The move to 4K and an increased resolution over already HD content means bigger game installation sizes thanks to higher quality assets that take advantage of the latest and greatest in display technology – like a sweet 65” LG OLED. Released last November the Xbox One X from Microsoft not only introduced the most powerful console in the history of consoles, but also huge game installation sizes to boot. Take the visual splendour that is Forza Motorsport 7 running on an Xbox One X in native 4K resolution with all manner of HDR lighting goodness and slick weather effects. Visual splendour that comes at the cost of close to 100GB of installation space. That’s gigabytes.
A less extreme example, the wonderful Assassin’s Creed Origins - clocks in at around 50GB. On the PlayStation 4 Pro, exclusive titles from Sony regularly break the 50GB barrier. Back in the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 era a game that came on a single DVD rarely exceeded the 7 or 8 GB range. Although both the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro come equipped with 1TB of internal storage, where a chunk is used for system software, the need for an external drive quickly becomes a necessity. And essential if you’re the type that loves all the free stuff that comes each month with Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus subscriptions.
With both consoles equipped with USB 3.0 ports and support for external hard drives, this means that sooner or later getting additional storage is a choice that 4K-powered gamers need to make. Which is where we come in, and thanks to Seagate and Western Digital we’ve put through a few of them through their storage paces to bring you this round-up.
Seagate Game Drive
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Capacity: 2TB / 4TB
Price: ~ $159 / $259
Available in PlayStation blue and Xbox green, the Game Drive from Seagate right out of the gate triples the storage capacity of a PlayStation 4 Pro or Xbox One X. More so if you go the 4TB option. Designed specifically for consoles, this means the USB-powered drive takes full advantage of the speedy USB 3.0 ports on each console whilst offering quick setups to format and configure them for game use in a matter of minutes. Like with all external drives for either console installations are compatible with multiple consoles, so you can unplug, take the Game Drive to a friend’s place, and start playing almost instantly. A feature that in the age of large installation sizes is more than welcome.
Now one might look at the Game Drive and wonder why you shouldn’t just opt for a cheaper drive, which Seagate offers. Portable, external, and basically the same thing. The difference though comes in the read and write speeds of the Game Drive, which are noticeably quicker than less expensive portable options. Which naturally means faster load times, even quicker than if you were to run the same game from the internal drive on an Xbox One X or PlayStation 4 Pro. And migrating larger games from an internal to an external is quicker with something like the Game Drive than others. At its core you’re getting one of the fastest portable drives from Seagate Game Drive – and coupled with the funky design and easy setup, make it a great choice.
Western Digital - My Passport X
Platform: Xbox One
Capacity: 2TB / 3TB
A more minimal design to the bright green aesthetic of Seagate’s Game Drive, Western Digital’s My Passport X is quite similar, visually speaking, to several Passport drives in the WD line-up. In terms of performance, the read and write speeds put it slightly lower on the benchmark scale or slower than the Seagate offering. But not in the realm where it will impact in-game performance. In fact, the design of the My Passport X is such that it runs cooler than most portable drives, Game Drive included, which probably means that in the long run it should maintain speeds without fragmentation or repeated use becoming an issue.
Like with the Game Drive setup is a simple plug-and-play process where after connecting it to an Xbox One it essentially adds a couple of terabytes to your overall game install capacity. And with the updated drive management of the Xbox One in recent times you get a single read out of total storage, which is nice. Out of the box the My Passport X isn’t formatted for Xbox One use, meaning that it can be used with any PC or compatible device. But once configured, like with the Game Drive it can only be used for game storage. Going the portable route also has its benefits, namely no need for external power and the small size means that a drive can sit next to or on top of a console and blend into your setup.
Seagate Game Hub Drive
Platform: Xbox One
Price: ~ $369
One of the downsides of going the portable route is that smaller drives tend to run hotter and aren’t quite as quick as full-sized external options. The Seagate Game Hub Drive for Xbox weighs in, storage-wise, at a whopping 8TB – which should provide enough installation space for well over 100 large 4K-ready games. Or 200 if you consider a wide range of games. The huge installation capacity and the larger form factor of the drive also means quicker performance, with the Game Hub Drive performance and speed sitting roughly 15% faster than that of a portable Game Drive. Well eclipsing internal storage speeds.
But with great power comes the need for an external power source. On the plus side the Game Drive Hub for Xbox also features some great Xbox-specific features, including two USB ports that will passthrough directly to an Xbox One that act exactly like the USB ports on the console. Meaning you can do everything from charge a controller to adding additional storage. Not that you’ll need that, what with the huge 8TB capacity. Under the hood with the Game Drive Hub you get a Seagate Barracuda Pro 8TB drive, which is a surprisingly good and reliable choice. Everything about the Game Drive Hub screams the ultimate option for external storage, especially in the age of the Xbox One X. If you’ve got a game collection that numbers in the hundreds, then you’d be hard pressed to find a better alternative. The only downside is that like with the portable options you only get a year of warranty.
Naturally all the above drives are compatible with standard Xbox One or PlayStation 4 consoles. But with the advent of 4K HDR games external storage for a PS4 Pro or Xbox One X is again - essential.