When it comes to Xbox Series X storage, you’ll want to know exactly what you’re dealing with before you even start thinking about diving into your favorite games, yet some of the jargon can be intimidating enough for a new player. The ones can be.
Despite being far more user-friendly than the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S gaming PCs, the storage situation isn’t as straightforward as it could and could be for a first-time user. There are some caveats to note, and with a decent amount of out-of-the-box storage, you’ll want to make sure you know exactly what you’re buying and why it could be so useful.
We’ll cover the differences between HDDs and SSDs, from internal to external drives, and shed some light on what an NVMe SSD is. More importantly, by the end of this guide, you’ll have an idea of how Xbox Series X storage works. Of course, everything mentioned here pertains to the Xbox Series S as well, which is worth remembering for gamers who went for a more budget-friendly console.
Xbox Series X storage: everything you need to know
Xbox Series X storage: how much do you get?
The Xbox Series X comes with a 1TB NVMe SSD, while the Xbox Series S is equipped with a 512GB NVMe SSD. The Xbox Series X has 802GB of storage, which means 198GB is reserved for system files and the Xbox operating system.
Meanwhile, the Xbox Series S only has 364GB of usable storage. Games should take up 30% less space than their Xbox Series X counterparts due to reduced file sizes due to the developers not targeting 4K resolution, but you’ll need to expand the system’s memory as soon as possible.
What is NVMe SSD?
NVMe SSD (Non-Volatile Memory Express) is a better storage solution than standard hard drives and SSDs. Due to the fact NVMe SSDs use PCIe sockets for data transfer, they can send up to 25 times more data than their slower SATA equivalent (which is the hard drive used by the Xbox One).
NVMe drives also cut out the middle man by communicating directly with the system’s CPU, and the end result is faster performance. Both the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S rely on this new storage format to make the leap in next-generation performance, so it’s important to understand the differences between the three types of drives.
Is NVMe SSD the Same as SSD?
No, and this can often be confusing for many people – especially as Microsoft routinely refers to its storage simply as “SSD”. Regular SSDs (solid-state drives) rely on SATA, which is a very slow way to transfer data within a system.
An SSD is still much faster than a regular mechanical hard drive (and less prone to failure due to the lack of moving parts), so it’s not all bad. However, its speeds pale in comparison to NVMe drives.
Xbox Series X | How to expand S storage
Microsoft’s solution for expanding the internal memory of the Xbox Series X|S with more super-fast NVMe storage is elegant, albeit expensive. Microsoft has released 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB models for the Seagate Xbox Storage Expansion Card which slot into the back of both consoles in the same way as memory cards. Whatever you store on an NVMe drive, it will benefit from the full suite of power the Xbox Series X|S has to offer.
Microsoft has also revealed that more storage solutions will be on the way, so consumers won’t be at the mercy of just buying proprietary drives. This is good news, as proprietary drives can often be more expensive than components from third-party manufacturers.
You can plug in an external HDD or SSD to keep Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox games running. You won’t benefit from the faster speeds offered by NVMe drives, however, as SSD drives are still significantly faster than HDDs, so if you opt for an external one, opt for an SSD. Any games optimized for the Xbox Series X (like Gears 5, for example) will need to move to the internal NVMe drive in order to play them.
Xbox Series X | S optimized games can be stored on the external drive, but they will not be playable until they are transferred back to the main NVMe drive. Quick resume, which is a feature that lets you suspend and resume multiple games at one time, no matter where the games are installed.
|Header Cell – Column 0||Can you play XSX|XSS optimized games with it?||Can you play XSX|XSS optimized and back-compatible games with it?||Can you play xbox one/back compat games with it?||Can you store XSX|XSS/Xbox One/Back Competitors on it?|
|Xbox Series X | s nvme ssd||Yes||Yes (they will benefit from faster load times)||Yes (they will benefit from faster load times)||Yes|
|external hdd (usb 3.1)||No||No, Xbox One/back-compatible games only||Yes||Yes, but XSX|XSS optimized games can only be played with NVMe SSD|
|External SSD (USB 3.1)||No||No, Xbox One/back-compatible games only||Yes (they will benefit from faster load times)||Yes, but XSX|XSS optimized games can only be played with NVMe SSD|