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I want to get a 360 and don't know wether to get the bigger (250GB), newer, more expensive Elite, or get one of the older, smaller (120GB), last gen ones. I know the arcade is going to be too small to save anything useful

How much hard disk space is recommend? What else is stored besides games?

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5 Answers 5

I have a 360 slim kinect that I bought with a 2gig internal solid state drive, then opted for a 1tb internal, 3rd party HD. I can download whatever I want from microsoft or vudu or wherever and have the comfort of knowing that I will probably not run out of room before the Xbox dies. It is so easy to install, and the Xbox prompts you step by step in the formatting process.

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I have the old elite with the 120GB HD and I am down to about 90 GB left. And that is without installing any games that is just saved games and DLC and a couple demos. I would recommend getting a larger HD if you plan on playing a lot of games. If you are like one of my friends and the only 2 games you own are Gears of War and Gears of War2 then the 20 GB should be sufficient. Otherwise get more.

Also As Macha said some games actually slow down when installed, most of the FPS games I have played slow down(MW2. Gears 1 and 2, Halo 3...) if installed so I don't install any games anymore.

HOWEVER, my wife has an arcade which we bought a 120GB hard drive for and it loads faster and runs better than my elite. So take that for what it is worth. All the bells and whistles on the elite are not completely as good as they sound.

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I have 17/120GB used on my 360 HDD with a moderate amount of DLC, and GTA 4 installed. If you don't install games, the 20GB (which as a warning, only gives 13GB of usable space) is fine. If you do install games, it depends on the amount of games you keep at one time.

Be aware that installing games doesn't always give a noticeable speed boost and can slow some games (e.g. Halo 3) down.

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What's stored on the 360 hard drive:

  • The Dashboard application itself (typically)
  • Any downloaded games from XBox Live (this includes demos, XBox Arcade, XBox Originals -- that is, original XBox games, which can be DVD-sized -- and XBox 360 titles -- again, DVD-sized)
  • Downloaded content for games (such as Rock Band/Guitar Hero songs, Fallout/Oblivion add-ons, etc.)
  • Saved games (which can be larger than you might think)
  • Any ripped or downloaded music
  • Any downloaded movies (unless you're using Netflix to stream them)
  • Your profile (typically)

Now, as rlorenzo said, what you should get depends on what you want to do. My first XBox 360 shipped with the 20-gig drive, and I felt like I outgrew it pretty quickly, as I was getting Rock Band and Guitar Hero songs by the boatload, had most of the DLC for Oblivion and all of it for Fallout 3, etc.

When that XBox 360 died (out of warranty, sadly), I wound up buying a no-hard-drive model and a new 120-gig drive. I used the tools to transfer everything over and gave my old drive to a friend of mine. At 120-gig, I feel much more comfortable -- but am still not comfortable enough to load games from disc to the hard drive. (I'd prefer to have that space available for games I may download!)

If I were buying a new 360 today, I'd probably cough up for the 250-gig model. But that's because I know my usage pattern. You'll need to evaluate yours against the data that gets stored, and make the right choice for you.

(Also: There's nothing stopping you from using USB memory sticks in a 360 now, for all kinds of storage. Given that these sticks are dirt cheap, you could conceivably use a different stick for each game's specialized content, and go that route. However, the sticks are limited to 16-gig in size for 360 use. This may still prove more cost-effective in the long run, and perhaps more flexible as well.)

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Depends how how many games you play and do you download downloadable content (DLC).

For example, I have an older XBox 360 with just 20GB, but I get by because I usually just play one game at a time. It is recommended to "install" your games to the HD for faster load times and less noise, so that requires about 6-8GB.

Also, do you like to try out game demos? Those are usually a couple of GBs. Do you plan on buying a bunch of XBox downloadable games? The XBox arcade games are usually under 1GB each.

Do you plan on downloading movies and music to your hard drive?

If you answer no you most of these, you can even go the barebones route and get an XBox without a HD (arcade model) and just buy a 16GB flash drive to store your content.

If you answer yes to a lot of this stuff, then bigger is better.

But it really depends on how many games you wish to have access to on the hard drive (demos, installed games, DLC).

BTW, you might want to check out the newest model Xbox called the XBox 360 Slim. It only cames in one HD size, so it makes this question moot.

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