The smaller, cheaper, Xbox Series S ‘Lockhart’ is real.
The Xbox Series X is set to be the world’s most powerful console, launching later in “Holiday 2020,” according to Microsoft. Launching somewhere around the same timeframe will be an Xbox Series “S,” codenamed “Lockhart,” which we revealed in reports quite a while ago.
With testing units shipping out to internal testers, the official reveal of this console is likely imminent. In addition to ourselves, various journalists from major tech sites have composed a picture of what Lockhart could be when it’s finally revealed, and I’ve compiled all the latest rumors here, along with some of our own independent sources and verification.
Spoiler: This thing is definitely real.
How powerful is Xbox Series S Lockhart?
Last year we noted that Lockhart would be around 4TF, which sounds far smaller than the 12TF on the Xbox Series X or even that of the Xbox One X. However, Lockhart will boast a modern NVME SSD to match the Series X on load times and leverage Xbox Velocity Architecture, while also boasting a far more powerful CPU than that of the Xbox One X.
Marketing materials we saw last year positioned Lockhart as an entry-level next-gen console, designed for those on a tighter budget, or parents who want their kids to be able to experience the latest games, but not necessarily at 4K resolution. Indeed, it’s likely that Lockhart will primarily be a 1080p machine, far more capable than the current-gen Xbox One S on HDTVs and monitors, which are far more likely to be present in students’ or children’s bedrooms.
The Verge’s Tom Warren recently teased that Lockhart may boast 20 CUs, which is up from the Xbox One S’s 12 CUs. We previously heard that Lockhart has eight 3.4GHz CPU cores, which came with the proven-accurate 3.6GHz CPU cores we revealed for the Xbox Series X last year. The exact speeds may change slightly from our previous info, which is admittedly quite old at this point, but I think it’s a safe bet for sharing.
What will the Xbox Series S Lockhart look like?
Although we often use the cube-shaped concept art (because c’mon, it looks awesome), the Xbox Series S Lockhart will actually sport a more traditional console design, as per this concept art shared by Rand al Thor 19 on Twitter. It corroborates reports from Brad Sams of Thorrott.com that Microsoft is asking testers to hide their test units inside Xbox One S boxes, to keep it hidden from prying eyes.
We’ve also been told by multiple sources that Lockhart looks similar to the Xbox One S, lacking a disc drive, similar to the “All-Digital” edition. It will also sport the same SSD expansion port we’ve seen on the Xbox Series X. We’ve also heard that it could be dark grey in color, rather than white, to help differentiate it from the One S. It may be similar in color to the Xbox Series X dev kits, as seen in this tweet from The Verge’s Warren.
I’d be surprised if Lockhart looks like the white cube mockup. The Xbox Series X devkit is gray and looks more like a traditional console pic.twitter.com/HzM29m7W9B
— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) June 29, 2020
We’ve heard it could also end up being smaller than the Xbox One S as well, although exact sizing is hard to determine as of writing with no frame of reference. As for names, we’ve heard both the names “Xbox Series S” and “Xbox Series ES” being used to refer to it internally, so it could be one of those. The grey color will help differentiate its profile from that of the traditional One S, but the name “S” will remind users that it is indeed the more affordable option vs. the more powerful “X,” as per convention throughout this entire gen.
Will Lockhart ‘hold back’ Xbox Series X?
No. Game developers have been targeting vastly different hardware profiles for literally decades, and the tools for porting games and optimizing games for separate hardware levels have only gotten better as time has proceeded.
GameCore will bring PC and Xbox development closer together than ever before.
Developers are able to target Lockhart through beta versions of GameCore, which is a new development environment set to replace Xbox One’s ERA system in the coming years. Infosec engineer TitleOS revealed the June GDK documents recently, which mentioned both the Lockhart and Anaconda (Xbox Series X) profile modes.
GameCore will bring PC and Xbox development closer together than ever before, while also allowing developers to more easily target different Xbox hardware profiles with as minimal code changes as possible. Some upcoming Xbox Series X titles will be among the first to use GameCore in its early form, as Microsoft refines and improves the system for general availability.
GameCore will form a large part of how much more easily it will be for developers to seamlessly strip out different features in order to meet the specific needs of both the Xbox Series X and Series S. A good example showing how easily developers can tone down a game’s visuals to match hardware levels can be found in Gears Tactics, whose graphics settings showcase in real-time how sliding different graphical features up and down can help or impede performance.
When will Microsoft reveal Xbox Series S Lockhart?
Previously, Jeff Grubb of VentureBeat reported that Lockhart was planned to be revealed in June, and that certainly lined up with our information that Microsoft had begun sharing the device with testers, albeit in a limited capacity, back in May and April. For whatever reason, that reveal didn’t happen. My guess is it’s because without a price reveal, the narrative of a “less powerful” console is a little bit stunted.
Eurogamer is now reporting that Lockhart will be unveiled in August. And while we haven’t heard specifically that Lockhart will get official in August, we confirmed with our own sources that Microsoft is planning to have another event during that month, following the July event, which we can confirm is currently gunning for July 23, 2020.
When will the Xbox Series S Lockhart launch?
Brad Sams recently reported that the Series X was originally planned to launch in August, with the Series S Lockhart planned to launch in October. Interestingly, I also heard a little while ago that the Series X was planned for a launch in September, with the Series S planned to launch in November, so I’m wondering if those dates shifted after Sams got his information, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The info I have on this is fairly old, but it sounds to me as though Microsoft is not planning to launch these consoles simultaneously. It sounds like the Series X will launch first, aimed at the hardcore, with the Series S Lockhart set to launch later, deeper into the holiday season to target parents and youngsters who may be looking for a good deal on a next-gen console.
As recession looms following the global pandemic, a cheaper console with a high-value Xbox Game Pass proposition sounds like a smart play for Microsoft right now.
Not long to wait now
The next big event for Microsoft is planned for this month, like July 23, and will showcase a broader roadmap of content Xbox fans can expect to enjoy in the coming months and years ahead. With the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 set to be on the higher-end in terms of price, the Xbox Series S Lockhart could be a particularly compelling option for specific audiences who want to join in on the next-gen fun without breaking the bank.
Additionally, the Lockhart architecture may also serve as a more cost-effective option for Project xCloud server blade upgrades in the future, since it’s unlikely many of us will want to stream in full 4K any time in the near future.
What do you think of the prospective Xbox Series S? Let us know in the comments.