Best Xbox Series X External Hard Drives – 2021 Guide & Review
After months of waiting, Microsoft’s next-generation consoles are finally here! Both the Xbox Series S and X promise to deliver the most incredible gaming experience currently possible, with realistic graphics and fast, almost nonexistent, loading times.
With that kind of promise, the Xbox Series X and S need plenty of muscle to flex. A more powerful CPU, memory, and graphics card certainly help. However, you’ll be surprised that storage is where the real improvement is. That’s because the console can only work at its optimum if its storage system can feed it data fast enough.
While the Series X probably has the fastest SSD on the planet, you’ll find that the capacity might be a bit lacking (1TB for the Series X and 512 GB for the Series S, respectively). Inevitably, you’ll need to invest in external storage.
So, whether you are shopping for yourself or are looking for an Xbox Series X gift, in this guide, we round out the best external storage solutions to get together with the next-gen Xbox.
Overall Best External Hard Drive for Xbox Series X and S
|Product||Storage Size||Our Rating|
|Seagate Expansion Card for Xbox Series X|S||1 TB||4.9|
|Samsung T5||2 TB||4.7|
|ADATA SD700||1 TB||4.4|
|WD_Black P50 NVMe SSD||2 TB||4.6|
|SanDisk Extreme SSD||1 TB||4.7|
|WD_Black P10 Game Drive Xbox One Edition||3 TB||4.6|
|FD Fantom Drive GForce 3||8 TB||4.5|
- Capacity: 1TB
- Dimensions: 6.38 x 3.54 x 2.05 inches
- Weight: 0.15 lbs
- Speed: 160 MB/s
- Interface: NVMe SSD expansion slot
At the top of our list is the best and (currently) only storage solution that fully exploits the power of the Xbox Velocity Architecture in the new consoles.
The Seagate Expansion Card is a small, lightweight card that attaches directly to the NVMe expansion slot at the back of the console. It connects seamlessly to the Xbox system without any dangling wires or cables.
What sets this Seagate storage apart from others on this list is that it’s expanded storage, and not just external storage. That means the Xbox Series X and S systems treat it as if it was part of its internal storage (effectively expanding it to 2TB and 1.5TB, respectively).
The most significant benefit is that you can play Xbox Series X games such as Forza directly off this Seagate drive at the same speed as internal storage, even whilst using an Xbox Series X steering wheel. That means instant load times and zero lag. It’s currently the only external storage solution that can do this, giving Seagate a considerable advantage.
You can use the Seagate Expansion Card to use the console’s Quick Resume feature. It allows you to switch between games and resume where you left off on each, instantly with no delay. Older Xbox titles (up to the original Xbox) also benefit from this expansion card, as it can dramatically improve their performance and loading times.
As of the moment, the Seagate Expansion Card is the best storage solution for the Xbox Series X and S, and a must-have if you’re out to get the new console. However, we’ll have to wait and see if it can still stand its ground when other manufacturers come out with their own Xbox Series X|S expansion cards.
- Can load Xbox Series X and S titles directly from the drive
- Matches the performance and load speed of the console
- Improves performance of older Xbox titles as well
- Supports Quick Resume
- Long term performance still needs to be seen
Our Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
- Capacity: 2TB (also available in 500GB and 1TB variants)
- Dimensions: 2.3 x 0.40 x 3.0 inches
- Weight: 1.6 ounces
- Speed: 540 MB/s
- Interface: USB 3.0, USB-C, USB-A
A standard speed SSD is the next best external storage solution for the Xbox Series X and S. And in this niche of the market, Samsung reigns supreme with their T5 SSD.
The Samsung T5 is a series of lightweight external SSDs that come in a variety of colors. It’s relatively compact as well (no bigger than a credit card), measuring only a modest 2.3 x 0.4 x 0.3 inches. It’s a relatively durable drive, and can survive bumps and falls of up to 2 meters in height.
