A new generation of Xbox gaming has arrived. And for the first time ever, Microsoft is launching two consoles simultaneously—the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S—each with different looks, features, specs and prices.
From improved graphics and sound to a huge library of games to choose from, there’s a lot to be excited about with Xbox Series X and S. There’s also a lot to think about. Which console has the better features for you? What games should you consider getting? And what Xbox services, if any, should you consider subscribing to?
Thankfully, we’ve broken it all down (including an unboxing video!) so you’ll be armed with the details you need to make the best decisions possible—whether you’re picking up an Xbox console for yourself or buying for a loved one.
Questions to ask when buying an Xbox Series X and S
- What are the new features of Xbox Series X and S?
- What are the differences between Xbox Series X and S?
- What is the Xbox Series X and S release date?
- What is the price of Xbox Series X and S?
- What comes inside the Xbox Series X box?
- What is Xbox Game Pass and do I need it?
- What are the best Xbox Series X and S games?
1What are the new features of Xbox Series X and S?
Here’s a rundown of the most interesting new features found in Xbox Series X and S:
- Quick Resume: With Quick Resume, you can seamlessly exit multiple games and then instantly resume playing exactly where you left off. If you tend to play several games at once—or have a few gamers in your family—Quick Resume will ensure you can jump back into your games at any time.
- Ray tracing: This fancy term means that Xbox Series X and S are capable of delivering the most life-like reflections, lighting and shadows ever seen in a gaming console. Expect games on these consoles to look more vivid and dynamic than what we’ve seen on Xbox One.
- Smart Delivery: With Smart Delivery, when you buy a supported title once, you’ll be able to play it on Xbox One or Xbox Series X and S. That means if you buy the Xbox One version of a game and later upgrade to Series X or S, you won’t need to rebuy it—you’ll be able to download the enhanced Series X or S version at no cost. But not every title supports Smart Delivery. The way to tell is to look at the game’s box art—the top-right corner will say “Smart Delivery” (like what you see on the Far Cry 6 cover).
- 3D Spatial Audio: Xbox Series X and S features advanced 3D spatial audio, which allows you to hear and detect sounds all around you. Microsoft’s next-generation consoles are also the first ever to support Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision, widely considered to be the benchmark home audio technology.
- Hyper-fast SSD: Unlike Xbox One, which uses a slow hard drive, Xbox Series X and S features a lightning-fast SSD (solid-state drive). This drive will allow your games to start significantly faster and game levels will also load extremely fast.
2What are the differences between Xbox Series X and S?
There are several key distinctions between the Xbox Series X and S to consider:
|Feature||Series X||Series S|
|Graphics||Better graphics meant for 4K or 8K TVs||1440p max resolution meant for standard HD TVs (not 4K)|
|Weight||9.8 pounds||4.25 pounds|
|Dimensions||15.1 cm x 15.1 cm x 30.1 cm||15.1 cm x 6.4 cm x 27.5 cm (roughly 60% smaller)|
|Disc vs. Digital||4K Ultra Blu-ray disc drive and digital capability||Digital-only (no disc games or movies)|
|Storage Capacity||1-TB SSD||512-GB SSD|
|Bottom Line||For gaming enthusiasts that need the latest and greatest technology||For more casual gamers looking for an affordable entry point into Xbox gaming|
- Graphical capabilities: Xbox Series X was designed for gamers that want a premium experience (and don’t mind a premium price to go along with it). The machine is capable of running games at 4K and 120 frames per second (read: super-fast gameplay!) all the way up to 8K and 30 frames per second. In comparison, the Xbox Series S is intended for gamers using a standard HD TV with resolution up to 1440p and up to 120 frames per second.
- Size, colour and weight: The Xbox Series X is the larger and heavier of the two consoles, weighing 9.8 pounds and measuring 15.1 cm x 15.1 cm x 30.1 cm. It’s a blocky, black tower that looks similar to modern gaming desktops. On the other hand, the Xbox Series S is a slim and sleek console weighing a mere 4.25 pounds (less than half Series X) and measuring 15.1 cm x 6.4 cm x 27.5 cm (or roughly 60 per cent smaller than Series X). The Series S is white and has a black circular inset on the front used for ventilation. You can position either console vertically or horizontally to accommodate entertainment units of various sizes.
- Digital vs. disc: This distinction matters. While the Xbox Series X features a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc drive, the Xbox Series S does not. That means the Series S is an all-digital console that you cannot play retail disc games on—it only runs digital download titles. You can purchase the download codes on Walmart.ca, Walmart in-store (look for the Xbox game code cards) or from the online Microsoft Store. In contrast, the Xbox Series X has the ability to play both digital and disc-based games.
- Storage capacity: The Xbox Series X comes with a one-terabyte solid-state drive (SSD) for saving your games, movies and other content. The Xbox Series S has a 512-gigabyte SDD, which is roughly half the size of the Series X. Fortunately, you can expand the storage space for both consoles by purchasing Xbox’s official Seagate Expansion Cards.
- Price: At an estimated retail price of $599.96, the Xbox Series X is a premium device for gamers that want it all. The Xbox Series S sells for $379.96 and is designed to be a much cheaper entry-point into the Xbox gaming experience.
No matter which model you end up choosing, you have the comfort of knowing they both play the same games. Console generations tend to last up to seven years, so your Xbox device will also be future-proof for a long time to come.
3What is the Xbox Series X and S release date?
The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S launched globally on November 10, 2020, and they’re available now. (Sold out? Bookmark this link and check back for more restocks.)
4What is the price of Xbox Series X and S?
The Xbox Series X has an estimated retail price of $599.96, while the Xbox Series S has an estimated retail price of $379.96.
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5What comes inside the Xbox Series X box?
Check out our full unboxing video of the Xbox Series X, including the console, the wireless controller and the cables:
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6What is Xbox Game Pass and do I need it?
Three years ago, Microsoft launched their Netflix-style gaming subscription service Xbox Game Pass. For a monthly fee, Game Pass gives you access to over 100 games including big-name titles like Gears 5, Sea of Thieves and Halo: The Master Chief Collection. All future Microsoft video games coming to Xbox Series X and S will arrive on Xbox Game Pass on day one. That includes 2021’s Halo Infinite, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, Fable and more to be announced. If you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, Xbox Game Pass really is one of the best services in gaming.
Microsoft also has a higher-tier (and costlier) option called “Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.” Ultimate gives you access to over 100 games on Xbox and PC, plus bundles in Xbox Live Gold—Microsoft’s paid service that allows you to play games online with friends. To sweeten the deal further, it was just announced that EA Play is coming to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate at no additional cost starting this holiday. EA Play lets you play more than 60 hit EA titles including NHL, FIFA, Madden, Star Wars Battlefront and Battlefield.
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7What are the best Xbox Series X and S games?
At launch, you’ll be able to play thousands of games on Xbox Series X and S. That’s because Microsoft’s new consoles can play four generations of Xbox games—including Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Xbox Series titles. Of these games, more than 50 of them are designed (or optimized) specifically for Xbox Series X and S in 2020. Examples include Cyberpunk 2077, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs: Legion and Yakuza Like a Dragon, which are all expected to release by the end of the year. (Looking for a list of the best games coming to Xbox Series X and S this year and beyond? Check out our Best Xbox Series Games for our favourites!)
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