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Does Xbox Series S support 4K gaming?

Xbox Series S
Xbox Series S (Image credit: Microsoft)

Does Xbox Series S support 4K gaming?

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 for most games. The new console 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.

Does the Xbox Series S support 4K gaming?

Xbox Series S Horizontal

Source: @_h0x0d_ on Twitter (Image credit: Source: @_h0x0d_ on Twitter)

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). Still, 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.

And, in rare cases, some games may push for 4K on the Xbox Series S, like Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Just don't expect it to happen very often.

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?

Xbox Series S

Source: @_h0x0d_ on Twitter (Image credit: Source: @_h0x0d_ on Twitter)

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 only $299 rather than the full $499 of the Xbox Series X, 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, and you may want to invest in one of the best external SSD's for Xbox Series X|S to supplement the lower base storage.

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 trades resolution and visual fidelity for a lower price point.

Xbox Series S vs. Xbox Series X: Which is for you?

Xbox Series S And X Together

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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. On the other hand, the Xbox Series S 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.

The biggest draw of the Xbox Series S over its competitors is undoubtedly the value of Xbox Game Pass, and especially Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. The careful compromise with the Xbox Series S' hardware, combined with the value of Microsoft's ultimate gaming subscription, means the Xbox Series S is the perfect secondary gaming console if you want to dip your toes into Microsoft's expanding first-party line-up, which now includes Zenimax Media and Bethesda, or any of the other hundreds of games available through Xbox Game Pass.

Xbox Series X/S

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Zachary Boddy
News Writer, Minecraft Expert

Zachary Boddy is the Minecraft Expert and a News Writer for Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life, and have been freelancing for Windows Central and its sister sites since 2019, with a focus on Xbox and PC gaming. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.