Whether you already got your hands on a next-gen console or not, investing in a solid external SSD nets you some great “cold storage”. These drives come in handy for quick media storage, but are speedy enough to run some older generation’s games too. Don’t know where to start with external SSDs? We’ll help you get started, by listing some of the best external drives out there.
Let’s not forget: internal storage beats external storage all day, everyday. When it comes down to the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, both come with a rapid M.2 NVMe SSD built in, which can load in games faster than any previous gaming console could ever think of. They even prove faster than some top-notch NVMe SSDs for desktop systems. That’s a feat to fast for your bulky old back-up drive.
However, these consoles are also suited to handle faster data transfers through USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, opening the machines up for better external storage. While classic hard disks can get somewhat speedy, solid state drives capitalize on the bandwidth capacity (up to about 10 Gbit/s) of this interface way better. You wouldn’t want to run anything next-gen off of this, but the right USB drives offer enough speed for some quick, backwards compatible fun.
In short, an external SSD offers ample storage and speed for older and smaller games — so you can keep that internal storage focussed on the “big guns”. With that in mind, let’s get to listing some great options on external SSDs…
Western Digital is coming in hot with their WD_Black gaming subsidiary. The WD_Black P50 looks the part with its military-like rigid build, but also shines at speed. While most gaming consoles top out at around 10 Gbit/s interfaces, the P50 is future-proofed with 20 Gbit/s speed. This translates to read speeds of roughly 2,000 MB/s.
The so-called “SuperSpeed USB 20Gb/s” interface might be an overkill for the USB ports on your Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5, but Western Digital can rightfully claim it has one of the fastest external gaming drives out there. As an end user, you might be able to benefit from the additional speed by hooking it up to certain desktop motherboards, as well as possible future iterations of your preferred console.
Boasting future-proof speeds and some slick marketing, the P50 comes at a slightly elevated price, compared to its competitors. If you’re looking for cost-effective external storage, this ain’t it, Chief.
The WD_Black comes in 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, and even 4TB sizes. The smaller sizes are prone to receive some discounts from time to time, so be sure to strike if this drive meets the pricing of slower competition.
Although Samsung’s range of portable NVMe SSDs doesn’t directly target the gamer, these little drives perform just as well as those that do. The Samsung T7 (as well as the Samsung T7 Touch) makes full use of the USB 3.2 Gen 2 interface, coming in at read speeds up to 1,050 MB/s and write speeds up to 1,000 MB/s. That’s more than enough for some casual gaming.
Samsung excels in keeping it simple and slick. The NVMe drive itself is cased within a sturdy aluminium chassis, granting it additional durability and thermal dissipation. The T7 SSDs can easily withstand a drop from about six feet, while also being shock-resistant in general.
All T7 models have a “Dynamic Thermal Guard” technology built-in, preventing the drive from overheating. This heatguard can throttle read speeds, so if you need consistency during prolonged use, make sure to steer the SSD clear of any source of heat, like your gaming console itself.
The Samsung T7 comes in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB storage volumes. Additionally, users can choose between gray, red, and blue colorways. The somewhat pricier Touch version — granting optional fingerprint protection — is available in black and silver.
Don’t worry: this drive won’t burn down your PlayStation or PC when plugged in, even with its heavy Xbox branding. Seagate and Microsoft have been storage partners for some while, proven by this Game Drive for Xbox line of products. Pricewise, they’re pretty affordable, but they do offer less speed than most SSDs on our list. The fastest Game Drive for Xbox tops out at 540 MB/s — roughly half of what USB 3.2 Gen 2 can offer.
In exchange for some loss of speed, Seagate and Xbox teamed up to grant some pretty neat little extras. Most of the Game Drives for Xbox come with a few months of Xbox Game Pass, as well as a 1 Year Rescue Service from Seagate, in case you ever lose any files or savegames. Considering the price, these drives come with some additional security, as well as tons of extra games to load on, and try out.
