Xbox Series S Teardown Shows A Glimpse At The Future

Xbox Series S Teardown Photo

Console launch season is upon us. A time for billion dollar corporations ingratiate themselves with “Johnny Consumer” by promising the future of entertainment is finally available to one-and-all. The focus of this new generation of consoles has been the battle for 4K supremacy between Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. Interestingly, Microsoft also created another iteration of their Xbox Series for those satisfied with games in 1080p, and thanks to [Dimitris] we have been able to see the internals of the Xbox Series S (XSS).

Xbox Series S Teardown SSD Photo
The Xbox Series S features standard m.2 slot that could be used for future storage expansion.

Microsoft’s choice to produce an all-digital console has greatly affected the internal design of the XSS. With the lack of a disc-drive there is only a single cable, the fan cable, tying the components together. The heat sink covering the 197mm² AMD APU takes up nearly 60% of the motherboard surface area. Though the XSS may be diminutive by modern console standards, its cooling fan is huge, somewhere in the 140 mm range. What little space is left by the heat sink and fan assembly is taken up by the internal power supply. As a fun nod, the PSU sports a Master Chief insignia to denote the location of the two-pronged connector beneath.

On the underside of the motherboard lies the biggest surprise of the “little brother” console. The system storage SSD is socketed rather than directly soldered to the board itself. The primary design goal of the XSS was to provide a cheaper alternative for players, but this standard m.2 slot reveals that Microsoft has plans for future expansion. This SSD, while not user-accessible in a traditional sense, will likely provide an alternative method to expanding storage outside of Microsoft’s proprietary external offerings. For a look at the teardown in process, [Dimitris’] video from his Modern Vintage Gamer YouTube channel is below.

22 thoughts on “Xbox Series S Teardown Shows A Glimpse At The Future

  1. > The heat sink covering the 197mm² AMD APU takes up nearly 60% of the motherboard surface area.
    The motherboard is double sided. Also, saying it takes up that surface area is a strange choice of words, seeing as there are components underneath and unbothered by the visual occlusion of the heat sink.

  2. I suspect that Microsoft has given some careful thought to exactly this; but the interesting thing about NVMe is that it’s not just a storage interface; it’s full PCIe, with all the DMA, bus mastering; and so on that that implies.

    I assume that most attempts to exploit this will bump into a humorless IOMMU implementation; but the possibilities, at a bare minimum, extend well beyond SATA’s “swap something else in and hope the system naively tries to boot from it” opportunities.

  3. Oof. For the topic at hand, “all digital” is the new slang form of “all digital download”, which itself is shorthand for “only digital downloads, excluding other methods of storing data”
    In contrast to other recent systems that can get media by digital downloads or discs, or older systems that were all disc or all cartridge based.

    1. This is a single 140mm fan, cooling an entire system, quietly, yes that is impressive. And the M2 slot is PCIe 4. Something still relatively new.

      It’s also incredibly small compared to PCs, about 3 liters, I doubt you can build a comparable PC in the same volume. And I really doubt you can do it with a single fan.

      Yes, a PC will just about always beat a console in max performance, features and capability. But will often have trouble beating a console in other areas, like acoustics, size, user friendliness, reliability (sometimes) and more.

      1. Lenovo Tiny

        Already done.

        I have a P330 with up to 8 core i7 and low profile pcie support. Also 2x sodimm and 2x nvme, but who is keeping track.

        You could argue its still 2 fans, and you’d be right.

        1. Mine is running a p620 card, haven’t tried my 1050 in it yet, officially I think you can go to the p1000.

          Don’t cry foul on the prices, you can find barebone or pentium m720q or m920q m920x models, same motherboard, and order the copper heatsink and pcie riser

  4. The DRAM chip he points to (calling it a “controller of some sort) at 14:30, does anyone know how large it is? I can’t make out a number when I zoom in to any pictures online.

  5. Ok so i was wondering, if it can boot from the storage expansion slot, you can plug a disk drive into the m.2 slot! Why haven’t seen this anywhere i freaking check?

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