The officially licensed Storage Expansion Card for the Xbox Series X and Series S costs $219.99, according to a product listing at Best Buy.
Seagate makes the solid-state drive, which Microsoft announced but gave no price for in March. It’s pitched as “the only available expansion card that replicates the Xbox Velocity Architecture,” which is what delivers “faster load times, richer environments, and more immersive gameplay” on the next-generation Xbox consoles.
Microsoft has promised that all the accessories you use on your Xbox One will work on the Xbox Series X. This goes for external hard drives, too, with USB 3.1 or 3.2 connectivity. However, all Xbox Series X games must be installed to the console’s internal SSD or the Seagate card — USB external hard drives are far slower than these NVMe SSDs, which use the new PCIe 4.0 standard. (Series X games can be backed up to a USB external drive, but can’t be played from one.)
Backward-compatible Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Xbox games can still be played on the Xbox Series X if they’re installed on a USB external drive. And if you have one piled up with installed games for your Xbox One right now, it will be plug-and-play compatible with the new console launching Nov. 10. But Xbox One games that are “optimized for Xbox Series X,” like Gears 5 will be, can’t be played off a USB drive if users want “optimal performance,” says Microsoft.
For comparison, a Seagate-made 2 TB external hard drive that’s designed for Xbox One is currently available for $89.99. The $219.99 cost for the Xbox Series X Storage Expansion Card may be a fair price for the cutting-edge technology in the device, although it’s hard to say; very few PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs are on the market, and even so, this is a custom-built SSD that’s designed to plug directly into the back of an Xbox Series X or Series S.
Unlike Microsoft with the Xbox Series X and Series S, Sony will not require a proprietary storage expansion solution for the PlayStation 5. PS5 owners will be able to upgrade the console’s 825 GB internal storage with an off-the-shelf PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD, although Sony will have to certify specific drives as compatible with the console. (For reference, Samsung announced its Evo 980 Pro SSD this week, and the 1 TB model will retail for $229.99.) It’s worth noting that stand-alone PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs will get cheaper over time, but a proprietary product like the Seagate-branded Xbox Series X card may not.
While NVMe SSDs are the state of the art for storage, 1 TB is not a lot of space for any PC or console currently available. The Xbox Series X itself has a 1 TB internal NVMe SSD, so $219.99 only doubles that capacity. The Xbox Series S has only 512 GB of internal storage — just above the amount of storage in launch Xbox One consoles seven years ago. (Next-gen games will at least take up less space on the Series S than on the Series X, because the smaller console is designed for gaming at 1440p resolution rather than 4K.)
Assuming an average of 50 GB per game — and that may be on the low side for next-gen games — you could store at most 20 games on a 1 TB card, despite a Best Buy listing that promises gamers can “collect thousands of games across four generations of Xbox without sacrificing performance.”