News Article

Wii U Memory Can be Easily Expanded With USB Hard Drives

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Fils-Aime: "I'll love you as a digital consumer"

Amongst all of the details about the Wii U hardware, one potentially surprising aspect was the relatively small amount of internal storage space. With 32GB in the Premium model and just 8GB in the Basic white system, it won't take long to run out of memory if you fill up on tasty HD download treats.

We expected that it'd be easy to expand memory, perhaps through SD cards, but those who want to expand their space in a big way can also do so with any USB memory stick or hard drive. Speaking to Engadget at a post-press conference investor Q&A, Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aime explained the thinking behind the memory offered, and the ease with which it can be increased.

You can plug in a full-on three terabyte hard drive if you want. I'll love you as a digital consumer.

The reason we did it that way is that the cost of that type of storage memory is plummeting. What we didn't want to do is tie a profit model to something that's gonna rapidly decline over time. We'll let the consumer buy as much as they want, as cheaply as they want.

So there you have it. Buy yourself an inexpensive hard drive and Reggie will love you: space for download games shouldn't be a problem.


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User Comments (50)



BenAV said:

Fine by me.
I already have a 1 TB external hard drive that I can use, so that should do the trick for a while.



Whopper744 said: use for that 1 TB external Hard drive I have perhaps...only thing is I hate to have to rely on that thing to be plugged into my system constantly.



6ch6ris6 said:

best decision!
keep the price low and let the consumers decide exactly how much memory they need.
some people do not need any memory at all except for savegames and others will need hundreds of gigabytes



WarioPower said:

Great decision by Nintendo! Keeping it cheaper for the casual gamer, but allowing the more "hard core" gamer to have more memory!



gefflt said:

Makes perfect sense to me.
Don't plan on downloading any games (at least not when they're coming out as retail as well) anyways.



WarioPower said:

Great decision by Nintendo! Keeping it cheaper for the casual gamer, but allowing the more "hard core" gamer to have more memory!



shinesprite said:

"Amongst all of the details about the Wii U hardware, one potentially surprising aspect was the relatively small amount of hard drive space." At that capacity, I highly doubt it's a hard-drive.

Also, if you're using external storage, it's very possible that you'll notice a significant drop in speed (due to firmware, USB 2.0, and cache sizes).



Hokori said:

I wonder how much memory I'll have to get after the first year if they have a MGS game it'll probably be a lot and even more if they include SSB DLC



SMW said:

The built-in memory will be enough for me. If not, then I've got plenty of flash drives. 32 GB is little? Really? You crazy kids with your fancy terabytes and oversized harddrives. I remember when everything you would ever need used to fit on a floppy disk. I can't even comprehend how big a terabyte is.

Alright, thats my Cranky Kong rant. Good to see confirmation of flash drives. I prefer those over bulky harddrives anyday.



SteveW said:

remember this people! so you don't argue with me in 2 years when it's still not available and say "they never said that". Reggie did once say that the Wii will be able to support any storage device via USB also....



Pikachupwnage said:

I agree with this.

What about people who don't buy DD games? They don't want to pay an extra 50 bucks for more gigs. Just let them get those cheap external memory you can find anywhere.



TotalHenshin said:

I've got 40 GB in SD cards at the ready. On top of the 32, I really doubt I'll need so much space. I have a 320 GB PS3, and I'm pretty sure it isn't very filled.



WolfRamHeart said:

Well, I guess that the storage issue isn't so bad when you look at it that way. I had to buy a 500GB hard drive for my PS3 a while back. I can get myself a 1TB hard drive for the Wii U and it will actually cost less than what I ended up paying for the 32GB memory card that I bought for my PS Vita.



AVahne said:

I ripped the old 160 GB HDD out from my old computer. Runs at 7200 RPM, too, so now I just need to buy a cheap encasement and I'm ready.



Cranky said:

Good Stuff!
This is great news, other gaming companies have us by the balls on buying storage space, thanks Nintendo!



Chunky_Droid said:

The only reason I fill up my 250GB PS3 is because I record stuff on PlayTV and put all my movies and music on it, though I still buy games for it too, I have about 50GB left right now.

I agree with this decision, because i have a 1TB hard drive not being used!



Pawtrick said:

Is the on board memory just a SD card Nintendo is supplying already in the machine?



ThomasBW84 said:

In terms of queries about on board memory (8GB basic/32GB premium), I believe this is flash memory in the console, not an SD card. With that in mind, you can expand in a smaller way through an SD card, or follow Reggie's advice and plug in a hard drive.



rjejr said:

So the machine has an SD slot like the Wii and USB that will basically take anything? Odds on it working correctly at all times? I find it hard to believe at some point there won't be a game that won't run or install on an external HDD for fear of "piracy". See Xbox360 issues.
Though for now I'll say thanks Nintendo, I hope this works.



Torchwood said:

Thanks Nintendo for not pulling a PS Vita on o=us and making us pay 100 dollars for some 32 gigabytes of proprietary memory that's useless outside of the system!



