Xbox Series X will still work with 3.1 USB and external drives, but those won’t support next-gen games

Major Nelson offers more details.

Next-Gen Won't Be a "Head-to-Head Bout" Between Xbox Series X and PS5, Says Microsoft

Xbox’s Major Nelson has clarified that 3.1 USB and external drives will still work on Xbox Series X, despite the console featuring proprietary SSD cards developed in partnership with Seagate to expand its storage. However, the support will come with some limitations, as the external drives will work with select content due to technical reasons.

“You can continue to use your USB 3.1+ external hard drives on Xbox Series X & run Xbox One, 360 and OG Xbox games directly from the external USB HDD,” Major Nelson, also known as Larry Hryb, said on Twitter.

“Games optimized for Xbox Series X & Velocity Architecture need to be run from the internal SSD or the Expandable Storage Drive,” which means that players won’t be able to have their next-gen titles running on external drives as they will be supporting a technology not currently available outside of the official devices.

Xbox Series X will be debuting a mix of brand new technologies called Velocity Architecture. As explained in a next-gen glossary posted on Xbox Wire, “it consists of four components: our custom NVMe SSD, a dedicated hardware decompression block, the all-new DirectStorage API, and Sampler Feedback Streaming (SFS).” 

“This combination of custom hardware and deep software integration,” adds the official Xbox blog post, “allows developers to radically improve asset streaming and effectively multiply available memory.”

The quote mentions that this is a proprietary architecture next-gen games for Xbox Series X will be adopting by default, and would not be possible on standard 3.1 USB or external drives outside of those officially supported by Microsoft.

At the time being, the sole partnership announced for official proprietary cards is the one with Seagate, and it’s not clear whether more partnerships and card makers will be joining this format in the future.

The proprietary cards announced thus far will be bringing in an additional 1TB storage space. It is the same amount Xbox Series X will be supporting when it releases during Holiday 2020, a launch window recently confirmed despite reports of a delay due to coronavirus.