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How Much Free Storage Does Xbox Series S Have? A Detailed Look at the Console‘s Onboard Capacity

Let‘s get right to the point – the Xbox Series S technically ships with a 512GB solid state drive (SSD), but the actual usable storage out of the box is just 364GB. This limited capacity poses headaches for gamers hoping to keep a sizable library installed. In this detailed guide, we‘ll break down exactly why you only get 364GB on the Series S, how game file sizes impact the available space, and expert tips for storage management on this budget next-gen console.

The Xbox Series S occupies a unique spot in the latest console generation. Offering next-gen gaming performance and features at just $299, it‘s the most affordable entry point to experiences like faster load times, 120 fps gameplay, and hardware-accelerated ray tracing.

However, achieving this accessible price point required some compromises. Chief among them is the console‘s 512GB SSD storage, which compares poorly to the 1TB drives found in more expensive machines like the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.

For context, here‘s a quick look at storage capacities across the latest consoles:

ConsoleAdvertised StorageActual Usable Storage
Xbox Series S512GB364GB
Xbox Series X1TB802GB
PlayStation 5825GB667GB
PlayStation 5 Digital Edition825GB667GB

As you can see, the Xbox Series S comes in last place with just 364GB of usable space. But why is the usable amount so much lower than the advertised 512GB capacity?

Why You Only Get 364GB on a 512GB SSD

There are two key factors that reduce the Xbox Series S‘s advertised 512GB SSD down to 364GB of actual usable storage:

1. Formatted Capacity

SSD storage use a different binary formatting standard than traditional mechanical hard drives. After overhead, 512GB equates to about 477GB of actual capacity.

2. Reserved Space

148GB of the SSD is reserved for the Xbox operating system and basic functions. This leaves only 329GB for games and apps.

Additionally, some extra overhead for saved games and updates accounts for the final usable space ending up at 364GB.

In summary:

  • 512GB SSD
  • -45GB for formatting overhead
  • -148GB reserved for system files
  • -35GB for saves, updates, etc.
  • = 364GB usable storage

This reserved system space is necessary for the console to run properly. But it‘s quite substantial compared to Xbox One, where a 500GB HDD had about 350GB free out of the box.

Game File Sizes Quickly Eat Up 364GB

So what does 364GB of usable space actually mean for your game library? In short, it will fill up extremely fast with today‘s game file sizes.

For example, here‘s a comparison of install sizes across Xbox Series X and Series S for some popular games:

GameXbox Series XXbox Series S
Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War250GB130GB
NBA 2K21121GB82GB
Gears 5103GB73GB
Forza Horizon 4116GB103GB
Halo Infinite70GB50GB

As you can see, the Series S versions of these titles are between 20-40% smaller due to their lower texture resolutions. But they still easily eat up 50GB or more. Even 20 "average" sized games would surpass the usable 364GB.

According to gaming industry analyst Michael Pachter, the limited storage is the Xbox Series S‘s "Achilles‘ heel":

"A fully-installed Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War consumes more than 25% of the entire useable storage, and a fully-installed NBA 2K21 consumes over 20%."

Installing just 2-3 of the latest blockbuster games could feasibly use over half your Series S‘s storage. Gamers hoping to actively play and switch between 6-10 major titles will need to constantly juggle and manage their library.

Expert Tips to Maximize 364GB of Storage

To help maximize the Xbox Series S‘s scant 364GB, here are some expert tips from the gaming community:

  • Uninstall unused games – Stay vigilant about removing games you haven‘t played for a extended period. They can always be reinstalled later if desired.

  • Remove optional high resolution assets – For applicable games like Gears 5, you can delete 4K textures manually to save space.

  • Use external drives for Xbox One/360 games – Storing backwards compatible games on external USB hard drives leaves internal SSD space for next-gen games.

  • Expand with external SSD storage – For around $200, you can add 1TB of fast external SSD storage via USB 3.1. Only older titles can run from external drives currently.

  • Delete recordings and screenshots – Make sure to frequently clear out your captures if you actively record game clips and screenshots.

  • Manage your expectations – Accept that you‘ll likely need to regularly uninstall and shuffle which games are installed compared to Xbox One.

Gaming industry veteran Jeff Gerstmann strongly urges Series S owners invest in more storage. Here‘s his advice on managing the limited space:

"Buy a storage expansion, either an external USB device or Seagate‘s $220 1TB card. There‘s just no way around it. 364GB gets eaten up way too fast in 2020."

The 1TB Seagate Storage Expansion Card is the only solution that allows playing Xbox Series X/S enhanced games. But for Xbox One and backwards compatible titles, far cheaper external USB hard drives can greatly help mitigate the low internal capacity.

Game Streaming May Lessen Future Storage Needs

Looking ahead, the rise of cloud gaming services like Xbox Cloud Gaming has the potential to reduce how much local storage you need. Microsoft‘s streaming tech lets you play 100+ Xbox games on mobile devices and browsers without needing them installed.

As cloud gaming matures, consumers may rely more on streaming massive AAA titles rather than downloading them locally. Of course, this requires a consistently fast and stable internet connection. But improved 5G coverage over the next few years could make game streaming far more viable.

For now, offline play remains crucial for many gamers. But as New York Times tech columnist Brian X. Chen notes, cloud gaming might gradually change storage needs:

"As more people adopt faster internet speeds over the next few years, streaming games could alleviate the large storage requirements since the games are stored in the cloud."

If your internet quality suits streaming, cloud gaming enables playing a wider variety of titles despite limited device storage. This option nicely complements the Xbox Series S‘s strengths as an affordable next-gen gateway.

Series S – Capable Budget Console With Storage Compromises

Budget-priced next-gen gaming power comes with trade-offs, and restricted storage is arguably the Xbox Series S‘s biggest concession. The 364GB of actual usable space pales in comparison to pricier alternatives packing 825-1TB SSDs.

But for casual or selective gamers that don‘t need 10+ major titles installed simultaneously, the capacity may be perfectly sufficient. As industry analyst Piers Harding-Rolls told The Guardian:

“For players looking to play a few games at a time without a huge investment, Xbox Series S is going to be very attractive.”

Trading storage size for accessibility reflects Microsoft‘s goal of reaching a more mainstream audience beyond just core gamers. Considering a 512GB SSD alone would cost over $100, they had to cut corners somewhere to hit the $299 price point.

Cloud gaming, smaller optimized titles, and judicious memory management can certainly help overcome the limited onboard capacity. But be ready to regularly juggle which games occupy that precious 364GB of space if building a extensive library matters to you. Overall the Xbox Series S still delivers legitimate next-gen performance starting at just $299. Just make sure you understand and can adapt to the storage constraints before committing.

In closing, here are the key takeaways on storage for the budget-friendly Xbox Series S:

  • Ships with 512GB SSD, but only 364GB is usable out of the box
  • Reserved system space and formatting reduce available capacity
  • Modern games often consume 50GB+ so storage fills quickly
  • Requires diligent management of installed games vs external storage
  • Cloud gaming may reduce future reliance on local storage
  • Limited space is a trade-off for the entry-level $299 pricing

With the right expectations set, the Xbox Series S brings impressively modern gaming capabilities to the mainstream. But be ready to meticulously juggle your library if wanting to keep more than a handful of games installed at once.



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.