While it’s not the most powerful console out there, the smaller and more affordable Xbox Series S has been a big hit for Xbox. But reportedly, some devs have felt the strain of getting bigger, more advanced games to work on the console and in response, Microsoft is freeing up some memory to help improve the tiny console’s performance.
As spotted by The Verge, Microsoft is hoping to make the Xbox Series S a bit more powerful by freeing up some memory and letting developers access that extra memory if needed. In a video explaining this new developer-focused update, Microsoft says that it is unlocking “hundreds of additional megabytes of memory” and that this will, in theory, give studios more control over how to use the console’s limited memory. Microsoft says this “can improve graphics performance in memory-constrained conditions.”
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To be clear, this isn’t like Microsoft quadrupling the power of the Series S. Nor is this Microsoft flipping some secret switch to let the console start running games at 8K and 240hz or anything wild like that. Instead, the amount of memory dedicated to non-gaming functions in the $300 Series S is being tweaked.
While the more powerful Xbox Series X console has 16GB of RAM the cheaper Xbox Series S has only 10GB. But before this update, devs only had access to 8GB of that memory as Microsoft reserved around 2GB for the console’s OS. Now devs will have a few hundred extra megabytes of memory, which could help some games run a bit better moving forward.
The Xbox Series S has always been positioned by Microsoft as a cheaper, less-powerful, but still capable next-gen console option. And it’s proven to be a very popular piece of hardware since releasing alongside the beefier Xbox Series X in 2020. Hell, I already had an Xbox Series X and I ended up buying one. It’s become the main way we play games in our living room, perfect for Fall Guys and Fortnite. But for more intense games it can struggle, requiring cutting down on framerate or resolution. This has reportedly led to some issues and frustration from devs trying to get certain games running on the lesser machine.
A recent example of a game performing differently on Series S is the Evil Dead game, which launched without a 60fps performance mode on the cheaper machine. Resident Evil Village also limits the game to only 45fps at 1440p and 30fps if you turn ray tracing on.
Hopefully, a few extra bits and bobs of memory can help devs working on Xbox ports not feel as hamstrung by the weaker Xbox Series S.