Best answer: The answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no. The Xbox Series S doesn’t have the hardware to push for true 4K gaming, and instead targets 1440p (or QHD) at up to 120FPS. However, players with 4K TVs can still enjoy 4K media streaming, and the Xbox Series S will upscale games to 4K to fit the confines of your television.
Microsoft seems to be covering almost every possibility in the next generation of gaming with the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X. The Xbox Series S is the more affordable option. It still offers next-gen gaming features like a lightning fast solid-state drive (SSD) and hardware-accelerated ray tracing (read: fancy lighting and reflections), but only the Xbox Series X can pull off true 4K gaming with everything turned up to 11. Players who want the absolute best in every game they play (and have a TV or monitor to match) will want to invest in the Xbox Series X.
That isn’t saying the Xbox Series S is a slouch. While you won’t get true 4K gaming or the crispest textures, the Xbox Series S can still play next-gen games with a targeted 1440p resolution (making the Series S awesome at 1080p) at up to a buttery smooth 120FPS, the same as the Xbox Series X. Not only that, but hooking up the Xbox Series S to a 4K TV doesn’t mean your TV is wasting its potential. The Xbox Series S can still handle 4K movies through streaming platforms like Netflix or Microsoft Movies & TV, and it’s able to upscale games to 4K.
This means games will still look great on your 4K TV, and the Xbox Series S is still outfitted for next-gen gaming.
What gaming features does Xbox Series S support?
Without the power for native 4K gaming, players may wonder what else they’re missing with the Xbox Series S. The answer: not as much as you’d think. Despite coming in at a very appealing price point, the Xbox Series S will still take advantage of Microsoft’s Xbox Velocity Architecture. With its custom 512GB NVMe SSD, the Xbox Series S can effectively eliminate load times and allow players to seamlessly switch between multiple games and apps with ease. What you are missing is a disc drive, so you have to buy digitally.
The Xbox Series S also supports hardware-accelerated ray tracing, meaning next-gen games can offer realistic lighting, shadows, reflections, and more, no matter the resolution you’re playing at. The hardware the makes up the Series S foundation is still built with modern features and architectures in mind, which means more efficiency in how the console uses its power and resources. All of this means the Xbox Series S can go toe-to-toe with other next-gen consoles, but trading resolution and visual fidelity for a lower price point.
Xbox Series S vs. Xbox Series X: Which is for you?
The introduction of the Xbox Series S and its value proposition shakes up the next-gen field a bit for a ton of gamers, and rightfully so. While the Xbox Series S can’t handle true 4K gaming, it still offers all the most important next-gen gaming features like the lightning fast SSD and ray tracing at what will almost certainly be a much lower price point than competing consoles like the Xbox Series X and Playstation 5.
If you’re wondering which is best for you between the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X, make sure to read our in-depth breakdown comparing the two next-gen consoles for all the information you need. To quickly summarise: the Xbox Series X is the most powerful console, and is the one for players who want the absolute best, and are okay with spending a lot more to get the absolute best. The Xbox Series S, on the other hand, still offers some of the most important next-gen improvements without breaking the bank, making it a fantastic option for anyone who values, well, value over sheer power.