The Xbox Series S will reportedly feature a 20 CU RDNA2 GPU running at 1.55 GHz: enough for next-generation experiences at 1080p?
The Verge editor Tom Warren recently stated that Microsoft’s purported Xbox Series S console will feature a 20 CU GPU. Warren added this spec to an earlier spec breakdown for the Xbox Series S posted by TweakTown, giving us a comprehensive picture of the budget console’s expected capabilities.
According to these unconfirmed specs, the Xbox Series S will largely be a match for the Xbox Series X, apart from GPU capabilities. According to Warren, the Series S’ GPU will feature 20 CUs, meaning 1280 shader cores, and will run at a relatively conservative 1.55 GHz. This raises key questions, both in terms of pricing and in terms of the Series S’ gaming capabilities.
For starters, the high-end SSD storage remains very much in place, as does the 8-core Zen 2 CPU running at 3.8 GHz. While the GPU is indeed a major cost centre, this implies that Microsoft’s profit margins on the Xbox Series X might be extremely slim or even negative. If Microsoft is looking to make money on each Series S sold, or at least to break even, it might have to price the budget console higher, which would put it in competition with the much more powerful PlayStation 5 and, of course, the Xbox Series X.
Another question is whether or not the Xbox Series S is powerful enough to deliver a decent ninth-generation gaming experience. At 4 TFLOPs, the RDNA2 GPU powering their Series S is one third as powerful as the Xbox Series X’s GPU.
At 1080p, this gives the Series S enough headroom to run games at a similar performance/quality profile as the Xbox Series X at 4K. Architectural improvements mean that a 4 TFLOP RDNA2 GPU should perform in the neighbourhood of the Polaris RX 580. While that’s good enough for 1080p in the here and now, the real question is whether the Xbox Series S will offer a good 1080p experience in 5 years.