Microsoft has announced two new Xbox Series X|S SSD Expansion Cards, a 512GB model (which was previously leaked) and a 2TB model to compliment the 1TB card that has been available since last November.
The 512GB model will launch in mid-December, while the 2TB card will appear in December, but you might want to take a seat before you read how much they cost.
The 512GB Storage Expansion Card will cost $139.99, compared to the $219.99 of the 1TB card. Meanwhile, the 2TB drive will cost $399.99. That’s four fifths of the cost of an Xbox Series X!
These are the only SSD expansions that you can use to run Xbox Series X|S optimised games from, the drives having a semi-custom design that is able to use the internal PCIe bus for data transfer through the Xbox Velocity Architecture… but they’re still hella-expensive.
We’re already seeing the cost benefits of Sony’s decision to allow for standard PC NVMe drives for PlayStation 5. While PCIe 4.0 drives that meet Sony’s specifications come with a price premium, competition between manufacturers and retailers mean that we’ve seen compatible 1TB drives sell for around £120-140 in the UK over the last few weeks. By contrast, the 1TB Seagate Xbox SSD has held closer to the £200 mark.
When looking at for a 2TB, they’re still eye-wateringly expensive for PlayStation 5, but you might be able to find something for around £350, where the Xbox drive will be closer to £400.
That is partly down to the semi-custom design of the drive. While a slower SSD that tops out at less than half the speed of PS5 SSDs, the Xbox Series X|S expansion slot adapts the CFexpress connector to run using PCIe 4.0, and the M.2 NVMe drive hidden inside is the smallest form possible, which is not typically available to consumers. The advantage is that it’s truly plug and play, the disadvantage is that it’s a proprietary form factor and there’s no price competition.
Further Reading: Xbox Series X in review
Microsoft partnered with Seagate in 2020 to offer the first expansion drive at the launch of the Xbox Series X|S, but it’s hoped that they will soon allow other companies to create SSDs to rival them and hopefully bring down prices here as well.