Xbox Series S Suffers from VRAM Limitations, Just Like 8GB GPUS

It looks like the Xbox Series S is facing serious memory allocation issues in Borderlands 3, at least according to Reddit user u/jokekiller94 — who posted a screenshot of the game crashing on their Series S console with an “out of memory” error on the screen. 

The issue isn’t limited to the original poster — Reddit user u/bacon_sammer responded in the thread, saying they have the same issue with Borderlands 3 crashing frequently on their Xbox Series S. They said the game runs fine on the Xbox Series X, however, so the it seems to be a Series S issue.

Sadly, this type of memory allocation issue is not uncommon for Microsoft’s little console. According to reports from Digital Foundry and The Verge, the Series S’ small memory capacity is a headache for developers to optimize around. It is the single biggest contributing factor to the console’s lower graphical settings and lack of ray-tracing effects on Series S ports, and it bottlenecks the console’s already weak 4 Teraflop (PS4 Pro level) GPU.

Apparently, complaints among developers regarding the Series S’ memory became so extreme that Microsoft released a dev kit in June 2022 that gave developers more manipulation over the Series S’ memory system. 

The Xbox Series S is Microsoft’s most recent entry-level console running on AMD’s modern Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architectures. The console features a 4TF AMD RDNA 2 GPU with 20 compute units clocked at 1550MHz, a 512GB NVMe SSD, and 10GB of GDDR6 memory that is shared between the CPU and the GPU. Strangely, the memory bandwidth is mixed, with 8GB featuring 224GB/s of bandwidth and the other 2GB running at a paltry 56GB/s.

The 10GB memory capacity is why the Series S’ memory allocation issues are so problematic. Modern-day PC titles generally recommend at least 16 GB of system RAM, plus at least 6GB to 8GB of VRAM for playing games at high settings. The Series S’ unified memory system does reduce a game’s memory requirements compared to a PC, but 10GB is still a pretty small number for modern-day gaming (not to mention the unorthodox bandwidth configuration, where only 8GB runs at high speeds). 

Thankfully, the memory allocation errors don’t appear to be a widespread issue, and hopefully Borderlands 3’s developers will fix this problem in a future patch. But the Xbox Series S’ overall longevity does not look good given its past and present memory capacity issues.