Analyzing the Xbox One S Hardware Rumors

If you’ve been following E3 rumors, then you’ll know that there’s a supposed leaked image outing the smaller Xbox One console as the Xbox One S. The pictured white console refresh supposedly features a 40 percent smaller design and will come with a host of new improvements that include a bigger 2TB hard drive and more.

Leading the charge for new features is support for 4K, which suggest an update to AMD’s integrated graphics processor for 2160p video decoding. Considering leading $600 PC graphics cards still struggle with UHD (which is four times as sharp as 1080p HD), expect it to be limited mostly to video playback, rather than native 4K game rendering. The image also mentions that the Xbox One S will support high-dynamic range (HDR). This means it could showcase double the amount of visible colors the human eye can see, provided you have an HDR-capable display. HDR generally provides a greater sense of contrast and makes colors "pop" more. Expect many new HDR TVs to release in the coming months/years. Finally, the image also says that the unit will come with a vertical stand and a “streamlined controller,” but judging from the image, it’s hard to see what’s different about the design.

Assuming that these rumors are true, let’s break this down from a hardware perspective. Considering the Xbox One S is purported to support 4K, it could suggest a new HDMI 2.0a/b port, though considering it will also allegedly feature HDR support, DisplayPort is also a possibility. But how does the Xbox One S lose 40 percent of its mass? There’s a couple ways Microsoft could trim the fat. First, it’s worth mentioning that the current model is arguably bigger than it needs to be, and that the added bulk was a preventative measure against cooling issues. It is important to remember that Microsoft was still recovering from its Red Ring of Death heat issues during the inception of the Xbox One's design.

While the XBox One S features a denser 2TB hard drive, the HDD could be physically smaller. The original Xbox One used a 3.5-inch HDD, but could opt for a smaller 2.5-inch laptop-style drive this time around. The Philips optical drive in the current unit is also very bulky and Microsoft could be opting for a slim optical drive design for the S. The cooler used in the current Xbox one is also quite large and features three copper heat pipes with multiple fins and a large fan, which makes it very akin to a typical PC CPU air cooler. If the S is indeed 40 percent smaller than the current model, it most likely features a more compact thermal solution. It will be interesting to see if the fan will rev louder, as a result, or if the system will run hotter with the smaller chassis. Microsoft’s E3 press conference begins tomorrow at 9:30am PST. Hopefully will get more answers then.

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