SSD Or Hard Drive? Upgrading Your PlayStation 4's Storage

Four 2.5" Drives, Tested

We picked out a handful of different devices to test in the PlayStation 4's one drive bay, including Kingston's E50 240 GB SSD, Seagate's SSHD, and a WD Black2 dual-drive. An older WD Scorpio Blue 1 TB from 2011 even made it into our little round-up, if only as a comparison point.

The Kingston SSD lets you switch over to solid-state storage without giving up any capacity compared to Sony's stock hard drive. It adds more than $300 to your already-sizable technology investment, though.

Seagate's SSHD seemed like an interesting compromise, sporting 1 TB of mechanical storage and 8 GB of MLC flash, yet priced right around $100. We didn't know how well its caching algorithms would work with Sony's operating environment though, so we knew we'd have to test it a little differently in order to measure its efficacy.

The Western Digital Black2 is a hybrid technology of sorts, though it differs from Seagate's offering in that its solid-state and conventional storage are uniquely accessible. So, you get 120 GB of flash and 1 TB of disk space in a single device. The ideas is that you choose where you want to put your operating system (SSD), applications (SSD), and user data (hard drive). Unfortunately, the PlayStation never let us get that far, giving us an error that the OS needed a drive with at least 160 GB. As a result of how Western Digital sets this drive up, it simply won't work with the PS4.

Lastly, we have a 1 TB Western Digital Scorpio Blue. We're not expecting much out of it, but I had it lying around, it doubles the PlayStation's stock capacity, and can be found under $100. At the very least, I wanted to know if a larger, non-stock disk helped improve performance or hurt it.

How We Tested 

I started with a fresh installation for each set of benchmarks. Rather than messing with a stopwatch to time each run, I set up a video camera to record the process. The video was sent through an editor to trim the beginning and ending; everything between was the benchmark's duration. Each test was run three times and averaged, yielding a final result.

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    Top Comments
  • blackmagnum
    If you can wait a few more seconds for the hard-drive to load, then why not keep the hard-drive... but who are we if not ENTHUSIASTS!
    12
  • Other Comments
  • vertexx
    Thanks for the article. I like the trend of the work you guys are doing, although this one really reminds me why I won't be buying one of the new consoles.

    It seems rather shortsighted for Sony to not anticipate users wanting to take advantage of SSD tech. In fact they could have made more $ by offering an upgraded product with an SSD already incorporated (assuming they fixed whataver is causing the negligible difference in performance). Perhaps a few tweaks to the OS through a software update will allow the SSD to make a bigger difference.

    It seems that something will need to be done if they hope to have the longevity of the previous generation of consoles.
    5
  • blackmagnum
    If you can wait a few more seconds for the hard-drive to load, then why not keep the hard-drive... but who are we if not ENTHUSIASTS!
    12
  • Brad Smithee
    Eventually see 9.5mm 2TB drives? What about the Samsung M9T? Although difficult to find OEM, you can pull it from a Seagate Backup Plus Slim for about $110 (as of writing). Granted some users have had HDMI handshake bootup issues, they seem resolvable by extended power button presses.
    0
  • wtfxxxgp
    Interesting concept and nice try Toms. I enjoyed this little read over lunch. I'm not a console fan but I admit that there are times when i wish I could just sit on my couch and play on my TV instead of a piddly little 24". The funny bit is, I only feel this way when I'm actually ON the couch, never when I'm sitting enjoying the beast that blows PS4 away.
    1
  • Lasher13
    Guys no, these Seagate SSHD's are crap. Testing it further, yes it cuts down on load times, the boot cycle, and game installations. But game performance is hindered by a random stutter at random periods during gameplay when the disc refreshes its 8GB's of flash memory. If you don't find a random stutter annoying fine get it. But If you really want performance get an SSD. If you want space stick with a mechanical drive.
    -2
  • AndrewJacksonZA
    Did you put a SSHD in your PS4 Lasher13?
    2
  • AK B
    Interesting article, BUT: laying around ---> lying around.
    0
  • CaedenV
    This is why I am sticking with PC gaming. I loved consoles back in the day where you just plugged it in, fed it a disc/cartridge and started playing. But last gen they essentially became crappy computers, so I preferred my nice computer to owning a crappy one. This gen they are still crappy computers with all of the issues that computers have, but without the flexibility or usefulness of one... so again I will stick with my PC.There was a chance that I would pick up a PS4 to get my Final Fantasy fix, but now it looks like they are committed to releasing all titles on the PC, so there went my only real motive to pick up a console.
    4
  • tuanies
    Quote:
    Eventually see 9.5mm 2TB drives? What about the Samsung M9T? Although difficult to find OEM, you can pull it from a Seagate Backup Plus Slim for about $110 (as of writing). Granted some users have had HDMI handshake bootup issues, they seem resolvable by extended power button presses.
    I did not know this. Interesting bit of information.
    Quote:
    Interesting article, BUT: laying around ---> lying around.
    Fixed, thanks for spotting the error.
    1
  • syrious1
    This is an interesting concept. You are right sony would have benefitted by adding SSD's as an upgrade, but I have a feeling those console guys are not going to drop added money to make it boot faster, especially since the extra controller, headset, etc cost an additional arm and a leg. PC gaming is where its at, the system runs better, lasts longer, and can be serviced by the user when needed. Also with steambox coming there is really no need to drop money on a console that will be outdated in 2 years.
    0
  • user 18
    Liked the article until the last paragraph, which makes the whole thing feel like a sony ad.
    1
  • tuanies
    Anonymous said:
    Liked the article until the last paragraph, which makes the whole thing feel like a sony ad.