The fastest Game Drive for Xbox comes in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB sizes. Older Game Drives (also available with PlayStation branding, or as other Special Editions) go up to 4TB, 5TB, and even 8TB — although those are usually external hard disks, not the speedier kind of solid state drives. Consider these if you’re looking for the coldest of storage.
Crucial and their parent company Micron are better known for their memory expertise, but are also getting into the game of speedy storage. The Crucial X8 marks their first SSD over USB 3.2 Gen 2 interface, immediately hitting that ceiling of 1,050 MB/s read speed. In most cases, it tends to be just a tad bit more affordable than its competition.
Is Crucial in any way less reliable than the other SSDs on this list? Not at all. Like most of our recommendations, the X8 comes with excellent performance, as well as durability. The anodized aluminium case grants Crucial proper heat dissipation, while the rubber end parts might help absorb some accidental shocks. The Crucial X8 has been tested to withstand drops onto carpet from about 7.5 feet.
The Crucial X8 line of SSDs comes in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB sizes. Crucial has plans to also launch a 4TB model, just like they had with their older generation X6 external drives.
If you want all-out sturdiness, SanDisk is where it’s at. The company that built their reputation on storage solutions for professional camera users, has entered the external SSD market. Again, SanDisk’s Extreme Portable SSD V2 is not gaming branded, but it features those neat read speeds up to 1,050 MB/s over USB 3.2 Gen 2.
SanDisk stands out from the crowd by going all-out on durability. Not only is their rigid SSD built to withstand drops up to 6.5 feet, it’s also water and dust resistant up to an IP55 rating. This thing is meant to go on adventures with videographers, so it’ll outlast a spilled drink or a full-on ragequit too.
As a downside, the soft-touch plastic is prone to some light scratches, as well as more built-up warmth. It’s a small con to the equation as a whole. A bit of extra heat won’t immediately slow performance down, but SanDisk’s SSD runs just a bit warmer in regular use than its competitors.
The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD V2 comes in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB capacities. Do note that only the V2 generation supports speeds up to 1050 MB/s — the almost identical looking first generation tops out at about 550 MB/s.
Another brand mostly known for memory, is now peeking over the portable SSD hedge: TeamGroup. The newcomer might have “borrowed” some ideas from their competitors, but it implements them rather well in their PD1000. Being an external SSD on USB 3.2 Gen 2, it tops out at 1,000 MB/s read speeds, with a slightly lower 900 MB/s write speed.
The PD1000 sticks Samsungs sleek styling into a navy blue colorway, and slaps SanDisks durability on top of it. By adding a rubber O-ring to its USB-C port, the PD1000 is fully waterproof up to 1 meter for 60 minutes — enough for an IP68 rating. The aluminium alloy casing helps with heat dissipation, and can withstand drops from up to 4 feet.
All in all, TeamGroup offers quite a sleek portable SSD, that isn’t necessarily worse than it’s direct competition. Coming from an expensive history in flash storage and memory solutions, you know it doesn’t cut corners on performance either. The PD1000 may be ever so slightly slower in some cases, but considering all other factors, it’s a remarkably solid buy.
The TeamGroup PD1000 comes in 512GB, 1TB and 2TB sizes. Colorwise, it’s only the navy blue option, for now. Judging how TeamGroup and their gaming subsidiaries love colorful lighting, it’s probably a matter of time before they roll out a “gamified” black-and-RGB version.
It’s quite some storage — we know — but it’ll at least give you a foothold on the market of external SSDs for your next-gen gaming session. We’ve stored as much knowledge as we could on here. And as long as you keep an eye out for drives making full use of the USB 3.2 Gen 2 interface, you and your gaming console(s) are golden.
Is there anything you still feel unsure about? Or do you think we overlooked a great addition to this list? Be sure to let us know. Share your thoughts and your own suggestions through the comment section down below. Not only are we always down to talk more about gaming storage, you might just help a fellow gamer out, too.
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