SSD vs. HDD Game Load Benchmarks on Xbox One X

By Published March 03, 2018 at 6:44 pm

Consoles don’t offer many upgrade paths, but HDDs, like the ones that ship in the Xbox One X, are one of the few items that can be exchanged for a standard part with higher performance. Since 2013, there have been quite a few benchmarks done with SSDs vs. HDDs in various SKUs of the Xbox One, but not so many with the Xbox One X--so we’re doing our own. We’ve seen some abysmal load times in Final Fantasy and some nasty texture loading in PUBG, so there’s definitely room for improvement somewhere.

The 1TB drive that was shipped in our Xbox One X is a Seagate 2.5” hard drive, model ST1000LM035. This is absolutely, positively a 5400RPM drive, as we said in our teardown, and not a 7200RPM drive (as some suggest online). Even taking the 140MB/s peak transfer rate listed in the drive’s data sheet completely at face value, it’s nowhere near bottlenecking on the internal SATA III interface. The SSD is up against SATA III (or USB 3.0 Gen1) limitations, but will still give us a theoretical sequential performance uplift of 4-5x -- and that’s assuming peak bursted speeds on the hard drive.

This benchmark tests game load times on an external SSD for the Xbox One X, versus internal HDD load times for Final Fantasy XV (FFXV), Monster Hunter World, PUBG (incl. texture pop-in), Assassin's Creed: Origins, and more.

Initially, we had planned to do three tests: one stock, one with the games running off an external SSD, and one with the entire system installed on an internal SSD. The stock and external SSD tests were easy enough, but cloning the Xbox boot drive proved a problem. Cloning is necessary because there’s no official method for transferring and, unlike the PS4, it’s not possible to simply stick in an empty drive. We use Acronis for cloning, which is usually capable of handling transfers from larger to smaller drives, but it wasn’t cooperating. We tried manually partitioning the SSD and copying files over--there wasn’t much chance of this working, but it’s easy to attempt. Sure enough, it didn’t work. It’s absolutely possible to replace an Xbox One’s boot drive with various other solutions, like 1:1 cloning onto a drive of equal or greater size (1TB for our Xbox), or experimenting with the scripts that iFixit links to, but we didn’t pursue them--the whole point of a console is that it’s cheap and convenient, and anyone brave enough to tear apart their Xbox and stick in $300 of flash storage is exiting the core audience. We can revisit this in the future if there’s enough interest, but an external SSD still offers significant benefits.

So, to summarize: logically the best-performing scenario would be to completely replace the HDD with an SSD, but that goes beyond a casual upgrade. The next-best choice would be to plug an external SSD into one of the the USB 3.0 ports on the console as Microsoft intended, so that’s what we did. USB 3.0 technically has a lower transfer rate than SATA III, but an SSD using USB 3.0 is still far faster than a 5400RPM HDD using SATA III.

Xbox One X SSD vs. HDD Results

xbox one x ssd launch times

We tested five games, a mix of titles we’ve already benchmarked and ones we might in the future. Launch times were measured from the time the game was selected to the first onscreen button prompt (e.g. “press A to continue”), except for Destiny 2, which was measured until the “SELECT CHARACTER” text appeared. Some variance can be expected depending on how long server connections take for the multiplayer games, and test-to-test variance for Monster Hunter and PUBG was a bit higher in this test than the others. On the other hand, Destiny 2’s launch times were extremely reliable, and the SSD shaved off nearly nineteen seconds (33.7% reduction).

xbox one x ssd load times

Four of the games we tested had save files that could be loaded, and all of them benefitted from an SSD. For the Destiny 2 “campaign” test, we used a character that had partly completed the first mission of the campaign so that they would load directly into gameplay. For the “farm” test, we timed launching into the farm hub level from orbit. FFXV clearly has the most to gain from an SSD, with a load time reduction of 65.5% that saves 44.2 seconds--not counting the time saved launching the game. FFXV load times are notoriously bad, and this doesn’t bode well for PC players that don’t have 100+ GB to spare on their SSDs.

