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Xbox Series S Takes Hit With Potential Backward Compatibility Downgrade

Last Updated September 23, 2020 2:29 PM
Thomas Bardwell
Last Updated September 23, 2020 2:29 PM
  • Digital Foundry has published a new tech analysis of Microsoft’s Series S console.
  • The outlet notes that the console likely won’t be able to run Xbox One Enhanced games.
  • The stunted backward compatibility capabilities of the console are reportedly due to lower system memory than the One X.

According to a new tech analysis of Microsoft’s freshly-unveiled budget Xbox Series S, the console may not be able to run Xbox One Enhanced games through backward compatibility.

This bombshell, which essentially implies that a next-gen console won’t run current-gen and even 360 games as well as the Xbox One X, comes from the knowledgeable folks over at Digital Foundry.

The Series S could struggle to run One games as well as the One X despite being a next-gen machine. | Source: Xbox/Microsoft

Currently, Xbox One X Enhanced titles take advantage of the console’s improved hardware to produce a trove of performance improvements  – resolutions up to 4K, faster and more stable frame rates, HDR, enhanced textures, and detail.

In a new video diving into Microsoft’s Series S , Digital Foundry’s John Linneman posits that the lower system memory count of the Series S compared to the One X will limit its ability to tap into these enhancements on compatible current-gen games, instead, reverting to the basic One S versions.

The One X boasts 12 GB of RAM running at 326 GB/s, while the Series S features 10 GB total, breaking down to 8 GB at 224 GB/s and 2 GB at 56 GB/s.


Stunted Xbox Series S BC Performance a ‘Forgone Conclusion’

Linneman qualifies this as ‘almost a forgone conclusion,’ noting:

I’m not sure that’s been officially confirmed but basically if you think it through rationally, there’s no other way it can be done. The Xbox One X has 9GB of system memory available to titles. The Series S has 8. I’ve seen some reports that it’s actually 7.5GB. Regardless, with either configuration, it’s still lower than the Xbox One X, so I think it’s almost a forgone conclusion that the backwards compatibility will be drawing upon Xbox One S as opposed to Xbox One X.

While this is puzzling news given the Series S’ status as a next-gen console, it’s no secret Microsoft has cut corners to hit the $299 price tag (notably, the GPU, memory, and SSD capacity), but this one has been kept quiet so far.

It’s not all bad news, though, as Digital Foundry says Xbox One games will run better on Series S than natively on a One S. Linneman points to improved performance and a smoother experience overall, presumably bolstered by the increased loading times afforded by Series S’ NVME SSD.