When it comes to Xbox Series X storage, you’ll want to know exactly what you’re dealing with before you start thinking about diving into your favorite games. The Xbox Series X comes with enough storage to start with, but depending on how many games your library consists of, you may want to look into additional storage later on.
Despite the fact that the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are much more user-friendly than gaming PCs, the storage situation is not as straightforward as it should be and may be for a novice user. There are a few caveats to note, and with a decent amount of storage ready to go, you’ll want to make sure you know exactly what you’re buying and why it could be so helpful.
We’ll cover everything from internal to external drives, the differences between a hard drive and an SSD, and shed some light on what an NVMe SSD is. More importantly, by the end of this guide, you’ll learn exactly how Xbox Series X memory works. Of course, everything outlined here applies to Xbox Series S as well, something worth keeping in mind for gamers who have opted for a more budget-friendly console.
Xbox Series X storage: everything you need to know
Xbox Series X storage: how much do you get?
Xbox Series X comes with a 1TB NVMe SSD and Xbox Series S comes with a 512GB NVMe SSD. The Xbox Series X has 802 GB of memory, which means that 198 GB is reserved for system files and the Xbox operating system.
Meanwhile, the Xbox Series S only has 364GB of usable memory. Games should take up 30% less space than their Xbox Series X counterparts as file sizes are reduced as developers don’t target 4K resolution, but you’ll likely need to expand your system memory sooner rather than later.
What is an NVMe SSD?
NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) SSDs are an excellent storage solution over standard hard drives and SSDs. Due to the fact that NVMe SSDs use PCIe slots to transfer data, they can transfer up to 25 times more data than the slower SATA counterpart (which is the hard drive used by Xbox One).
NVMe drives also eliminate the middlemen by communicating directly with the system’s CPU, and the end result is blazingly fast performance. Both the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S rely on this new storage format to deliver next-gen performance leaps, so it’s very important to understand the difference between these three types of drives.
Is an NVMe SSD the same as an SSD?
No, and that can often be confusing to many – especially since Microsoft regularly refers to its storage as “SSD”. Regular SSDs (Solid State Drive) rely on SATA, which is a much slower way to transfer data in your system.
An SSD is still much faster than a regular mechanical HDD (and less likely to fail due to the lack of moving parts), so it’s not too bad. However, its speeds pale in comparison to an NVMe drive.
How to expand Xbox Series X|S memory
Microsoft’s solution for upgrading the Xbox Series X|S internal storage with more super-fast NVMe storage is quite elegant, if expensive. Microsoft released 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB models for the Seagate Xbox Storage Expansion Card, which sits on the back of both consoles like a memory card. Anything you store on NVMe drives will take advantage of the full powerhouse of Xbox Series X|S.
Microsoft also revealed that more storage solutions will be on the way, so consumers won’t just be at the mercy of purchasing a proprietary drive. This is good news because proprietary drives can often be more expensive than third-party components.
You can connect an external hard drive or SSD to play Xbox One, Xbox 360 and original Xbox games. You won’t take advantage of the lightning-fast speeds that NVMe drives provide, however SSDs are still much faster than HDDs, so if you go external, opt for an SSD. All Xbox Series X optimized games (such as Gears 5) will need to be moved to internal NVMe drives in order to play.
Games optimized for Xbox Series X|S can be stored on external drives, but will not be playable until they are moved back to primary NVMe drives. Fast Resume, which is a feature that allows you to pause and resume multiple games at once, will work no matter where the games are installed.
|Header cell – column 0||Can I play XSX|XSS optimized games on it?||Can you play XSX|XSS optimized and backwards compatible games on it?||Can you play Xbox One/Reverse games from it?||Can you store XSX|XSS/Xbox One/backward compatibility on it?|
|Xbox Series X|S NVMe SSD||Yes||Yes (will benefit from shorter charging times)||Yes (will benefit from shorter charging times)||Yes|
|External Hard Drive (USB 3.1)||NO||No, Xbox One/backward compatible games only||Yes||Yes, but XSX|XSS optimized games can only be played from an NVMe SSD|
|External SSD (USB 3.1)||NO||No, Xbox One/backward compatible games only||Yes (will benefit from shorter charging times)||Yes, but XSX|XSS optimized games can only be played from an NVMe SSD|