The Xbox Series X introduces significant gains in storage, adopting a custom NVMe solid-state drive, poised to cut back loading screens to a minimum. Microsoft positions that high-speed architecture fundamental to its next-generation vision, also introducing changes to the handling of game installations and data. With that comes the arrival of a proprietary memory card-style SSD solution, while USB external hard drives take a backseat for backward compatibility.
Products used in this guide
- Expand your Xbox One and Series X: WD 1TB My Passport Drive ($55 at Amazon)
- SSD for today and tomorrow: Samsung 500GB T5 Portable SSD ($90 at Amazon)
What is the Xbox Series X Storage Expansion Card?
When your Xbox Series X library eventually fills the internal drive, Microsoft will provide several routes to increase your available storage. However, given the console's spotlight focused on processing capabilities and speed, it couples performance advancements with a custom, high-speed NVMe solid-state setup. It enlists aid from Seagate for custom SSD cards, providing a storage expansion that meets demands.
The Seagate Storage Expansion Card is a proprietary solution akin to memory cards of past, ensuring speeds that deliver high performance. It ties into Microsoft's architecture designed to improve asset streaming, where storage and RAM work together, supporting the scope of Xbox Series X optimized games. In short, it's a fast memory card to expand your storage, guaranteed to meet the standards for Xbox Series X.
When your Xbox Series X internal SSD hits capacity, titles designed for the console require a memory card. Traditional USB 3.0 drives are supported, but only work for backward compatible Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox games not upgraded for Xbox Series X.
The cards come in only a little larger than your average USB thumb drive, with a sliding cover for safekeeping. They connect via a dedicated rear port, which hooks up directly to the processor over the PCIe 4.0 interface. Microsoft has also only discussed 1TB cards, and it remains unclear whether other sizes will be available.
Where to buy Xbox Series X Storage Expansion Card
While the Xbox Seagate Storage Expansion Card saw an unveiling alongside Xbox Series X specifications, we're yet to receive details on pricing, availability, and preorders — as with the console itself. However, the technology doesn't come cheap, and like past Xbox-branded Seagate storage, expect a small premium over off-the-shelf PC alternatives. Given current Seagate SSD pricing, expect expansion cards to start from at least $200.
Do USB external hard drives work with Xbox Series X?
Microsoft pledges support for all Xbox One accessories with Xbox Series X, extending to the existing storage ecosystem. That guarantees partial compatibility for external hard drives from the Xbox One era via USB 3.1 and USB 3.2 connectivity. However, your spinning hunks of metal don't provide the speed of Microsoft's custom SSD solution, imposing significant limitations.
Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox titles can all run on an external hard drive with Xbox Series X. However, Xbox Series X enhanced games can't run on external USB hard drives, due to slow transfer speeds, failing to meet next-generation demands. For upcoming Xbox Series X releases, or older games updated to take advantage of Xbox Series X, the internal SSD or expansion cards are required.
Best external hard drives for Xbox Series X
While we don't know about Xbox Series X Storage Expansion Card preorders just yet, a vibrant ecosystem of USB-connected hard drives will meet demands for Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox titles. These storage solutions all function with Xbox One today, multiplying the capacity of your console, with plug-and-play access also promised for Xbox Series X this holiday.
Our favorite entry-level Xbox One hard drive starts as affordable as a video game, with Western Digital offering a range of reliable storage within performance demands. That 1TB expansion can triple your room across some consoles, with backward compatibility guaranteed for the next generation.
Sleek and stylish
Add a splash of color to your Xbox One setup with WD's My Passport range. Starting at 1TB, you'll get WD's reliable drive technology, shrouded in one of seven different colored plastic shells.
Go big or go home with this 4TB behemoth from Seagate, providing room for your full games collection for the average user. It offers four times the internal capacity that ships with Xbox Series X, proving an essential pickup today and all you'll need as a next-generation sidekick.
High capacity, low price
This 4TB Seagate portable drive is all you need, hitting the highest capacity of its USB-powered drives. Formidable speeds and space for dozens of games make this ideal for any frequent gamer.
Opting for an SSD will boost your read and write speeds over a traditional hard drive, cutting load times across your favorite titles on Xbox One consoles. And while external SSDs don't meet the demanded speed for Xbox Series X enhanced titles, that speed boost still comes in handy for backward compatibility.
Need For Speed
While Xbox-compatible SSDs aren't cheap, Samsung's T5 500GB external drive packs top-tier speed below $100. It doubles the storage of the base Xbox One so you can offload your most-played titles for that extra boost. Encased in a shock-resistant metal finish, it fits stealthily beside any console.
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