Why Did The Xbox One X Release With An HDD Instead Of An SSD?

inside xbox

Ever since the hardware specs of the Xbox One X were revealed I’ve been wondering why they went with an HDD over an SSD storage, after all they were marketing this console as the most powerful ever created: shouldn’t it also be the fastest?

First, for those who don’t really know the difference:

HDD (Hard Disk Drive) SSD (Solid State Drive)
Has Moving parts Has no moving parts (less chance of something breaking)
Needs to speed up -> slower boot-up speed Faster boot-time
Slower at loading files Faster loading of files
Bigger size (dimensions) Smaller size (compact)
Consumes more power (+ generates a bit more heat) Consumes less power
Cheaper price per Gigabyte More expensive

As you can see, about the only place where the SSD loses out is in the price. So did Microsoft choose the HDD just to keep the asking price of the console below $500? Or was there just not that much added benefit in using an SSD?

It seems the latter may have played a bigger role than you’d think as many people have been testing with external SSD’s and found that the increase in speed that games are loaded is minimal. The result seems to vary a lot based on which game is being tested:

Quoting the video’s maker: The conclusion, is that the XBOX ONE X internal drive is just about as fast as a USB 3.0 SSD (Samsung T1 512gb) used in test) and is significantly faster than the older XBOX ONE S internal drive.

Another video seems to show the same kind of results:

Uploader’s feedback: The Tomb Raider was indeed slower on the internal drive, where GTA V excels on the internal drive, as does the Witcher III, with AC Origins being marginable.

On Reddit, one user seems to have gone as far as opening up the Xbox One X and replacing the internal HDD by an internal SSD: (source)

His results:

First of all, I’ve also done this on my OG XB1 and the X1X is so much easier to take apart!

It seems that Microsoft has managed to get the most out of the HDD used in their Console, or perhaps the console is simply limited on other fronts, like the CPU. Or it could be that the console versions of these games have just not been optimised for SSD use. (maybe most games just take more time actually processing what’s being loaded rather than loading the actual assets)

It would be interesting to see what the loading speed would be like if the Xbox One family of consoles had been developed with SSD storage in mind, but I guess we’ll have to wait for the next generation of consoles instead.

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Robby Bisschop
Belgian, male, born in 1987
I love videogames (mostly RPGs), anime, movies and Magic The Gathering.
About the author

Robby Bisschop

Belgian, male, born in 1987 I love videogames (mostly RPGs), anime, movies and Magic The Gathering.
  • Migi

    Simple anwser is that a SSD can only be rewriting so many times while Normal HD can be rewriten an infinite number of times. Any person a bit tech savy knows this.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XZNr7mS0iw

    • heavenshitman1

      how does that relate to all the speeds? And SSDs should generally be rated to last the required usage time of a system, but are expensice as.

      I’d say the speed matters would just be down to OS drivers not being designed for SSD, and/or the motherboard chipsets not having the bandwidth (a PC MoBo could cost as much as an X1X).

      Bottom line though, SSD’s slaughter HDD’s in performance

    • PawnSacrifices

      I have an X1X with a 5TB Segate HDD and a 512GB Samsung 850pro SSD (with case adaptor of course). And with many 4k games pushing 100GB and enhanced around 50GB each, a smaller SSD would fill up rather fast.
      I use my HDD as my ‘library’ and just keep the games I frequently play on the SSD (minimizing rewritings).
      But will point out that Samsung’s Pro series had a 10year warranty, and even at 8:40 in your vid the guy says ‘the average consumer will get a decade of use’ from their SSD.

      • Migi

        I actually do the same with my PC, but i always keep in mind never to install anything on my SSD drive considering Games don’t get the major boost in speed that ppl think a SSD could give them. SSD work best as a simple main drive cause it does help systems proccess things faster. I personnally think there is little point in using a SSD for consoles.

        He basicallty saying if you were to use it as a normal HDD you’d wear out a SSD pretty fast.

        • PawnSacrifices

          Yeah, still early days for SSDs relatively speaking. Another 10 Years and we’ll probably be able to pick up a 5TB SSD for $99 (fingers crossed anyway)
          But from my own set up can confirm that games do load faster. Not instantly, but on average half the time it took my HDD on the X1S

          • Migi

            I know it loads faster, a lot of ppl confimed that . but people always expect over the top performance. SSD is great as a main drive but that’s all its really good for in a long term solution. But the whole questioning why of why it doesn’t have one is kinda obvious considering lifetime and price it would be to illogical to go with SSD for consoles.

            Just imagine all those casual players wondering why their SSD drives stopped working cause they rewriten too many games on them.

    • Robby Bisschop

      Didn’t even consider this yet. thank you for sharing that info!

  • LordCancer Kain

    cost. 500GB would have added at least $100 and it is not large enough. a 1TB ssd is more than half the cost of the xbox 9. everyone is free to add an ssd externally.

  • L 7 CHAPEL

    I think it’s obvious that asset allocation,whether or not a game has to connect online to be played, all of these are going to be factors, so the cost would certainly be prohibitive.
    Some of the times people are discussing are 45 seconds or less, which I think( myself,just because I’m older I guess) is really not worth that much of an investment.
    I have everything on an external 5 terabyte WD stand-alone plug in, and I can tell you that it’s certainly faster then the internal,for my Xbox OneS. I don’t really see the need for an SSD at this point, when they become universally faster and better(proven with the test of time) that’s when they’ll be used.

  • Kenny

    It’s about saving costs, 1TB SSD’s are very expensive and there would be no possible way to sell the console for $500 if they included one. The only option would be to include a 256GB SSD, but since the 4K versions of the games use over 100GB to install, that would be in average of around 2-3 games installed. So the conclusion is logical, and i see no point in this article at all..