When the Xbox Series S was first (officially) revealed in September, the general consensus could be summed up as such: “Aww!!” That’s not just a remark on the next-gen console’s diminutive physical size (and cheaper price, $499 compared with the Xbox Series X’s $749). That could have also been commentary on the internal storage, which clocks in, on paper, at an adorable 512 GB. Too bad you can only use 364 GB of that SSD in the real world.
Earlier this spring, a round of console previews for the Xbox Series X revealed that Microsoft’s beefier next-gen console would only allow players to use about 800GB of its 1TB solid-state drive (SSD). The other 200GB would be set aside for the operating system and other essential files. This sparked some speculation about the Xbox Series S’s capabilities: We’re finally able to provide some answers.
The Series S’ 364GB is pretty small when you consider the rapidly ballooning rate of video game file sizes these days. Halo: The Master Chief Collection is already more than 100GB. Other marquee Xbox games, like Gears 5 and Forza Horizon 4, aren’t much smaller. When Destiny 2: Beyond Light comes out next week, it’ll sit somewhere between 59 and 71GB, trimming the file down from 109GB it’s currently at. Activision recently announced that the new Call Of Duty will weigh in at 136GB for players who want access to all of its modes.
You don’t need a degree in calculus to see how quickly that 364GB can fill up. It’s one more thing prospective Xbox owners have to consider when weighing the Series S against the Series X. In fact, as a matter of percentage, the Series S actually offers less usable space than the Series X — just 71.1 per cent compared to the 80.2 per cent of usable SSD you get with the Series X.
On the other hand, at the end of the day, that might not pose too much of an issue. Just last month, Xbox chief Phil Spencer told Kotaku bossman Stephen Totilo that Xbox Series S games could boast smaller file sizes than their Xbox Series X counterparts. The idea is that Series S versions of games might come packaged with lower-res textures, which would take up less space than those of the 4K Xbox Series X versions, but that’s a decision left up to the developer. And Microsoft has shown some interest in shrinking game file sizes. Sea Of Thieves’ install size was recently cut from 47GB to 25GB on Xbox One.
Of course, it’s also something that might shake out differently in practice. Late last month, Microsoft provided me with an Xbox Series X and Stephen with an Xbox Series S. Over the past few days, we’ve been comparing notes. At the moment, some games — including Yakuza: Like A Dragon and Gears Tactics — have identical file sizes on both the Xbox Series S and the Xbox Series X. Some games have more notable differences. Gears 5, for one, is 71.2GB on the Series X but just 55.1GB on the Series S. For Sea of Thieves, there’s an ocean of difference: 46.6GB and 17GB, respectively. With others, though, it’s negligible. Following an update, Forza Horizon 4 clocked in at 81.9GB on my Series X. On Stephen’s Series S? Just over 77GB.
It’s possible to expand the Series S’s storage beyond 364GB. For $349, Microsoft sells a 1TB expansion card for the Xbox Series S and X, which will allow you to store and play next-gen games. But by that point, you’ll have forked over the price of an Xbox Series X — and some.