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Definitive Answer on PS3 and Asdvanced Format / 4k Sector Drives?

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June 11, 2012 5:55:27 PM

I'll put the TL/DR at the top. Can anyone give me a definitive answer about 4K sector HDDs working in a PS3, particularly a first gen "Phat"? ( mine's an old 60GB with full BC. ) I've tried searching multiple forums and articles across the web and I see as many success stories as failures. Specifically I'm looking at the 750GB Momentus XT hybrid drive. If you want to know a few more details, keep reading.

So, I have the very first gen 60GB PS3 ( four USB ports, card reader, full hardware backwards compatibility, etc. ) I want to upgrade the HDD again ( I dropped a 250GB Scorpio Black in it Jan 2010, ) and I'm looking for 500GB+ drives. However I'm a little wary about whether or not a new Advanced Format / 4K sector drive will work. I know most of them still have 512B emulation for legacy systems, so I'm guessing the PS3 will at least be able to use it. However I've yet to find any confirmation, preferably direct from Sony, whether the PS3 OS is sector size aware. And considering the number of stories I hear from people upgrading and seeing a slowdown in performance, I'm guessing they're running into sector misalignment problems. But then these reports are off older firmware versions and it's possible the OS has been updated for 4K support in the latest releases. And if the new Slim model has an updated SATA controller ( I don't know if it's different from the old "Phat," ) will that make a difference in slapping a new drive with an old controller?

I'd like to throw a 750GB Momentus XT in my PS3, but it's a 4K drive. The 500GB model is 512B so that's my backup plan right now, but I'd like to have the 8GB cache instead of the older 4GB one. I know the SSD cache on it won't dramatically improve load times on the PS3 because the worst bottleneck is the optical drive. However a large chunk of my game library is now completely on the HDD so I'm hoping it will help a little in load times on those titles ( I've watched videos of tracks loading in GT5 almost 10 seconds faster on the XT vs the stock drive. )

A second, smaller question is about head parking. I've read that since most 2.5" drives are designed for laptops, some have aggressive energy saving features that will park the heads after a relatively short time. I've read quite a few reports of PS3 users experiencing stuttering because the drives are constantly spinning up and down that likely stems from this. Does anyone know of a list of models to avoid for this particular reason?
June 11, 2012 6:16:08 PM

well the only answer i would have is about the head parking, if the drives are similar to the desktop counterparts black drives do not park their heads to save energy, i cannot speculate on the momentus XT.

June 11, 2012 6:23:55 PM

Yeah, as I said I've had a Scorpio Black in it for 2.5 years now and haven't had a single problem. I'm guessing since the Blacks are performance oriented they don't have any energy saving features.
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June 11, 2012 6:29:45 PM

i would assume that is the same for the momentus XT being a performance drive, but i wouldnt be able to assume it would work well with the PS3, in most cases, hard drive to hard drive do not vary much in performance, but the size between the two you have would be a nice boost in space.
a b î Playstation
a c 356 G Storage
June 11, 2012 6:45:13 PM

I'm in a similar situation. I have a PS3 fat, but not an original. It's an 80Gig model I bought new in 2008 (two usb ports, no BC compatibility). I've had a 250gig WD scorpio blue in it for the past two years working flawlessly, but will need to expand again soon.

As far as I know, only green drives park their heads excessivley. I'm curious as to the 4K sector drives, so hopefully someone has a definitive answer.
June 11, 2012 7:28:05 PM

Hawkeye22 said:
As far as I know, only green drives park their heads excessivley. I'm curious as to the 4K sector drives, so hopefully someone has a definitive answer.
Odd, I've actually read a lot of problems with the blue drives stuttering. Perhaps it's a difference in the generation.
a b î Playstation
a c 356 G Storage
June 11, 2012 7:52:05 PM

RedJaron said:
Odd, I've actually read a lot of problems with the blue drives stuttering. Perhaps it's a difference in the generation.


Possibly. I purchased mine in May 2010. The model is:
Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD2500BEVT 250GB 5400 RPM 2.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s

I've had zero problems with it and it's still running fine.
June 12, 2012 5:11:35 PM

Sounds about right, most stuttering reports I've seen look like they're using newer drives.

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a b î Playstation
a c 356 G Storage
June 14, 2012 3:35:17 PM
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According to this guy, you can use advanced format drives.

Just to answer my own question have installed the "advanced formatting" HDD into my PS3 Slim and all works 100% with no problems at all

Scroll down until you see the topic change to Does the WD "Advanced Formatting" HDD work ok in the PS3?


http://community.eu.playstation.com/t5/PlayStation-3-Ge...
June 14, 2012 4:10:07 PM

Yeah, I've read that very thread before. I just didn't want to take it as gospel truth for myself when I've an old Fat PS3 and he has a Slim. And let's face it, when a lot of people say something "works," they don't always quantify how well it's actually working. So long as the thing boots up and they can play games, it may be good enough for them, regardless of how fast or slow it may be now.

I think I'll stick to a 512B drive for now. Even if I don't run into sector alignment issues, the 512B emulation still has to read/modify/write whenever doing some write commands and I don't think I want to bother with that.

Thanks, Hawkeye, for pitching in on the discussion.
June 21, 2012 9:57:10 PM

Best answer selected by RedJaron.
September 8, 2012 5:29:54 PM

I ordered the ST9500325AS but was instead sent the ST9500424AS. Obviously I'm not going to complain if it works, as I ordered a 5400RPM drive and got sent a 7200RPM newer model. But as this was for my PS3 and the newer model is 4K sectors, I was specifically trying to get the older model.

Theoretically it should be fine as the PS3 seems to be REALLY slow at accessing its HDD so the 512B emulation should be plenty fast enough to keep up, especially with it being a MUCH faster drive. Of course the reality is often very different to theory, so we shall see.
September 9, 2012 3:05:26 AM

I just played some Red Dead Redemption and Burnout Paradise, two games I would expect to have problems if the HDD did not work right, being open-world games.

