Skip to main content

Xbox Series X vs. PS5 storage expansion: Which solution do you prefer?

Xbox Series X, Series S, PlayStation 5 size comparison
Xbox Series X, Series S, PlayStation 5 size comparison (Image credit: Windows Central)

Recently, there's been a big flare-up on the internet over which gaming console is doing storage expansion the "right" way. PlayStation and Xbox have two very different approaches to this debacle.

The method Microsoft is using for the Xbox Series X and S is straightforward, though it's also expensive and devoid of freedom of choice. In short, if you want to expand your console's storage to fit more of the best Xbox games, you buy a pre-approved expansion card that's guaranteed to work with the system. That guarantee comes with a premium price tag, though.

Meanwhile, Sony's take is a little more radical: Go out and buy an SSD yourself, and maybe it'll work with the PS5. On the one hand, this allows you to pick whichever model and brand suits you (within Sony's provided parameters, that is) and fits your wallet's needs. However, not only do you not get a guarantee that the thing will work, but you also have to do some minor disassembly work on your PS5 to get the SSD in there. It's not a plug-and-play operation, which is what consoles are most famous for being.

We've already discussed the topic over here on Windows Central and, at least in the case of editor Richard Devine, have taken Microsoft's side. But that's not to say there's not a perfectly valid argument to be had for Sony's side of the debate. After all, many Sony employees had to sign off on what has ultimately become the PS5's storage expansion solution method, so there has to be logic behind it.

With that said, would you rather Sony put a stamp on pre-approved SSDs and sell them for a jacked-up price like Microsoft is doing? Do you prefer proprietary solutions (like what Sony did with its beloved PS Vita), or do you like the risk and reward of choice? Comment below and let us know.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

