Getting A Basic Wii U? Better Get An External Hard Disk Too

According to the latest Nintendo Direct, the storage space on the Wii U isn’t all we might have hoped it would be. The Basic (white) Wii U has 7.2GB of flash memory, the Premium (black) Wii U has 29GB listed. But it’s not quite as simple as that.


This most recent Nintendo Direct video, translated by the folks at Kotaku, points out an issue with the internal storage. The Nintendo Network ID and account data takes up 4.2GB of space. That leaves just 3GB on the Basic model, which isn’t going to last long if you plan on downloading any games now that Nintendo is allowing full game downloads. In fact, New Super Mario Bros U will squeeze on there – it’s around 2GB in size. Nintendo Land is 3.2GB though, so it won’t fit on a Basic Wii U at all.

Wii U discs hold 25GB of data so when developers start filling those, you’re going to be pressed for space with just one title downloaded to the Premium consoles, too.

Happily, Nintendo has always been quite up-front about the value of external storage to its new machine. They will allow you to plug USB hard disk drives, up to 2TB, into their new console and you can use that to store any downloads. However, there’s a catch here too. If your USB hdd is powered by the mains, it should be fine but if it’s a portable style drive that pulls its power from the USB port, you’re going to need a Y-splitter cable to get enough juice into it. You can also use USB flash drives but those might be a little less reliable.



  1. Laughable in some ways, but… 3GB is a shit-load for games saves etc. and is certainly a better situation than the Vita for example.

    What I do think is bad is that the deluxe model only has 32GB (25GB available)… 2 games at about 12GB each (which seems to be typical currently) and it’s full – what’s the point in that, really? There’s just no point bothering.
    They really should have got a HDD in there, preferably an upgradable on like the PS3, hell even a blank expansion slot and limiting the internal memory to 8GB (3GB) would have been better than having peripherals and wires hanging around.

    They recommend not using USB flash drives because the slow read & write speed could cause problems with games running from them, but SD or HDD is fine.

    Seperately manufacturers should really be compelled to advertise usable space…what good is an 8GB iDevice when only 6.3GB is usable or an 8GB Wii U with 3GB usable… or a 32GB Microsoft Surface (RT) with 16-18GB usable.

    If capacity is a selling point that’s mentioned, then you buy it for that capacity not for a small part of it the OS allows you to use.

    • Note that you cannot store software on SD Cards on the Wii U:

      “For Wii U, SD Cards can be used for saving a picture of your Mii and QR Code patterns for your Mii but not as an external storage device for Wii U software. SD Cards can, however, be used in Wii mode to save data for Wii games. This data is managed through the Data Management feature in Wii mode. SD cards are also used to transfer data from Wii to Wii U.”

      • So they just recommend externally powered HDD then.

        So Wii U has a pretty large external power brick, has wires from the IR receiver for Wii controller compatibility and wires to external HDD

        Wire city! Some future gen-leaping tech they’ve got there

    • Actually, most USB flash drives are very fast to READ data. Maybe half or 1/3 the speed of an HDD (which goes as fast as 14MB/s) , but on par with most SD cards (around 8MB/s) and much faster than most DVD drives and with zero seek time. I guess they are going against it for it’s poor WRITE time in general (unless you use one extreme model that cost an eye and an arm). It’s usually a pain to copy 2GB of data at 500kb/s :(, so in NA and Japan downloading games using a flash drive would actually cripple the download speed (and maybe Nintendo’s download code can’t handle it well).

      • I meant 24MB/s for HDDs. whoops! :)

  2. While the internal storage is pretty abysmal, I love that you can store games on an external HDD. It drives me mad when I fill my ps3 and can’t stick the extra on a HDD.

    • Upgrade your HDD?

      • yep stick a 1TB in it.

      • Not such a good idea with 200GB of games to re-download though. You could backup to an external drive first but locked data is lost without PS+
        All in all it’s a complete faff for the end user that could be fixed by allowing external HDD’s to store games and game data.
        Sony’s encrypted HDD could still work through USB, so why not allow it?

      • I think that there are even shops that help you create the backup on a USB drive, upgrade the HDD and restore the backup to the new HDD.

  3. You can get huge USB sticks for decent money these days, so I’m sure they’ll do the job. Why do you question their reliability though Peter?

  4. With the price of storage these days, I don’t understand why the console manufactures can’t put tons of storage in their machines. Surely 250gb in a bulk buy of 10 million must work out pennies per unit

  5. 4.2gb for network ID & account info??? What?? Surely that can’t be right?

    • Perhaps there’s reserved for disc caching or something too?

      A console OS and periphery features like account info and Mii customisations can’t take up that room, surely?

  6. Don’t know why you’re crying so much get the Wii U 8gb £248 and £50 for a 1TB drive that’s still £20 cheaper than the 32gb Wii u and you will have 31 times the space.

    And with your £20 you have saved can be added to another game.

  7. they region locked it, and they decided on a woefully inadequate storage solution.

    seems no matter what they say, they’re still years behind everybody else.

    • Shoulder buttons are basically on/off buttons too, not analogue leavers/triggers.

      Imagine an FPS with that limitation, or a racer… a racer with no analogue trigger for acceleration/braking.

      It’s a total joke really

      But Nintendo’s software will no doubt shine & they have the pull to hammer it home

      • Sony has practically all buttons/triggers as analogue inputs on their gamepads since the PS2. (I loved how you could just squeeze the trigger in MGS2 by not complete pressing down on the X button).
        I think only L3 and R3 are the only digital inputs.
        I don’t know if the buttons on the PSVita are analogue (the MGS2 trigger squeeze is missing) but when I launch the ball on a pinball game using the X button it sometimes feels like it detected how hard I pushed.

  8. Am I the only one dissapointed by the tiny size of the games? Nintendo finally have 25GB discs to play with and they only fill up 3GB!?

    • Why? Most PS3 games are 6.8GB+ some uncompressed sound… recently, extra features and some Sony exclusives have got that higher and games now are up to 15GB.

      But this is just a 2D mario game & a mini-game compendium…

      LittleBigPlanet for all the bells & whistles that contains was only a 2GB download… despite being 40GB on disc thanks to various PS3 bottlenecks and of course the space being available for uncompressed sound, why compress if you don’t need to?

      The space will no doubt be used over time as more complicated and longer to develop for games become available… but don’t forget PC games which throw around many times more pixels than either this or even next-gen consoles do, most games top out at 10-16GB

  9. I’m absolutely looking forward to picking up my deluxe Wii U, and whilst 32GB isn’t much storage at all, it’s enough for game saves and smaller downloadable titles.

    I’m genuinely more than happy to have the option of choosing my own storage medium and size, especially when placed against my Vita and its expensive proprietary cards, and as all my consoles live in a stand with doors on the front I won’t see any extraneous cables anyway.

    I readily admit it may not be a hugely elegant solution from an aesthetic point of view, and if you already have multiple consoles on display the last thing you probably want is another box and power adapter. However, the freedom that Nintendo have afforded the consumer is refreshing, and I hope that it’s something that Sony and Microsoft consider with their next-gen entries.

    • i would say sony have already offered that choice with the ps3.
      you can replace the included hard drive with one of your own.

      not so much with the Vita, but maybe there’ll be third party versions of the memory cards at some point.
      but then if the Vita is the only device that uses them that will be less likely, the pro duos the psp used were also used by other devices so that made third party versions likely.

      • That’s true! I forget that – perhaps because I haven’t had the need to go beyond 320gb…

        The Vita showcases Sony’s curious ‘one step forward, one step back’ approach, when it has enough examples of using proprietary formats such as betamax, minidiscs and UMD’s which whilst technically better are more expensive for consumers. I imagine part of their argument for Vita’s own memory cards was to prevent the use of ‘inferior’ third party ones besides making more money, but if the PS3 is mod-able with standard memory options then why revert to a proprietary format for your next console?

        Sadly with the arrival of Plus on Vita, I’m going to have to bite the bullet anyway and get a 32gb card as my 16gb one is already bursting at the seams!

  10. have they revealed if this thing will even play audio CDs?
    or, gasp, DVDs?

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