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Here’s How Much Usable Storage Next Gen Consoles Have

Spoiler: it’s not a lot

Remember slotting a disc into your brand-new console with only a loading screen in the way of your next great adventure? Those days are long gone. As consoles manufacturers narrow the gap between their systems and PCs, they’re beginning to be plagued by problems that were once PC-exclusive. Sure, you don’t have to worry about loading screens. But neither Sony nor Microsoft can get away with 4 GB consoles anymore. Storage is more relevant than ever when it comes to picking a console in 2020.

With day-zero patches and frequent updates, few games let you enter them right off the bat, be it digital editions or regular discs. And with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare hitting a monstrous 242 GB on PC after updates, the old days are as good as gone. Gamers need to worry about whether the game will fit in their rigs’ storage before modest internet connections enter the picture. It’s a problem that made the jump from PCs to consoles over the course of the previous generation.

Microsoft’s Xbox Series X packs in a one-terabyte SSD and Sony’s PlayStation 5 has a custom SSD with 825 GB of space, while the former’s affordable Series S will pack a 512 GB SSD. It’s no surprise that a good chunk of that storage is reserved to keep the consoles chugging along. But what’s surprising is the usable storage that next-gen consoles are left with. And with games crossing the 100 GB mark before patches, it’s certainly a cause for concern for those eyeing next-gen consoles.

Xbox Series X PS5 SSD usable storage
The PS5 lets you add specific NVMe SSDs with a free slot. Source: Gamesradar.

Here’s how much you get out of the box

Right out of the gate, here’s how much usable storage next-gen consoles let you take advantage of:

Sony PlayStation 5: 664 GB out of 825 GB

Microsoft Xbox Series S: 364 GB out of 512 GB

Microsoft Xbox Series X: 802 GB out of 1 TB

The numbers come from leaks, hands-on demos, and a customer who, by sheer luck, happened to get an Xbox Series S early. While Sony’s numbers are up in the air at the moment, PS5 devkits had 620 GB to work with so the estimates align with the leaks. And while all three consoles look like they could use a second serving of storage space, games on the Series S will occupy less space since they don’t have to deal with 4K textures.

With both Sony and Microsoft adopting SSDs in their machines, the limited hardware is understandable. Good luck trying to run several games simultaneously (a feature touted by both sides) without the storage space for them. The fact that next-gen consoles reserve over a hundred gigabytes of storage for the OS alone makes their marketing efforts a tad misleading.

Storage expansion comes at a cost

Fortunately, both console manufacturers have provisions for storage expansion. Microsoft lets you slot in a proprietary 1 TB Seagate Storage Expansion card into the back of a next-gen Xbox console, resulting in a gain of 920 GB of usable SSD storage for $220. While it doesn’t come cheap (the Xbox Series S costs $299), it’s a fairly straightforward means of boosting storage.

With Microsoft promising more variants from other manufacturers in the future, solid-state drives that are compatible with the Xbox camp’s newcomers are bound to get cheaper. Add to that the fact that you can play backward-compatible games off a regular hard drive and Microsoft’s approach is fairly tempting. But Sony’s alternative sounds even better: open the PS5 up and add an SSD of your own.

Since games developed for the PS5 take advantage of its blazing-fast SSD, your solid-state drive needs to be as good, if not better than the one sitting inside the PlayStation console. It’s no plug-n-play option, but it sure is a flexible one. Microsoft sidesteps this issue by keeping storage expansion proprietary but Sony’s open-ended approach is certain to impress the PC gaming crowd. Sony hasn’t certified any SSDs as of yet but consumer-grade SSDs are getting faster and cheaper with the passage of time. The only thing they’ve confirmed is that the feature will not be supported at launch.

Only the fastest drives on the market can aspire to sit beside the PS5’s internal SSD (with a write speed of up to 5.5 GB/sec) which means they won’t come cheap either. And while Western Digital has announced an SSD that is fast enough for the PS5, Sony hasn’t whitelisted the drive yet. It’s a waiting game but it is definitely going to be cheaper than springing for a proprietary alternative.

Xbox Series X PS5 SSD usable storage
The Xbox Series X. Source: Microsoft.

Ready for next gen?

Game developers are trying to alleviate players’ storage woes by shrinking their games and making it possible to download parts of the game that you’ll actually be playing instead of downloading them by the truckload. Storage is a problem that is bound to increase in severity with AAA titles adopting 4K textures and snazzy next-gen improvements. Cloud gaming might solve storage space concerns but it still has quite a way to go if it wants to beat traditional consoles at their game. More than saving up for next-gen titles, I suggest saving up for next-gen storage.

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