- Xbox Series S will feature less RAM, possibly worse performance than X.
Now that you’ve read the headline, calm down, there are only some very specific differences which might mean that the new console will have to lose some features or support for older games. The short version is that the Xbox One X sort of outclasses the new Xbox Series S in a few key ways. The new console might be based on a newer SoC and have some interesting tweaks for storage, but there have been some noticeable sacrifices made to hit that $299 price point for the new console.
With 2 GB less RAM, there will be some sacrifices made. With 10 GB of total system RAM compared to the 16 GB for the Xbox Series X, it’s pretty much expected that 1440p will be the target for most games. That’s even less than the Xbox One X, which has 12 GB. RAM is primarily used for fast-access storage of textures and game data, having more of it means faster rendering of more complex scenes, in a very basic sense. Having less could lead to some real problems.
One potential issue is the frequency of that RAM is lower, leading to much less bandwidth in that smaller pool The Xbox Series X has a maximum memory bandwidth of 224 GB/s compared to the 326 GB/s bandwidth of the Xbox One X. The Series X has a blisteringly fast 560 Gb/s speed. This will mean that the new low-price variant will likely perform worse than the Xbox One X in some instances. It’s hard to say exactly what the impact will be, but it should be noticeable.
To put this another way, the Xbox One X has 6 TFLOPs of graphical power while the Xbox Series S has only 4 TFLOPs. That could mean that the system will have to make cuts in some areas with older features, particularly in backward compatibility. The performance and visual improvements of the Xbox One X games may have to be removed or scaled back to support these older games on the new console.
What will this mean in real-world terms? It’s hard to say for sure because we have to wait for real-world testing later this year. However, there are a few guesses as to what this all means that should bear out. For one thing, the Xbox One X visual improvements will likely have to be scaled back, if not outright be patched out, for the new low-end console. And no, that’s not a slight, it’s just a reality of the cheaper console having to make sacrifices to hit that competitive pricing. This would likely translate to the feature to enable Xbox One X mode being removed, or possibly having it scaled back in terms of visual fidelity. Although it seems like removing the feature is the way to go.
There’s another area of concern as well, older games. Backward compatibility, in general, is hard and often relies on using some quite beefy hardware or resource-intensive software solutions to accomplish. There could be a special setup for the Series S that forces games to downscale textures or effects so as to not saturate the RAM available for the system.