Capacity-wise, we’d say that this somewhere in the average as far as SSD is concerned, with a maximum size of 2TB. 2TB should get you pretty far, at least in the first few months of owning the new console.
While you can’t match the speed and performance of the Xbox Series X or S’s internal storage, the Samsung T5 is still fast. Data transfer speeds are around 540 MB/s, making it superb for quickly transferring files from the console to the drive (and versa), or playing older Xbox titles directly off it. It has added features like password protection and file management that, while excellent with a PC, can’t be used with the Xbox Series X.
Like any SSD, the main weakness of the T5 is that it has a lower capacity compared to HDDs. Nevertheless, it’s still a solid SSD that can complement, rather than replace, the internal storage of the Series X or the Seagate Expansion Card.
- Data transfer speeds of 540 MB/s
- Small and compact
- Shockproof and temperature-resistant
- Limited utility (for a Series X user) compared to the price
Our Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
- Capacity: 1 TB (Also comes in 250GB, 256GB, and 512GB variants)
- Dimensions: 3.3 x 3.27 x 0.55 inches
- Weight: 2.6 ounces
- Speed: 440 MB/s
- Interface: USB 3.0, USB-C, USB-A
The ADATA SD700 is a rugged little SSD that helps protect your precious game files from physical threats as well. The exterior of the drive is made of a sturdy military-grade material that is both shockproof and weatherproof with an IP68 rating. It can survive submersion in water up to depths of 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes.
The SD700 provides a good transfer speed of 440 MB/s, allowing you to use this drive as a reliable backup solution for your Xbox Series X or S. Although, comparing it to other SSDs in the market, it’s slightly slower overall. The other big caveat is the smaller 1 TB size, which limits the number of next-gen games you can place in it.
Realistically, this SSD is best for transferring files from one console to the other, such as when you’re going to a friend’s house. This is thanks to the relatively small and compact footprint of the SD700 (just 2.6 ounces and a little over 3” in dimensions). It’s also a viable solution if you have a relatively small library of old Xbox titles that you want to port over to the new Series X|S console.
Overall, if durability and portability is your main concern, the ADATA SD700 is a good solution. For gamers with a vast library, however, there might be other SSDs or HDDs worth your time.
- Excellent durability with IP68 rating
- Suitable for transferring files from one console to another
- Ultra-light and compact
- Slower compared to other SSDs
Our Rating: 4.4 / 5
- Capacity: 2TB (also available in 1TB and 500GB variants)
- Dimensions: 4.65 x 2.44 x 0.55 inches
- Weight: 0.51 lbs
- Speed: 2,000 MB/s
- Interface: USB 2.0 and 3.0
The WD_Black P50 is one of the fastest SSDs you can get. With blazing speeds of 2,000 MB/s, it can certainly load old titles dramatically faster, and transfer files lightning-quick as well. Too bad it can’t be used as expanded storage by the Series X console.
The P50 inherits the sleek black, durable, and rugged outer enclosure of the WD_Black series. Because it’s an SSD, it’s visibly more compact and pocket-sized as well.
We’ve mentioned the 2,000 MB/s speed before, but the P50 is also future-forward. It has a SuperSpeed USB interface that can, theoretically, pump the transfer speed up to 20 GB/s using USB 3.2 Gen 2×2. While it’s not currently usable, who knows what tomorrow’s Xbox consoles will bring?
The one big drawback is the price, which isn’t that far off from the Seagate Expansion Card. But because the P50 can’t utilize the native speed and load times of the Xbox Series X the way an expansion card can, it suddenly seems like an expensive drive overall.
Nevertheless, if you want to store your old titles and play them blazingly fast, the WD_Black P50 is a good choice overall. We’d use it as a companion drive for the Seagate Expansion Card, putting old titles on it so that the latter can focus on storing and playing Series X games.
If you’re looking for a slower but larger WD_Black drive for long term archiving, read on the next section for the P10 Drive.
