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Ever since Microsoft announced its Xbox Velocity Architecture, it was clear that there’d be some kind of price premium on the SSD cards. To briefly recap: The Xbox Velocity Architecture delivers 2.4GB/s of raw storage output (4.8GB/s compressed), which is roughly half the speed of the PlayStation 5. Unlike Sony, Microsoft announced it would deploy specialized storage cards with 1TB of storage, built in partnership with Seagate. With consoles, proprietary storage always comes with a markup. Now, Microsoft and Best Buy have posted a SKU for an upcoming Seagate 1TB drive.

In this case, the Xbox Series X’s 1TB SSD will set you back $220. As pricing goes, it’s actually not that bad considering what you’re buying — namely, a PCIe 4.0 1TB SSD. A 1TB Rocket Q4 from Sabrent (PCIe 4.0) costs $179, as does a 1TB external SSD from Seagate itself. $220, in this context, represents a premium, but not highway robbery. Microsoft would likely argue that the proprietary form factor development costs and ease-of-access with the external ports and whatnot are responsible for the rest of the increase.

If you have a USB 3.x drive you were planning to use with an Xbox Series X, be advised that this isn’t possible for playing the latest titles. Xbox One and earlier games will still load off these drives, but Xbox Series X games will not. The storage performance available from USB 3 isn’t high enough to sustain the fast transfer rates required for the data streaming both Microsoft and Sony have made central to next-generation gaming. Microsoft will allow you to back up games to USB-connected hard drives, but you can’t run XSX titles from it.

Should You Plan to Buy a Drive?

Sooner or later, probably, yes. With games now regularly hitting the 100GB mark and some titles well above it, you’re going to run out of space quickly. This is especially true for the Xbox Series S, with its smaller storage capacity.

How quickly you’ll need new storage depends on how many titles you intend to play and install. If you find you can’t afford the $300 or $500 price point with another $220 for storage on top of that, a cheap external HDD (especially if you already own one) could be a partial solution, especially if your internet is slow. Rotating games out to a secondary hard drive and keeping just your current favorites on SSD is a bit annoying, but it’s almost always going to be faster than downloading a 100GB game.

The tradeoff here is that you’ll just be kicking the can down the road and eventually you’ll probably want to grab the 1TB SSD expansion. But if you’re trying to spread out the cost over a longer period of time, this is a reasonable way to do it, especially if you’ve already got a drive or have a use for this one after you stop using it for auxiliary storage.

Sony drives are not expected to be much cheaper than the Microsoft alternative. While Sony has stated that some consumer drives would be compatible with the PlayStation 5, we still don’t know which those are. The cost is likely to be similar for both systems, though since Sony is apparently going with straight-up M2 drives, we’d expect that company to effectively come in a bit lower — though we may not know until after launch which drives are actually compatible.

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