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Microsoft’s highly anticipated new Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S next-generation gaming consoles are finally available for pre-order starting today, September 22nd at 9 am EST, with full retail availability slated to launch November 10.

The more powerful Xbox Series X starts at $499, while the digital-only Xbox Series S is $299. You can also sign up for a payment plan on either model, which brings the cost down to $34.99 and $24.99 per month and includes Xbox Gamepass for two years. 

Where to pre-order the Xbox Series X and Series S:


It’s safe to say that, along with Sony’s Playstation 5, Microsoft’s shiny new Xbox consoles are going to be among the most sought after products of the holiday season (and well beyond). But which console is right for you? If you’re still unsure about exactly which new gaming console you should order, follow below where we break down the major differences of each.

Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S

For starters, both the Xbox Series X and the Xbox Series S are new consoles from Microsoft. They’ll run the latest games now and into the future, marking a new generation similar to Sony’s Playstation 5 moving on from the Playstation 4.

The naming is a bit confusing, but both of these are going to be more powerful and future-proof compared to the previous generation, including the Xbox One S and the Xbox One X. Most games in the near future will still come out for the older consoles, but if you want the new Xbox, you want either the “Series X” or the cheaper “Series S” models.

The Xbox Series S has a few key distinctions from its flagship sibling. While the Xbox Series X can run physical or digital game copies, the Xbox Series S can only run downloaded games. This means you’ll have no physical games to mess with, but you also won’t ever be able to sell your games once you’re done with them.

The Series S is more compact than the X, but it’s also less powerful and has lower resolution. The Series S weighs 4.25 pounds, measures 2.5 inches across, and has a 512GB SSD. It is meant to run games at 1440p (2560 x 1440), so its CPU, GPU, and RAM are all a downgrade from the Series X (but still far above what the current Xbox offers). Meanwhile, the Series X is almost 10 pounds, measures 6 inches across, has a 1TB SSD, and is meant to run games at 4K resolution (3840 x 2160). Both consoles aim to allow gaming at up to 120 frames per second, measure almost identical in height and width, and provide expandable storage capacity. They also have the same ports and connectivity.

Xbox Series consoles vs PlayStation 5: What’s the difference?

Torn between the new Xbox Series consoles and Sony’s new Playstation 5? Here’s how they compare:

Gaming power: Both consoles come in regular and cheaper, digital-only models, but we’ll start with the fully loaded versions. The Xbox Series X and flagship Playstation 5 should perform roughly similarly in most games, since they’re running the same internal processors. Both consoles are adding fast solid-state drives (SSD) for storage which will be a first for gaming consoles, dramatically limiting the need for loading screens.

Both consoles feature AMD Zen 2 processors and graphics cards that far outstrip their predecessors. Microsoft claims the Series X will offer 12 teraflops of graphics processing power, about twice what the current Xbox One X can do. 

The Xbox Series X and both Playstation 5 consoles will support games at up to 4K resolution and 120 frames per second. Meanwhile, the $299 Xbox Series S has a less-powerful 4 teraflop GPU that purports to run games at 1440p resolution and 120 frames per second.

Because the underlying tech of both of the Xbox Series X and the $499 PS5 is actually quite similar, chances are the differences in gaming performance will come down to how well internal studios and third-party developers adapt to the new hardware.

Storage: Both new flagship consoles and the PS5 Digital Edition will offer fast one 1TB solid-state drives by default, as well as optical disc drives for purchasing games that you can’t or don’t want to download directly. Since newer games may be well over 100GB, it remains to be seen how well each console handles the logistics of installing games. 

Today a 1TB SSD (which can hold about 10 games at 100GB apiece) costs around $100 or more, so this will be an important point for gamers that like to have lots of games installed at any one time.

Meanwhile, the Xbox Series S will offer a 500GB SSD. All four consoles have expandable storage capacity.

Games: Microsoft and Sony both work with most of the major third-party game developers out there, so “multi-platform” games such as sports games and first-person shooters should still appear on both systems. Sony owns internal studios responsible for games like Uncharted, The Last of Us, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Spiderman. Microsoft owns the studios currently responsible for franchises like Halo, Forza, and more. These “Exclusives” will likely determine which console you prefer, since you may not be able to play all the games you want on one system.

Microsoft this week announced its $7.5B purchase of Zenimax Media, Bethesda Softworks’ parent company. Notable studios in this acquisition include id Software (developers of Doom and Quake series), Arkane Studios (Dishonored and Prey), MachineGames (Wolfenstein series), and Bethesda Game Studios (The Elder Scrolls and Fallout series). We may see more Xbox exclusives and new franchises bloom from this development.

Both the Standard Playstation 5 and the Xbox Series X will also offer backwards compatibility of some kind, though on Playstation that that only extends to Playstation 4 games. The Xbox Series X will offer more extensive backwards compatibility, including most Xbox 360 games. 

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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