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Is an SSD or HDD better for an Xbox One external hard drive?

Xbox One Seagate SSD
Xbox One Seagate SSD (Image credit: Windows Central)

While SSDs bring significant loading time improvements, the premium is hard to justify for some. HDDs are a capable alternative, with average speeds and an accessible price.

HDD vs. SSD: What's the difference?

When upgrading your Xbox One storage capacity, an external hard drive is the best choice. With the console's internal hard drive built-in firmly, support for external USB 3.0 drives makes for an easy plug-and-play solution. However, you'll need to choose between two drive types.

Hard disk drives (HDDs) are the "traditional" storage solution, commonly present in entry-level PCs, games consoles, and other budget devices. Data is stored on a spinning disk inside, with transfer speeds determined by its revolutions per minute (RPM). Solid-state drives (SSDs) are quickly gaining traction as a preferred alternative, boasting superior drive technology. With no moving parts, SSDs mean improved performance and faster boot times, although at a significantly higher price tag.

During past tests with Seagate's official Xbox One SSD, loading times were roughly cut by 20 percent, with similar results in future revisions. The fast loading time isn't game-changing, but those seconds soon accumulate over extended periods of play. Without moving parts, SDDs generally present fewer hardware issues and run quieter.

Despite superior internals, HDDs are still appealing to most Xbox One user. Their low price undercuts all SSDs, granting more storage for your cash. The drives also commonly offer the choice of higher capacities, hitting 4TB, 8TB, 16TB configurations.

Should I buy an HDD or SSD?

For most Xbox One owners, an HDD offers excellent value for money, upping your storage beyond the base configuration. You'll miss the benefits of faster drives, but still get strong performance and more room for games. There are some great cheap external drives available and recommended for most.

However, if you demand the most from your console, an SDD offers an unbeaten blend of expansion and speed. You'll experience reduced load times across all games, as long as you can justify its premium rate.

Which Xbox One hard drive is best?

If wanting to expand your Xbox One storage for cheap, there's a growing range of Xbox-compatible HDDs available. Toshiba leads with its 1TB Canvio Basics drive (opens in new tab), tripling your base storage for just $50. Alternatively, the 2TB WD Elements (opens in new tab) drive packs even more room for only $64.

Jumping over to SSDs means parting with more of your cash. Samsung drives start at $98 for a 500GB variant (opens in new tab), while increased capacity usually costs more than $200. The price outweighs the benefits for many, with few bytes per dollar.

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.