- One of the fastest SSDs short of an expansion card
- Rugged and durable exterior
- Small and compact
- One of the more expensive SSD solutions out there
Our Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
- Capacity: 1TB (also available in 500GB variant)
- Dimensions: 0.38 x 2.07 x 3.97 inches
- Speed: 1,050 MB/s
- Interface: USB 2.0 and 3.0
A compact but powerful solid state drive, the SanDisk Extreme SSD features ultra-fast transfer speeds in a durable enclosure.
The “Extreme” moniker is a reference to the ruggedness and sturdiness of the drive. It’s enveloped in a silicone shell that gives it IP55-rated protection, able to survive a two-foot drop, splashing with water, or a reasonable amount of dust. The built-in carabiner loop also makes attaching it to your person relatively easy.
This an SSD that’s built to be carried everywhere you go, which isn’t much of a surprise since the brand is a favorite among professional photographers and videographers.
While you won’t be taking your game collection out on a hiking trip, it’s reassuring to know that it can survive the wear and tear of everyday life. But the data inside the SanDisk isn’t just protected physically, but digitally as well. It has 256-bit AES hardware encryption for the best in security.
With transfer speeds up to 1,050 MB/s, the SanDisk Extreme is fast enough to play old Xbox tiles off of. The only minor drawback is the smaller capacity, but it does become an afterthought with the performance it gives.
Overall, if you’re looking for a fast and relatively affordable way to port your old titles over to the Xbox Series X or S, the SanDisk Extreme SSD is an excellent way of doing it.
- Excellent data transfer speed
- Extreme durability
- Lightweight and compact
- Good price per GB
- Small capacity
Our Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
- Capacity: 5TB (also available in 3TB and 4TB variants)
- Dimensions: 4.65 x 3.46 x 0.82 inches
- Weight: 0.51 lbs
- Speed: 130 MB/s
- Interface: USB 2.0 and 3.0
While SSDs dominate the recommendations of good storage drives for the Xbox Series X and S, HDDs can still be useful so long as it’s the right one.
Case in point is the WD_Black P10 Game Drive for Xbox One.
An excellent match to your Xbox Series X both functionally and aesthetically, the WD_Black P10 is as useful in the new console as it was in the previous generation. If the P50 seems like a jump up in investment for you, the P10 offers a cheaper alternative.
This Western Digital drive comes with a free two-month subscription to the Xbox Game Pass service, which will continue to be usable going into Series X or S. Accessing sweet content on launch day is an excellent way to maximize the new console, especially if it’s your first Xbox.
The visual design of the P10 Game Drive is a dreamer’s dream, with a sleek black metallic case and hard plastic exterior. It looks good and is durable as well – more durable than most drives in its price bracket.
The P10 boasts data transfer speeds of around 130 MB/s, giving good connectivity with the Series X. However, you’ll find that playing older titles from this drive will see only a slight improvement in terms of loading times and lag-free gameplay. It does have good heat management characteristics, as the P10 won’t overheat even with prolonged use. One minor complaint is a small humming sound, but it’s not loud enough to pose a big problem.
Where the P10 shines is the generous capacity, which maxes out at 5TB. This makes the drive a good solution for long term storage, allowing you to lug your old Xbox collection over to the new console.
So long as Xbox consoles retain USB connectivity, HDDs will continue to play an essential role in archiving and storing your game collection. And in this regard, the WD_Black P10 Game Drive is one of the more reliable solutions you can get.
- Decent transfer speeds (relative to HHDs)
- Generous capacity for long term storage
- Study metallic enclosure
- Two free months of Xbox Game Pass service
- Slight humming sound during operation
Our Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
- Capacity: 8 TB (available in variants from 500GB to 16TB)
- Dimensions: 4.75 x 1.75 x 4.75 inches
- Weight: 2.50 lbs
- Speed: 7,200 RPM
- Interface: USB 3.0, USB 2.0
If you have an extensive game library, the FD Fantom Drive GForce 3 is an excellent long-term solution to handle all of them. This is an archive drive built like a tank, with every capacity imaginable for a variety of gamer needs.
