Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S approach storage a little different from the Xbox One family, with ultra-fast solid-state drive (SSD) storage fundamental to their makeup. It means you'll need a pricey Seagate Storage Expansion Card to leverage the best from the latest Xbox consoles, adding an extra 1TB for your games and apps. Here's what you need to know about this new storage option and whether it's right for you.
What is the Xbox Storage Expansion Card?
Microsoft's latest Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles deliver a significant performance leap, attributed to overhauled internals and its new SSD storage solution. It's one of the fundamental components that speed up the system, cutting load times while also powering many next-generation gaming experiences. It means that if you want to expand your available storage, it's more complicated than merely plugging in any external hard drive.
USB external hard drives work with Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, albeit this time with notable limitations across some games. They can store all Xbox games but only play Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox games via backward compatibility. New Xbox Series X|S Optimized games, including Xbox One experiences upgraded to Xbox Series X|S, can only be played on an internal SSD or an official expansion card. That means you'll be carting games back and forth, especially as the Xbox One generation steadily winds down.
Increased demand for SSD storage saw Microsoft introduce the Xbox Storage Expansion Card, a proprietary external drive designed to match the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S performance. It partnered with Seagate on the debut NVMe expansion, available back in November alongside a console with a single 1TB model. It hooks in through a dedicated "Storage Expansion" port on each console's rear, automatically multiplying your available SSD storage.
Unlike other USB-based storage, this Microsoft-approved solution mimics the internal SSD found in Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. The card boasts the same 2.4 GB/s peak speeds as the internal SSD, making for a seamless upgrade to install more games on the console. The PCIe 4.0 technology used makes this a little pricey but avoids shortcomings of the alternatives.
How much does the Xbox Storage Expansion Card cost?
The Seagate Xbox Storage Expansion Card for Xbox Series X|S retails at $220, which grants you the only 1TB model available right now. That translates to £220 in the UK, $300 in Canada, or €270 in Europe. It's available from most major Xbox retailers, including Amazon and the Microsoft Store.
The SSD expansions for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S aren't exactly affordable, but the blame doesn't fall on Microsoft. It's costly, especially compared to cheap hard drives, which sometimes drop as low as $50 for 1TB. But this drive fell in line with our previous predictions, given the average pricing for notoriously pricey PCIe 4.0 SSD technology required to achieve high speeds. While Sony has discussed future support for third-party NVMe SSDs with PlayStation 5, those also come with a similarly high price tag.
USB external storage exists as a cheaper alternative, but the Xbox Storage Expansion Card's convenience will cost you. Entry-level drives like the Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB (opens in new tab) are an ideal alternative, with the same capacity priced at only $45, if you can wrangle those limitations.
Upgrade your Xbox
The no-compromise SSD for Xbox Series X and S.
This custom NVMe SSD card is the only external storage capable of playing Xbox Series X and Series S titles.
Xbox Storage Expansion Card size
Seagate's Xbox Expansion Card comes in a single 1TB configuration, with no alternatives or additional capacities available as of early 2021. While Microsoft designed these fun-sized cards with several manufacturers in mind, only Seagate has brought a solution to market. We know additional sizes are in the works, with more manufacturers planning products, making established names like Western Digital and SanDisk likely for the future.
We may also see more affordable prices as the Xbox Expansion Card ecosystem expands. It's currently highly dependent on PCIe 4.0, the cutting-edge storage technology that helps provide these SSDs with a direct line to the CPU. That's notoriously expensive even in the PC market, but we can expect a steady decline in pricing over the console's lifetime.
Is the Xbox Storage Expansion Card worth it?
The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S push SSD storage as fundamental to the latest console generation, which means the game has changed for external expansions. It's essential to understand what different storage devices can deliver before checking out, finding a balance in performance and convenience, per your budget.
The Seagate Storage Expansion Card remains the solution to beat, topping up your console with an additional 1TB SSD and seamlessly doubling or tripling your available drive space. It's the one to buy if you can justify the asking price, given how seamlessly it integrates with the system. You won't have to worry about compatibility, promising identical performance that slices load times. It slots in and instantly configures, especially suited to enthusiasts. You can check our Xbox Seagate Storage Expansion Card review for a full breakdown of what to expect.
But an external USB drive also works, provided you don't regularly cycle between an extensive library of games. You can't play Xbox Series X|S games directly, so you'll find yourself cycling installed games between drives before you can jump into action. The best external hard drives for Xbox Series X provide the most affordable alternative, with 1TB models below $50. Upgrading to one of the best SSDs for Xbox Series X promises similar functionality but shorter load times and transfer times.
Xbox Storage Expansion Card deals and discount
The Xbox Storage Expansion Card first launched alongside Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S in November 2020, with this accessory usually goes for its retail price. While we saw some retailers offer a temporary discount throughout Black Friday, prices often remain static. Buyers can find further savings through the secondhand market, which will shave a small percentage off the price. We continue to round up the best available prices to save on console storage.
Get the best of Windows Central in in your inbox, every day!
Thank you for signing up to Windows Central. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.