It turns out that the Xbox One S is just a little bit more than the old Xbox One hardware wrapped up in a smaller package. Microsoft were reticent to say as much during E3, but the fact of the matter is that the console’s chipset has seen a die shrink thanks to a move from 28nm to a 14nm process, and that has enabled them to overclock the GPU, jumping up from 853MHz to 914Mhz, an increase of 7.1%. Depending on the game, that can offer a noticeable improvement in frame rate, Digital Foundry have revealed.
It very much depends on the game and the situation, but games that have been GPU-bound on the old hardware can gain up to 9fps. Project Cars is the example in this instance, using a replay of a race around a rain lashed Monaco circuit to show an improvement of up to 11% or 9fps.
Other games don’t hit those same highs, but the Xbox One S is 6% faster in cutscenes in Hitman – the game is often CPU limited, when presented with large crowds, meanwhile – and 2.5% faster in Resident Evil 5 Remastered.
However, the CPU is still clocked to the same 1.75Ghz, meaning that CPU-bound games won’t see a benefit, and there are many games on the console that lock themselves to 30fps. In these instances, the higher GPU clock speed is of small benefit, but can help to iron out certain kinks in performance, such as in the Geothermal Valley in Rise of the Tomb Raider.
Another benefit is that this console uses much less power when playing games, dropping from 109W when playing Project Cars to 79W. The smaller case and altered fans do mean it makes around 3dB more noise, but it remains much, much quieter than a PlayStation 4 at full tilt.
Is this a big deal, though? The performance improvements are a nice benefit and the overall design is a big improvement, but it’s not really enough to warrant people trading in their old Xbox Ones.