The GForce 3 can be as small as 500GB, or as large as 16TB. However, when it comes to Xbox Series X gamers, somewhere in the middle is the best – around 4TB – 8TB should suffice. This gives you ample space to your gaming storage needs for now and possibly for years in the future.
Despite not being an SSD, the GForce 3 still has a formidable transfer speed (30% faster than your typical HDD) thanks to its 7,200 RPM drive. If you don’t plan on investing on an SSD, you can play games off the GForce 3 and still see noticeable gains in loading times.
The outer exterior of the GForce 3 is hardy, with a black aluminum casing that’s a good fit for the minimalist look of the Series X. The enclosure not only acts as a protective layer but as a heat sink as well, effectively cooling the unit without the need for fans.
Overall, the Fantom Drive GForce 3 is the best option out there for a centralized, game storage solution. It’s, hands down, one of the most spacious game drives out there.
- Sturdy outer enclosure
- Good cooling sans fans
- Generous capacities to choose from
- Fast 7,200 RPM speeds
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5
The Xbox Series X and S Storage Explained
The Xbox Series X and S introduce a new storage scheme that’s a far departure from older Xbox consoles, or any other console for that matter. Both the Series X and S supports what are now known as extended and external storage.
Extended storage is what it sounds look – extending the internal storage of the Xbox Series X or S. Normally, this might seem like something trivial, but in the context of the console’s new technology, this takes on a whole new meaning.
The Series X uses the Xbox Velocity Architecture, a set of next-generation technologies that make the eye-popping graphics and seamless gameplay of Series X titles possible. A vital component of this is the internal storage, which uses a proprietary 1 TB NVMe SSD. It’s capable of whopping transfer speeds of 2.4 GB/s (4.8 GB/s with hardware compression), which is how the console achieves almost-zero load times.
The thing is that external SSDs currently available can’t match that speed, which puts gamers in a pickle. No longer can they play newer Xbox titles straight off external storage, as they did with older Xbox consoles. To get to do this again, they need a Series X expansion card that fits in the NVMe slot at the back of the console.
There’s only one official expansion card available for the Series X at the time of launch, and that’s the Seagate 1TB Expansion Card (we covered it extensively above if you haven’t read it yet). It offers extended storage in the truest sense of the word, matching the speed and performance of the Xbox Series X internal storage to a tee.
At the time of writing, only Seagate is officially manufacturing expansion cards for the Xbox Series X or S. Whether new players will launch expansion cards in the future remains to be seen
Now, just because the Series X uses expansion cards, doesn’t mean that it can’t use external storage like HDDs or SSDs. The console actually can, albeit in a more limited way. This is called external storage, and again the naming convention clues you in on what it can and can’t do.
External storage like HDDs and SSDs connects to the USB slot of the Series X or S and works similarly to how it did in older Xbox consoles. That means transferring game files and saves from the Xbox to the drive, and vice versa. You can also play older Xbox titles off the drive with a dramatic boost in speed and load times (yes, Series X is backwards compatible with the entire Xbox library!)
What external storage can’t do is work with Xbox Series X game titles, so that means you can’t play those off these drives. This is more of a limitation than anything else because as we said, commercial SSDs just aren’t fast enough to handle the throughput next-gen Xbox games require.
So what does this all mean for you moving forward?
Ideally, you should get both extended and external storage for the foreseeable future (probably around six months from time of launch). The former is for working with Series X titles itself, whether storing or playing them. But because expansion card capacities are currently limited, you’ll need an additional drive for archiving, which is where external storage comes in.
Of course, this might change when expansion cards with more significant capacities become available in the future. Until then, we’ll just have to wait and see.