If you've wondered how Xbox Series X storage works, don't worry, you're not alone.

Although the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are much easier to use than gaming PCs, the storage situation isn't as clear cut as it should be. There are a few caveats to keep in mind, and with limited space, you'll want to make sure you know exactly what you're buying, and why.

We'll cover everything from internal drives to external drives, the differences between HDDs and SSDs, and shed some light on what an NVMe SSD actually is. More importantly, you'll know exactly how Xbox Series X storage works by the end of this guide. Remember that everything described here also applies to Xbox Series S.

The good news? Xbox Series X|S external storage devices tend to be heavily discounted this time of year, and we're sure Cyber ​​​​Monday 2022 will be no exception there. Be sure to keep an eye on our best Cyber ​​Monday Xbox deals page, where we're already seeing some decent discounts on external storage hardware.

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Xbox Series X storage: everything you need to know

Xbox Series X storage: how much do you get?

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The Xbox Series X comes with a 1TB NVMe SSD, while the Xbox Series S comes 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 as file sizes are reduced because developers aren't aiming for 4K resolution, but you may need to expand system memory sooner how late

What is an NVMe SSD?

Xbox Series X lying on its side with a controller leaning against it

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NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) SSDs are a superior storage solution compared to standard HDDs and SSDs. Since NVMe SSDs use PCIe connectors for data transfer, they can send up to 25 times more data than the slower SATA equivalent (which is the hard drive used by the Xbox One).

NVMe drives also cut out the middleman by communicating directly with a system's processor, and the end result is lightning-fast performance. Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S build on this new storage format to create a next-gen performance leap, so understanding the difference between the three types of drives is crucial.

Is an NVMe SSD the same as an SSD?

Samsung 970 EVO Plus

(Image credit: Samsung)

No, and this can often be confusing for many, especially since Microsoft regularly refers to its storage as "SSD." Conventional Solid State Drives (SSDs) are based on SATA, which is a much slower 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 a lack of moving parts), but its speeds pale in comparison to an NVMe drive.

How to expand Xbox Series X/S storage

Seagate Storage Expansion Card - 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB models shown in order of size

(Image credit: Seagate)

Microsoft's solution to expanding the internal memory of Xbox Series X/S with more ultra-fast NVMe storage is quite elegant, if expensive. Microsoft has released 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB storage expansion cards that fit into the back of both consoles, like a memory stick. Anything you store on NVMe drives will benefit from the full range of power provided by Xbox Series X/S.

Microsoft also revealed that more storage solutions will be on the way, so consumers won't be at the mercy of buying the proprietary drive. This is good news, as proprietary drives can often be more expensive than components from other manufacturers.

You can connect an external hard drive or SSD to play Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox games. You won't benefit from the super-fast speeds provided by NVMe drives; however, SSDs are still considerably faster than HDDs, so if you go for an external option, go with an SSD. Any games optimized for Xbox Series X (like Gears 5, for example) 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 unless transferred back to the primary NVMe drives. Quick Resume, which is a feature that allows you to pause and resume multiple games at once, will work regardless of where the games are installed.

Swipe to scroll horizontally Xbox Series X (XSX) and Xbox Series S (XSS) Storage Guide Cell Header – Column 0 Can you play XSX/XSS optimized games from this? Play xbox one/back compat games from it? Can you store XSX/XSS/Xbox One/back compat on it? Xbox Series X/S NVMe SSDYesYes (will have faster load times)Yes (will have faster load times)YesExternal Hard Drive (USB 3.1)NoNo, Xbox One/Backward Compatible Games onlyYes, but XSX/XSS optimized games can can only be read from external NVMeSSD (USB 3.1) No No, Xbox One/backward compatible games only Yes (benefit from faster load times) Yes, but XSX/XSS-optimized games can only be played from NVMe SSD

Today's Best Seagate Storage Expansion Card for Xbox Series X Deals


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