We discovered this week just how big the PlayStation 5 is, and, well, it looks sort of like a basketball arena with its swoopy design and towers over even the heftiest consoles, like the Xbox One and the original Xbox. But what’s most clear about the PlayStation 5 is that it is not meant to be stacked with other consoles safely away in cabinet or shelf below your TV. The PlayStation 5 is intended to stand alone, either propped up by what sounds like a too-fussy stand or placed on its side, its curvy top menacing other consoles that might dare to hitch a ride. But as we discovered in our Xbox first look, it’s a different story for these consoles.
First look at the Xbox Series X and S
The Xbox Series S and the Xbox Series X are both far more stackable and shelf-friendly, though I wouldn’t hazard to stack one on top of the other. The Series X comes with a disc player and is simply a more powerful device than the Series S. They’re intended for two different types of people, so it’s unlikely both will wind up under the TV together…unless their owners get married. In which case, congratulations on the nuptials and your many gaming consoles!
If they do wind up under the TV together, you’ll have a little bit of a problem. The Xbox Series X is 11.85 inches by 5.94 inches by 5.94 inches, which means it’s actually narrower than the Series S, which is 10.82 inches by 5.94 inches by 2.5 inches. If you try to stack the Series S on top of the Series X, you could wind up with tippage. No good!
But stacking the Series X on top of the Series S is only a little better as the black disk on the Series S isn’t flush with the surrounding white plastic. Things will rock a little when stacked — unless you place the Series X on its side, in which case its stand will actually perfectly match up with the size of the black disc on the Series S. But then you have to deal with the possibility that the Series X will crush the Series S. It weighs 5 kg, while the Series S just weighs 1.9kg (the PlayStation 5 crushes them both at 5 kg).
They kinda look like consoles
There have been many accusations of PC envy lobbed at this latest generation of consoles, and it’s especially notable when looking at the ports of the Series S and X. They both sport one USB-A port on the front next to the power button. On the rear each has an Ethernet port, two more USB-A ports, a power port, and an extremely PC-like storage expansion port that resembles the eSATA ports I have on my Synology server but relies on PCIe 4.0.
These things both looks like PCs, and I haven’t turned them on yet, but I’ll be curious to see if they sound like PCs too. There is a lot of ventilation built into each to improve airflow, though the placement of airflow on the Series X continues to have me worried about how it will hold up in a cabinet below a TV where airflow can be a struggle.
I’m less concerned about the controller. The Series X comes with a black one and the Series S comes with a white one, and if you’ve use an Xbox 360 or Xbox One controller they’ll be extremely familiar. Microsoft didn’t go in for big fancy lights or haptics on its next generation of controller. Instead, it seemed content to stay focused on what works. There are only two real noticeable changes for most people: the new Share button and the concave D-Pad.
When I finally power on the Xboxes, the Share button should allow me to share stuff. The D-Pad should allow me to get absolutely wrecked by Street Fighter players. Or maybe it will actually help. Either way it’s extremely different, with a good loud click as you press in any direction and a double click when you press on the diagonals. The cardinal directions are all also raised above the D-Pad dish, making it a little easier to press them and not accidentally do a diagonal up instead of back.
The controllers will, sadly, not stack as well as the boxes they come with. I was able to stack a PS4 and an Xbox One on top of them and not feel concerned about slippage. I don’t know if that will be enough to set it apart from the PlayStation 5 when the consoles launch within days of each other, but you should absolutely stay tuned as we’ll be covering both and reviewing all two (three?) very soon.