The Xbox Series S could have a similar high-tower design as the Series X model despite being a lot less powerful.
The new leaked Xbox controller has been unboxed in a YouTube video, showing off the fancy Robot White paint job, new share button, and hybrid D-Pad. The setup guide is particularly interesting. The guide only shows a Series X tower, which is interesting because the controller is mainly billed as a next-gen peripheral for both the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. There's no Series S pictured.
What if the cheaper, digital-only Series S has the same form factor? What if it looks like a white Series X?
On the surface, this doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Why make the Series S so big if it's a budget-friendly option and not the enthusiast monster like the Series X?
Microsoft designed the Series X chassis specifically around cooling. The column shape maximizes airflow thanks to a pressure-based air system driven by a massive 140mm exhaust fan at the top, which pulls air from the bottom up to exhaust at the ventilated top.
This is needed to cool the Series X's high-end 12.15TFLOP Navi 2 GPU, 16GB GDDR6 RAM, and fast PCIe 4.0 SSD that're crammed in the smallish box. These are PC-level specs that need clever cost-effective cooling in order to function.
The Series S, however, is rumored to be a lot less powerful than the Series X.
Reports say the Series S will be roughly 67% weaker than the Series X when it comes to GPU power. The Series S is to feature a 4TFLOP Navi GPU alongside a fully clocked 3.8GHz 8-core, 16-thread Zen 2 CPU, as well as lower-count 10GB of GDDR6 memory (possibly 12GB) and a PCIe 4.0 SSD.
Still, though, these components will need decent cooling. I'm not sure if the Xbox One S/X chassis design is enough to cool all of these components thrown together, especially the new PCIe 4.0 SSD, which are known to heat things up at extreme speeds. The Xbox Series consoles will be constantly unpacking and processing data at high speeds, and although the Series X's SSD caps out at 2.4GB/sec uncompressed, it can blast compressed data at up to 4.8GB/sec to other parts of the system via the Velocity Architecture framework.
If the Series S is indeed a next-gen console, then it will also use the PCIe 4.0 SSD tech and Velocity Architecture that powers it. Combined with the Zen 2 CPU and Navi GPU, this means heat. Not as much as the Series X, but there's still heat.
So as a cost-effective solution, Microsoft could just ship the Series S in the same case as the Series X, possibly with a smaller fan and re-tooled rubber-fin setup for maximized airflow.
Then again, it's possible the setup slip doesn't mean anything. Remember the new Xbox controller is also compatible with Xbox One era consoles and those aren't pictured either. It's likely the Series X and Series S pairing buttons look similar enough that Microsoft didn't feel the need to print both of them.
The reality is that until Microsoft reveals anything, we won't know for sure. All we know the Series S is real. Everything else is up in the air.
The Xbox Series X (and presumably Series S) will release Holiday 2020. No pricing, pre-order dates, or exact launch dates have been revealed so far.