Microsoft’s plan has been two-fold, equally represented by two different consoles of the same generation but different performance levels. The Xbox Series X is the standard version, while the reduced, scaled-down version is the Xbox Series S.
The Xbox Series S GPU equivalent is either the Radeon RX 5500 XT, or its Nvidia counterpart, the Geforce GTX 1650 Super. This conclusion is based on the Xbox Series S performance levels in triple A PC games since its release.
What is the Xbox Series S GPU?
The Xbox Series S GPU is an RDNA 2.0-based chip built on TSMC’s 7nm process node, officially referred to as “Lockhart” within its technical documentation. With the Xbox Series X targeting the higher-end of current-generation PC gaming during its release, the Xbox Series S aims to provide entry-level performance while keeping the games supported looking adequately modern. This made it much cheaper than the already adequately affordable Series X, and has since then become one of the best gaming machines for the price-to-performance ratio that it offers.
Powered by 1,280 shading units and 20 compute units, it has a physical configuration that is somewhat close to the Radeon RX 5500 XT. However, the RX 5500 XT is RDNA 1.0, and is therefore slightly different in architecture. This puts the Nvidia comparison closer to the GTX 1650 Super, rather than the GTX 1660, for which it is also commonly equated.
Xbox Series S GPU Specs
|Architecture||(AMD) RDNA 2.0|
|Process node||7nm (TSMC)|
|Graphics cores||1,280, 20CU|
|Clock speed (max)||1,565 Mhz|
|Memory clock||1,750 Mhz|
|Bus width||128 bit|
|Texture rate||125.2 GTexel/s|
|FP32 perf||4 TFLOPS|
- Mesh Shader support
- Samper Feedback support
- Hardware-accelerated ray tracing
- Overall improved heat dissipation and reduced power draw
- Radeon Super Resolution support (future update)
In more detail, the main chip of the Xbox Series S GPU consists of 1,280 shader units, 80 texture mapping units, 32 render output units, and 20 compute units. The GPU hits an upper limit clock speed of 1,565 Mhz (the RX 5500 XT has a base clock of 1,607 Mhz and a boost clock of 1,845 Mhz).
The Xbox Series S GPU’s memory hardware is also comparable to the “RX 580” line that it is equated with. First, is the standard entry-level 128-bit memory bus width. Second, it uses 8GB of GDDR6 VRAM. This amount is accepted as the minimum standard for applying maxed textures and shadow settings at even the most basic of GPU offerings at the time of its release. It may not be as future-proof as let’s say, 10GB or 12GB. But it will certainly provide far more headroom than the 4GB of more classic graphics cards.
The numbers shown on these specs might not convert directly to actual gaming benchmarks. But comparatively, at least, the Xbox Series S GPU’s texture rate of 125.2 GTexel/s and FP32 performance of 4 TFLOPS is most closely compared to the “RX 580” line of graphics cards, all of which have similar-ish theoretical performance values of 100+ GTexel/s and 5+ FP32 TFLOPS. (e.g. Radeon RX 5500 XT, Geforce GTX 1650 Super, Radeon RX 480, Geforce GTX 1060 6GB, etc.)
When translated to actual games, the Xbox Series S is well optimized for 1080p/1440p 60/120 FPS gaming. At the very least, it is capable of significantly outperforming the Xbox One X. Despite being marketed within a single product line, games played on the Xbox Series S will tend to have somewhat lower graphical settings by default, in order to hit the frame rates targeted within a specific resolution scaling.
4K is a bit of a hit or miss with this console, as it is quite obvious that the hardware just isn’t powerful enough for such a native resolution. For most modern games, this limitation shows, for example with Forza Horizon 4. But if the hardware demands are light enough, and the software optimizations good enough, then games such as Ori and the Will of the Wisps can still be played in native 4K at 60 FPS.
As for connectivity requirements, a simple HDMI 2.0 connection is enough to provide all the (practical) frames you need for all resolutions on the Xbox Series S.
Heat dissipation requirements
With a TDP of 100 watts, the Xbox Series S GPU basically becomes the poster GPU of RDNA 2.0’s efficiency marketing. No need to worry about its significantly thinner chassis compared to its chunkier big brother.
Xbox Series S GPU Equivalent
Practical performance numbers of the Xbox Series S clearly show it to be comparable to the Radeon RX 5500 XT, as mentioned. In fact, since the RX 5500 XT has an 8GB variant, the comparison becomes even closer, as the primary difference boils down to the fewer additional graphical cores and slight architectural changes.
That being said, the RX 5500 XT falls down to the category that we can consider as the “RX 580” line. This is the minimum performance level range required for high-setting modern gaming since 2018, and there are lots of GPUs that fit snugly into this classification.
A few of them include:
- Geforce GTX 970
- Geforce GTX 1060 6GB
- Geforce GTX 1060 3GB
- Radeon RX 480
- Radeon RX 580
- Radeon RX 590
- … and so on.
If we are talking about the latest architectures, at least, the nearest ones would be the RX 6500 XT (RDNA 2.0), and GTX 1650 Super (Turing), as well as the much more powerful GTX 1660 (Turing). While these GPUs have notably less VRAM, the graphical settings where the Xbox Series S performs best don’t nearly need as much memory buffering. So you shouldn’t see any comparison issues.
