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Gift Guide: Everything You Need to Know About the Xbox Series X|S

Gift Guide: Everything You Need to Know About the Xbox Series X|S

By Jeremy Czeck
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Photo Courtesy: Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images

There’s good news in the world of electronics: The latest gaming consoles are stepping it up with improved resolution, 4K gaming options, more storage, huge libraries of games and apps, completely silent operation and even more. One of these top platforms, the Xbox Series X, is the new kid on the block that has everyone talking — often about its 4K performance. But is it really that much better than its also-new sibling, the Xbox Series S?

Considering that they were both released at the same time, it can be confusing to figure out which is right for your gaming needs, especially because these consoles have significant differences in their exteriors — does that mean their performance is markedly different, too? If you’re thinking about purchasing an Xbox for yourself or for a lucky recipient, it’s important to learn how the Xbox Series S compares to the Xbox Series X and find out more about the must-have accessories for any serious gamer. And what’s a console without, well, content? Let’s take a dive into the arrival of some hotly anticipated Xbox titles and discuss the performance of these two Xbox Series consoles.

And, if you're more of a Sony fan, check out our PlayStation 5 guide.

Xbox Series S Versus Xbox Series X: Which Console Is Right for You?

There’s a pretty clear way in which these consoles differ, so let’s start by comparing their looks. The Xbox Series X is a bulkier, tower-style machine that’s available in black. Meanwhile, the Xbox Series S has similar design features to its predecessor, the Xbox One S, and has slimmer, more traditional console-style proportions. The big novelty with the Series S is the black grille, which almost makes the console look like a speaker. If you like to take things like design into account with your consoles, you’ll find the Series X much more unobtrusive and sleek — but also lacking some of the personality and style of the Series S, which you may prefer if you want your console to occupy a more prominent position in your entertainment center.

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Photo Courtesy: Microsoft via Amazon

But, as with anything, it’s what’s inside that really counts — and there are some substantial differences in these consoles, particularly when it comes to graphics. While both consoles feature the Custom AMD Zen RDNA 2 graphics system, the Series X has 52 compute units compared to the Series S’s 20. What does this mean? Compute units are like tiny processors, and having more of them means the Series X offers faster, more refined and responsive graphics than the Series S is capable of providing. Another area where the machines differ? The Series S has 1440p resolution, while the Series X offers 4K for a crisper-than-crisp picture.

When it comes to storage capacity, the Series X is also the clear winner with its 1TB solid state drive. However, the affordable Series S still clocks in at a respectable 512GB. Both consoles support USB 3.0 drives and expansion cards and drives, so increasing the storage capacity isn’t too much of an ask.

Thanks to their recent releases and their overall popularity as a family of consoles, the Xbox Series X|S may not be available this holiday season. If you don’t already have an Xbox One, the Microsoft Xbox One X 1Tb Console could be a great alternative for you.

Controllers, Headsets and All of the Xbox Series X|S Must-Have Accessories

Both the Series X and the Series S are destined to become titans in their own right — but everything’s a little better when you have some fun accessories to enhance your enjoyment, right? High-quality controllers, like the Xbox Core Controller in either black or white, make it easy for friends and family to join in on the fun of a multiplayer game. If you opt for these controllers, you’ll definitely want the Xbox Rechargeable Battery for Controller + USB-C® Cable to pair with them. These batteries will help you navigate up to 30 hours of gameplay — how’s that for a binge?

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Photo Courtesy: Microsoft via Amazon

The YAEYE Dual Controller Charger and ESYWEN Rechargeable Battery Packs for Xbox One/Xbox Series X|S are also excellent options, particularly if you prefer keeping your controllers organized in one dedicated storage spot. And speaking of storage, consider supplementing your console with the Seagate Storage Expansion Card for Xbox Series X|S (1Tb) to increase its capacity and help you keep thousands of downloads safely in one place. Finish things off with the Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 Premium Wireless Gaming Headset for chatting and staying connected with other players.

