The Xbox One S moves the One’s third USB port to the front.
Cooling appears to be a priority. The dimpled front panel lacks any obvious vents. If laid flat, however, both the sides and top include an ample grille of small holes, about the diameter of spaghetti noodles, above roomy cutouts. Although there appears to be what looks like a second grille inside, guarding some of the components, it’ll be interesting to see how much cat hair and other gunk accumulates inside the One S over the course of its life. That said, in its clean state, the One S remained cool to the touch and without any apparent fan noise when tested in an air-conditioned house and office with ample airflow.
Microsoft has designed the One S to be stored vertically as well as horizontally. A low-profile stand, which comes included for free with the 2TB version, slides snugly onto one side of the console, with two plastic tabs that fit into small slots. Once it’s on and the Xbox One is positioned vertically, the console should withstand a hip check to your entertainment stand—but perhaps not a disgruntled cat that’s intent on “accidentally” knocking it off.
Speaking of the stand’s snug fit: Once inserted, it certainly feels like a permanent decision. I had a very “oh crap” moment when I realized that my entertainment center is set up for a generation of horizontal DVD players and DVRs, rather than vases and cable modems. Microsoft says that the stand is removable, but the process is not for the faint of heart; it fastens very securely, so your best bet is to plan your entertainment console layout beforehand. It also seals off a whole side of the One S, although I have to imagine the system’s cooling scheme accounts for this—I played Forza Motorsport 6 and Grand Theft Auto 5 for at least an hour, and even with the stand connected, the One S felt cool to the touch. I never heard its fan.
The rear of the Xbox One S.
On the rear of the One S are two HDMI ports, one in and one out from the TV, as well as a pair of USB 3.0 ports, SPDIF and ethernet, plus an IR-out port. On the front, there’s a third unmarked USB port for USB drives, a button to sync with the controller, an IR receiver, a power button, as well as a button to eject game discs. However, the One S lacks a dedicated Kinect port. Those who own a Kinect and are upgrading from the original Xbox One can ask for a free USB dongle that can accommodate the Kinect. (Microsoft didn’t send us that dongle in time for this review, so we couldn’t evaluate how well it works.)
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