Review: Seagate Game Drive for Xbox SSD

The leading manufacturer in hard drives has embraced the gaming industry as of late, especially when it comes to consoles. It may be a smaller market than enterprise and mainstream PCs, but it’s still a community that’s incredibly dedicated towards the best experience possible. While Seagate has yet to really offer a dedicated solution for PlayStation users, mainly because those devices require taking a few things apart, the Xbox One’s external drive support makes things easier for Seagate to capitalize on. While they released their first Game Drive last year, and a special Gears of War 4 edition a couple of months ago, they are finally offering a drive that has a focus on performance over storage capacity. We were able to take a look at Seagate’s latest entry in their vast catalogue, giving Xbox One owners the performance of a solid state drive.

We were able to take a look at the Gears of War 4 Game Drive a couple of months ago and came away impressed. It was a sleek 2.5” external hard drive that was easily portable and packed one hell of a punch. The SSD does that and more. While the Game Drive has a plastic enclosure, the SSD Game Drive feels far more sturdy. While the sides and bottom of the device are a little more plastic, the top is of a metal finish, giving the material a feeling of high quality right when you unwrap it from the package. Other than that, though, there isn’t too much different with the drive. It comes with the standard, albeit short 18” (45cm) cable, and a light indicator to display when the drive is in use. Fortunately, this is a smaller drive than its older brother as it’s closer in line with the Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim at 113.5 x 76 x 9.6mm. It’s a tiny device that’s truly the definition of portable.

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The device itself doesn’t have too large of capacity, coming in at 512 GB, but this is something aimed towards performance over storage. It’s able to hold around 15 games, provided those games average around 30 GB each. As for speeds, while companies can tout high transfer rates, we wanted to see how it performed in more practical tests. Transferring both Gears of War 4 and Halo 5 separately, which is close to 150GB together, the stock hard drive performs at an average 25 MBps. The Seagate Game Drive was more than double that at 65 MBps. Usually that’s more than enough to transfer data, but not for those seeking the fastest speeds possible. The SSD Game Drive was able to almost quintuple the speed the stock Xbox One hard drive is capable of, coming in at an average of 118 MBps. Throughout the transfer, the speeds were very close to this value, going as high as 136 MBps and as low as 111 MBps. It’s quite impressive what Seagate is able to push on the Xbox One.

The biggest aspect a lot of people will have to consider with the Game Drive for Xbox SSD is that it’s a pricy solution. While the standard Game Drives cost under $100 and come with 2TB of data, more than enough for most players, the SSD is going run $199 for 512GB. So at one-fourth the capacity for double the price, it may not seem like an appealing investment. Fortunately, with that price, users will be getting the fastest load times possible as we were able to test out a number of modern games, and the results are quite promising (everything is valued in seconds):

Battlefield 1

StockSeagate HDDSeagate SSD
Boot Time39.8729.8023.97
Single Player Load 87.1461.33328.33
Multiplayer Load104.5066.4453.67

 

One of the best games of 2016 unfortunately has some of the worst load times on Xbox One. Just loading a save file takes roughly ninety seconds, and over one-hundred for multiplayer. Fortunately, the addition of an SSD speeds this up substantially. It’s three times faster to load a single player mission, and more than two times faster compared to the Seagate Game Drive. Unfortunately, loading a multiplayer match still takes quite a bit, but half the time it takes on a stock hard drive. Who wants to wait around for nearly two minutes AFTER matchmaking?

 

Gears of War 4

StockSeagate HDDSeagate SSD
Boot Time61.9757.6051.60
Act 3 Chapter 3 Load 28.8725.6416.57
Act 4 Chapter 5 Load 31.6733.4721.03

 

Gears of War 4 is a strange entity when it comes to load times. When comparing the Seagate Game Drive, it barely made a difference compared to the stock HDD, and even loaded slower in one case. That’s the opposite case when compared to the SSD as it load significantly faster, more than ten seconds in almost every situation.

