OWC Hard Drive

Hands-on: OWC's solid state hybrid external hard drive for Xbox One

One of the great things about this generation of gaming is the advent of digital downloads of games. We’re moving away from having stacks and stacks of games around our entertainment center, shelves, and desks to just having files on a hard drive.

Of course, going all-digital requires more hard drive space, especially with game consoles. One of the big differences between the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 is how the storage space is expanded. Both basic systems come with 500GB hard drives (there are other models with more space), which can fill up quickly, believe it or not. And while the Xbox One allows for external hard drives to be used, the PlayStation 4 does not and requires owners to open up the system to swap out the hard drive for a bigger one. We’ve covered how to replace a PlayStation 4 hard drive, but this time we’re looking at an Xbox One external hard drive option.

I went through my Xbox One storage space pretty quickly. When games like Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Grand Theft Auto V, and Batman: Arkham Knight takes up nearly 50 GB of space each; your space can disappear pretty quickly. Then to add all of Xbox Live’s Gold for Games each month, like Assassin’s Creed Black Flag which uses just over 20 GB, I needed to expand my storage.

Other World Computing offers three options for expanding your Xbox One storage, a 1TB Standard Drive ($89.99), a 1TB Solid State Hybrid Drive ($124.00), and a 2TB Standard Drive ($134.00). I was able to try out the 1TB Hybrid Drive.

The OWC 1TB Hybrid Drive is a USB 3.0 external Solid State Hybrid Drive that not only adds space to your console, but is advertised as speeding up load times by 39 percent.

Setting up the hard drive was simple enough. After turning on the Xbox One, I just plugged it into the console’s USB 3 port. You’re then prompted to “Set up external storage” and format the hard drive. After about 15-20 minutes of formatting, you’re giving the option to have the drive as the default storage drive and directly install and store games. You can easily switch back to the internal as the default drive, but all games on both drives are accessible at all times.

Migrating games to the new hard drive is just as easy too. From your “My Games & Apps Screen,” just highlight the game you want to move, press the Menu button on your controller, then select “Manage Game,” then “Manage All,” then finally “Move All.” There’s also the option to “Copy All” where the game will be stored on both drives. Depending on the size of the game, the migration time could be between 10 to 15 minutes.

When playing games off the Hybrid Drive, I did notice quicker load times. Specifically with Battlefield Hardline and Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, which both have considerable load times. When loading up Battlefield Hardline, it took 38 seconds to get to the “Press A” screen using the Xbox One’s internal hard drive. Using the Hybrid Drive, it took only 28 seconds. When loading my saved game, it took 30 seconds on the internal drive and 25 seconds on the Hybrid Drive. For Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, it took 37 seconds to get to the Press A screen on the internal drive and 28 seconds on the Hybrid Drive. On the internal drive, it took about 31 seconds to load my saved game and on the Hybrid Drive it was 25 seconds.

I’m not entirely sure if the Hybrid Drive is worth the extra $34 over the Standard Drive for the amount of time you save loading games, but the fact that it does load quicker than a standard drive might be enough for many players.

The size of hard drive isn’t much bigger or thicker than a smart phone and also comes with a pouch if you’re carrying it to a friend’s house to play your games. And yes, you can plug in the hard drive to any Xbox One and play the games stored on there, as if bringing a game’s disc your buddy’s house.

Overall the 1TB Hybrid Drive from OWC is a solid choice for expanding your Xbox One’s storage, depending on what kind of value you place on reduced load times. It’s easy to setup and migrate your games plus it’s incredibly portable and has a sleek but simple look. Works for me.