(Pocket-lint) - If you've pre-ordered or are planning to buy the Xbox Series X or Series S, you might be wondering about when you'll need to expand the storage.

Well, you're in the right place, because this is everything you need to know about the proprietary storage cards for the consoles. 

What is the Xbox Storage Expansion Card?

Xbox revealed in March 2020 that the Xbox Series X would have a 1TB internal SSD while also supporting an external SSD (that is currently) of the same capacity. This is separate to, and in addition to, supporting external storage via USB as found on the older generation of consoles.

The big difference is that the Storage Expansion Card is the same format as the internal storage. That format is a custom NVMe and specifically, it's PCIe 4. NVMe is a storage format popular with PC gamers because it offers blistering speed. Being PCIe 4 also means it is high bandwidth and that's in place to support the high performance promised by the new Xbox Series models.

This means you'll be able to expand the storage of either your Xbox Series X or Series S just by plugging the right card into the back your new console, so it's an instant upgrade, without the need to get out a screwdriver, or even a USB cable.

Microsoft has worked with Seagate on this storage card and at the moment it's not known if there will be other third-party cards available.

Alternatively, as with older Xbox models, there's still the option to use an external SSD to expand the storage too.

Xbox Storage Expansion Card price and availability

The Seagate card is now on sale and we've got the latest prices for you here:

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A 1TB Seagate Firecuda NVMe PCIe 4 card costs around £200 or $250, so when you consider that the Xbox solution is a self-contained, easy-to-swap device, it's not a bad price. 

Can I remove an Xbox Storage Expansion Card I've installed it?

Yes, you can. One of the best things about the Seagate Storage Expansion Card is that you'll be able to remove it and take it to someone else's house to use on their Xbox Series X or S.

What sizes are available?

At the moment, only a 1TB drive has been made available, but the Xbox team recently confirmed that this is just the first type they've made, and that more variants are planned. This could mean that there will soon be a 500GB or 2TB version that you can buy, with the price adjusting accordingly. If you know you'll want more storage, or you can't afford the 1TB drive, it could therefore be worth waiting to see what other options become available in the months to come. 

Will the Xbox Storage Expansion Card be better than USB?

The important point about this storage format is that you'll get the same performance from this added storage as you do from the internal storage. Xbox says that via the expansion slot, you'll get access to the Xbox Velocity Architecture and that's going to deliver the next-gen experience.

In fact Xbox goes further, saying that "games Optimised for Xbox Series S and Series X must be played from the internal SSD or a Seagate Storage Expansion Card".

That means that hooking-up an external drive via USB - even if it's an SSD - won't deliver that experience.

USB external drives will be supported, but this is really so that you can get access to your legacy titles. You'll be able to move a USB drive from your existing console, plugging it into your new Series X or Series S console to give you access to games you've previously downloaded.

Ultimately, next-gen performance is going to require using the Xbox Storage Expansion Card.

Writing by Chris Hall.