44 Comments
  • While I prefer Sony's solution of NON-proprietary storage, they're BOTH bad.
    Because, for 500€, both consoles should have come with far more than just 1TB of storage (specially when none of them actually comes with 1TB of free space anyway).
  • $500 would be a steal for PC with a 1 TB NVMe SSD and equivalent GPU. The Xbox is already sold at a loss and the SSDs are easily the most expensive component other than the APU. It sucks, but they're priced well for what they are. That said, I do wish the Xbox allowed you to use off the shelf SSDs.
  • Xbox’s obviously. They were thinking ahead to make it easy for people. PlayStation thinking is simply halfassed and in approach.
  • @DJCBS, no matter what the internal storage amount was, it would not be enough within reasonable pricing. The games are all just so much bigger.
    My solution is a 12TB external USB HDD. Just swap the games I need to actively play into the internal storage when needed (which in any case is not even all games). I don't actively play that many games simultaneously anyway. It's not a big deal to swap games into and out of internal storage. No way I'm paying over $200 for only 1 TB storage.
    HDDs are still the way to go for real bulk storage, which is what is needed to hold the ever growing library of games. The internal storage is for games in active rotation, not for the archive of games.
  • Playstation's obviously because it's non proprietary which means more options and cheaper prices. $220 expansion card with no other offerings but Seagate's vs dozens and dozens SSD's, some even under $100 for them that meet spec
  • you have apparently have not read anything about the hoops you have to go through. Also, Sony knowing all NVME will not work did not give list to PS5 owners, rather they are like let them find out themselves,,, how is that for no proprietary.
    I can not wait for read horror show of how many PS5 owners bricked their consoles when they open that system to add the SSD themselves.
  • You wanted Sony to give a list of officially supported SSDs for the PS5 while they are doing a beta to test if things are working well? Are you for real?
    Don't worry, once this officially releases SSD manufacturers will run as fast as they can to market their SSDs as PS5 compatible, they are already kinda doing that and it's only in beta, so there won't be any confusion.
  • Not too say it'll most likely void the warranty
  • Wow. That was incorrect.
  • At least they are covered by warranty gor doing a drive swap like sony says you should be able to
  • Xbox's expansion is clearly better, but they need to bring the price down hard.
  • The Xbox solution is easier, but the ability to use off the shelf for PS is great too. They are both somewhat expensive, but really what I want for Xbox is bigger expansion card storage sizes. Where are the other brands besides Seagate?
  • PlayStation overall. Xbox is nice for being easy but one trick pony. When more NVMe 4.0 drives come out you will have a ton of options, prices will drop just like NVMe 3.0 drives did. When Xbox releases a 2tb option in 2022-23 what do you do with the 1tb? Sell it? Keep as a back up? At least with Sonys I can get an enclosure and use as a fast external drive or put in a laptop or pc, etc.
  • The PS5 solution is obviously better, there's already SSDs that even come with a heatsink that are cheaper then the expansion pack for the Xbox Series, despite being 3x faster and way more versatile. And in the future PS5 compatible SSDs will get cheaper faster, so that's great. If Microsoft was as open as Sony people could've saved 100$+ by buying a M.2 SSD, the one on the Xbox Series X/S isn't even fast, so matching and even surpassing isn't hard. That could be a great selling point for a Xbox Series X/S and adding extra storage for the Series S would actually make logical sense, because not only 1tb for 100$ is not that absurd for the Series S, people could get 500gb for way cheaper and that would bemake sense for the budget console that the Series S is, and that is now, in a few years they will get even cheaper. Wither way both consoles should've come with 600$ model with double the storage.
  • When I first saw the expansion card option from Microsoft, I was like 'WTF?" I thought the industry had moved away from proprietary devices like this. But after hearing about Sony's solution and now seeing it in action, I have to admit that MS made the right decision. I know that MS has had a long relationship with Seagate but I've never had anything but problems with them so I'll wait until there are other companies putting out expansion cards before I actually get one (of course, I still have to get a system first). I don't think it was mentioned in the article that even if the SSD meets Sony's requirements, they state that the drives may not achieve the same loading speeds as the internal drive so that's another point in Microsoft's favor.
  • I would be happier with the MS option if more than 1 OEM made them and they had more than 1 size. Holding off for at least 2 TB
  • Anyone saying the PS5 is the better option to upgrade your storage has no idea what they are talking about. This is the 21st century, I should not have to take my BRAND NEW system apart to upgrade my console's memory, I did that back on my 360. Obviously Sony has/had no idea what they are doing and Microsoft is the only system that thought ahead. The first build of the PS5 is obviously a failure in terms of technology know how.
    Seriously, if I wanted to screw with my system I'd just have bought a PC. I really like Sony games but that is just stupid.
    I will agree the series x/s expanded storage is too expensive but it will come down over time. Plus I just use my portable SSD to keep all non X/S games on there and I still get the FPS boost and HDR support.
    Face it, Microsoft made a better system this go around. I love people saying Sony is the "cheaper" method as well. Cheaper tends to mean not as good, so have fun with that.
  • It’s a single screw that holds the nvme drive down. Not rocket science…
  • One screw wrong on a rocket...
  • Even laptops require more screws than the PS5 to upgrade their storage. That is a complete non issue. A retailer can easily say to a prospective buyer "hey, need more storage for your PS5, come and have a look at our options, and if you can bring the console in with you we can even fit it for free!".
  • And a nice markup on the card?
    Or "free" with an extended warranty added in?
    Australian retailers must be a lot friendlier than the US big box stores.
    You're lucky.
  • No, Australia just has the ACCC that works in favour of the consumer.
  • Series x hands down. It’s so simple it takes like literally 3 seconds. And you can have multiple cards and they are hot swappable. The performance is indistinguishable from the internal drive. Ppl say the cost is expensive, but those ppl obviously haven’t purchased 1tb nvme drives. At the card’s now usual going rate of $188, they are priced competitively imo. I feel like ms got way more right than Sony this gen so far.
