The Xbox One X is the most powerful console in the world, at least until the wave of next-gen systems hit stores in November. Its improved horsepower over the base Xbox One and Xbox One S can provide higher resolutions and graphical fidelity. To take advantage of the better specs, Microsoft has released Xbox One X Enhanced patches. It has also encouraged third-party developers to do the same. Unfortunately, while the Xbox Series S includes backward compatibility with the Xbox One, it won’t apply Xbox One X enhancements.
In a statement provided to Gamespew, Microsoft PR confirmed that the Xbox Series S will use the Xbox One S version of backward compatible games:
“Xbox Series S was designed to be the most affordable next-generation console and play next-generation games at 1440P at 60fps. To deliver the highest quality backward compatible experience consistent with the developer’s original intent, the Xbox Series S runs the Xbox One S version of backward compatible games while applying improved texture filtering, higher and more consistent frame rates, faster load times, and Auto HDR.”
There are 415 games available on the Xbox Store that have one or more facets of their performance and visuals enhanced when played on an Xbox One X (see the full list here). These enhancements aren’t uniform across the board. Some games have HDR added or can be played in upscaled or true 4K, while others have unspecified improvements. However, regardless of what facet is upgraded, they offer a better experience on the One X than when played on a One or One S.
The Xbox Series S is better than the Xbox One X in some aspects, worse in others
The Xbox One X is the first system from Microsoft to target 4K resolution, a goal shared by the upcoming Xbox Series X. However, the Xbox Series S has a performance target of 1080p/1440p at 60 fps. Despite that, you’d think the Series S would have the power to provide Xbox One X enhancements, but that’s not entirely true.
Looking at the Xbox One S, One X, and Series S specs shows an odd picture of the upcoming console:
|Xbox One S||Xbox One X||Xbox Series S|
|CPU:||Custom 1.75 GHz AMD 8-core APU (2 quad-core Jaguar modules)||Custom 2.3 GHz AMD 8-core APU (2 quad-core Evolved Jaguar modules)||8-core AMD Zen 2 CPU @ 3.6GHz (3.4GHz with SMT)|
|GPU:||12 compute units @ 914MHz||40 customised compute units @ 1172MHz||AMD RDNA 2 GPU 20 computer units @ 1.565GHz|
|GPU FLOPS:||1.4 TFLOPS||6 TFLOPS||4 TFLOPS|
|Memory:||8 GB DDR3 (5 GB available to games), 32 MB ESRAM||12 GB GDDR5 (9 GB available to games)||10GB GDDR6 RAM|
|Hard Drive:||Up to 2 TB built-in 5,400 RPM SATA II HDD||Up to 2 TB built-in 5,400 RPM SATA II HDD||512GB PCie Gen 4 NVME SSD|
|4K/HDR:||4K video streaming and UHD Blu-Ray playback|
HDR support for select titles
Limited 4K upscaling for games
|4K video streaming and UHD Blu-Ray playback|
HDR support for select titles
True 4K for some games
4K upscaling for some titles
Will likely allow for 4K streaming
No Blu-ray HDR drive
No 4K scaling announced
While the Xbox Series S looks like it shares a downclocked variation of the Zen 2 CPU used by the Series X, its GPU is weaker than the one found on the Xbox One X. The Series S’s GPU only puts out 4 FLOPS of performance compared to the 6 TFLOPS of the one found on the One X. Additionally, the Series S is equipped with less—albeit faster—RAM than its predecessor.
Microsoft hasn’t yet confirmed whether or not the Xbox Series S will even output 4K video. If not, it makes sense that it would use the Xbox One S version of games as those are geared towards 1080p. According to the Microsoft statement, the Series S will still offer improved loading times, texture filtering, and HDR. However, even though we knew the Series S would play newer games at 1080p/1440p, it’s a bit disappointing that it doesn’t include the capability to play older games at 4K.