Xbox Series S vs Xbox One S: the cheapest Xbox consoles compared

Xbox Series S vs Xbox One S consoles in white
(Image credit: Future)

The Xbox Series S vs Xbox One S is a debate worth considering if you want to take your gaming setup all digital, and while the Xbox One S is significantly older than the Series S, there are still several features worth noting to make it worth considering, especially now a second-hand console can be found considerably cheaper than buying a Series S outright.

But, it’s essential to remember that the Xbox One S is a whole generation behind the Xbox Series S, which limits your gaming experience since the best games on Xbox Series X cannot be experienced in the same way, but there are still several reasons for it to make an appearance in your setup. Although the Series S is highly praised, it may also be slightly out of your budget.

So, to make your buying slightly easier, we’ve narrowed down everything you need to know about the Xbox Series S vs Xbox One S, including differences in specs, price, and each console's general performance. However, if you’re looking for something entirely next-gen, it might be worth checking out the Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S or the Xbox Series X vs PS5 if you’re looking for a true console powerhouse. 

Xbox Series S vs Xbox One S

Xbox Series S vs Xbox One S: Price and release date

Xbox Series S against a black background

(Image credit: Shutterstock/m.andrei)

Both the Xbox Series S and Xbox One S tend to sell at identical price points. But with the Xbox One S being older, you're more likely to find it heavily discounted during sales periods as retailers try to get rid of old stock. The Xbox Series S retails for $299 / £249 / AU$499 and is the cheapest new-gen console available when stacked up against its more powerful Xbox Series X counterpart.

The Xbox One S has been out for some time now, making its debut way back in 2016 alongside the Xbox One X. Its price held steady at $299 / £249 / AU$499, but could often be found for much cheaper. However, because Microsoft ended production of Xbox One consoles back in 2020, the Xbox One S isn’t widely stocked anymore beyond second-hand retailers.  

However, there's a chance Series S prices may increase. Between the Oculus Quest 2 and PS5 price hike, console manufacturers are upping prices lately, citing soaring inflation globally. Microsoft hasn't said either way if it'll increase the price of its consoles, but hasn't ruled out the possibility.

Xbox Series S vs Xbox One S: Specs

The Xbox Series S console insides

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Price may be similar between Xbox Series S vs Xbox One S, but specs are where both consoles differ significantly. In general, the Xbox Series S wins out quite dramatically, as you can see in our specs breakdown below. The only area where the Xbox One S has it beat is raw storage. When it launched, the Xbox One S was available in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB varieties. However, these were HDDs, so not as fast as the Xbox Series S's slick 512GB NVMe solid state drive.

  • CPU: Eight-core 3.6GHz (3.4GHz with SMT) custom AMD 7nm
  • GPU: 4 teraflops at 1.550GHz 
  • RAM: 10GB GDDR6 
  • Framerate: Up to 120 fps 
  • Resolution: 1440p with 4K upscaling 
  • Optical: No disk drive 
  • Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD 

The Xbox Series S might be tiny, but there’s a lot of power inside. The console targets a resolution of 1440p instead of native 4K (though some titles can output at a full 4K), and is capable of 120fps gaming. Though its GPU is considerably less powerful than the Xbox Series X's, it boasts an almost identical CPU and 10GB of GDDR6 RAM. That’s less than the 16GB the Xbox Series X, but it’s considerably more than the Xbox One S, which only has 8GB of GDDR3.

One important thing to note is that there’s no disk drive on the Xbox Series S, and you’ll only have 512GB of storage to play with. Unlike the One S, though, it comes with a super-fast NVMe SSD instead of an achingly slow mechanical hard drive, and it can be expanded with the 1TB Storage Expansion Card from Seagate. And while an expensive extra, Seagate's card should give you peace of mind when it comes to storage. Plus, it gets discounted at various online retailers with surprising frequency.

The Xbox One S might look similar, then, but it's technologically inferior to the Xbox Series S. It's a great option if you want to play Xbox exclusives that you missed out on like Gears 5 or Forza Horizon 4, or simply want to give Xbox Game Pass a whirl, but if you're after a more futureproofed console, you'll want the Xbox Series S. 

One way you can bridge this hardware gap is through Xbox Cloud Gaming, available to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers. Providing you’ve got a strong internet connection, this offers a way of playing new-gen exclusives through your Xbox One, such as Microsoft Flight Simulator, alongside upcoming games like Starfield and Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2

Here are the Xbox One S specs you need to know about:

  • CPU: Eight-core 1.75GHz Jaguar CPU
  • GPU: 1.23 teraflops at 914MHz
  • RAM: 8GB GDDR3
  • Framerate: Up to 60fps
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Optical: 4K HD Blu-Ray Drive
  • Storage: 1TB HDD

The Xbox One S only has one real advantage over Microsoft’s newer model: the 4K HD Blu-Ray drive. If you’re looking for a cheap 4K Blu-Ray player that also allows you to stream Netflix and play games, the One S is a great choice. 

