Should I get a hard drive for the Xbox 360?
February 18, 2009 7:19 PM   Subscribe

Xbox 360: should I get a hard drive for it?

I'm a cheapskate. I plan on playing only single player games and I don't need Netflix streaming or movie downloads (already use my PC for that). All that said, is it worth paying extra for something more than the "Arcade" version of the console? If so, is the "Pro" version the best bet, or can I score a hard drive and install it for a lot cheaper?

(I'm a longtime PC gamer, so this console gaming world is very mysterious to me.)
posted by wastelands to Technology (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, get a hard drive. GTA just released an add on/expansion and it is available via download... so you are gonna need some space on your HD if you want to take advantage of such things. You can also store all of your games locally on the hard drive so you don't have to listen to the disc drive spinning like crazy.

I would wager that in the not too distant future you will be able to buy and download games online and store them on your HD akin to the Steam delivery system on PC.

Or you can just wait until you need it and go grab one then.
posted by pwally at 7:26 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you plan to use Xbox Live at all, or if you want to install games from disc to the drive (quieter, maybe better load times, maybe cooler--I'm no expert), it's absolutely worth having the hard drive. You can get away with the 20-gig, but it might make more sense to buy a bigger one. The drives are readily available on eBay, though I don't know if buying them separately is cheaper than buying the Microsoft package.
posted by box at 7:30 PM on February 18, 2009

As a longtime PC gamer who recently got an Xbox myself, I can't recommend the hard drive enough. You need some kind of storage if you want to save games, and given that a 512MB memory card is only slightly cheaper than a 20GB hard drive, it really doesn't make sense not to get one.

That aside, developers release patches for games that can be pretty sizable, so unless you want to only play one or two games a time and have to redownload patches, etc., you're going to want a hard drive. Add downloadable content which can easily run to hundreds of megs and not having a hard drive just doesn't make sense.

I got a refurbished model with a hard drive for about $200. Buying one without a hard drive and installing it myself would have been at least that much if not more.

Spring for it.
posted by valkyryn at 7:31 PM on February 18, 2009

Yes, absolutely. There are tons of great games and game ad-ons available, and even the save games alone eventually take up lots of space. A friend of mine has over 1 gig of Fallout 3 saves alone, for example. Granted, it's over 100 different saves, but they add up. Cheaper to get the 60 gig hd now w/ the pro model. Dell can be a good place to get a 360, they often have deals for about $40-$50 off for a system w/ free delivery. Might be worth investigating.
posted by The Castle at 7:33 PM on February 18, 2009

Best answer: Hard drive, definitely. Not sure about the pricing structure any more but if you're buying a 360 without a hard drive you're Doing It Wrong. Even if it's just for patches, and no DLC or XBLA games, you still want a hard drive. Good lord please make sure you get a hard drive ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME?
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:34 PM on February 18, 2009 [3 favorites]

I got one, and didn't really use it for the first couple of weeks. Then a friend suggested the Resident Evil 5 demo and the Halo Wars demo. That hard drive space was key then, and it definitely will be key if you ever want to do the cool stuff like that.
posted by deezil at 8:00 PM on February 18, 2009

If you're trying to save money, head over to Circuit City before they're completely cleaned out. I got a Pro 60GB on Saturday for $225 (it's normally $300). Since the Xbox has a manufacturer warranty, the fact that Circuit City is about to not exist really isn't an issue.

Added bonus: 40% off games, last I checked.
posted by DMan at 8:20 PM on February 18, 2009

Games are definitely faster and the 360 definitely runs quieter when you run a game from the HD. I have a 20G, which really only has space for 1 game at a time this way- the games are ~7G, but I've got about 10G of downloaded/saved content and I'm pretty diligent about cleaning out old demos. If you can afford it, I definitely recommend the biggest one you can get.
posted by mkultra at 8:55 PM on February 18, 2009

All that said, is it worth paying extra for something more than the "Arcade" version of the console?

The other downside with the arcade version is that it doesnt come with an HD cable. Its SD only. So if you consider the price of a drive and a cable, you might as well get the Pro. FWIW, I have an arcade with a used 20gig drive and 3rd-party VGA cable that plugs into my monitor. Works well enough.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:19 PM on February 18, 2009

I was like you and I bought an Arcade. HD cables are cheap. I added a refurbed HD later on. Definitely save a small bit of cash going that route. The really cool part of having a HD is downloading demos. Really a huge advance in gaming IMO - you can test tons of games for free. Although if you don't plan to pay for an Xbox Live account, it won't matter.
posted by gnutron at 9:33 PM on February 18, 2009

Earlier, Microsoft was doing a "free memory" upgrade for arcade users. Free 512mb MU or $20 for a 20GB hard drive. You may want to look into it.

You don't even need the hard drive. I'm a cheapskate too and have found little use for the hard drive. (I have a pro from when the 360 launched).

I say get the arcade. They all come with wireless controllers and memory units now and HDMI cables are dirt cheap.
posted by wongcorgi at 9:39 PM on February 18, 2009

You want a hard drive.

There's xboxlive arcade games (rez HD, castle crashers, braid), demos and downloadable content, but even if you decide you don't want any of that, I think it's still essential to have for patches.

And contrary to what it sounds like gnutron is suggesting, you don't need the paid Xbox live subscription to download demos. You can use the free/silver level to do that, the gold/pay level people just get earlier access to some of them.
posted by juv3nal at 2:03 AM on February 19, 2009

Even if you remove patches from the equation, a hard drive is still very useful in a 360. The recent upgrade to the front-end system now allows you to 'install a game to hard drive'. This batch-copies the entire CD to the 360 hard drive, taking up around 7 Gigs of space but dramatically decreasing load time and reducing the noise of the jet engines inside the console.
posted by stelas at 4:36 AM on February 19, 2009

Even if you dont do the batch copy, if a HD is detected most games will use it as a cache, so you get a bit of a performance boost.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:32 AM on February 19, 2009

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