NintyMan said:

Any effort to make memory easy and cheap enough for everyone is a smart effort.



hamispink said:

I'd prefer an up-gradable laptop hard drive like in the ps3, but this will be fine if the need ever arises.



acelect24 said:

Im probably themost fepressed man on earth right now...I have a 1TB harddisk and a 1mbps internet connection that hardly downloads faster than 100kbps...sob sob



DrSlump said:

Usb2 drive? It means really low data rate... could it be used to install games??



DarkNinja9 said:

@acelect24 lol wow that is bad tiem to upgrade?

like the idea of flash drives better then having to buy a whole new memory drive if you ever need it later like with a xbox and such



Maggots said:

@DrSlump It really matters not as most hard drives top out at around 60-80 MB per second... even with USB 2.0's transfer speedsit should be plenty fast to stream games off of it...

as far as other options go... my buddy just bought on new egg (i think ) a 128GB SDXC card for $90 and I'm willing to bet they'll be cheaper on black friday deals in november... couple that with the 32GB Wii U and you'll have a pretty 160GB ... as much as the PS3 slim I have! plenty of space for games and junk!...

funny thing is Wii U discs run at 22MB/s ... and that's apparently plenty fast to stream data for games (360 and PS3 disc speeds are much slower---360′s 15.85 MB/s (DVD) and the PS3′s 9MB/s (Blu-ray))... USB 2.0 has a transfer speed of about 34MB/s... and like I said Hard drives are about 60-80MB/s depending on RPMs... that SD card I talked about had a write speed of 37MB/s, and a read speed of 45MB/s (granted... nintendo's DS readers may cap out at a certain speed... so performance boost may be negligible ... however very comparable to every other component on this system...

It's just nice to know all your options... as you see I have considered all of these for a long time now haha!!

also here's a nifty rundown of storage options and data rates...



cyphid said:

Hey Everyone: Check out Newegg ( ) for an SSD and buy and external enclosure. I bought a 60GB SSD for my comp, running Ubuntu 12.04. SSD's have ZERO moving parts; they are like a flash drive but formed in the shape of an HDD. I figure most of us know what SSD's are though, had to explain just in case someone here doesn't know about them.

Oh, this is the SECOND place I've read "Memory" instead of "Space/ storage" Memory, as in RAM, Space or storage for additional data. ;P



cyphid said:

@Maggots Hehe, I took so long to write my post, you're post showed up before mine! Awesome that we both mentioned Newegg!

SD cards are another good idea to add extra storage. I mentioned SSD's, though @Maggots might have a better approach, seeing as how much cheaper they are in price for larger GB. SSD's are rather expensive for sure!



Maggots said:

@cyphid the only thing with a solid state in this situation is the bottle neck of USB 2.0 ... SSD's can have speeds from 300-500MB/s ... attaching that to a 30-40MB/s USB 2.0 would sure be sad for that poor SSD just waiting to scream on a nice SATA 3 port. in essence the performance would be the same as a slow hard drive ... HAHA that is funny that we both talked about newegg... I love that place!



Sean_Aaron said:

This is the one of the best things that Nintnedo did rather than trying to monetize storage on Wii; glad to see they've only expanded it to include disk drives. The latter will be a must for those of us downloading full retail releases, but I think the 32GB version will suffice for downloads from eShop.

Although it's true you can augment the 8GB of the low-end one I expect the read-write to the built-in flash will be faster than either SD or USB. That and the pack-in game are sufficient justification for me to get the premium one, though I really don't need another remote and nunchuk so I may opt for the 8GB one and an external hard drive instead.



MegaAdam said:

This is honestly, for me, a better solution than having a 250GB or 500GB hard drive on the Wii U. Especially since the onboard memory is solid state anyway. I'd much rather go buy my own external hard drive to hook up.



Vincent294 said:

4,500 GB? I've only used about 20 GB of my Xbox 360's 250 GB hard drive. Those go up to 320. Game systems should have bigger max hard drive sizes than that, but 3 TB is crazy. If one thing about the Wii U will hold up well, whether or not Nintendo screws up the tech specs of the CPU & GPU, the storage will be on par w/ the stuff in 2020. I actually think that might happen. Not that the bundled hard drive's anything pretty. 32 GB is pretty cheap, but I suppose it's a good start.



Sean_Aaron said:

I've now checked the (really slick) NL Wii U guide and it looks like Game are the only ones talking about bundling a remote and nunchuk with the deluxe - could be they got that wrong or it justifies their higher price. Seeing that stands come with the deluxe one as well I reckon I might go that route after all - of course even on my Japanese Wii I think I'm using a 4GB SD card and I've not filled that, so do I need 32GB internal? Decisions decisions...

I totally forgot about the included Nintendo Network membership with the deluxe - well that settles it then. Hopefully that discount for online purchases will extend to full retail downloads!

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