Wii U Memory Usage - Infographic

Andrew MacGregor

We take a detailed look at Wii U memory usage and show you just how much memory is available for the user


Wii U memory usage infographic When it comes to internal storage the Wii U console has something in common with the Xbox 360, PS3 and even a Windows PC. The fact is all of these devices have to give up some of their internal storage space for system usage.

Most games consoles, laptops and PC's make use of a disk drive to store data such as games and apps. The Wii U doesn't have an internal hard drive, instead it makes use of a more modern storage median - solid state memory. The standard Wii U console has 8GB of internal storage and the 32GB Premium Wii U console 32GB.

Take a look at our Wii U memory usage infographic. Feel free to embed this infographic in your site. Click below to copy and paste the embed code.

The difference between storage memory and RAM

This internal storage memory should not be confused with the console's RAM. RAM (Random Access Memory) is not used to store data, it is used by the system whilst it is working. All data held in RAM is lost when the console is powered off. Incidentally The Wii U has 2GB of RAM, with 1GB being taken by the system. This gives it twice as much available RAM as the Xbox 360 and PS3, which only have 512MB available.

Wii U system takes 4.51GB of storage space

The Xbox 360, PS3 and Windows PC all lose some of their hard drive space after setup and the Wii U is no different. Some of that solid state memory is set aside by the Wii U and allocated to the system. The memory footprint for the system, at 4.51GB, is quite large. This isn't much of an issue for the 32GB Premium console, but after formatting (0.27GB), the standard 3GB console loses around 60% of its capacity. Leaving just 40% (or 3.22GB) for game save data, downloaded games and other DLC.

  Wii U 8GB Wii U 32GB
Total 8GB 32GB
System 4.51GB 4.51GB
Format 0.27GB 0.86GB
Available 3.22GB 26.63GB

8GB Wii U is severely disadvantaged

The standard 8GB Wii U is severely disadvantaged when it come to digital downloads. So far we know the size of two Wii U games that are available to download, NintendoLand and New Super Mario Bros. These games weigh in at 3.44GB and 2.15GB respectively. Owners of the standard Wii U console will simply not be able to download NintendoLand onto their system without additional storage installed. Installing New Super Mario Bros onto a fresh system is possible, but this will leave you with just 1GB of storage, taking just over two thirds of your free space.

Wii U storage upgrade options

It is however possible to upgrade the storage in the Wii U using an external USB disk drive. In fact Nintendo have stated that the Wii U will support drives of up to 2TB (or 2000GB in decimal GigaByte format). Nintendo won't be releasing external storage options, instead they have made the Wii U compatible with standard USB drives. The sort that you might plug into your PC.

External hard drives can be quite power hungry (1100mA) and their power requirements can exceed that of a standard USB port (500-900mA). Therefore Nintendo recommend that you use an external hard drive that has its own power source. It is possible to buy a Y shaped USB cable and power the drive from 2 USB ports, but Nintendo are going with the safe option and recommending an external power supply.

So far Nintendo have tested the Wii U with drives from Buffalo and Toshiba. We've listed these devices below.

Nintendo recommendations for external storage devices


  • USB 2.0 Hard Drives
  • Separate USB power supplies
  • Maximum capacity of 2TB

Not Recommended

  • Hard drives powered by the USB port
  • USB flash / thumb drives
  • USB 3.0 drives

External hard drives that work with Wii U console

  • Buffalo 1TB (HD-LB1.0TU3-US)
  • Buffalo 2TB (HD-LB2.0TU3-US)
  • Toshiba 1TB (HDWC110XK3J1)
  • Toshiba 2TB (HDWC120XK3J1)

SI/Decimal GigaBytes (GB) vs Binary GigaBytes (GiB)

The capacity of a storage device is generally quoted using the SI(International System of Units) definition of a GigaByte. All of the figures quoted in this article and the infographic use the SI / Decimal GB value.

SI definition: 1KB = 1000 bytes, 1MB = 1000KB, 1GB = 1000MB

Therefore when a storage device reports that is has 8GB, that is 80,000,000,000 bytes. In reality 1KB does not equal 1000 bytes, it equals 1024 bytes. This number makes more sense in binary (10 0000 0000 0000) the number format computers use.

Binary or true definition: 1KB = 1024 bytes, 1MB = 1024KB, 1GB = 1024MB

The binary GigaByte (GiB) is the true storage value and is always less than the quoted SI value. Here are some examples of quoted versus actual storage values.

  • Single sided DVD: 4.7GB = 4.34GiB
  • BluRay disc: 50GB = 46.56GiB
  • Wii U 8GB = 7.45GiB
  • Wii U 32GB = 29.80GiB

To convert 8GB to GiB just divide the GB value in Bytes by 1024^3 (1024*1024*1024)

Eg. 8,000,000,000 Bytes / (1024*1024*1024) = 7.45GiB, the true value

It would appear that we're being duped into thinking we're getting more storage capacity than we actually are. However as we're all used to seeing storage capacities quoted in SI GB, when comparing one device to another it really makes no difference.

Wii U infographic thumbnail