External Xbox Series S Storage Tested; Sandisk Extreme Portable and Crucial X8

Aernout van de Velde
Xbox Series S

We tested two external USB SSDs on Microsoft’s Xbox Series S. How do these drives stack up against the console’s next-gen internal SSD?

Fast next-gen console storage is precious and with Microsoft’s entry-level console only sporting 512GB of space (of which only 364GB is actually usable), many Xbox players will be looking out for fast additional storage to play their backward-compatible titles from. Microsoft has partnered up with Seagate for its officially-licensed Xbox Series X|S Storage Expansion Card. This NVMe storage card, however, doesn’t come cheap and while users will also be able to play next-gen Xbox Series X|S titles from it, there are plenty of Xbox players who are looking for extra space to only play their backward-compatible titles from.

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Also, more than ever, Xbox players are using Xbox Game Pass, and with only a limited amount of space available on the Series S, speedy additional storage is basically a must-have for those wanting to benefit from increased boot and loading times in past-generation titles without having to worry about free space for next-gen titles.

Enter two highly-rated external USB Solid State Drives from SanDisk and Crucial – the $139.99 SanDisk Extreme Portable (1TB) and the $164,95 Crucial X8 (1TB). SanDisk’s offering is a USB 3.1 Gen 2 drive (available in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB) offering up sequential reads up to 550 MB/s, whereas Crucial’s offering is a USB 3.2 Gen 2 drive (available in 1TB and 2TB), offering read speeds up to 1.050 MB/s. Both drives are compact, solidly build and offer plenty of value. The key difference between the two is clearly the higher maximum reading speed for the X8, on paper at least. Let’s find out how these SSDs perform in real-world conditions on the Xbox Series S. Please note that we’ve only tested these drives on Microsoft’s console, and real-world practice tests on PC haven’t been performed.

To test how these drives match up against the internal SSD inside the Xbox Series S, we booted up and loaded several Xbox titles (Ori and the Will of the Wisps, The Outer Worlds, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and A Plague Tale: Innocence) on the Series S SSD, the SanDisk Extreme Portable, and the Crucial X8. Between tests, the games were closed down and transferred to the respective drives.

As you can see from the chart above, Ori and the Will of the Wisps (which is optimized for Xbox Series X|S, but surprisingly, also plays from an external USB SSD), boots fastest on the Xbox Series S' internal SSD, but the difference between the drives is minimal - we're only talking about a few seconds here. As for loading up the game, performance is nearly identical and the same goes for Quick Resuming.

(Quick resume didn't work with The Outer Worlds during our testing)

The tests show that, for backward-compatible games, the SanDisk Extreme Portable and the faster (on paper, at least) Crucial X8 perform almost as well as the internal Xbox Series S SSD. Granted, in general, the console's SSD offers the best performance, but we're talking about a difference of just a few seconds here (3 seconds at the most). Interestingly, during some of the tests, both the SanDisk and the Crucial slightly outperformed the Xbox Series S. This shows that the backward-compatible titles aren't fully optimized to make use of the much higher maximum speeds of  Microsoft's next-gen SSD.

If you're in the market for additional storage for your Xbox Series S|X for your backward-compatible games, while still benefiting from increased loading times and somewhat less hurting your wallet this holiday season, both the SanDisk Extreme Portable and Crucial X8 are great alternatives to the vastly more expensive Seagate Xbox Series X|S Storage Card.

Samples provided by the manufacturers for testing purposes.

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