The price for the new Xbox Series S|X storage expansion card from Seagate has been announced, and it’s not for the faint of heart. But do you really need one?
Addressing the elephant in the room – the price
The Seagate Storage Expansion Card for Series S|X is expensive, but we were expecting this. It’s cutting edge storage that is only just making its way to PC, and the price reflects that:
US $220 / UK £220 / EU €270
Microsoft was very fair with the exchange rate when pricing the consoles (comparatively), but they’ve dropped the ball with the storage. Just £30 / €30 more will buy you a brand new Xbox Series S. For those prices, it’s surely only to be hardcore early adopters who buy them. But do we actually need them yet?
Xbox Series X and S consoles have 1Tb and 500Gb of storage, respectively. Both use the same PCIe 4 high-speed NVME SSD, and will play games from all four Xbox generations. Xbox Series S|X games will only work from the internal NVME SSD or the Storage Expansion Card.
Using an external USB SSD or HDD
If you want to use an existing external USB 3.1 HDD or SSD, you can plug it straight into the Series S|X and play your Xbox One, Xbox 360 or original Xbox games from it. The Series S|X consoles can, however, improve frame rates, resolution and loading times on some previous-gen games, so you are likely to want to transfer them to your internal hard drive.
With games in some cases taking up well over 100Gb it’s possible to fill up your storage very, very fast, especially the 500Gb on the all-digital Series S. Of course, if you don’t mind playing them without any enhancements, you can just run them straight from a USB3.1 HDD/SSD.
Storing Series S|X games on an external USB drive
You can store next-gen Series S|X games onto a high-capacity external drive. A standard USB3.1 HDD or SSD, either new or one you already own, will work fine, as long as it is formatted for the Xbox. (This must be a dedicated drive for gaming, you can’t store movies, documents or music on there as well.)
Microsoft’s Velocity Architecture is stated to have made transferring data to and from external drives much faster. Until we get a console and actual Series S|X games in our hands, we don’t know precisely how long it’s likely to take to move them round, but it’s certainly going to be faster than downloading the games again for the majority of people.
Even with the smaller 500Gb capacity of the Series S, it’s unlikely for most people that you will have enough games in your rotation to need that space just yet. Once you’ve finished with a game, you can move it across to your external storage (or delete it), and replace it with something else.
Yes, it could be a pain if you have to wait 20 minutes for a game to transfer from one drive to another, but I recently swapped around hundreds of Gigs of games from internal to external storage on the Xbox One X, and it didn’t take a horrendous amount of time. If the improvements to transfer speeds are as good as claimed, it’s likely to be a minor inconvenience, but is it an inconvenience worth paying almost the cost of a Series S console to avoid?
In the future, yes, once you’ve got a more substantial library, you may want to have all of your games on tap. The good thing about storage is the price goes down and the capacity goes up relatively fast as advances are made in the technology. In a few years time, we’re likely to see 2Tb, 4Tb or possibly even bigger Storage Expansion Cards being released, for a much smaller price per gigabyte than we are seeing now.
My advice would be to wait. The added cost just doesn’t seem worth it for the sake of waiting for a few minutes for a game to transfer. £220 will buy you a huge HDD, and even £50 will buy you a 2Tb USB 3.1 HDD, which stores a large number of games.
Once the prices for the Expansion Cards goes down, it will be a more attractive proposition, but for now, that money is better spent on an external HDD and/or some new games (or even a Game Pass subscription).
Storage Expansion Card FAQs
Can I play Series S|X games from a USB 3.1 drive?
No, Series S|X games will only play from the internal SSD, or the Storage Expansion Card.
Can I play Xbox One/Xbox 360/Xbox games from an external HDD/SSD?
Yes, you can play all previous-gen games from an external drive, but you won’t get the advantages of the increased loading times and performance. (Xbox 360 and OG Xbox games will run with the same improvements you get on the Xbox One X and Xbox One S on the Series X and Series S respectively.)
How does the Storage Expansion Card work?
Simply plug the Storage Expansion Card into the dedicated slot back of your Series S|X console, and it will become available for storing your games, just like you would on the internal storage. It has the exact same performance as the internal drive, and can be set as your primary drive for installing games, or you can move or copy games between them.
Will games run directly from the Storage Expansion Card, or do I have to transfer them to the internal drive?
Games will play directly from the Storage Expansion Card.
(For the next FAQs, we’ve quoted Xbox Wire – source)
Xbox Wire: Why did you decide to create a custom solution rather than enabling users to install off-the-shelf SSDs?
Jason Ronald: The Xbox Velocity Architecture delivers over 40x the performance of a standard hard drive, unlocking a new level of speed and performance that will virtually eliminate load times and enable new levels of innovation. To make this simple for both gamers and developers, we partnered closely with our friends at Seagate to deliver the very first 1 TB expandable storage solution that matches the exact performance of our internal SSD. This means that you can be confident you will receive the exact same next generation experience regardless of whether or not you are playing your games from the internal SSD or the Seagate Storage Expansion Card. Working with Seagate also enabled us to have a custom storage solution that is super compact, plug & play, and available at the launch of Xbox Series X|S .
Xbox Wire: Will all Storage Expansion Cards come from Seagate or could we see them from other companies as well?
Jason Ronald: Seagate, with a storied history as a critical innovator in the storage industry, was our first choice to collaborate with to provide expandable storage solutions for the Xbox Velocity Architecture. Xbox is continuing to invest in the Expandable Storage category on Xbox Series X|S with goal of offering choice for Xbox fans, including additional capacities and implementations in the future.
Xbox Wire: Can I connect the Storage Expansion Card to any Series X|S?
Jason Ronald: Yes! Both Xbox Series X and S provide the same Storage Expansion Ports for the expansion card and the exact same card will work in both consoles. Simply plug it in and you’re ready to play! No setup required. The Storage Expansion Card is also a great way to bring your game library with you, to a friend’s house or wherever you choose to play on your next generation Xbox console.
Xbox Wire: How will the Storage Expansion Card work if I have games on discs versus digital format?
Jason Ronald: It works the same as it does on Xbox One today. When you insert a game disc, the game data is installed to the internal SSD or expandable storage. When you play the game, the game runs directly from local storage, but you must still have the disc inserted as the disc provides the license for the game.
Xbox Wire: Does Quick Resume work with the Storage Expansion Card?
Jason Ronald: Quick Resume is powered by the Xbox Velocity Architecture and game state data is persisted on the internal SSD so Quick Resume will work regardless of whether you are playing a game from the internal SSD, the Seagate Storage Expansion Card or an external USB 3.1 HDD or SSD drive.
Xbox Wire: Where can I get/pre-order the Storage Expansion Card?
Jason Ronald: The Seagate Storage Expansion Card will launch for $219.99 USD alongside Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S on November 10 and will be available in all Xbox markets, worldwide. You can also pre-order now at Microsoft Store or select retailers in select markets worldwide. Check your local retailer for product and pre-order availability.
Xbox Wire: Why does the 1TB Storage Expansion Card cost $219.99?
Jason Ronald: The Xbox Velocity Architecture is a key innovation of our next generation consoles, delivering unprecedented speed and performance enabling transformative gaming experiences never before possible on console. This level of consistent, sustained performance requires advanced components which comes at a higher cost than traditional hard drives or SSDs often found in PCs. By partnering with an industry leader in Seagate, we worked together to deliver an expandable storage solution which delivers identical performance at the lowest cost possible and available this holiday.