Xbox Series S Review: An accessible gaming console that won’t break the bank

With the gaming console, Microsoft has created a device that meets all the needs of the casual gamer who prioritises economy over performance

By Anirban Bagchi

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Published: Sun 7 Apr 2024, 3:38 PM

Consider it the Xbox Lite. The Xbox Series S, I mean.

Back in the day, when console games were becoming popular, they were the cutting edge of electronic entertainment technology, and, as such, they cost a bomb – just as the latest gadgets to hit the stores do these days. High-end console gaming was the domain and preserve of “rich kids”.


But gaming is now a universal activity, for rich and poor, kids or the geriatric. Still, though, not all gamers are endowed with big pockets. Yet now they have access to gaming consoles like they never did back in those days. They have access to the likes of the Xbox Series S.

Gaming consoles going down-market and catering to a wider demographic by becoming more affordable is a relatively new phenomenon. And when it comes to Microsoft, it’s even newer than some of its competition. The company unveiled its Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S gaming consoles in 2020, implementing a unique dual-pronged strategy aimed at catering to diverse audiences with differences in power and price.


This approach sought to offer cutting-edge performance for hardcore gamers while providing an affordable, accessible alternative for a broader consumer base. For consumers like you and me, who like gaming but are not fanatical about it enough to break the bank for their console.

Unlike its powerhouse sibling, the Xbox Series X, which focuses on raw performance, the Series S emphasises simplicity and affordability without compromising much on the gaming experience. Its sleek, modern design and compact size make it suitable for modern living spaces and easy to carry around. While it may not boast the raw power of the Series X, the Series S is equipped with a tailored CPU, responsive SSD and capable GPU, offering a competent gaming experience for budget-conscious gamers.

And Microsoft has also cleverly packaged the Xbox Series S Starter bundle with three months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, a value-oriented option for potential buyers.

If you are a casual gamer like me - and like most people out there who treat gaming as an occasional or weekend activity rather than something they’d like to build a career or a global reputation on - then you won’t go wrong if you pick the Series S over its bigger sibling, the Series X.

As an occasional gamer, I prioritise factors other than top-tier graphics and competitive frame rates, making me a target audience for the Series S. The price and portability of the Series S outweigh any drawbacks for me, making it the first choice for families looking to enter the Xbox ecosystem.

For the everyday users out there, the Series S is by no means a slouch. It is equipped with a high-speed NVMe SSD, delivering fast load times and system responsiveness. However, its 512GB storage capacity may prove insufficient for all-digital gamers, necessitating the purchase of additional storage solutions.

When it comes to performance, the Series S renders games at 1080p and 1440p resolution, with optional support for 120 FPS. That’s plenty of clarity for your normal home TV, where it will presumably spend the most time hooked up to. You will have absolutely no complaints with it if you’re a casual gamer, even though it may struggle a bit with some newer titles and face challenges with the "parity clause", which mandates that new Xbox games released need to be compatible with both the S and X series. But not to worry, there are plenty of games available that are designed for optimal performance on the S Series, so you won’t really miss those few that underperform on the S because they are optimised for the X series.

The Series S comes in at a retail price of around Dh999, which is the best part of the package. At that price point it offers a robust operating system and features that enhance the gaming experience, such as Quick Resume and HDMI 2.1 features like Auto Low Latency and Variable Refresh Rate. However, it emphasised online streaming over physical media playback.

The Series S is positioned as an attractive option for budget-conscious gamers, especially as more games are developed exclusively for current-generation consoles. Microsoft has also invested in tools to aid developers in bringing their games to the Series S, potentially improving its standing in the gaming market.

The Xbox Series S is solid value for budget-conscious gamers seeking an entry into next-gen gaming. If you prioritise affordability and accessibility in your gaming experience, then this is the console for you.

Microsoft Xbox Series S 512GB gaming console

Hits:

- Affordability

- Sleek, modern, portable design

- Adequate performance

Misses:

- Lack of internal storage

- Not for serious gamers

Price: Dh999

Rating: 4 stars

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