Xbox Series S

I didn’t really have any intention of joining the current generation Xbox family of consoles. Once I secured my PS5, I figured I would just ride out my Xbox One S with no need to upgrade, especially since I could stream Series games on the older hardware using Xbox Game Pass and cloud gaming. Granted, it wouldn’t take advantage of the graphical prowess of the new consoles, nor the lightning-fast SSD, but I could still play S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 if I wanted to, and that was fine enough to me.

That is, until my Xbox One S decided it was time to throw in the towel; the old girl still had the heart, she just didn’t have the legs to go the distance any more. So I saw this as an opportunity to justify purchasing a new Series console. I just needed to decide between the disc-drive-enabled, beefier and costlier Series X, or the more cost-efficient, more economically sized, just-fine-for-my-tastes Series S. 

I would’ve balked at begrudgingly forking over the $500 for a Series X, but it’s not my frugal mind that won the day; it more or less came down to the fact that the Series X is nigh impossible to find without devoting my life to the hunt, and I’m still exhausted from my belabored search for a PS5. And considering I could buy a Series S online and walk into damn-near any local Target or Best Buy an hour later to pick it up, convenience and laziness won the day.

And so I bought an Xbox Series S.

Xbox Series S

To be honest, for my gaming tastes and preferences, the Series S is good enough. I’m not much of a graphics maven — I appreciate when games look gorgeous, but at the end of the day, I will be spending far more time playing games than gawking at them. I honestly couldn’t tell you if something is running at 60 fps or is native 4K versus checkerboarding, and let me be the first to go on record as having said, “Who cares?” Watch a Pixar movie if you’re only here to see the pretty stuff; I wanna play dope games, son.

Now, to come off my high horse and get down to brass tacks, the Series S is a pretty wicked little beast — with an emphasis on the little. This thing is practically microscopic compared to the towering PS5 and Series X. When I first picked it up, the size of the box felt quaint enough, but when I opened that up and saw the unit itself was only taking up about 50% of the packaging, I felt like I was holding one of those mini retro consoles that were all the rage a few years ago. I wanted to post pics of me holding it on one of those kitten Instagram accounts.

But don’t let the size fool you. Without getting into specs — of which I know next to nothing — and blathering on about teraflops or whatever, I can say that this little thing plays like a giant. It’s zippy, and the graphical output is more than eye-popping enough for your average gamer. I’m amazed this little console can perform as well as it does and as quietly as it does, considering how friggin small it is. This is going to give the dang Steam Deck a run for its money size-wise. Not really, but you get my drift.

Setting it up was cool as well. I literally just used my Xbox mobile app, which walked me through each step, and after maybe 20 minutes or so, it was ready to rock and start downloading my preferred Game Pass games. Loading times are a breeze, and Quick Resume is a nice feature, especially since I really only play a dedicated two or three games on it. 

Xbox Series S

One thing I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by was the controller. But then again, it actually took about two weeks for me to even notice the intricacies of it. The triggers have a really nice grip to them that keeps my fingers locked into place, but this also provides a bumpy surface to methodically run the tips of my fingers over when I want to get real weird. This extends to the grips on the surface, where my palms and non-trigger fingers rest. 

I have seen the mountaintop of controllers with the PS5 DualSense, but this thing is hanging on only a few short rungs below that. Microsoft really put a lot of thought into how to improve what was already considered by many — myself included, at least pre-DualSense — to be the best gaming controller configuration on the market. And the dedicated share button really ties a nice bow on top. 

So look, you don’t get a fancy disc drive or the tech heft of the Series X, but I don’t really care. The Xbox Series S is a fine enough new entry in the Xbox family of consoles that the Series X almost feels unnecessary. For me, and probably millions of others out there that show up for the games more so than the graphics (and who don’t have 4K TVs), this is a really great entry point into Xbox’s new generation of gaming. I’d even go so far as to say it’s a worthy member of my household.

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