Data will always be a demanding concern for console gamers, and what often seems like an afterthought for manufacturers. Current-generation Xbox Series X|S owners know the struggle all too well as both models opt for a more ‘curated’ approach that keeps their architecture proficient, reliable, and protected for optimization. The obvious drawback being that you’re trapped with limited internal storage that can’t be upgraded by traditional means.
To alleviate this problem, Microsoft has partnered with Seagate to bring their official Xbox Storage Expansion Card, a NVMe memory unit that boosts the limited capacity of your console in proprietary form. It’s not just your best option to expand your Xbox memory—it’s probably your only one.
Editor’s Note: Seagate also offers 512GB ($109.99) and 2TB ($399) variants, though considering the propriety nature of them I can’t see why anyone would opt for the smaller version—and the vastly more expensive 2TB version might be financial overkill for most of you. This review is based on the 1TB model, which is the middle choice and probably better overall value.
Return of the Memory Card
Seagate has essentially created a bespoke memory card, one that works as a proper companion to the Xbox Series X|S consoles for both game saves and as a secondary drive with OS functionality intact. Upon unboxing, the Expansion Card is exactly what you think it is with compact dimensions of 0.307 × 1.244 × 2.085 inches and a paltry weight of just 30.0g/0.066lb.
The module is about as thin as a small USB jump drive, but approximately derived from CFexpress Type B and XQD PCIe cards originally made for professional photographers. The design is basic and discreet with the only unique details being a removable transparent smoked cap that covers the main connector from dust during travel, and the main black housing adorned with a little Xbox logo and a tiny grip notch, since the unit sticks out externally.
Both Xbox Series X|S consoles have a dedicated slot in the rear specifically cards like this, so plugging this into the open bay is all that’s needed. It doesn’t matter if the Xbox is powered on or not because the console automatically recognizes the unit and prompts you to format for initialization when detected—that’s it. Just think of it as a giant USB dongle and you’ve got the idea. It’s totally idiot-proof and takes less than a minute to setup before content transfer can begin.
Another reason you’d want to pick up a Seagate Expansion Card is to free up internal space or play your collection of current X|S games, apps and game save directly on the card instead. This is a useful feature Microsoft locked out when using USB HDDs or SSDs for current games, though backward compatible titles (Xbox 360 / Xbox One) are still supported on those slower drives. As frustrating as it might sound, the ultimate boon of the Seagate Expansion Card is that it’s quick enough for X|S games to be enjoyed while delivering the blistering speeds promised.
In terms of performance, nothing appears compromised with the Seagate Expansion Card when utilized for additional capacity. I tested this with a Xbox Series X as a base and optioned the card as the main drive. Overall NVMe Speeds and transfer figures ranged between 4.44 to 6.01Gbps, which were identical benchmarks when compared against the console’s internal storage speeds while downloading games from the store or Game Pass.
The Price of Going Proprietary
While the Seagate Expansion Card serves its purpose of enhancing the Xbox Series X|S, there’s one thing that dampens the mood: the price. Granted, this 1TB model has experienced small discounts online, but you’re still going to be spending a moderate chunk of change for the privilege of expanding capacity. Even at $199, it’s still a barrier of entry considering the card is practically a CFexpress flash component that’s physically bound to work on an Xbox console. This is a fair criticism especially with how universal and open-ended and flexible the PlayStation 5 handles optional storage. By the way, this fault is not centered on Seagate themselves, but rather the implementation dictated by Microsoft at the time of this writing.
The One (And Only) Option
Ultimately, Seagate delivers with their Xbox Storage Expansion Card by effectively being the only choice when it comes to bolstering Xbox Series X|S storage space. It offers solid performance and ludicrous read/write transfer speeds as a plug-and-play solution while maintaining seamless integration, and that revelation may be all you want or need. If you can find it cheaper elsewhere or hope (however unlikely) that Seagate eventually releases a larger 4TB model, there’s really nothing else available for Xbox users in the market that would be a competitive equivalent to this card.