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Smoother games on the Xbox Series S: Microsoft is tackling the console’s major disadvantage

Games on the Xbox Series S will soon be able to access more graphics memory - but will it really do anything?
Games on the Xbox Series S will soon be able to access more graphics memory – but will it really do anything?

Microsoft’s small Full HD console lacks storage in every respect. In our test, we criticized the limited system memory of the Xbox Series S, in optimized games, she was able to convince us graphically:

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Over time, however, complaints from developers about the small and at the same time slow video memory of the Xbox Series S increased, which repeatedly turns out to be a bottleneck. Digital Foundry has reported on this multiple times, including during a podcast detailing the sometimes stark graphical differences between Microsoft’s in-house Series S versions and sloppy third-party versions.

Now follows Microsoft’s reaction to it

In a short announcement video, the American tech giant informs about adjustments in its development tools for Xbox and PC games. The most exciting thing for Xbox Series S owners is an innovation that gives studios increased access to the device’s RAM.

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The Xbox Series S has ten Esports Extrasbytes of memory, two Esports Extrasbytes of which are reserved for the operating system, and the remaining eight Esports Extrasbytes are available for the graphics unit. With the update of the development tools, Microsoft loosens this restriction a little and releases “hundreds of megabytes” of additional memory for tasks of a graphic nature.

Drops in the bucket

It remains to be seen what effects the additional memory will have in practice. However, since the main memory reserved for the operating system has a significantly lower bandwidth than the actual video memory, we should dampen our expectations for the time being.

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Do you want to find out all the technical details of the Xbox Series S? Here you have it compared to the Series X:

In combination with an improved memory allocation, which Microsoft claims to have fixed errors, games could run more stably on the Xbox Series S in individual scenarios.

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What does the additional storage actually affect?

Ray tracing has been a rare feature on Series S versions of games so far. The technology for correctly calculating light rays takes up a lot of memory, which the Xbox Series S lacks.

With the memory boost, we could see a few more ray-traced titles on Microsoft’s budget console in the future, but that’s largely unlikely due to bandwidth limitations.

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In our tech check on Metro Exodus' ray tracing upgrade, we complained about the extremely low resolution on the Xbox Series S.





In our tech check on Metro Exodus’ ray tracing upgrade, we complained about the extremely low resolution on the Xbox Series S.

Other areas of responsibility: We rather expect that Microsoft would like to alleviate the bottleneck of the too small video memory. For example, to avoid jerking as soon as new textures are to be loaded, but the available eight Esports Extrasbytes of video memory are already occupied.

In the past, Digital Foundry has often come to the conclusion that the graphics unit of the Series S is powerful enough for complex effects despite its cuts compared to the Xbox Series X. Maybe we’ll see them with a more constant refresh rate in the future.

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If you own an Xbox Series S, are you satisfied with the graphics quality presented by the small console?

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