Xbox Series S Compared to PC GPUs
For a more quantitative comparison, here is a chart that compares the Xbox Series S GPU to other PC GPUs:
Specifications and theoretical performance:
|Xbox Series S GPU||RX 5500 XT||RX 6500 XT||GTX 1650 Super|
|Architecture||RDNA 2.0||RDNA 1.0||RDNA 2.0||Turing|
|GPU Cores||1,280, 20 CU||1,408, 22 CU||1024, 16 CU||1280, 20 SM|
|Boost Clock||1,565 Mhz||1,845 Mhz||2,815 Mhz||1,500 Mhz|
|Memory||8GB GDDR6||4/8GB GDDR6||4GB GDDR6||4GB GDDR6|
|Memory Clock||1,750 Mhz||1,750 Mhz||2,248 Mhz||1,500 Mhz|
|Texture rate||125.2 GTexel/s||162.4 GTexel/s||180.2 GTexel/s||138.0 GTexel/s|
|FP32 perf||4 TFLOPS||5.2 TFLOPS||5.8 TFLOPS||4.4 TFLOPS|
|TDP||100 W||130 W||107 W||100 W|
(Listed GTX 1650 Super is for reference only)
Keep in mind that the RX 6500 XT exhibits extreme limitations in performance once its 4GB VRAM buffer limit is reached. Also, its performance is significantly gimped on PCIe 3.0 and lower.
Actual real-world performance, at 1080p:
(6500 XT on PCIe 4.0, 5500 XT is 8GB VRAM variant)
|Xbox Series S||RX 5500 XT||RX 6500 XT||GTX 1650 Super|
|Rainbow Six Siege (Ultra)||120 FPS||184 FPS||117 FPS||160 FPS|
|Cyberpunk 2077 1.5 (Medium)||30 FPS||52 FPS||47 FPS||49 FPS|
|Horizon Zero Dawn (Quality)||60 FPS||68 FPS||72 FPS||65 FPS|
|Watch Dogs: Legion (Medium)||60 FPS||72 FPS||75 FPS||76 FPS|
|AC: Valhalla (Medium)||60 FPS||73 FPS||67 FPS||65 FPS|
|SO Tomb Raider (High)||60 FPS||66 FPS||65 FPS||67 FPS|
(Benchmark Sources: Hardware Unboxed)
While most of the superior numbers can be attributed to the Xbox Series S locked FPS modes and not exactly using the same Medium/High settings, the results also partially reflect better software optimization, as well as the use of feature tweaks (like setting-based or dynamic resolution scaling) that might still have to be toggled on/off (DLSS/FSR), or straight up not available on the PC.
How Software Impacts GPU Performance
The Xbox Series S doesn’t deviate too much from its PC competition simply due to how well-optimized 1080p has become through the years. To be fair, it seems the Xbox Series X remains the higher development priority, as many game modes don’t really implement specific software optimizations, and instead just opt to automatically turn down graphics sliders whenever the same games are loaded into an Xbox Series S.
Regardless, when playing on performance-focused presets, the Xbox Series S easily overtakes its PC competition in 1440p. At the very least, the gameplay experience feels far smoother that it doesn’t break the immersion as much as like, a 64-bit memory bus RX 6500 XT would.
Recommended Graphics Cards (Building a PC via Xbox Series S Equivalent GPU)
AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT 8GB – If you are aiming for 60/120 FPS 1080p and 1440p, then the RX 5500 XT 8GB would be the most stable option that operates somewhat similarly. No harm in plugging it into a PCIe 3.0 system, but you might want to catch those last few frames at PCIe 4.0 just n case.
Nvidia Geforce GTX 1650 Super – Virtually indistinguishable level of performance on the same resolutions and target frame rates so long as the VRAM buffer isn’t maxed out. While specs are completely incomparable due to having different architectures, it is interesting to note it has the exact same graphical cores and SM/CU count as the Xbox Series S GPU. A PCIe 3.0 motherboard is perfectly fine for this card.
AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT – the more modern (but crappier) version of the 5500 XT that cranks up clock speeds to the utter maximum. Unlike, the GTX 1650 Super, which just somewhat slows down if the VRAM buffer is maxed, the RX 6500 XT absolutely tanks in performance once VRAM runs out. So be mindful of the game’s settings to keep it running optimally. Also, a PCIe 4.0 motherboard is strictly required for this GPU.
Nvidia Geforce GTX 1660 – this is the highest recommendation if you want to experience the upper limits of the Xbox Series S performance, particularly on games where it could safely play at 1080p 120 FPS, like Fortnite, Dirt 5, Titanfall 2, among others. Its 6GB VRAM might sound lacking, but it is more than enough in 1080p, and in some 1440p titles as well.
The Xbox Series S may not be as powerful as its bulkier brother, but it still managed to show what lower-end hardware is fully capable of when it comes to playing triple-A titles starting 2020. Except for a few very unoptimized initial release games like Cyberpunk 2077, it is still mostly a plug-and-play experience. You don’t have to spend considerable time optimizing settings as you would do on an equivalent PC build.
But more impressively, its entire system costs just a fraction of what its PC equivalents may cost during its time, which is a complete reversal of the console peasant memes paraded online just a few years before its release. And no, that doesn’t even account for the price inflation due to the GPU crisis that started in 2020, making the Xbox Series S an even crazier deal for pure gamers.