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

Should You Buy A Storage Upgrade At All?

Hardware enthusiasts struggle to leave their systems alone, and I'm no different. It's hard for me to buy anything (even a console, which you wouldn't think would be ideal for tweaking), and not want to improve on its stock form. Fortunately, Sony really does make it easy to pull out the PlayStation 4's hard drive and swap in the storage device of your choosing.

Our testing shows that there are some performance gains to be had from tossing an SSD into the PS4, but they're small. You can shave a few seconds off of its boot time or load a saved game slightly faster, but ultimately, you're going to spend way too much more or lose too much capacity in the process. Sure, solid-state drives are getting cheaper. To match the PS4's stock 500 GB disk, though, you're looking at several hundred dollars. That's enough to build an entry-level gaming PC!

We can actually make a case for Seagate's 1 TB SSHD, though. At $120, the drive is affordable. It also delivers somewhat SSD-like performance, even as it doubles the console's stock capacity. In many cases, the speed-up you get will be difficult to feel. But at least you can fit a lot more content onto the SSHD without sinking a ton of cash in an upgrade.

As for the 1 TB WD Scorpio Blue we had lying around, it turns out to be a little slower than Samsung's stock Spinpoint M8. The good news is that you give up minimal speed for twice the capacity. And if you have a spare notebook drive taking up space somewhere anyway, the upgrade turns into a fun little no-cost project.

In the grand scheme of things, you don't get enough out of a PlayStation 4 hard drive upgrade to justify spending a lot of money. The PS4 was designed with its stock disk in mind, and it delivers a well-balanced experience, given the console's total cost. You wouldn't buy a new car and then drop half of its cost on an exhaust system for 10 more horsepower, right? That'd be the SSD equivalent. Those same gains you get on the desktop just don't translate over. 

Again, we like the Seagate 1 TB SSHD for its speed, size, and selling price. If you do feel compelled to upgrade immediately, that's the drive to buy. But even then, there aren't enough games to fill the included 500 GB disk. Storage is only getting cheaper, and we'll eventually see 2 TB devices in a 9.5 mm form factor. Perhaps by then you'll need the extra space.

Here's another idea for gamers with money burning a hole in their pockets. Pick up a PSN Plus subscription, play online, and gets discounts on new titles. Or just buy a couple of PS4 games and enjoy some quality time with the console. Still feeling too flush with cash? The PS Vita might make a more compelling purchase for its Remote Play capability. That's a story for another day...

  • 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