So you just got the new Xbox Series S – congrats! At only $299 it‘s an affordable entry point to next-gen gaming. But once you start downloading some big blockbuster games, you quickly realize the console‘s small 512GB SSD fills up fast. With just 364GB of usable storage out of the box, you can run out of space within 5-10 AAA game installs.
The good news? There are ways to effectively get "free" extra breathing room and better manage your limited storage on the Series S. By following the tips in this guide, you‘ll learn how to maximize every gigabyte and build your game collection. Let‘s dive in!
Xbox Series S Storage – What‘s the Situation?
The Xbox Series S ships with a speedy 512GB solid state drive. But once you factor in the system software and reserved space, you‘re left with just 364GB of usable storage. That‘s not much in 2023 when Call of Duty games clock in at over 100GB!
Storage capacity was an obvious area for Microsoft to cut costs to hit the Series S‘s awesome $299 price point. But for hardcore gamers building a big digital library, 364GB fills up shockingly fast.
In a recent survey, the average Xbox game install size was found to be around 45GB. That means you can realistically fit about 8 average-sized games on the Series S internal drive before needing to make tough decisions about what to delete. Of course, many blockbuster titles are over 100GB, swallowing 10% or more of your precious SSD space!
Storage Comparison Across Xbox Models
|Xbox Series S
|Xbox Series X
|Xbox One X
As you can see, the Series S offers the smallest storage out of the box – less than half that of the Xbox One X, and under 50% of the Series X. No wonder storage anxiety comes standard!
Why So Little Storage?
The small 364GB SSD in the Series S was clearly a compromise by Microsoft to reach the $299 price point. But looking at it charitably, there are some potential benefits:
Lower Cost – Less storage brings down the bill of materials and manufacturing cost. Savings passed on to budget-conscious gamers.
Encourages Digital Purchases – The Series S has no disc drive, so you have to download games. A smaller SSD nudges you towards buying digital vs physical copies. More revenue for Microsoft.
Expansion Card Sales – Microsoft makes $$$ on proprietary 1TB expansion cards. A too-small drive helps sell these pricey add-ons.
Right for Casual Gamers? – For gamers with small libraries, 364GB may be perfectly adequate. But hardcore gamers will quickly hit the wall.
Of course, these benefits accrue mainly to Microsoft‘s bottom line. For actual players trying to build a game collection, the limited usable space out of the gate is a definite compromise.
Required Storage for Xbox Series S/X Optimized Games
One crucial limitation of the Series S storage is that some next-gen games must be run from the internal SSD or expansion card.
The console uses a high-speed PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD which enables advanced features like Quick Resume. In order to leverage the full velocity architecture, Series S/X optimized titles cannot run directly from a regular external USB hard drive.
That means the true usable space for your newest and most advanced games caps out at 364GB on the Series S internal drive alone. And some blockbuster titles already push up against that limit:
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Warzone) – up to 200GB
- Forza Horizon 5 – 103GB
- Halo Infinite – 65GB
Just a couple of these beasts can overrun 50% of your available storage! While you can still use USB external drives for Xbox One games, you‘ll constantly need to juggle where titles are installed to avoid filling up the Series S SSD.
Tips to Get "Free" Extra Space on Your Xbox Series S
Living with 364GB of usable storage will require some creative space management. Here are tips to effectively get more "free" capacity and make the most of your precious SSD real estate:
Uninstall Unplayed Games
This seems obvious, but regularly prune any games you know you won‘t play in the near future. Focus on keeping only 2-3 actively played titles on the internal drive at a time. Swap in new games as you want to play them.
Use Cloud Game Saves
Both Xbox One and Series S/X games support cloud saves. So feel free to delete all local copies of saves to free up a few extra GBs. Your progress is safely backed up online automatically.
Compress/Shrink Select Games
Some titles like Gears 5 and Halo Infinite support compression to shrink install size. Use this to trim 10-20% off and claw back some capacity. Every GB counts!
Move Older Games to External USB
Any Xbox One/backwards compatible game can run from external USB drives without issue. Set your external as the default install location for these titles to preserve precious SSD room.
Re-Download Games as Needed
With decent internet speeds, don‘t be afraid to delete a game and re-download it later if you need temporary space. Just be sure to offload saves to the cloud first!
Buy an Expansion Card
The 1TB Seagate Storage Expansion Card ($219) plugs right into the back of the Series S for seamless extra capacity. Pricey but may be essential for large collections.
Xbox Series S – Pros and Cons
Clearly the diminutive 364GB SSD presents challenges. But let‘s recap the overall pros and cons of Microsoft‘s compact next-gen console:
- Next-gen gaming for only $299
- Small, sleek all-digital design
- Games look great at 1440p/60fps
- Built-in 512GB SSD offers speedy load times
- Xbox Game Pass grants access to 100+ games
- 364GB usable storage limits game library size
- Must carefully manage limited capacity
- 1TB expansion card is $219 – ouch!
- No 4K gaming support
For gamers on a tight budget who don‘t mind juggling storage, the Series S delivers legitimate next-gen performance at an awesome price. But the out-of-box capacity may frustrate hardcore gamers with large libraries.
Compare to Xbox Series X
Let‘s briefly contrast the Series S storage situation with its big sibling – the $499 Xbox Series X:
- 1TB custom SSD in Series X vs 512GB in Series S
- Around 800GB of usable space on Series X
- Over twice the usable capacity right away
- Can store far more Series X/S optimized games
- Still supports 1TB expansion cards
The Series X doesn‘t completely eliminate storage woes, but its larger drive definitely provides more breathing room. The $200 premium over the Series S gets you 533GB of extra usable capacity up front.
Strategize Your Purchases
To cope with the Series S storage crunch, optimize your purchasing strategies:
- Prioritize Xbox Game Pass – over 100 titles for $10/month
- Focus on top-tier must-play games
- Buy Xbox gift cards on sale at retailers to get discounts
- Take advantage of frequent digital sales on Xbox store
- Consider buying select games physically then reselling
- Play lots of free-to-play games like Fortnite, Apex Legends, etc
A bit of deal hunting goes a long way when your SSD real estate is prime. You want to maximize the number of games acquired per gigabyte!
Tips for Storage Management
Here are some key tactics for efficiently managing your Series S storage:
- Maintain only 2-3 actively played games on the internal SSD
- Be ruthless – uninstall anything you won‘t play in the near future
- Always use cloud saves and delete local copies
- Set external USB drive as default install location for Xbox One titles
- Use compression tools when available to downsize installs
- Only download campaign portions of games when applicable
Get really familiar with your "My Games & Apps" manager. It will quickly become your best friend!
The Xbox Series S delivers legitimate next-gen gaming performance at an awesome $299 price point. However, its 364GB of usable SSD space imposes real limits on your game library. With smart management and leverage of external storage options, you can offset the tight capacity.
For budget-focused gamers without massive existing libraries, the Series S remains a great value. But hardcore gamers may want to spend up for the Xbox Series X and its 800+GB of usable storage instead. With some creative space maximization, you can enjoy all the Series S has to offer. Just be prepared to regularly juggle your game collection to avoid maxing out that precious 364GB SSD!