You could make the case that the Xbox One S has more storage space than the Xbox Series S, but the One S still uses a HDD rather than an SSD. That means it has larger capacity at the expense of speed. In every other department, though, the Xbox Series S comprehensively beats the Xbox One S in terms of technical power and cutting-edge design. 

The Xbox One S is a great entry-level system, however. It’s small, quiet, and more affordable. Yes, it won’t be able to deliver the highest quality for gaming, but if that’s not a concern, it’s still a worthwhile purchase. With a similar price point to the Series S for now, though, we’d recommend opting for Microsoft’s newer next-gen console if you have the choice.

Xbox Series S vs Xbox One S: Games

Xbox One S

(Image credit: Future)

Even if you don't choose an Xbox Series S, you’ll be able to play almost every new game on Microsoft’s older console. For now, anyway. They won’t run as well or look quite as good, but you won’t be forced to upgrade to experience key titles that are coming to Xbox Series X/S. However, between Fable, Starfield, Redfall, Perfect Dark, and Avowed, there's a growing list of upcoming new-gen exclusives. 

The Xbox One S is the console to choose if the idea of downloading a game makes your head spin, though, as it's the only console of the two that has a disc drive. You can expect most games to target 30 to 60fps on Xbox One S and 60 to 120fps on Xbox Series X. Xbox One S games will also likely hit a resolution of 900p to 1080p, while Xbox Series S will target 1080p to 1440p output, which can upscale to 4K.

One area where Xbox Series S benefits significantly is in terms of load times. Thanks to its super-fast SSD, games will load much quicker on Xbox One S, so if you hate waiting around for your games to start, or simply want to upgrade your existing experience, the Series S is the way to go.

It's guaranteed that future games will eventually leave the Xbox One S behind, and we’re already witnessing next-gen exclusives, such as Microsoft Flight Simulator, and The Medium. Developers will increasingly rely on the newer system's power as the years go by, and the install base of the new Xbox consoles grows. 

Xbox Series S vs Xbox One S: Verdict

The Xbox Series S console

(Image credit: Microsoft)

With comparative price points and similarly sleek designs, the Xbox Series S and Xbox One S are easily mistaken at a glance. Delve deeper, though, and the power gap between Microsoft’s two cheap consoles becomes abundantly clear.

The Xbox One S is quickly becoming a legacy system, unable to provide the next-gen bells and whistles like ray-tracing and blazing fast load times. Still, it’s a tempting value proposition nonetheless, particularly if you can find any good deals on Xbox consoles.

The Xbox Series S, however, is the console of choice for those looking to experience the next-generation of gaming at a superb price point. It’s digital-only, of course, so you’ll be at the mercy of your internet connection when it comes to downloading games. If that’s a problem, the Xbox Series X might be the next best choice.

Which is better, the Xbox One S or the Xbox Series S?

In terms of power, the Xbox Series S comes out on top. It outclasses its last-gen counterpart with improved specs like 1440p output, 120Hz support, and a lightning-quick 512GB NVMe SSD. However, in terms of price, the Xbox One S can be found for a particularly good discount which is ideal for anyone not too fussy about game performance. 

Is the Xbox One S still worth it in 2023?

Unless you're on a particularly strict budget, it's hard to recommend the Xbox One S in 2023 when the Xbox Series S is at a relatively affordable price already. In addition, since Microsoft discontinued production of the last-gen machine two years ago, the Xbox Series S has become easier to find and is in much better supply compared to the Xbox One S.

Are Xbox Series S and Xbox One S the same?

Not quite. Both offer an all-digital experience, but each come from different generations of consoles. The Xbox Series S is the most up-to-date, boasting 1440p resolution support and faster load times thanks to its in-built NVMe SSD, among other strong improvements over its older counterpart.

Adam Vjestica

Adam was formerly TRG's Hardware Editor. A law graduate with an exceptional track record in content creation and online engagement, Adam has penned scintillating copy for various technology sites and also established his very own award-nominated video games website. He’s previously worked at Nintendo of Europe as a Content Marketing Editor and once played Halo 5: Guardians for over 51 hours for charity. He is now an editor at The Shortcut.

With contributions from