Xbox Series X first external storage just revealed — and it's fast

(Image credit: Seagate)

The Xbox Series X will have an extremely powerful SSD, which means that compatible third-party storage will require similarly impressive specs. Today, popular hard drive manufacturer Seagate announced its Storage Expansion Card for Xbox Series X, making it the first third-party manufacturer with explicit next-gen storage options.

We don't know a ton about Seagate's upcoming SSD just yet, but we do know that it will be small, fast and designed just for the Xbox Series X.

The info comes from Seagate's website, which has a dedicated page for the Seagate Storage Expansion Card for Xbox Series X. (The name is admittedly a mouthful, but there's absolutely no mystery about what this gadget does.) There's no price listed yet, but there are some pictures of the device, as well as information about its storage capacity (1 TB) and its release date (holiday 2020). 

First off, the Expansion Card isn't just a standard, boxy external hard drive. Instead, it's a sleek little card that looks like a flattened, thinner thumb drive. It will plug into a proprietary port on the back of the Xbox Series X, and should work just as fast as the Xbox Series X's internal hard drive, at least according to Seagate.

There's not a ton of technical information available on the SSD just yet, however. The Expansion Card will offer 1 TB storage space (probably a little less, once it's been formatted and filled with system files), a custom PCIe Gen4x2 NVMe flash memory protocol and a three-year warranty. Seagate worked alongside Microsoft to create the Expansion Card, so there's no question of compatibility. Performance should be similar to Microsoft's own SSD.

"Seagate is thrilled to be a key player in next-generation gaming," said Jeff Fochtman, senior vice president at Seagate. "With a new standard in performance, games will be more dynamic, visually stunning, and immersive than ever. Seagate's Xbox Series X Storage Expansion Card technology delivers additional game storage at peak speeds, replicating the console’s internal SSD experience. We are proud to join forces with Xbox and can’t wait to help gamers immerse themselves in the high-fidelity experience."

The only potential downside that we can see is the 1 TB file size. It's not uncommon for modern console games to top 50 or even 100 GB. There's no reason to think that next-gen games will be any smaller. The Xbox Series X's internal SSD will provide 1 TB of storage space, which may be enough for only 10 games. A 2 TB or 4 TB expansion card would theoretically support dozens of games rather than just another 10. But until we get some hard file sizes from Microsoft, this is mostly speculation. Perhaps improved compression will make 1 TB internal space and 1 TB external space feel downright roomy.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.