    It isn't. Just seems silly to drop $100 on an HDD upgrade instead of getting PSN, which is necessary for online gaming. But I've enjoyed remote play. It's simple, works, and lets me run a couple races of NFS before going to bed. I'm still waiting for the Vita TV to get updated with US PSN account support so I can play it on my bedroom TV too.
    2
  • syrious1
    Quote:
    Guys no, these Seagate SSHD's are crap. But If you really want performance get an SSD. If you want space stick with a mechanical drive.
    SSHD's are total crap, still a point of failure having a half mechanical drive, go SSD or go home.
    -6
  • StarBound
    I've had a Crucial M500 960GB SSD waiting 2 weeks prior to my PS4 delivery. The swapping was extremely easy to do with a youtube vid or 2 just to make sure everything goes right. Ofcoarse now I am sitting with a system that cost less than the drive in it and all tests shows it is just slightly faster. I suppose the best if only thing I can take away from this is that the heat generation is taken away.
    -1
  • syrious1
    from the benchmarks boot time is good, but load times are still slow, maybe that's due to the OS not being optimized for SSD performance?
    4
  • tuanies
    Anonymous said:
    I've had a Crucial M500 960GB SSD waiting 2 weeks prior to my PS4 delivery. The swapping was extremely easy to do with a youtube vid or 2 just to make sure everything goes right. Ofcoarse now I am sitting with a system that cost less than the drive in it and all tests shows it is just slightly faster. I suppose the best if only thing I can take away from this is that the heat generation is taken away.


    Yea it technically loads faster, but not enough to justify the cost. The gains aren't as massive as on PC. You're also stuck waiting for the developer logo splash screens and the read speed of the Blu-ray drive too, which just nullifies most speed gains anyways.
    0
  • vmem
    love the article... but given the size of modern games... you'd be spending as much on a 500GB to 1TB SSD as you spent on the PS4 itself lol
    1
  • Emerald
    Interesting article. The one questions I have is why would you compare an Seagate drive that spins at 7200rpm to a WD Blue and a Samsung M8 which both spin at 5400rpm? They should have tested a WD Black and a Samsung MP4 which run at 7200rpm for better comparison.
    -1
  • tuanies
    Anonymous said:
    Interesting article. The one questions I have is why would you compare an Seagate drive that spins at 7200rpm to a WD Blue and a Samsung M8 which both spin at 5400rpm? They should have tested a WD Black and a Samsung MP4 which run at 7200rpm for better comparison.


    The Samsung M8 is the stock drive in the PS4. The WD Scorpio Blue was a drive I had sitting in a drawer. We were comparing the difference between HDD vs. SSD. Also, there isn't a Scorpio Black 1TB, they top out at 750GB. SSHDs seem to be the future and newer 5400RPM drives are just as fast as older 7200RPM drives.
    2
  • groundhogdaze
    Why is the WD blue drive so slow? Isn't it a 7200rpm drive, why would it be slower than the stock PS4 drive? Interestingly enough, I added a 750gb WD blue drive to my PS3 and the PS3 format took 30 minutes or so. When I replaced it with a 500gb Seagate Momentus XT SSHD, the format only took 5 minutes, I'm not sure why there's such a huge time discrepancy. Maybe Sony will release an update that will allow the PS4 to better take advantage of faster discs but I wouldn't hold my breath. Meanwhile I'll save money by not buying one and buying more games on Steam. I've got an HTPC with a Radeon 7950 in it so that should keep me happy for a while. I only use my PS3 when playing blurays & games exclusive to that platform like Colossus and Wrath of the White Witch; otherwise I prefer to play on the HTPC and avoid the hassle of shuffling discs.
    1