  • The problem with the Xbox option is it's never going to be cheaper here because there is no competition, it's basically $360 bucks or nothing. Whereas the more open nature of the PS5 allows for SSD drives that are going to get cheaper, larger, and faster as time progresses.
  • $360? in what currency? What retailer?
    US list price it's $229 for the Seagate card versus $279 for a 1TB samsung drive with heat sink. The Samsung bare drive *is* cheaper but the heat sink isn't optional. And it had better be a good one.
  • Australia, everywhere. Equivalent SSD's might be equal value now, but they are going to drop in price, and fairly quickly. And proprietary hardware has always shown us in the past that it retains its value because it has no reason not to, there's no competition. And even if Seagate do release larger capacity drives, I can't see that happening within the next 12 months personally, and if it did it wouldn't drop the price of the existing card. Again, just simply based off previous proprietary accessories. I'd be happy to be proven wrong though.
  • We'll see, if and when other vendors deliver XBOX expansion cards.
    (So, what's the australia price of the Samsung 1TB card with Heat sink? AU$379 vs AU$300?)
  • The Samsung 980 Pro is $269, Seagate's 1TB Firecuda is $295. Pricing is fairly comparative at the moment, it's what happens in twelve months time that will be interesting. Especially since Australia isn't seeing the discounts on the Series expansion like the US is. I also don't think the Xbox expansion system is bad, I merely think that the PS5 is better, for me personally. From an average joe point of view Xbox is better (although retailers could easily offer installation of the PS5 SSD as a free cost, or even charged, but it creates a talking point to upsell).
  • It would indeed be a fine lever to upsell an extended warranty.
    Put that way, its very retailer-friendly.
    Cha-ching! 😏
  • All products come with a 1 year minimum warranty anyway in Australia, which any issues from installation would well and truly fall under that time period.
  • The problem with Sony's solution is its success or failure depends on third parties' quality control. Which Sony can't guarantee. Sony won't provide a list of acceptable vendors so you go, buy a drive that doesn't work reliably or at all? Who is responsible? The retailer? The SSD vendor? The heat sink vendor? You? What are you saving by going DIY? So far the only SSD I've seen tested is the top of the line Samsung that runs US$279 for 1TB. On paper, yes, Sony's solution is better if you know what you're doing. Or if any old SSD would work just as with the PS4 HDD expansion. But the Sony guidelines make it clear it won't. The thing is finicky. Too many pitfalls. More, out in the real world not everybody knows what they're doing. People will buy SSDs that won't fit. That don't meet the required speed. Neglect to buy a heat sink or buy one that's too big or inadequate.. A lot of buyers won't be tech literate. Kids, spending saved up allowance money. Many will have more dollars than sense. People don't read instruction manual, much less spec sheets. And worse, not every SSD vendor or retailer will be honest. People *will* be sold non-compliant SSDs. "Its a PCIe drive. Of course it'll work. " There *will* be horror stories. None will be Sony's fault. Folks will still be screwed. We're talking *consoles* here, not gaming PCs . Different markets, different customer bases, different needs. People buy consoles expecting simplicity: plug and play, literally. Failure proof. Sony's "solution" has too many failure modes for the target market. It expects too much of vendors, retailers, and above all consumers. Too much risk. MS thought this through, beyond just the technology all the way to the customer profile. Finally, folks assume that just because Seagate is the *first* XBOX expansion card vendor out the gate it will forever be the only one. I don't recall anybody saying that. That is just an assumption. One can just as reasonably assume that once the installed base is big enough the likes of Samsung and WD will jump in. With both bigger cards and, especially, smaller (half-GB) cards for the SS market. There's a need. There's money to be made. Time will tell but the odds are that folks buying XBOX expansion cards will have a better experience that might even be cheaper. So XBOX *customers* for the "win".
  • Actually I remember someone, maybe Phil Spencer, saying that they wanted one ready to go out the gate but there would eventually be more made available from other 3rd parties. That was absolutely the right decision, in light of the mess that PS5 owners will have to go through (including not having any option to start), even if the Seagate card is slightly more expensive than comparable drives. My guess is there is a year or maybe 2 year deal with Seagate and then it will be opened up to other manufacturers. And you're right for all the reasons above. It's easy for people who build and play on pc, or the more hardcore audience who hang out on video game comment threads to assume that Sony's solution is simple and offers more freedom of choice. Easy for them, maybe. But that's not who buys hundreds of millions of consoles by and large. Those people are kids and parents for the most part, and they don't know wtf they're doing, for the most part.
  • Sony's snafu on m.2 nvmes is easily rectifiable - on the page and guidance how to upgrade storage via the nvme m.2 slot is to list the basic requirements prominently that nvme m.2 should meet. In regards to Microsoft's solution, we need more companies offering storage solutions (competition would drive the cost down) and the option to buy a third party enclosure and allowing users to add their own m.2 nvme.
  • Maybe like the 360 S, there will be 3rd party enclosures available to connect to the console at whatever size you prefer.
  • Doable.
    The best approach might be an XBOX to CFExpress adapter.
    It would still suffer the same quality control issues as Sony's approach and not save much if any money. For now CFExpress cards aren't just pricey but outright expensive.
    The key problem for all these expansions is reliable data transfer speeds to allow insitu code execution.
    Since the tech is leading/bleeding edge there will be a lot of variability between vendors and even between lots of the same vendor.
    Add that to the reasons for MS to be less aggressive in specs and going proprietary.
    Consoles need predictability.
  • The Xbox expansion is cheaper today just shop around. I got mine for 176 on amazon brand New. Its a device made for the machine, for the standard user and thier parents. no need to think just buy, no need to tinker, just plug it in.
