Xbox Series X will have expandable storage through custom 1 TB cards

Microsoft detailed the full Xbox Series X hardware specs on Monday, confirming the nuts and bolts of the next-gen Xbox’s CPU, GPU, RAM, and internal storage — the latter of which is a 1 TB custom NVMe solid-state drive. That drive will enable fast loading times, but it also presents an issue: 1 TB isn’t much storage these days, especially as current-generation games balloon well beyond 100 GB.

Microsoft’s answer to that is the Xbox Series X Storage Expansion Card, a proprietary hardware solution being developed with Seagate. According to Seagate, those 1 TB expansion cards will replicate “the full speed and performance of the Series X’s internal storage.” The back of the Xbox Series X has a port dedicated to these Storage Expansion Cards, but the Series X will also accept external USB hard drives. Xbox Series X games can be backed up to a USB drive, but users must install them to the console’s internal SSD or a Storage Expansion Card to play them. This also applies for Xbox One games that get “optimized for Xbox Series X” updates, such as Gears 5 — Microsoft says those enhanced games can’t be played off of a USB drive if users want “optimal performance.”

Neither Seagate nor Microsoft revealed specifications on the Xbox Series X Storage Expansion Card (other than to say its performance “matches internal storage exactly”). The companies also did not disclose the price for those Storage Expansion Cards. We should note that 1 TB NVMe SSDs cost around $100 or more, pointing to a potentially expensive storage expansion card.

In February, when we got a peek at the back of an Xbox Series X prototype, the port that accepts Xbox Series X Storage Expansion Cards was spotted for the first time. The port was speculated to have been compatible with the CFexpress format, a high-capacity, high-speed storage option. According to Digital Foundry’s hands-on analysis of the Xbox Series X, the Storage Expansion Card is effectively an NVMe interface device encased within a chunky heatsink to keep it cool. The cards will offer some level of portability between Xbox Series X devices, letting players copy full games to the card to move them from console to console.

The Xbox Series X is slated to launch during holiday 2020.

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