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Specifically, I want to buy a 360 but I also want to be able to download games from the marketplace. The cheapest console is 4gb, which won't be enough to hold even one premium game, so I'm curious if it's a better idea to spend the extra $100 to get the 250gb console or if it is cheaper to replace my hdd with a bigger one when I need to.

Cost is not the only factor (a major one though). Are there other disadvantages to replacing the hard drive (such as loss of warranty? the reason I'm buying a new console is for the warranty, after all).

Also, a valid answer could explain how I could use an external hard drive that I already own to store and play games purchased from the xbox live marketplace.

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Can you link the 4gb console your considering? –  Aardvark Nov 22 '10 at 21:02
    
    
Hmm, standard definition A/V (yellow, white, red: not composite) No mention of a headset, and no mention of hdmi or hi-def audio. Not really relevant to your question about storage, but still a concern worth noting –  Aardvark Nov 22 '10 at 21:36
    
sorry ^ not component video, meaning no high definition wire... messed my comment up and can't edit it :S –  Aardvark Nov 22 '10 at 21:54
    
that's strange. I swear I saw one shipping with an HDMI cable now I can't see it. Not that it matters terribly. It has the port and I only have a 19 inch tv right now in any case. –  Mechko Nov 22 '10 at 21:59

6 Answers 6

up vote 11 down vote accepted

The cheapest option is definitely going to be the USB route as mentioned by others.

Ignoring the fact that Microsoft's hardware prices are inflated and overpriced, if you go strictly off a cost per GB, then buying the console with the 250GB drive is your best bet for the money. Using the averages prices these days

GB    Total $    $ per GB
250   $100.00    $0.40    (w/console)
250   $130.00    $0.52    (standalone drive)
120   $100.00    $0.83    (standalone drive)
60     $70.00    $1.17    (standalone drive)
16     $20.00    $1.25    (USB Drive)

I would assume the standalone drives have a warranty of their own, and the one with the console would be part of the console warranty, but I'm not sure on those.

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this is why I have two Xbox 360's even though I have no real use for the second one other than as a "nice to have".. console economics, sigh –  Jeff Atwood Nov 22 '10 at 22:45
    
Do normal external hard-drives not work with XBox 360? Because $70 for 60gigs is highway robbery. –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Nov 23 '10 at 3:18
    
@BlueRaja - check the comments on Aardvarks answer. You can add an external USB hard drive. I've not seen any way to add a normal hard drive though. –  Doozer Blake Nov 23 '10 at 13:36
    
What? For $70, you can get a 1TB external - so would you or wouldn't you be able to use this with the XBox 360? –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Nov 24 '10 at 19:20
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You would be able to use it, but you only 16GB of that 1TB could be allocated for use by the XBOX 360. –  Doozer Blake Nov 25 '10 at 13:23

You can always use a USB hard-drive as a cost efficient solution to the lack of space. Two things to note with this. While this is the cheapest solution to upgrading hard-drive space consider these: You can only do a 16 gig thumb-drive for space (xbox will not recognize anything over this size), it often leads to space gaps where you have a 5 gig game to be downloaded but only 4 gigs available on each thumb-drive instead of one large hard-drive where continuity isn't an issue, and finally your xbox will look really hack-ish with all the thumb-drives sticking out of it and utilizing all your ports.

Or upgrade your console with a bigger hard-drive (though its important to note that the slim xbox uses a different hard-drive then old xbox making it harder to find cheap hard drives for it.)

I can speak from personal experience that my life was considerably improved upgrading from the Xbox Arcade to the Slim. If you have the money save yourself the headache and skip the low cost models, if you don't have the money yet it might be worth saving an extra month for it.

Replacing the hard drive has no effect on the warranty at all so if you choose at a later time to upgrade the hard-drive you can.

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Actually the new 199 console is 4gb with a wireless card and ships with an hdmi cable :) –  Mechko Nov 22 '10 at 20:54
    
I stand corrected :D Last cheap xbox I bought was the arcade which missed a number of good features... I'll edit my post –  Aardvark Nov 22 '10 at 20:56
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warning: if you connect a USB hard drive only 16 GB of it will be usable. See forums.xbox.com/34988637/ShowPost.aspx –  Jeff Atwood Nov 22 '10 at 21:13
    
@Jeff: Sort of. "The 360 can access the rest of the drive for video, music, and picture playback, but not for XBOX 360 writable storage." –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Nov 23 '10 at 3:19

By far the cheapest way to get started (though it does not exactly scale) is to invest in 16 GB USB flash drives -- the maximum size the Xbox 360 will support.

You can use as many of them as you have USB ports, and your USB ports can be expanded with a hub. These go for under $20 on Amazon currently and will continue to drop in price over time.

So for about $35 you could have a 32 GB "hard drive" split across two devices. This compares to $110 ~ $130 for the 250 GB hard drive, ~$100 for the 120 GB hard drive, and ~$70 for the 60 GB hard drive.

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The 4gb Slim isn't even considered a "valid Xbox 360 HDD." It's flash memory, just the same as adding the 16gb thumb drives. While you can download some arcade games, demo's, and DLC from the marketplace, some older games (eg. Mafia II w/ DLC disk) won't recognize either your console memory or thumb drive memory when you try to install the DLC disc. So I would just be careful because there may be some games you get with DLC disks that you won't be able to install.

I believe the only option at that point is buying an "S" hd. It's a pretty bad decision on Microsoft's part to do that, and even to the point of not pointing this out on the box that the console comes in. I'm pretty sure there's some legal issues there, but I'm sure they have it printed somewhere on the inside of the console just in case they ever got sued over it.

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You could try a 70GB HDD partitioned with several 16GB partitions. If it's USB-based, it might recognize the different partitions as independent ones. I haven't tried this though, so I'd appreciate it if someone could try it out and post the results back here.

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A little searching on Google or the xbox forums will show people saying that No, that won't work. It will only see one partition. –  Doozer Blake Feb 1 '11 at 23:12

Buy the 4GB, then go to eBay and buy a 320GB hard drive for around $50, 250GB for $45, 120GB for $40, 60GB for $30, or a 20GB for $20 but the 320GB is the best deal.

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