still a next-gen console through and through.

In comparison, the Xbox One S is older than the Series S and isn’t nearly as powerful. However, because it’s been around longer you’ll likely find it for a cheaper price, making it a great choice if the new Xbox Series S is out of your budget.

We’ve spent some serious time testing both consoles, which you can read all about in the Xbox Series S review and Xbox One S review. This puts us in a good position to say definitively which one is worth your time and your money, depending on your priorities.

If you’ve been agonizing over which Xbox “S” to buy, keep reading as we compare both of Microsoft’s budget-friendly consoles to help you make an informed decision about which 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 held steady at $299 / £249 / AU$499, but could often be found for much cheaper. However, because Microsoft ended production of all Xbox One consoles back in 2020, the Xbox One S isn’t widely stocked anymore beyond secondhand retailers.  

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. 

One way you can bridge this gap is through Xbox Cloud Gaming, available to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers. Providing you’ve got a strong internet connection, this offers a way of playing next-gen exclusives through your Xbox One, such as Microsoft Flight Simulator, alongside upcoming games like Starfield and Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2

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 more affordable. 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 Fable, Perfect Dark, and Avowed. 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. While some games are still coming to both, including As Dusk Falls, we’re already witnessing next-gen exclusives. Microsoft Flight Simulator, The Medium, even An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs. 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 becomes 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 Vjestica

Adam is TRG's Hardware Editor. 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.) 

With contributions from