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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.

  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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!
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • AndrewJacksonZA
    Did you put a SSHD in your PS4 Lasher13?
    Reply
  • AK B
    Interesting article, BUT: laying around ---> lying around.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • tuanies
    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.
    Interesting article, BUT: laying around ---> lying around.
    Fixed, thanks for spotting the error.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply