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Seagate Xbox Storage Expansion Card review: Quality of life comes at a price

The best Xbox storage expansion doesn't come cheap.

Xbox Series X|S Seagate Storage Expansion Card
(Image: © Matt Brown | Windows Central)

It's been some time since Microsoft launched the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles, its duo of next-gen gaming devices, promising the latest leap in power for the living room. There are also more games than ever before, but with file sizes on the rise, each eats further into your available storage.

Xbox consoles come with 512GB or 1TB of space out of the box, meaning storage space has quickly become a precious commodity. It's an inescapable reality of the latest generation, with Microsoft pitching accessories like the Xbox Expansion Card as the solution. Developed alongside Seagate, this tiny solid-state drive (SSD) is a seamless way to expand Xbox storage, using the same cutting-edge internals as the console.

The Seagate-made Xbox Expansion Card is a hard sell. It's an almost-perfect storage setup, delivering fast speeds in an easy, plug-and-play format. But it also costs a lot of money, making this prohibitively expensive to many would-be buyers. But if you can put down the cash, it's an upgrade that works great, doubling as an investment with long-term benefits.

Here's what the Seagate Xbox Storage Expansion Card is, whether it's worth the price tag, and a breakdown of why it might be for you.

Seagate Storage Expansion Card for Xbox Series X|S: Price and availability

Xbox Series X|S Seagate Storage Expansion Card

Matt Brown | Windows Central (Image credit: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

Seagate's 1TB Xbox Storage Expansion Card first launched in late 2020. The firm has since launched 512GB and 2TB cards, providing identical performance across multiple capacitates and price points.

The 1TB Xbox Storage Expansion costs $219.99 in the U.S., with 512GB and 2TB drives priced at $139.99 and $399.99, respectively. Popular U.S. retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and GameStop stock 1TB and 2TB cards. As of publication, the 512GB card remains exclusive to the Microsoft Store and Walmart.

We've previously seen discounts on 1TB and 2TB expansion cards, offering a small saving on the suggested retail price. Pricing on 512GB has proven firmer, with no sizeable savings in the U.S. at publication.

Canada stocks the 512GB model from $180, while 1TB and 2TB models cost $290 and $520. Official prices fall at £160 and €190 for 512GB in the U.K. and Europe, £255 and €300 for 1TB, and climbing to £475 and €565 for 2TB. However, prices are currently below RRP at many retailers overseas.

While Microsoft has expressed plans to introduce Xbox Expansion Cards from more manufacturers, likely spanning various price points, the proprietary drives remain Seagate-exclusive in 2022. We'll continue to round up the best prices on Xbox Expansion Cards, where available.

Seagate Storage Expansion Card for Xbox Series X|S: What's good

Xbox Series X|S Seagate Storage Expansion Card

Matt Brown | Windows Central (Image credit: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

Beyond faster processors and new technologies, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S also added new solid-state storage, which is quicker and more capable than the hard drives of the past. Microsoft's chosen solution, utilizing PCIe 4.0 tech, sits among the best storage options available, even in the enthusiast PC space. While speeding up load times, it also establishes a baseline across the generation, allowing for more storage-intensive games.

Microsoft has found itself in an all-new predicament. Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S don't have multiple storage options, so expandable storage is the only option. In the past, it was as easy as plugging in your external hard drive over USB. But when so many games rely on these new SSDs, what can you do if the best Xbox external drives just don't cut it?

While Microsoft still supports external USB drives, games can't be played directly from storage due to slower read and write speeds. While backward-compatible games work as usual, you'll need to shuttle Xbox Series X|S Optimized titles onto the internal drive when in use. While it's a viable workaround, copying files back and forth can be painful, especially with some games surging far beyond 100GB.

I can't say the Seagate Storage Expansion Card is a great deal, yet I still wholeheartedly recommend it to those on the fence.

For now, the Xbox Storage Expansion Card is the proposed (and only) remedy, compacting the same speedy solid-state storage into standalone add-ons. It couldn't be more seamless on paper, adding an identical, secondary NVMe drive to the available storage. While Microsoft and Seagate first teamed up on a single 1TB Storage Expansion Card, the partnership has since introduced 512GB and 2TB capacities.

While I've held on personally investing in an Xbox Expansion Card for months, I finally caved after almost a year with the console. Even the 1TB available with Xbox Series X can prove tight, downloading and deleting games regularly just to fit a couple of new releases. Storage management was quickly becoming a frequent headache, which Microsoft's official Expansion Cards should solve.

Xbox Series X|S Seagate Storage Expansion Card

Matt Brown | Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Matt Brown | Windows Central)
CategoryXbox Expansion Card
CompatibilityXbox Series X|S
Capacities512GB, 1TB, 2TB
StoragePCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD
Dimensions2.08 x 1.24 x 0.30 inches (31.6mm x 52.95mm x 7.8mm)
Weight1.06 oz (30g)
Price (USD)$140, $220, $400

Looking past the upfront cost, the Storage Expansion Card easily hooks up and expands Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S consoles. Microsoft's DIY approach means every new Xbox console has a dedicated port for its proprietary cards, with the same inoperability expected across future Xbox revisions. Using PCIe 4.0 provides a direct line to the CPU, translating to ultra-fast speeds on the spec sheet.

The card measures a fun-sized 53mm by 32mm, seemingly based on CFexpress standard, almost on par with the average USB thumb drive. Unlike most external drives, it's cable-free and only slightly protrudes from the console's rear, preventing unwanted clutter around your desk or entertainment center. Each drive also comes with a protective sleeve, making these cards easy to move and store.

Much like existing USB drive support for Xbox consoles, Microsoft designed Storage Expansion Cards to be simple plug-and-play accessories. Pressing in the card sounds an audible click, with an on-screen notification once the card is detected by the console. The extra storage is instantly available to use, with the option of installing future content onto the internal drive or the expansion.

Xbox Series X Ports

Matt Brown | Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

I also have zero doubts about Seagate's underlying drive tech, with overall game performance or loading times on par with the internal SSD. Most importantly, these cards play all games designed for Xbox Series X|S, including those incompatible with USB external drives. It removes all the hassle surrounding USB drives, making this a relatively seamless extension of the stock drive. Backward-compatible Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox games also work, with reduced load times in some instances.

If you're happy frequently copying files between drives, the Storage Expansion Card isn't for you. Seagate's SSD instead looks to match what's included with your console out of the box, faster and more elegant to save time throughout the generation. But should you look to transfer between SSDs, the following figures help directly illustrate those benefits.

TitleInternal to Expansion CardExpansion Card to internal
Halo Infinite (52.51GB)2m 14s2m 54s
Forza Horizon 5 (102.4GB)4m 22s4m 13s
Call of Duty: Warzone (92.8GB)4m 25s2m 16s

All tests performed using an Xbox Series X console with a 1TB Seagate Storage Expansion Card. File sizes for each title accurate as of publication.

While the speeds are incredible, we found experiences can and will differ, even on the same console. While transfers to and from the Expansion Card were significantly faster than anything using USB, transfer rates and the resulting transfer times weren't consistent between tests. While it appears the Expansion Card is generally faster at reading versus writing data, your mileage my vary.

But even with fast speeds, that's not the main reason to buy a Storage Expansion Card. Put simply, it's a way to add more storage without worrying about which games will work or how you'll next move them around.

When Microsoft and Seagate first launched its Xbox Storage Expansion Card in late 2020, our initial review criticized the initial 1TB offering for lacking options. We suggested the duo should release a cheaper 512GB capacity, providing a more affordable alternative to its high entry price. We also hoped a 2TB unit would come to market. Reports later followed, with the Seagate Expansion Card since releasing the two additional capacities.

The expanded range is welcomed, presenting various price points for differing budgets. The 512GB option caters well to Xbox Series S owners or Xbox Series X owners looking to save. The 1TB remains a solid middle ground — recommended if you can afford it. We probably don't need to tell you if you need the 2TB drive, which best serves enthusiasts with large game collections.

Seagate Storage Expansion Card for Xbox Series X|S: What's not good

Xbox Series X|S Seagate Storage Expansion Card

Matt Brown | Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

It's hard to find specific flaws in the Seagate Storage Expansion Card as a product, but the price remains a crucial hurdle detracting from its appeal. Microsoft raised the bar from storage this generation, meaning these drives are prohibitively costly, even for the smallest available configuration.

Xbox Series S only includes a 512GB drive out of the box, while Xbox Series X comes with 1TB for now. With the equivalent Expansion Cards available from $140 and $220, doubling the storage almost costs 50% of the console in both cases. It's a hard sell, no matter how you look at it.

Utilizing PCIe 4.0 was always an expensive bet, with today's pricing falling in line with our previous predictions ahead of release. While proprietary in design, pricing isn't far from equivalent PC drives leveraging the same interface. The technology should become more affordable in time, but until then it's a luxury, especially on consoles.

Seagate has driven down the upfront cost through new extra configurations, though USB alternatives remain unmatched in overall value. The 512GB unit offers around 3.66GB per dollar at RRP, while 1TB and 2TB models translate to 4.65GB and 5.12GB per buck. Compared to USB external drives offering 1TB for just $50, at minimum four times cheaper, there's a heavy tax for considering Microsoft's official solution.

The proprietary design of the Seagate Storage Expansion Cards also plainly sucks for consumers, with no viable alternatives at this time. The cards use standard NVMe drives with commonplace CFexpress enclosures, yet Microsoft bars third-party drives of similar spec at a software level. The Sony PlayStation 5 just uses off-the-shelf M.2 SSDs, reaping the benefits of an open and competitive market. While it makes things simpler for Xbox owners, it's still a shame we have no approved alternatives.

Microsoft has also expressed interest in welcoming additional manufacturers to the Expansion Card lineup, yet they're still Seagate-exclusive midway through 2022. Having alternate Storage Expansion Cards should provide more options to buyers, even if pricing won't change drastically overnight.

Seagate Storage Expansion Card for Xbox Series X|S: Should you buy it?

Xbox Series X|S Seagate Storage Expansion Card

Matt Brown | Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

You should buy this if ...

  • You want the best storage expansion for Xbox Series X|S
  • You don't want to move games back and forth from a USB drive
  • You want a portable drive to move Xbox games around
  • You have the cash to burn

You shouldn't buy this if ...

  • You need more than 2TB of external storage
  • You want an affordable Xbox storage expansion

With the latest Xbox consoles adopting high-performance SSDs, Microsoft could've approached expandable storage in a few ways. Landing on these compact cards has provided a seamless solution that's guaranteed to work with all games on the system, even if limiting your options.

I can't say the Xbox Storage Expansion Card is a great deal, yet I still wholeheartedly recommend it to those on the fence. Yes, in terms of value, you can add much more space to your console for less with a cheaper USB external drive. But there's no alternative that integrates so well with Xbox consoles, making the complete experience hassle-free. It's a premium product with a high asking price, making it impossible to compare this to anything on the market.

When looking for a seamless storage expansion for your Xbox, eliminating the need to manage storage, the Seagate Storage Expansion Card is unbeaten. There's nothing else that compares, with little to fault, beyond the high asking price. Here's hoping that drops a few years down the line.

Matt Brown
Matt Brown

Matt Brown is Windows Central's Senior Games Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.