Xbox Series S games could soon look and play much better — here’s how

Xbox Series S review
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Update: Want to gift an Xbox Series X or S this holiday season? Better buy it now.

The Xbox Series S isn’t as powerful as the Xbox Series X, and that’s by design. Microsoft’s entry-level console costs only $300, but the flip side is that you’ll have to settle for a less powerful processor, less storage space and less RAM.

However, “less RAM” may soon become less of a problem. A new Microsoft Game Development Kit (GDK) has freed up hundreds of megabytes of memory for Xbox Series S developers, which could translate to better graphics and smoother gameplay on upcoming titles.

Microsoft just released its June GDK (it’s August, but that’s how software releases go sometimes), and put out an informational video to explain its features. You can watch it on the Microsoft Game Dev YouTube channel, but the relevant bit here is about the Xbox Series S.

“Additional memory is available for Xbox Series S consoles,” the video’s narrator states. “Hundreds of additional megabytes of memory are now available to Xbox Series S developers. This gives developers more control over memory, which can improve graphics performance in memory-constrained conditions."

Longtime readers may be familiar with our Xbox Series X vs. Xbox Series S breakdown, where we compare the amount of RAM that each console offers. The Xbox Series X features 16 GB RAM, which is roughly what you’d find on a mid-range gaming PC.

The Xbox Series S, on the other hand, has only 10 GB RAM, which is comparable to what you’d have found on a mid-range gaming PC a few years ago. Naturally, having more RAM is better, as it gives developers more resources to process graphics and gameplay.

While Microsoft’s latest GDK doesn’t actually increase the amount of RAM in the Xbox Series S, it does better optimize that space for developers. A few hundred megabytes may not sound like a big difference compared to a full 10 GB. However, a few hundred megabytes of RAM can actually do quite a bit, as anyone who owned a computer during the late ‘90s can attest.

While we don’t know exactly how developers will take advantage of this small memory boost yet, the video lays out the most common use-case: better performance when memory is at a premium. This could mean more stable resolutions, better textures or smoother performance during chaotic battle scenes, when the console has to render a ton of different assets and keep them moving.

Whatever the case, the memory boost is good news for developers and gamers alike. Keep an eye out for new Xbox Series S games over the next few months, and you may see a slight boost in performance over time.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.