As information continues to trickle out about next-gen consoles, we keep getting new pieces of the puzzle that inform our purchasing decisions. Here’s a relatively niche one from Digital Foundry that’s going to become increasingly relevant over time: Any old SSD is a good option for storing and running backward compatibility games on Xbox Series X.
Digital Foundry’s extensive breakdown is embedded above, but the gist of it is that the Xbox Series X’s expensive proprietary nVME SSD doesn’t offer much of an advantage over a SATA SSD when it comes to the backward compatibility library. We’re talking load speed differential of around one second.
The reason for this is that backward compatibility titles don’t make use of the Velocity Architecture that Microsoft has developed for video games on Xbox Series X. Without that optimization, the proprietary SSDs are just acting like SSDs. Considering the price point of an average SATA SSD versus the $220 Seagate Xbox Series X SSD, it’d be foolish to waste precious internal storage space on backward compatible games.
However, and this is important to note, any Xbox Series X optimized title has to run off of the internal storage or the proprietary external SSD (which functions the exact same as the internal SSD). The SATA SSD option is only applicable to backward compatibility for that reason. But, seeing as how every generation of Xbox coming together is one of Microsoft’s selling points, most people will probably have some old stuff that they want to keep installed.
The other takeaway is that everyone should probably stop running their games off of HDDs if they can afford to. Spinning disk drives lag way behind everything else in these tests. If the next generation is largely about getting you into your games quickly, why pay for the new machines just to undo those advantages with inferior tech?