While Microsoft has moved away from the idea of an all-in-one entertainment system for the Xbox Series X and Series S, leaving the novelty of the Xbox One behind in favor of a gaming console, it does still offer some similar philosophies. Instead of opting for the ability to install NVMe SSDs similar to the PS5, Xbox requires proprietary memory. Seagate has been the sole manufacturer for over two years. Until now, that is.
Enter Western Digital with its new WD_BLACK C50 Expansion Card. A competitor to Seagate’s aptly titled Storage Expansion Card, Western Digital hopes to keep any Xbox players happy and playing without having to install new games constantly, and with so many upcoming Xbox games, all with increasing file sizes, it’s eventual that you’d need a storage upgrade.
I’ve been fortunate enough to review the 1TB version of the C50, with the only other option offering a measly 512GB. Comparative to most SSD prices right now, the 1TB comes at an expensive $149.99 (£149.99), with the 512GB option asking for $79.99 (£89.99). Other options in our best Xbox Expansion Cards list offer a cheaper entry into increased storage for your console, but none of them will work as well as the proprietary system that Xbox has locked us into.
Without wasting any more time, this device will certainly help you hold a bunch of the best Xbox Series X games or the best Xbox Game Pass games, so if you’re looking for something that will hold more titles (that gather dust in your backlog if you’re anything like me), then this device is good enough.
- Easy plug-and-play installation
- Officially licensed and compatible
- Works with Quick Resume
- Comes with 1-month Xbox Game Pass code
- More expensive than similar NVMe SSDs
- Locked to Xbox Series consoles only
WD_BLACK C50 Expansion Card specs:
|Capacity||1TB (512GB available)|
|Write speed||2,400 MB/s / 4,800 MB/s*|
|Read speed||2,400 MB/s / 4,800 MB/s|
|Drive Type||SSD (proprietary)|
|Connector||Custom Xbox Series slot|
The write and read speeds are based on the Xbox Series X|S SSDs, which use a custom solution called the Xbox Velocity Architecture. While exact speeds aren’t given by Western Digital for the C50 Expansion Card, it is believed to match that of the Xbox’s internal storage. The speeds above are for uncompressed (2,400 MB/s), and compressed data (4,800 MB/s).
The main features of the WD_Black C50 are the fact that it is officially licensed by Xbox, certifying that compatibility is certain, while also allowing for plug-and-play installation. I’ve installed my fair share of SATA SSDs and NVMe SSDs in PCs, and nothing comes close to the simplicity of the Xbox Expansion Cards. All I needed to do was go behind the Xbox, plug it in, and voila, it was all ready for me when I booted the Series X up, showing an increase in over 900GBs of storage.
The other major feature is the fact that the incredible Quick Resume feature still works with the Expansion Card. While Quick Resume is pretty useless for multiplayer titles, for games like the upcoming Starfield, this is great to jump back into the action after playing something else. And the fact it works with the WD_BLACK C50 is incredible.
Compared to the Seagate Expansion Card, I much prefer the look of WD_BLACK’s industrial and bold design, even if I’m never going to see it sitting in the back of my Xbox. A small cover that can help protect the metal that inserts into the Xbox Series X|S comes with the expansion card, and follows a similar bumpy look to the card, although I don’t think I’ll ever need to use it unless I pick up another expansion card and decide to switch them out on the fly.
It feels extremely sturdy, and while I haven’t had the chance to pull it out hundreds of times to test whether it gets worn down or not, it certainly feels like it can last for years. If you aren’t able to pull your Xbox out, it can be fiddly to pull it to the side or wiggle it out enough to plug in, but if it’s simply sitting on your entertainment system, you’ll have zero problems plugging it in.
I was thinking about divulging numbers and figures to deduce how different the WD_BLACK C50 is from the internal Series X SSD, but in reality, the difference is so little I don’t even notice it, and I doubt you would either. The WD_BLACK C50, alongside the Seagate Expansion Card, leverages the Xbox Velocity Architecture, offering very similar performance.
Games from Shadow of War to Red Dead Redemption 2, to Halo Infinite all had minuscule variations when using the internal storage or WD_BLACK C50, and while I’m sure it isn’t the fastest SSD on the market, it’s close enough to the existing drive that I have no issues with it whatsoever.
I also have 650 MB/s download speeds with my ISP, which usually translates to around 450 MB/s when downloading on the Xbox Series X, and the WD_BLACK C50 offered the exact same write speeds, so if you have fast internet, Western Digital’s Expansion Card can definitely keep up with the internal storage.
- Yes: If you want something easy to install
- Yes: If you want something to match the Xbox Series SSD
- Yes: If you want a drive that you can use in the proprietary slot
- No: If you want something to simply store hundreds of games
- No: If you can purchase the cheaper Seagate Expansion Card
If you want a drive that you can play games stored on it, as well as one that can make use of the proprietary storage slot and is easy to install, then the WD BLACK C50 Expansion Card. However, if you’re hoping to store hundreds of games, you can find a much cheaper HDD or external SSD, or if you can get the Seagate Expansion Card for cheaper, you’ll get the exact same performance for less money.
Seagate Expansion Card: similar performance while also using the proprietary storage slot
The WD BLACK C50 and the Seagate Expansion Card both harness and leverage the Xbox Velocity Architecture, so there is functionally no difference in speeds between them. It’s simply a matter of which one you can find for the better price.
WD_BLACK P10 5TB Game Drive: if you want lots of storage at the cost of speed
The WD BLACK P10 Game Drive is the equivalent of a freight train. It won’t get you playing games any faster, as you’ll need to transfer them at slow speeds between the Xbox internal storage and the HDD. But it can store A LOT of games, and we mean it.
The WD BLACK C50 is a great entry into the Xbox Expansion Cards market. With such a small market manufacturing for a proprietary slot, there isn’t much difference in performance between the C50 and the Seagate Expansion Card, and solely relies on getting one at a cheaper price. However, the WD BLACK C50 impressed me as my first entry into the Expansion Card world of Xbox Series X|S, offering no noticeable difference. And that’s a really good thing.
While the fact that Xbox has locked this system down, making things much more expensive in the long run, that’s hardly Western Digital’s fault. It’s unfortunate that many NVMe SSDs with great speeds and capacity options aren’t available with the Series X, but the WD_BLACK C50 is the best option in a locked system.
WD_BLACK C50 Expansion Card review
The WD_BLACK C50 is a great option for those looking to increase their Xbox Series X|S storage without affecting performance, but a locked system means you’ll be paying a premium for it.