This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.
Following the official reveal of Microsoft's low-cost next-gen Xbox Series S console, the official account, which had been teasing information in advance, posted what looks like a full version of the announcement video, saying that it's no longer worth keeping hidden.
The graphics performance is "up to 120fps at 1440p", "DirectX ray tracing support", "support for streaming 4K video, 4K in games is upscaled", etc, it contains a lot more information than the official tweet that just acknowledged its existence for now.
Xbox Series S— Xbox (@Xbox) September 8, 2020
🎮 All-digital next-gen console
🏃 Faster load times
📈 Higher frame rates
🌎 Richer, more dynamic worlds
🔥 Next generation gaming performance
🔎 In our smallest Xbox ever#PowerYourDreams pic.twitter.com/5GxCBiSVtO
The Xbox Series S, officially announced by Microsoft, is one of the next-generation Xbox models, alongside the previously announced Xbox Series X.
Much like the current generation Xbox One S and Xbox One X, the S is a lower-end model that focuses on value-for-money, while the X is a higher-end model for those looking for top performance.
👀 Let’s make it official!— Xbox (@Xbox) September 8, 2020
Xbox Series S | Next-gen performance in the ˢᵐᵃˡˡᵉˢᵗ Xbox ever. $299 (ERP).
Looking forward to sharing more! Soon. Promise. pic.twitter.com/8wIEpLPVEq
The official tweets from Micros Software show that
Smallest Xbox ever
The price is $299 / £249
The images of the unit show a right-angled plate-like style like the current Xbox One X, what appears to be huge vents on the sides, and apparently no optical drive slot.
Another self-described leak puts the higher-end Xbox Series X at a preliminary price of $499.
The information included in the official image is as follows.
1440p at up to 120 FPS
Variable rate shading
Variable refresh rate
Custom 512GB NVMe SSD
4K Streaming media playback
4K Upscaling for games
Nearly 60% smaller than the Xbox Series X
On sale November 10
Raytracing for more realistic light effects such as reflections and shadows, variable rate shading for more efficient rendering with the same GPU performance, NVMe connected SSD with Xbox Velocity architecture and ultra-low latency are the same as the previously announced higher-end Xbox Series X.
The benefits of fast SSDs, memory, and DirectX Storage's API include significantly reduced game load times, as well as "seamless game switching", which is touted in the video.
As a rule, there is one game on the current Xbox One that can be interrupted and resumed immediately, even on the higher-end Xbox One X model. For example, if you're playing a single-player RPG and you want to play a multiplayer game for a bit as a change of pace or invitation, to switch, you'll have to save and finish first, and when you're done playing another game, you'll have to start it again and wait for the save data to load.
But one of the selling points of the next-gen Xbox is the ability to save the entire progress of multiple games to storage and resume from the point of interruption without waiting for a start-up load. (It's not an instantaneous switch because of the actual loading that occurs, and there was a wait of a few seconds in the demonstration, but the time it takes to load, expand, and launch the game itself from scratch and load the save data can be reduced.)
While the Xbox Series S is a cheaper version with less GPU performance and less RAM, it seems to enjoy the same fast storage and new features of the platform itself as the higher-end Xbox Series X.
Clues to the graphics performance are "1440p at up to 120fps" and new features in DirectX 12 that are supported on new platforms, including Variable Rate Shading.
There's a trade-off between resolution and rendering load (screen opulence) and frame rate, so lining up the biggest isn't much of a reference to GPU performance itself. For example, an Xbox One X or PS4 Pro may claim to support 4K and 60fps, but in reality, you'll actually have to choose to prioritize resolution or frame rate. On the other hand, the choice of 120 fps for some titles is the same as the Xbox Series X as a standard.
While 1440p seems like a middling resolution from a TV perspective, it's a number often chosen when prioritizing high frame rate smoothness over 4K resolution for PC games, where you can choose drawing options to match your PC's performance.
Raytracing is the part where we need to wait for GPU details and demos to see how far it will actually work on the Series S, which is supposed to have much lower GPU performance than the Xbox Series X.
Together with the new DirectX features and memory bandwidth introduced by the new Xbox, it will be interesting to see what the difference in TFLOPS, one of the metrics, and the difference in performance when actually playing games, or what Microsoft calls "next-gen performance" really is when it comes to comparing performance with another generation of consoles such as the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro.
All-digital without an optical drive was also available on the current generation Xbox One S as an experiment. Sony's PS5 is also available in variations with and without an optical drive for the same performance.
Microsoft has cited compatibility as one of the pillars of the Xbox, touting the next-generation Xbox as a "four generations gaming console" that will be backward compatible with the last three generations, allowing thousands of titles to be played at their best from launch day.
As long as there's no optical drive, you'll have to give up past assets of the disc version, but perhaps the policy is that if you like it enough to have past models and discs, you should go with the Series X, otherwise, you can download and stream and play with Xbox Game Pass unlimited play.
(The vaunted backward compatibility will certainly allow you to play the past classics as if they'd been remastered in unbelievable quality, but not all of them will work if you have the disc, and in principle, Microsoft has a whitelist system in which they choose the most popular titles to test and add to the list.)
This is especially true for the original Xbox and Xbox 360 titles for Japan, with only a few of them being supported. Microsoft will continue to research and develop backward compatibility technology and add more titles to the list.
This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.