Xbox Series S teardown reveals “brilliant” design and a Master Chief surprise

Eric Abent - Aug 13, 2021, 12:29pm CDT
Xbox Series S teardown reveals “brilliant” design and a Master Chief surprise

While there’s currently a lot of focus on the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, the Xbox Series S may just wind up being one of the biggest surprises of the new generation. The Xbox Series S is underpowered compared to the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, but its $300 price point and its ability to play current-gen games at a lower target resolution and framerate could make it an attractive buy for some gamers. Now, thanks to a new teardown, we’re getting to take a look inside the Xbox Series S.

The teardown was performed by Rich Leadbetter of the always-excellent Digital Foundry, though if you’re worried that a functioning Xbox Series S was broken down in this age of console shortages, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Leadbetter says at the outset that this is actually a console that was bricked in another experiment, so there is no functional hardware being destroyed here.

Leadbetter says that the teardown requires a Torx 8 security screwdriver to remove all of the screws in the system and notes that the back can be taken off with the removal of just two screws. With the back, lid, and internal chassis removed, it’s clear that the Xbox Series S uses up pretty much all the space in its small footprint. With the main fan removed, we see a modular power supply and a massive heatsink covering the console’s SoC. The two are big enough to cover up the entire Xbox Series S motherboard, and it’s on that power supply that we find the hidden Master Chief Easter egg.

We also get to take a peek at the tiny PCIe SSD that provides the Xbox Series S with its 512GB of storage. One of the most interesting parts of Leadbetter’s teardown is when he shows us the Xbox Series X SoC side-by-side with the Xbox Series S SoC. We also get a rare look at the SoC layout for both systems thanks to diagrams that Microsoft gave to Digital Foundry.

All in all, it’s a fascinating and illuminating look into the Xbox Series S, and we get to take that look without taking apart our own consoles. In fact, it’s a good idea to keep your own Xbox Series S intact because Leadbetter notes that once the cooling assembly is removed, the console will be irrevocably damaged. We’ve embedded the teardown above, so be sure to give it a watch.


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