My first video game console, a Sega Genesis, had a resolution of 320×224 pixels.
This was among the best resolutions a game console could output back in the early 1990s.
While I thoroughly enjoyed playing Mortal Kombat and Sonic the Hedgehog on my Sega Genesis, I recently wondered how I managed to keep my eyes glued to the TV screen for hours with this resolution which now looks extremely blurry.
Thankfully, due to technology, the visual quality supported by video game consoles has significantly improved.
Now we have consoles that can deliver 4K and even 8K resolution for a more captivating gaming experience.
The video resolution a game console outputs matters because it determines how clear and realistic the game images are.
Does the Xbox Series S have 4K? Unlike its sibling the Xbox Series X, the Xbox Series S doesn’t support native 4K. The console was designed to display games at 1440p at 120fps. The Series S, however, does have the ability to upscale 1440p game pictures to 4K when plugged into an Ultra HD TV or monitor and can stream at 4K.
In the following sections, I’ll delve deeper into the 1440p video resolution supported by the Xbox Series S and how it impacts your gaming.
What is the difference between 1440p and 4K resolution?
I’m sure you already know Microsoft recently released two new consoles, the Xbox Series X and the Xbox Series S.
One of the key differences between the next-gen consoles is the video resolution they support.
The Xbox Series X, which is the more powerful console, is built to display games at full 4K at 60fps and can upscale images to 8K at 60fps.
Again, the Series S supports a resolution of 1440p at 120 frames per second but has the ability to upscale graphics to 4K.
1440p, also called QHD (quad high definition) or WQHD (wide quad high definition) or Quad HD, is a slightly lower resolution than 4K.
It is often referred to as the middle resolution between 1080p HD and 4K.
To really understand the difference between 1440p and 4K, you have to compare their pixels.
Pixels are tiny dots of color that form the picture you see on your monitor or TV.
1440p has 2560 pixels in width and 1440 pixels horizontally, while 4K has 3860p in width and 2160p horizontally.
The more pixels an image has the clearer and sharper it is.
So, because 4K resolution has more pixels than 1440p it offers crisper graphics.
And, 1440p outputs better picture quality than 1080p which has 1,920×1,080 pixels.
Many gamers prefer 1440p and 4K because these resolutions output good quality videos that make their gaming experience more pleasurable.
Apart from picture quality, other differences between 1440p and 4K are:
- Response time
This refers to the time taken for a command on the Xbox Wireless Controller, for example, to reflect on your screen.
Factors like the TV or monitor you use, and the console’s Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) determine the response rate.
For 1440p, it is estimated that the response time is 5 milliseconds.
The response time for 4K resolution is less than 2ms, which is faster than 1440p.
- Refresh rate
This is the amount of time your TV or monitor takes to refresh its images. It usually takes milliseconds and is measured in Hertz(Hz).
1440p can do refresh rates of up to 165Hz while 4K can do refresh rates of up to 120Hz.
Therefore 1440p has a superior refresh rate to 4K making this resolution better for gaming.
Faster screen refresh rates equal smoother and more responsive playing experiences.
Remember the Xbox Series S can support 1440p at 120fps and the Series X 4K at 60fps and upscaled 8K at 60fps.
This means the Xbox Series S can give you much smoother action because it can achieve faster refresh rates than the Xbox Series X.
Many gamers wouldn’t mind the slight picture quality drop while playing on 1440p if it gives them more seamless gaming, particularly in shooter and racing games.
Can you use your 4K TV with the Series S?
Now that you know that the Series S was designed to support 1440p I’m sure you’re probably asking what the picture quality will look like if you connect the console to your 4K TV or monitor.
I tested the Xbox Series S with my 4K Samsung Sero TV and because the console has the capability to upscale to 4K the images had more detail than 1440p.
However, upscaled 4K isn’t as crisp as native 4K graphics.
For example, I have played Gears 5 on the Xbox Series S and X. On the Series S the game looked stunning even if it was not being rendered in full 4K.
The on-screen detail and character texture were decent enough but the images on the Xbox Series X had a more wow factor and you could see greater detail in detail-rich areas such as grass.
So, if you have a 4K TV and use the HDMI 2.1 cable the Xbox Series S comes with you should be able to play games at a near 4K quality.
Does the Xbox Series S not supporting native 4K make it not worth buying?
I don’t think so.
Even at 1440p, the Xbox Series S delivers great-looking gameplay.
The console also plays all the games that the Xbox Series X does, only that they’re not in full 4K.
For me, two things should inform your decision on whether to buy the Xbox Series S or go for Xbox Series X.
First, if you’re shopping for a budget-friendly next-gen console, then the Xbox Series S is perfect for you.
Second, if you still have a 1080p or 1440p TV or monitor and don’t plan to upgrade your display soon, you could save money by buying the Xbox Series S because you don’t have the hardware needed to use the console’s 4K upscaling feature.