PS4 Storage, Hard drives & SSD 101

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Is a buying an SSD for your PS4 Pro worth it?

One of the biggest issues gamers are facing with current-gen consoles are longer loading times. This issue is one that is unlikely to be resolved any time soon due to the fact that games are getting bigger, far more complex and graphically impressive than ever before, yet the technology of storage used in the PS4 (and Xbox One) is largely unchanged since the days of the PS3 and Xbox 360. There is, however, some light at the end of tunnel with regards to storage  – solid-state storage drives are now becoming more popular (and affordable), and they certainly eclipse those from the previous era. The question that many PS4 gamers are asking is, ‘Is the PS4 Pro with its high bandwidth storage able to reduce loading times and pauses in the gameplay or do I need to upgrade to SSD?’.

In the lead up to the launch of the PS4 Pro there was much discussion (and often misconception) about whether the upgrade from SATA 2.0 to SATA 3.0 would make a significant difference in loading times. Whilst it is certainly true that the SATA 3.0 model does offer several benefits over the 2.0, those benefits are unlikely to manifest themselves in the Pro thanks to the limiting hardware of the machine itself. In short, a simple step up from one model to the next (where hard drives are concerned) is not going to exhibit any tangible benefits. If any speed increases on the Pro do exist then it is massively unlikely that the hard drive has anything to do with it – it is much more likely that the speed boost has come from the Pro’s increased CPU. Sure, you may get a small improvement in loading times when you compare non-Pro with an SSD to a Pro with an SSD, but the biggest limiting factor will always be the CPU.

ps4 storage ssd

To exemplify the differences between a standard PS4 HDD, a PS4 Pro with HDD and an SSD we carried out a test involving: Read Throughput, Write Throughput, Read IOPS, Write IOPS and Read Latency. The results were as expected. The SSD was around three times faster than the standard and Pro PS4’s throughput (with the Pro only slightly quicker than the standard model), although looking at the results for IOPS is the most relevant to us as PS4 gamers. The SSD was able to handle nearly 120 times more operations per second than the Pro’s HDD, which is way, way more than is required to see improvements in game speed and loading times. In latency terms, it takes the SSD just 0.85% of the time (vs the Pro’s HDD) to start fetching a piece of data.

As you can see from the previously mentioned data it is an absolute no-brainer that using an SSD provides a myriad of benefits over a standard HDD in terms of game speed and loading times, however this must be counterbalanced by the fact that SSD’s are more expensive and are limited to a certain amount of space. Whether you should buy one depends entirely upon your own circumstances. If you require a vast amount of space then an SSD is likely to be far too expensive to justify purchasing (unless you have very deep pockets).

For those that want to upgrade their PS4 Pro to an SSD then the process is extremely straightforward. It can be easily taken apart to allow for the new SSD to be inserted – all you’ll need is a delicate hands and screwdriver. One thing that you must remember to do before commencing with the upgrade is to ensure that your saved games and trophies are all synced (either to the cloud or a USB).

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