It’s likely that, if you’ve owned one of the current generation consoles for more than a year, you may have run out of disk space. Data Bank, one of Nyko’s latest peripheral offerings, provides expanded storage space by providing a housing and connections to install your own hard drive. In this review I took the Xbox One version for a spin, which was remarkably easy. The Data Bank delivers on the promise of using up to full-sized 3.5-inch hard drives, which have a potential cost-savings benefit over the more typical 2.5-inch “laptop” variety, as larger sized drives are generally cheaper when it comes to per-gigabyte cost.

In my testing, I used three different types of drives: an old 2010 model 1TB Seagate hard disk drive (HDD), a new Transcend 512GB solid state drive (SSD) and a brand new Seagate 2TB solid state hybrid drive (SSHD). The value of a hybrid drive is questionable, but the idea is that you get the cheap storage of a spinning drive with an 8GB cache of SSD NAND memory which holds the most frequently used data.

Data_Bank_04Nyko’s drive enclosure, rather than drawing off internal power like portable USB hard drive expansions, has its own external power adapter to handle the extra electrical load. This means the console’s power supply doesn’t have to work harder for yet another spinning drive, but it does mean you will have to have at least one two-prong AC outlet available. The other downside to external power is that unless you unplug it when you turn your console off, it will still draw trace amounts of electricity. You can expect the spindle drives to produce low amounts of white noise while they idle.

The Data Bank itself is well constructed, and in testing several hard drives I’ve found that the SATA power and data ports lock the drive in well, and using the included foam buffer, it keeps 3.5” hard drives securely in place. Furthermore, there are wide, flat rubber feet underneath which prevent the vibration of the drive from transferring to the console itself. This prevents rattling, creeping and prevents scrape marks on the Xbox beneath.

Both the USB 3.0 and power couplings pigtail off the back of the Data Bank, and with the contours and glossy finish, the Data Bank blends into your Xbox One naturally. There is only enough USB cable to plug into either of the two ports in the back, and the power cable is segmented with an in-line lock to prevent the power connection from falling out. Two contoured release buttons on each side near the front of the unit allow the top to slide forward, granting access to the hard drive bay with surprising ease and zero tools. The sides are deceptively open, providing a similar style to to the Xbox One’s aesthetic while also giving the hard drive enough room to cool itself off, and avoid needing to add additional fans and their subsequent noise.

Data_Bank_06Whatever drive you decide to insert in the bank should be recognized by your console, and the Xbox One will then offer to format it. If you were interested in using this as a bay to swap drives in and out for playing media, this is also a fantastic setup. When you initially connect a drive, the Xbox One will offer to format the drive. If you refuse, you can then open up the drive contents in the Media player and access your supported files accordingly. I should note that it remembers the drive, so it won’t prompt you to format every time you pop a familiar drive in the system. You can, of course, access the settings to force a format should your intentions change.

If the Data Bank had a weakness, it would be that it does not provide a USB hub to at least maintain, if not increase, the number of USB ports available. Given that it is taking up one of the three ports on the Xbox One, adding a permanent device to your console, it may make you consider getting a USB 3.0 hub. There are other expansion bays on the market which offer additional USB ports, though none I’ve come across handle driving a 3.5 inch hard drive in such an elegant package.

I ran some basic performance tests with different drives. My Xbox One is a Day One Edition, so its internal hard drive is a 512MB model that runs at a paltry 5400 RPM, similar to most Xbox One models and shared with most spinning laptop hard drives. I could have gone through a battery of tests and spit out results across different actions to chart performance, but that isn’t really indicative of the Data Bank’s functionality. The point was to see whether the USB3.0 drive access made a difference positively or negatively, and if it were better used as the primary drive or simply more space to hold less-played games.
Data_Bank_01I’m happy to report that as long as you aren’t using a low-speed eco drive, the USB3.0 access and data throughput should cut down load times. For example, Call of Duty: Black Ops III shaved off over five seconds on any drive in the Data Bank over the internal drive during the loading of the safe house from the campaign menu. To be exact, the internal drive took 41 seconds, where each drive tested took less than 36 seconds. I was surprised to see the SSD didn’t do significantly better than the 1GB HDD from 2010, however the load times aren’t necessarily dependent on seek time alone.

If you don’t have an Xbox One Elite which comes with a 1TB (hybrid) SSHD, you’re probably going to see similar improvements by putting even an old PC hard drive back in service. Regardless of performance, many games take over 50 gigabytes these days, so it won’t take long to need to find a use for more room, and the Data Bank fits the bill nicely.
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