PUBG doesn’t have a save file to load, but it does have something we’ve complained about in the past: obnoxiously slow texture pop-in. The easiest place to measure this is in the main menu, but our avatar’s three second transformation from oily hot dog man to fully-textured human wasn’t improved enough to be reliably measured. The time from the end of the previous test period to the final texture pop (called “Menu Load” above) was reduced by a few seconds, but most of the time saving happens before the character appears on screen. We considered testing texture load times ingame, but it’s hard to create a reproducible test, although this was a large part of why we wanted to try an SSD in the first place. The bottom line is that an SSD won’t solve the pop-in and it’s still very noticeable.

There are three Monster Hunter times logged on this chart due to the nature of the game. The first is just the regular load time, or how long it took us to load from the main menu into the hub level. Capcom’s servers were helpfully busted during testing, so we were able to play offline. The next period is the “preparation” phase of a quest. This would normally be when matchmaking happens and party members join, but it still took a good 30 seconds when choosing a single player quest in offline mode, so some kind of loading is happening here--this had a lot of variance run to run. The final period is between departing on the quest and actually appearing in the new level. Of the three, the initial load time was the most reliable, and it with an SSD it was reduced by 33.8% over HDD load time.

Conclusion: SSD Load Times on Xbox One X

Using an external SSD with an Xbox One X is extremely simple and easy, and the results are well worth it for games with long load times like FFXV, and even games without long load times opened faster. There isn’t a hard rule for what percent performance is improved, though, as it depends heavily on what operations are being performed.

It’d be great if there were a convenient way to swap out the preinstalled drive or create a new boot drive. It is possible to clone the stock drive to an SSD, and a Google search turns up plenty of people who have already done so, but the lack of an official upgrade method will look bad if Microsoft ever sells an Xbox One SKU with an SSD or 7200RPM drive.

Editorial, Testing: Patrick Lathan
Host: Steve Burke
Video: Andrew Coleman

Last modified on March 03, 2018 at 6:44 pm

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    Do you remember the blockbuster hit film The Matrix that was released in 1999? You may not know this, but it has deep spiritual implications concerning the times we are living in and Bible prophecy.

    It tells a story of how these "agents" are trying to turn us into machines. We are closer then ever before for this to become a reality when they cause us to receive an implantable microchip in our body during a time when physical money will be no more.

    You may have seen on NBC news concerning the implantable RFID microchip that some people are getting put in their hand to make purchases, but did you know this microchip matches perfectly with prophecy in the Bible?

    "He (the false prophet who deceives many by his miracles) causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name...

    You also may have heard of the legendary number "666" that people have been speculating for possibly thousands of years on what it actually means. This article shares something I haven't seen before, and I don't think there could be any better explanation for what it means to calculate 666. This is no hoax. Very fascinating stuff!

    ...Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666" (Revelation 13:16-18 NKJV).

    To see all the details showing why the Bible foretold of all these things, check out this article!


    GOD is sending out His end time warning:

    "Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name" (Revelation 14:9-11).

    In the Islamic religion they have man called the Mahdi who is known as their messiah of whom they are waiting to take the stage. There are many testimonies from people online who believe this man will be Barack Obama who is to be the biblical Antichrist based off dreams they have received. I myself have had strange dreams about him like no other person. So much so that I decided to share this information.

    He came on stage claiming to be a Christian with no affiliation to the Muslim faith...

    "In our lives, Michelle and I have been strengthened by our Christian faith. But there have been times where my faith has been questioned -- by people who don’t know me -- or they’ve said that I adhere to a different religion, as if that were somehow a bad thing,'' - Barack Obama

    ...but was later revealed by his own family members that he indeed is a devout Muslim.

    So what's in the name? The meaning of someones name can say a lot about a person. God throughout history has given names to people that have a specific meaning tied to their lives. How about the name Barack Obama? Let us take a look at what may be hiding beneath the surface...

    "And He (Jesus) said to them (His disciples), 'I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven'" (Luke 10:18).

    In the Hebrew language we can uncover the meaning behind the name Barack Obama.

    Barack, also transliterated as Baraq, in Hebrew is: lightning

    baraq - Biblical definition:

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    Barak 'O'bamah, The use of bamah is used to refer to the "heights" of Heaven.

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    From an unused root (meaning to be high); an elevation: - height, high place, wave. (Strongs Hebrew word H1116 bamah baw-maw')

    The day following the election of Barack Obama (11/04/08), the winning pick 3 lotto numbers in Illinois (Obama's home state) for 11/5/08 were 666.

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