THERE is no doubting the Xbox Series X and Series S consoles are extremely powerful and capable machines, but they don’t have unlimited space for storing games on them.
One of the issues most gamers know all too well is a lack of hard drive space, and that’s still a factor with the next generation consoles.
While you can run previous generation games off an external HDD or SSD, the “Optimised for Xbox Series X/S” games need to be installed on the Xbox’s internal SSD, which is fine except for the fact modern games are large and getting larger, so 1TB (or 512GB in the Series S’ case) doesn’t go as far as it used to.
This is where the Seagate Storage Expansion Card For Xbox Series X/S comes in.
Looking like a chunky USB stick, it is essentially a detachable plug-and-play 1TB NVMe SSD. It is specifically designed to integrate with the Xbox Series X/S ‘Velocity’ architecture and work exactly the same as the console’s internal SSD.
Installation is extremely simple – remove the plastic cap, plug into the expansion card slot on the back of the console, enjoy having an additional 1TB of storage to work with.
What surprised me was how the card just integrates into the overall storage system. On a PC, for example, if you add another drive it gets assigned a separate drive letter and you have to choose where to install programs or put files; with the Expansion Card the Xbox effectively says “Cool, another 1TB of storage!” and works out the details for itself.
You can manually swap installs between the internal SSD and the Expansion Card too if you want, which has advantages for scenarios such as where you’re going to visit a friend and want to use their Xbox Series X/S.
The expansion cards are hot swappable, although I can’t imagine many people will be buying multiple 1TB Expansion cards at AUD$359 each – although when the price comes down it may be a viable strategy. At any rate, future-proofing is a good thing (he says as he looks at all his old 512Mb SD cards from back in the day when a 6MP camera was considered high-tech) so even though it’s not really feasible right now doesn’t mean it won’t be a useful thing to have in due course.
Both Microsoft and Seagate claim the Expansion Card shares pretty much the same speeds as the Xbox Series X/S internal SSD, and while I can’t directly verify that (it’s not like I can run Crystal DiskMark on an Xbox, after all), I was able to time how long it took to transfer installed games between the internal SSD and Expansion Card and back again.
It took 2 minutes and 44 seconds to transfer Forza Horizon 4 and its add-ons (total: 85.5GB) from an Xbox Series S to the card, and 3 minutes and 14 seconds to transfer from the card back to the internal storage.
Yakuza: Like A Dragon took 58 seconds to transfer all 41GB from the internal SSD to the card, and 1 minute and 24 seconds to transfer from the card to the console’s SSD.
I was able to move games to the card, unplug it while the Xbox Series S was still turned on, then plug the card into an also turned on Xbox Series X and see the games appear right away in the library ready to go. As soon as I unplugged the card from the Series X, the games disappeared from the installed library. Games being played off the Expansion Card ran exactly the same as those on the internal SSD – I couldn’t detect any difference in loading times.
I found the card offered the most benefit for the Xbox Series S – not from a performance perspective, but because the 512GB SSD on the Series S fills up pretty quickly and suddenly having another 1TB to play with makes a lot of difference, especially if you’re planning on keeping a few big games like Red Dead Redemption II or Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War permanently installed on your console.
The elephant in the room is the cost. The RRP is AUD$359.95 which is a lot of money, especially if you’ve already paid $749 for an Xbox Series X to begin with.
Indeed, the high cost is one of only two thing I can criticise about this – it works perfectly, it’s ridiculously easy to use, it does exactly what Seagate promise it will and is unobtrusive. The other issue is that for some reason you only get 920GB of usable space with the card, and 80GB is not an insignificant amount to be short by given that it represents at least one AAA game or several older/indie games.
If you want more seamless storage space on your next-gen Xbox for actually playing games (as opposed to just storing them on an external drive and manually transferring them over), this is an excellent choice – and indeed, it’s your only choice at the moment if you want the full XBox Velocity Architecture integration.