 

Halo 5: Guardians

StockSeagate HDDSeagate SSD
Boot Time42.2031.0325.74
Mission “Osiris” Load20.3713.667.00
Mission “Blue Team” Load20.4713.607.87

 

343 Industries’ 2015 baby takes great use of the SSD, drastically reducing load times by around 60% (although only 40% during boot). This is a great improvement, making the Game Drive seems more like a stop gap.

 

Forza Horizon 3

StockSeagate HDDSeagate SSD
Boot Time40.1034.5032.24
Load into Game81.8041.9025.97
Fast Travel20.5013.805.94

 

Looking for a far better experience in Forza Horizon 3? Get either versions of the Game Drive. It’s absolutely astonishing how much faster it is on either, but the SSD definitely takes the cake. Boot time isn’t a significant decrease, but loading in the game can take upwards of ninety seconds on the standard stock hard drive, while only taking 26 seconds on the SSD. Best yet, if you want to fast travel, you will be across the world in moments as it takes just under six seconds compared to twenty.

 

Rise of the Tomb Raider

StockSeagate HDDSeagate SSD
Boot Time17.0015.1010.63
Load into Game36.9028.8319.30
Fast Travel37.2330.4020.33

 

Outside of boot time being a minimal improvement, mainly because Rise of the Tomb Raider is pretty fast to begin with, loading a save file can take half the time, and same can be said about the fast travel function. The Game Drive once again acts as an in-between, obtaining low load times, but still falls short of the SSD’s capabilities.

 

Sunset Overdrive

StockSeagate HDDSeagate SSD
Boot Time42.8736.5729.27
Load into Game19.3316.038.80
Fast Travel9.177.774.97

 

Yet another game on the Xbox One that benefits greatly from the extra speed, but Sunset Overdrive somehow outpaces the Game Drive more than anything else. Loading into the game is the biggest difference as, while the Seagate Game Drive is able to chip away three seconds, the SSD eliminates more than ten; even the fast travel is nearly cut in half. It’s a remarkable improvement overall.

 

EA Sports UFC 2

StockSeagate HDDSeagate SSD
Boot Time49.9739.6034.87
Load Main Menu31.6924.6023.06
Load into a Fight31.9319.8717.70

 

Unfortunately, while all the other games have significant improvements over load times, EA Sports UFC 2 is unable to meet their standard, especially compared to the 2TB HDD. The Game Drive makes a huge improvement over stock, but moving up to SSD doesn’t necessarily help all that much, shaving only a couple of seconds off overall. It’s still faster, but not at the cost of the solid state drive.

 

Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360 Game)

StockSeagate HDDSeagate SSD
Boot Time35.4732.3027.30
Load into Game12.4011.76 9.70
Load Battle6.135.926.27

 

Lost Odyssey was able to speed up a decent amount when it comes to booting into the game and loading into a save file, but oddly enough, getting into a battle took a couple milliseconds longer than the other two drives. More than likely it’s just that read speeds don’t really matter much as this was a game that came out before hard drive installation was mandatory or even optional, but it’s still something to take note of.

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Closing Comments:

In the end, as you’d expect, the Seagate Game Drive for Xbox SSD improves load times across the board, despite some anomalies such as Lost Odyssey and EA Sports UFC barely benefiting from the extra speed. It’s an incredibly appealing device for those looking for the extra boost in performance, especially in newer games such as Battlefield 1 where it cuts the insanely long load times in half. With that said, 512GB is not a whole lot of space; while it’s priced accordingly with other solid state drives on the market, it’s hard to deny that the one step lower standard HDD Game Drive packs enough punch to get the job done, and comes in significantly cheaper with more storage. Regardless, the SSD is flash memory so you won’t hear the drive spinning and it maintains a cool temperature. If you have the cash to spend and want a significant boost in load times, then the Seagate Game Drive for Xbox SSD will do you no wrong.