  • Sony is asking regular people to open up their console, figure out the right storage (since they couldn't be bothered to provide a specific list of card names) and talking about heat sinks like most people even understand what that is. They deserve every bit of the customer support nightmare that is about to ensue. Microsoft went with a plug 'n' play solution and, while I do not always agree with proprietary memory cards, it is a simple solution that anyone can utilize without having to jump through hoops and the price will eventually go down after they open it up to other companies besides Seagate. TLDR One solution is easy for everyone and the other one completely ignores the principle of K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, Stupid) and is destined to be a headache.
  • They are all good in my opinion, unless you have a Series S, then, none, the price right now is too high, Series S+card will cost more than a series X. Actually I have one Xbox Expasion, a gift, still in its box, selaed, brand new, selling for $512, the actual price is $550 (Series S = $ 474 in stock, Series X $ 891 out of stock since launch, PS5 $ 891, pre-order for september)
    MS kind of forgot us, they are only offering Series S, and Sony, even after leaving Brazil, still restocking PS5, in small numbers but, with a little patience you can buy, all the big stores are now listing it for pre-order, it was for october, but now changed for september.
  • I have huge respect for the Microsoft approach and believe it's better in general. One of my maxims in product development: don't give users something they can screw up, not even in the name of providing options or flexibility, because they will inevitably blame you for it when something goes wrong. Sony has broken that rule here, where MS has not. HOWEVER, as a user, I personally prefer Sony's approach, for me. I could just read the specs and go out and buy any card, even a larger one (pretty sure I'd not add storage unless the expansion is near 2TB or more), and install it quickly. Once the card is in, it's in and I won't touch it again, probably for the life of the console, so ease of insertion and removal doesn't matter for me personally.
  • I think your comment makes a lot of sense. I won't agree with Sony's approach being preferable to me. I'm a PC system builder and have no problem doing it but I think it's a stupid process and totally dumps on people that are trying to keep things simple because let's face it: most of the console buyers aren't PC builders. Furthermore, the cost of your 2GB M2 drive sits at what? $300-$500? Given that Sony is going to require a baseline performance benchmark you're not going to buy Samsung's 970 Evo Plus SSD because I don't believe it's as fast as Sony's. If they do allow it, there could be performance problems that lead to inconsistent framerates and longer load times because the games are designed to load with the internal SSD not an add-on storage option. I don't think Sony is going to allow for a lesser-performing SSD but they haven't released a list that I've found, yet, that says what drives are supported. I have seen the 5,500 MB/s sequential read speed cited in forums. If that's the case then we're in a bit of hot water with the PS5's upgrade options. For most consumers, this is going to be a very messy process. The Samsung 980 Pro PCIe4 M2 SSD costs $370 from Samsung. Crucial's P5 isn't fast enough, neither is Western Digital's Black SN750, which shows a 3,400 MB/s sequential read speed. So what, maybe Samsung is the only company that makes a SSD fast enough to work in the PS5? That's what it looks like, and I personally don't see why you'd consider that a better, preferable process unless you like pain and inconvenience. And for what? The PS5's load times are hardly better than the SX's, so you're losing twice by paying 75% more for your storage and having to install it yourself.
  • Does xbox expansion integrate to look like one larger drive. Or do you have to manage two separate storage volumes
  • The storage will appear as a mesh of both drives when you're looking at the installed games portion. However, if I'm not mistaken, you can choose which drive a game goes to if you think you'll be wanting to move that drive around. But the answer to your question is: yes, the storage looks like one space and doesn't make you look in two different spaces. This carries over from the Xbox One which did this.
  • Xbox > Playstation when it comes to this generation's expansion options. You could actually damage your PS5 if you pick the wrong drive and are a clutz when you install it. You can also just buy the wrong drive - very, very easy to do since those M.2 drives look identical to one another. Consoles are supposed to be easy and Sony made the expansion option anything but easy. Microsoft has always gotten expandable storage right. The Xbox 360 hard drive replacement was super simple too. I'll take a drive that is 100% guaranteed to work with my console and require 1-2 seconds to install versus a potentially incompatible drive that I have to tear my console apart to install and that is not something that anyone can admit that they would prefer. Easier, simpler = better.
  • These comments didn't age well. Sont has released a fairly large list of drives that work with PS5. And, its not taking a chance even if they didn't. There is a little thing called Google that most people like to get info from. And, the fact some people compare installing a drive with 1 screw to surgery blows my mind. I just bought a 1tb drive and heat sink from Amazon. Paid $198 for both total price. Id save $30 by having to remove a tiny screw any day. Could of gotten one cheaper, but didn't want less then 1tb. Can get a 500gb for like $100. Whats the world come to when people are so lazy that they dont even want to remove a screw for themselves? Sony tried proprietary storage with the Vita same boat as MS. Expensive and it was all you could get. It failed. Thats why the options in PS5 are "open" to the consumer. Maybe someone doesnt want a 1tb. Maybe they are good with 250gb or 500gb. Or, maybe they want 4tb. Options are better then no options. At least what Sony offers is options. Sure, you can spend $250 on a 1tb drive, but dont make it sound like its set in stone. Thats what "options" mean. At the end of the day i spent 30 seconds looking at the compatability list and another 30 seconds removing 1 screw to save myself $30-$40 on a 1tb drive from MS pricing. Thats a win in my book. And honestly, the comments for discussions like these are never level headed people weighing out the pros and cons. Its people defending the brand and the purchase they made. Bias plays in everything. I have both PS5 and a series X. I play both equally and enjoy them both equally. PS5 has the better option in my opinion. People act so helpless when it comes to things like this. All it boils down to is defending the decision made and the brand you love. I change my own oil. Costs my about $25. Dealer charges $75. Same difference.