When I heard that Microsoft was going to enable the use of external hard drives with a minimum size of 256 gigabytes over USB 3.0, I was very excited. I immediately started to research what external hard drives I would buy to facilitate this. There was a 2 terabyte Seagate external hard drive. There was a 2 terabyte Western Digital My Book. If I really wanted to go portable, I could get a 2 terabyte Western Digital My Passport.
I then realized something when looking at their specs. Most of those drives tout how fast they are with the perspective of USB 3.0 or how many movies, mp3’s, or documents the drives could hold. There was really nothing about the drives. That wasn’t going to work for me because in my experience, they normally put slower RPM drives in to those types of enclosures to minimize manufacturing costs as well as power drain, which provided increased portability and profit. That’s not a bad thing if you’re the seller of these technologies. But for me, I had to go a different route.
I have a couple of eSATA\USB hard drive docks connected to a couple of my computers in my computer room. I decided to use that method for my Xbox One. My thinking behind this was that I could find a USB 3.0 SATA III hard drive dock and then pick and choose what hard drives I wanted to use. This was perfect! I could switch hard drive sizes when I wanted to and not have to move my Xbox One to get to the cable in the back. If I wanted to take it to my friend’s house, I could do that because he has a dock as well.
So after my decision was made, I started to narrow down the hardware to purchase. I chose the following:
Anker® USB 3.0 & eSATA to SATA External Hard Drive Docking Station for 2.5 or 3.5in HDD, SSD [4TB Support] – (Because I needed a new model for my PC)
So once I received my hardware, I reset my Xbox One to factory default deleting my games and so on. I set it back up the way I like it and with my account. I then plugged in the Rocketek dock and added the hard drive. The Xbox One saw it right away and asked me to format it and if I wanted everything installed to it. I answered yes of course. Once it completed its formatting process and the hard drive became ready, I then proceeded to download all of the normal apps I use like Blu-ray player, Skype, Netflix, and the like to the external hard drive. I also downloaded all of my digital games I purchased including the free ones I got from Xbox Live’s free games. I then put in my Call of Duty: ghosts disk and installed it to the hard drive – downloaded all extra content like Season Pass and map packs.
It was now time to try everything out. Everything seemed to run faster. I don’t have numbers or facts to present but my perception was that it was faster (enough for me to take notice). Thinks that were normally slow in the past like view player cards was always slow – not anymore! I’ve factory reset my Xbox One during the first week I got it and it still didn’t go this fast after everything was installed. Anyways, I then started up Ghosts and then the wife calls for me to assist her downstairs. Of course, I go running. I wasn’t gone five minutes when I returned to my computer room and noticed that the hard drive power/activity light on the Rocketek dock was off. I’m sure this is a “Green” initiative but I’m not a fan of anything “Green” when it comes to computer and computer related devices.
At this point, I realize that the dock/drive may be in a sleep state I make a change in the game menu and execute it. The game menu seemed to hesitate for a second and then I saw the power/drive activity light on the dock come on which caused the menu system to progress. Yeah – I don’t like this at all. I decided to continue playing to see how this setup worked. The hard drive and access to it was fast which meant the results of a fast drive were met. I would continue to see if there were any other idiosyncrasies I could find. The drive stayed lit for the majority of my gaming except for a couple of times when there was a lull while in game (I was camping – I rarely do this). The hard drive/dock went to sleep again. When I went to move it cause a slight skip like a lagged session for the dock/hard drive activity light to come on and load whatever aspect of the game was required. I’m not having it!
I shut down my Xbox One. I unplugged the Rocketek dock and then replaced it with the Anker dock. The Anker dock just seems stout to me even though it’s made from just about the same plastic as the Rocketek. It may be due to the eSATA aspect but it just seems worth the money. I started up the Xbox One and attempted to do all the things I was doing when I had the Rocketek connected. I even when downstairs to talk with my wife and came back. The drive/dock never went to sleep the whole time. The speed was about the same – it wasn’t slower. I continued to game for another two hours and never had any issues. If anything I perceived my gaming experience in the realm of hardware and usability to be quite optimal. Laggy games? Well, I’m not sure what technology there is out there to mediate that.
In conclusion, I am very happy with my current configuration of the Anker dock with the 2 terabyte hard drive. I leave the power to it on all the time so the Xbox One can come out of sleep and update itself and my games. I have switched the Rocketek dock over to one of my computers and it behaves the same way there. Once it has idled too long, it goes to sleep. It’s not a big deal for me because of how I’m using it. Just be aware that if you want to use other docks in this type of configuration, make sure they don’t have a sleep function that may cripple you momentarily.
By the way, with Call of Duty: Ghosts installed with the season pass, all three map packs, and my other purchased DLC like the voiceovers and camo, the install was something like 57.x gigabytes.