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Xbox Series X/S SSD Cards Will Cost $220, Only External Way to Play Next-Gen Games

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft’s upcoming $300 Xbox Series S might be the cheapest way to start playing next-gen games, but the company revealed on its blog this afternoon that if you want to increase its SSD storage up from 512GB, you’re going to pay more in total than you would for a $500 Xbox Series X. That’s because its proprietary SSD expansion card, which is 1TB and will be the only way to play next-gen games without using internal storage, will cost $220

USB 3.1 HDDSSD Expansion Card
Store any Xbox gameYesYes
Plays Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox gamesYesYes
Play games optimized for Xbox Series X/SNoYes
Replicates speed and performance of internal SSDNoYes

Microsoft announced the custom external SSD cards, which the company is partnering with Seagate to make, back in March. We didn’t know how much they would cost back then, but given comparable products for previous consoles, we predicted they would probably be pricey. $220 is as much as USB Xbox One SSDs cost back when first wrote about these proprietary cards, so this price point is keeping in line with previous accessories. Those consoles, though, had the advantage of letting you use third-party solutions to both store and play games.

With the Xbox Series X/S, that’s only partially true. If $220 is too much, Microsoft has confirmed that you’ll be able to use a standard USB 3.1 HDD with the Xbox Series X/S as well, but there is a catch. We’ve known USB drives would be at least somewhat compatible with the new consoles since the proprietary SSD cards were announced, but the price reveal today also came with a chart and an FAQ that confirmed our biggest fears - proprietary SSD cards will be the only way to play next-gen titles (and Xbox One games that use next-gen features) without using internal storage.

In other words, while playing original Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One games (that aren’t optimized for Series X/S) will be as “easy as unplugging your existing external USB 3.1 HDD or SSD from your Xbox One and connecting it to your Xbox Series X | S,” playing next-gen games and next-gen optimized Xbox One games will require you to either transfer them to internal storage, or store them on a proprietary SSD card first.

That’s because Seagate’s custom Xbox Series X/S SSD expansion cards will be the only storage accessories compatible with the “Xbox velocity architecture” that the systems’ internal storage counts on to play next-gen and next-gen optimized titles. So while you can store next-gen and next-gen optimized games on a USB hard drive, you won’t be able to play them from anything that doesn’t use the Xbox velocity architecture.

The upside to this is that Seagate’s SSD cards are structurally identical to the console’s internal storage, meaning you’ll get identical performance across both. The cards will also work on both Xbox Series X/S, and connect through an easy plug and play slot on the back. If you miss just slamming Nintendo cartridges into your system, these cards will let you recapture that feeling. They’re also pretty spacious at 1TB.

Still, the included FAQ doesn’t give any compelling answers as to why Xbox couldn’t (or wouldn’t) make next-gen games work with third-party SSDs, or why the company isn’t releasing smaller-capacity versions of these proprietary cards that would cost less. Still, the FAQ does hint at potential “additional capacities and implementations in the future.”

For now, if you want to increase your Xbox Series X/S SSD storage, these cards will be your only option. They’ll launch on November 10 alongside the Xbox Series X/S consoles, and you can pre-order them in the Microsoft store now.

  • tummybunny
    Wow, this is going to be big. The main internal drive could well not last that long if it gets heavy use during games and people are also moving games off and on it a lot.

    What's the warranty situation for the main ssd? How much will it cost to replace it? How long until a 2TB replacement version can be purchased?
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    Seems like every time standards are getting good, someone cannot resist the urge to slap a proprietary layer or two on top to prevent people from using commodity parts for repairs or upgrades.
    Reply
  • Shadowclash10
    InvalidError said:
    Seems like every time standards are getting good, someone cannot resist the urge to slap a proprietary layer or two on top to prevent people from using commodity parts for repairs or upgrades.
    Nailed it. Apparently, everything must be propietary.....
    Reply
  • deesider
    tummybunny said:
    Wow, this is going to be big. The main internal drive could well not last that long if it gets heavy use during games and people are also moving games off and on it a lot.

    What's the warranty situation for the main ssd? How much will it cost to replace it? How long until a 2TB replacement version can be purchased?
    SSDs really don't wear out that fast. To exceed the typical endurance rating, someone would need to completely wipe and refill the drive every few days for several years. Storing games, even if regualrly swapped out, is one of the least demanding tasks an SSD can be used for.
    Reply
  • deesider
    InvalidError said:
    Seems like every time standards are getting good, someone cannot resist the urge to slap a proprietary layer or two on top to prevent people from using commodity parts for repairs or upgrades.
    True - but in this case it isn't really adding a proprietary layer to an existing product, since there is no equivalent to the SSD cards. The PS5 solution of using standard M2 drives is practical and achieves a similar result. But getting a screwdriver out and installing a piece of hardware isn't the same as just inserting a drive like you would a USB stick.

    The closest available commercial product would be something like a Cfast memory card as used in proffessional cameras - but they are not as fast and are much more expensive. If these Xbox SSD cards became a new (and open) standard, videographers would be thrilled with such cheap access to fast media.
    Reply
  • nofanneeded
    $220 for 1TB ? half the price of the console ?!!??
    Reply
  • nofanneeded
    deesider said:

    If these Xbox SSD cards became a new (and open) standard, videographers would be thrilled with such cheap access to fast media.

    They wont , they consume alot of power and are not suitable for Cameras.
    Reply
  • nofanneeded
    What is the speed of Xbox series X USB ? 20Gb/s ?

    If so , one can use NVME to usb 3.2 box with 2TB NVE SSD from intel (cheapest nvme in the market the 660p)
    Reply
  • timbozero
    The other issue which is perplexing is costs outside the US.
    Take the Series X which is 499$ and is EU it’s £449 and 499€
    Yet the 220$ Series XS SSDs are £220 and 270€ (all prices direct from MS Store)
    Using the usual MS ‘exchange rates’ they should be £199 and 220€
    Reply
  • timbozero
    nofanneeded said:
    $220 for 1TB ? half the price of the console ?!!??
    This to be honest isn’t too bad, compared to the Samsung 980 Pro of the same size they are in fact quite reasonable.
    If anything it further highlights how good a deal we are getting with the Series X.
    Reply