Both worked perfectly, probably the smoothest I have ever seen.
April 12, 2013 4:13:19 AM

While it might "work" 4K physical sectors sectors "stutter" on legacy OS's and legacy non-pc-devices. "Advanced Format" is a very misleading name for this "feature". It actually refers to a different SECTOR scheme on the platter itself. It should be called "Advanced Sector". For most people the term "format" refers to the logical area where the data is, not the physical area. I bought a PS3-Extender, that turns the internal SATA port on my PS3 Slim into an EXTERNAL eSATA port. I have nearly filled a 500 GB internal drive. I want to move the installation to an external drive 3.5" drive that the PS3 will treat as an INTERNAL drive. This is different from plugging a USB drive to hold extra game saves. I want to take advantage of a 3.5" drive larger cache, faster rpm (without heat issues). There are few drives with out Advanced Format. I have only found a few "Enterprise" drives that have NATIVE 512b sectors, with out emulation from 4k. Look carefully in the specs. New Egg doesn't list the particular spec. Go to Western Digital, or Seagate and look closely for NATIVE 512 sectors. The trouble is that the category of sector size doesn't even exist in the spec unless it is actually 512b. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... This is the WD RE4 WD2003FYYS enterprise drive I am thinking of using that is legacy 512. These drives are kept around because businesses out there are still using Windows 2000 Server, which like XP, can not handle 4k sectors. I read in my research a man who clones drives on a non-PC device that failed to allow the use of an Adv Format drive for image storing. Apparently the device uses some old firmware loaded Linux or DOS OS to facilitate the cloning machines operation. http://www.ezflash.cn/ps3-hdd-expander/ http://www.joystiq.com/2009/02/03/mysterious-ps3-esata-... These two links go to PS3 eSATA adapters. For the Slim, and old orginal version. Respectively. The drive trays are DIFFERENT. So take care picking the right product.
April 12, 2013 5:23:50 PM

Except like I said previously, the PS3 accesses HDDs REALLY slowly which means this drive has plenty of time to do the emulation without any negative impact on performance at all.

Obviously I have been using the above drive for some time now and the ONLY issue I have is not being able to power on with the PS3 controller, if I do it never connects to the PS3. Its not the end of the world though, I have the Bluray remote and a wired Xbox 360 to PS3 controller adapter so do not really use the PS3 controller much anyway.

I used to use an external 3.5" drive on my PS3 before I swapped to the ST9500424AS. If anything I would say the ST9500424AS is faster as the smaller platters improve seek times and it being a much newer drives means its faster to begin with. Its also eliminates all the issues I had with an external drive such as the power cable dropping out crashing the PS3, the noise from the drive, forgetting to power it up before booting the PS3 and the sheer fact it takes up a LOT of space.
July 3, 2013 6:59:02 AM

When I bought a 2TB drive to use on PS3 via a SATA to eSATA extender, I made sure it was "legacy format", 512k. However. It still would not format. Anything bigger than 1TB hangs at 89% during the PS3's native format. However, on taking a chance, I stuck a 1TB 3.5" Western Digital AV-GP drive I had laying around from a DVR expander upgrade, and it works fine. So, there is a capacity size limit to PS3 of 1TB. There exist 1TB 2.5" laptop drives presently that would not require the use of the eSATA extender. Also, power is NOT added to the new eSATA port. Any drive enclosure you use, has to be self powered. Because the enclosure is "always on" for convenience, it was fortuitous that I used a drive built to be so, It runs at 7200 rpm, but drops down to 5400 rpm when not in immediate use. Since the enclosure has it's own power, and is apart from the console, any extra heat from a fast drive won't add to the heat of the PS3, nor will it suck too much power from it, taxing the PSU of the PS3.

Faster drives have shown better texture popping characteristics. Such as the background filling out more quickly as your game character moves through a changing landscape. With only 256mb for system RAM, and 256mb of video RAM, the PS3 has to do a lot of data pulling from the drive. It can't just throw it all into RAM, like on a PC with 8GB of RAM and a 2GB graphics RAM.

I go into this in more detail here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/jeff-dranetz/maximum-log...
There are links to a sites relevant to finding the eSATA extender, and to the results of testing I found at another blogger's site.

My experience is only with the PS3 Slim. Older models might have an "Advanced Format Drive" issue (misnomer, really refers to physical drive SECTORS, not logical clusters, as the name would imply)

October 6, 2013 1:05:46 AM

Just to add a feedback on 4K drives about performances.
I've just updated my PS3 slim HDD to a Seagate ST9750422AS (750Gb, 7200rpm).
Looking at the first datasheet I found on seagate.com (here), it seemed to be a 512 bytes sector drive.
But since in writing it resulted slower than the Samsumg 5400rpm 160Gb drive that was installed before in the system, I searched a little more on the web and now I think it is an Advanced Format model with 512bytes sector emulation (link to a newer Seagate manual).
First of all I'd like to say that the drive works perfectly with the PS3, no stuttering on HD videos or any other game problems, but doing some simple benchmarks I found that it is quite slower while installing PSN games.
Two examples (inst. time):
Fifa 14 EU Demo:
Seagate 7200rpm: 3'34" ; Samsung 512b 5400rpm: 3'13"
Castle of Illusion EU Demo:
Seagate 7200rpm: 1'18" ; Samsung 512b 5400rpm: 1'08"

Generally it results 10-20% slower in installing games.
In reading, as expected from a 4K drive in 512 emulation, there are no big problems.
It is 5-10% faster than the other 5400rpm drive (the increase of performances is probably limited by PS3 SATA interface).

!