Video games on all platforms become more advanced, however, this comes at the cost of storage space since there are much more files and programming needed for those extra features and quality. This especially affects consoles like Xbox One, which by default comes with only 500GB of internal storage.
While you can now get a more expensive 1TB version, the loading speeds for more demanding games may take an agonizing amount of time. This is why we’ve compiled a short top list of the fastest external hard drives for Xbox One, taking your funds into consideration.
Which hard drives are compatible with the Xbox One?
While you can pry open your Xbox One’s case, the small and slow internal hard drive isn’t meant to be replaced. However, Microsoft has made it very simple to add your own external hard drives since there are only two limitations here:
The external hard drive has to have at least 256GB of capacity
The external hard drive has to connect via a USB 3.0 port
Any external hard drive that fits these specifications will work with your Xbox One, but needless to say, there is much more nuance to picking the best hard drive for your Xbox One system. We also added a couple speedier internal drive options for you to choose from, however, they will need the drive dock listed alongside them to connect to the Xbox One’s USB 3.0 hub.
How to find the fastest external hard drive for Xbox One?
The defining feature of a hard drive is undeniably storage capacity, so how much space would you need to fulfill your gaming needs for the future? Well, a 1TB external hard drive for your Xbox One would be the starting point, considering the previously mentioned triple-A titles taking up around 50GB of space each and that’s without spacious updates and DLC. A 2TB drive would be just about enough for most people’s needs, taking into consideration that you can’t partition a drive formatted for Xbox One, so any extra storage space may go to waste.
As for data transfer speeds, the Xbox One uses a USB 3.0 connection, however, the console doesn’t use the UASP protocol, which in Layman’s terms is a technology that makes all storage devices run faster. So with that said, super-fast SSD drives will just get bottlenecked on your Xbox One, proven by countless loading time tests showing a huge leap between the internal HDD and a faster external HDD (or an SSHD), while SSDs add very little to this leap. Check out our article about understanding the difference between SSD and HDD to help you understand why this is important.
For example, a decent HDD could cut loading times in half for a lot of games, with the demanding loading process of GTAV potentially being cut down to a fourth of the initial speed. Meanwhile, an SSD could only remove up to ten seconds from the HDD’s loading times, which in terms of price may not be a difference worth your money. This is why HDDs and SSHDs combine reasonable price with speedy data transfer, and in turn, quicker loading times for all your games. This is why they are the main focus on our top 6 of fastest external drives for Xbox One.
Our top 6 picks for the fastest external hard drives for Xbox One
Reviews of the fastest Xbox One external hard drives
1. WD My Book review
Big, fast and cheap
The Western Digitial My Book is a good external hard drive on all accounts – it comes in lots of capacities, most of them huge and it provides pretty fast data transfer speeds for a hard disk drive. But the best thing about this drive may be the price – the 3TB version costs around 2.5 cents per GB (as of May 2017) and all of this comes with a respectable 3-year warranty.
The only major downside to the drive may be the separate power supply, which may take up precious space in your already packed extension cord. Also, while the My Book is an external drive, it was designed as a handy option for desktop data backups, so it’s quite clunky and not very portable at all. With the variety of huge amounts of capacity available with this drive, we recommend 3-4TB of capacity, which would cover the needs of pretty much any Xbox One player.
Seagate is the leading manufacturer of external HDDs and Backup Plus Slim is one of their masterpieces. This light and small external HDD provides plenty of space for all your games and lets you take them anywhere you go and play them on your friends Xbox One, for example. It also charges from your Xbox One through the USB 3.0 port.
While all of these features are handy, this is one of the slower drives on our list, so if you’re looking to cut down as many seconds as possible from your loading times, some other HDDs on our list may be more fit for you.
Another portable external drive from Seagate – the Expansion portable drive provides an array of capacities alongside one of the highest transfer speeds on our list.
The only major downside here is the short 1-year warranty which turns reliable usage into crossing your fingers that the drive doesn’t break down on its 366th day of use. Weirdly enough, the sales page on Amazon shows the 3TB version being a bit more expensive than the 4TB version (as of May 2017), so you might not waste any money by buying some extra storage space
This Seagate drive has clearly been designed for Xbox systems, so if you like your gaming gear to look good and go together with one another, this is your choice. The Game Drive also doesn’t trade good looks for performance as its data transfer speeds are on par with other fastest HDDs on our list. The Game drive is also very portable, letting you play games at your Xbox buddies place with ease
However, don’t expect much custom Xbox features from this drive as the design is where the Xbox-ness of the Game Drive begins and ends. Aside from exterior, this functions as any other drive would. The Game Drive is available with a Halo Wars skin and a 500GB SSD version is available as well. But that model is mainly focused on keeping the 10-20 most-played games to have them load fast, and has less costly SSD alternatives on the market, so avoid that one if you don’t have money to waste.
You may be getting tired from all the Seagate products on our list, but this one is somewhat special – the FireCuda is an SSHD. Basically SSHDs combine the huge capacity of HDDs with a speedy SSD-like cache for most-used files, and all of this comes at a way more reasonable price than any SSD. To find out more, check out article about SSHDs and how they work. The FireCuda Gaming comes in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB variants with price tags only a bit higher than their regular HDD counterparts.
The downsides here would be that it’s an internal drive, so you will need the internal drive bay that will let you use the FireCuda as an external drive and connect to the Xbox One’s USB 3.0 port. Also, the higher transfer speeds will only start to show up after a period of use, as the SSD-like cache has to recognize what files you use more and thus load them faster.
As we discussed before, you won’t get much of a speed boost from an SSD, but a tiny boost is still there. This is why we included the popular Samsung T3 Portable SSD on our list for all those speed demons willing to spend extra money for as much performance as they can. The T3’s transfer speeds are incomparable to any other HDDs on our list as it reaches close to the maximum 450Mb/s it can provide – 2-3 time more than any HDD out there. It’s also very small and light and comes at up to 2TB of capacity for average gaming needs.
The main downside, of course, is the price – you’ll pay around to 40-50 cents per GB (as of May 2017) for this little beast, so, again, this is more suitable with enthusiasts with money to spare.
Summary of the fastest external hard drives for Xbox One
If you’re on a budget, the WD My Book is a good choice for you, with Seagate Backup Plus Slim not being far behind in terms of low price.
If you’re looking for the most portable drive, the Seagate Game Drive is a good choice alongside Seagate Backup Plus Slim.
If you don’t need a portable drive and focus more on pure loading speeds, the WD My Book or the Seagate FireCuda + drive bay are the best options for you. We hope that you found on of our picks of the fastest external hard drive for Xbox One suitable for your needs.