If you’re getting a friend or family member a Series X or Series S console and want to give them an opportunity to pick out some goodies for themselves, an Xbox Gift Card gives them a fun opportunity to shop. But if you’re thinking about choosing a title or two to gift, there are some must-have options they’re sure to appreciate.

Warhammer: Chaosbane

Ready for a classic game to come to life? Warhammer: Chaosbane offers a next-level gaming experience for anyone who loves the fantasy-battle world of Warhammer miniatures. Including all the previous downloadable content (DLC) from previous Warhammer titles, Chaosbane offers some exciting new expansion packs (and expanded content). You’re able to battle new enemies and new cultists while exploring new areas of the magic-filled, war-ravaged Warhammer world — all in crisp, next-level 4K resolution.

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Photo Courtesy: EKO Software via Amazon
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Just Dance 2021

Celebrate the arrival of your new Xbox console by hosting a dance party — a Just Dance party. Released just in time for the X|S arrivals, Just Dance 2021 is a must-have if you’re a fan of previous titles in the series or if you’re new to the groove and looking for a fun way to get some exercise. This latest installment sticks to many of its familiar features, but with a few added surprises. One of these new additions is Quick Play Mode, which chooses a random song from the playlist; it’s perfect for unpredictable battles and challenges. Musicians who’ve been added to Just Dance 2021 include BLACKPINK, Lizzo, Doja Cat, Bad Bunny, Billie Eilish and many more.

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Photo Courtesy: Ubisoft via Amazon

Fortnite: The Last Laugh Bundle

The Fortnite: The Last Laugh Bundle welcomes The Joker to the Fortnite gang and invites you to play as everyone’s favorite infamous nemesis. In the bundle, you’ll get goodies like V-Bucks, Joker’s outfit (and a few more character outfits for good measure), Laugh Riot Back Bling, a Bad Joke Pickaxe and plenty more offerings. This expansion pack is an excellent gift for the Fortnite or DC Comics fan in your life.

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Photo Courtesy: Epic Games/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment via Amazon

Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate

If the last time you played Mortal Kombat was sometime in the 1990s at the arcade or on the original PlayStation, you’re in for a treat. This franchise’s titles have gotten progressively more intense and detailed over the years, and the X|S version is perhaps the most robust yet. Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate introduces 37 new playable characters, exciting story campaigns and plenty of familiar Fatal Blows to keep you engaged. It's perfect for hundreds of hours of gameplay.

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Photo Courtesy: NetherRealm Studios/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment via Amazon
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Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

Although Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War may only feature eight maps and 29 weapons, it shines with its immersive experience that will have you or your recipient digging deeper into some peculiar clues in order to progress through the story. You’ll play as an elite operative tracking Perseus, a rogue antagonist and Soviet intelligence officer who’s working with international criminal organizations to destabilize global powers. As with other titles for these new consoles, Cold War incorporates a 4K feature that helps make gameplay even more engaging than it already is — be careful you don’t get too close to the edge of your seat!

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Photo Courtesy: Activision via Amazon

NBA 2K21

Basketball lovers, rejoice! NBA 2K21 offers stunningly realistic gameplay, along with insight into the world of basketball and everything related to it. Season 2 of the game even comes with new challenges and an exciting three v. three feature. Whether you want to play as your faves or pay tributes to some of the greats who have passed, NBA 2K21 brings all this (and more) together in an interactive 4K Series X experience.

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Photo Courtesy: 2K Games via Amazon

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

A long-awaited (and another highly anticipated) entry in this favorite gaming franchise, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has finally arrived — and stepped things up to give its predecessors a run for their money. In this version, you make your way through the Viking invasion of England, playing as a fearsome warrior who’s trying to build and support a settlement while negotiating political moves and defending against enemies, all against the backdrop of societal deterioration that marked the Dark Ages. With a new patch that introduces the joy of 4K gaming to the Assassin’s Creed franchise, this title offers an amazing way to enjoy the new consoles.

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Photo Courtesy: Ubisoft via Amazon
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