PlayStation 5: Our test of the best external SSDs

PlayStation 5: Our test of the best external SSDs

PlayStation 5

While PS5 presents itself as a state-of-the-art machine in many respects, it's also true that its 667GB available storage space doesn't exactly smell of the future. With the latest software update we can finally store PS5 games on an external hard-disc (or SSD), and of course PS4 games can run on it as well. But what is the best option? We decided to test three alternatives against the internal solid state drive: a classic external HD, a SATA SSD and an NVMe SSD.

We have already done a similar analysis for Xbox Series X, with the difference that Microsoft also combines proprietary technology with the three alternatives that we propose: a 5TB Seagate portable external drive, a Samsung 870 QVO connected thanks to a Sabrent USB / SATA adapter and an NVMe disk inserted in an Asus ROG Strix Arion case. In the article dedicated to Xbox Series X we had used a Samsung OEM SSD, but for PlayStation 5 we take a step forward and opt for a Samsung 980 Pro, among the fastest memories available on the market.

Before starting we must detect some PS5 pickiness when it comes to supporting USB / SATA adapters, so make sure you buy one with UASP SATA-III support, otherwise the console may show you an error message. We tested both the front USB-C ports and the USB-A ports on the back of the machine and we can say that, with Cyberpunk 2077, we found no difference.

Digital Foundry shows us the proof of the loading times.

Watch on YouTube. In theory we should see improvements in loading times and data transfer in line with what happens on PC with the same components, in the end the consoles are actually built starting from PC technology, but already from the examination on Xbox Series X it was found clear that this would not be the case. For example, the results vary significantly depending on the game you use as a benchmark, and so we decided to rely on Cyberpunk 2077 and its 102GB of installation: we copied them to the external media, and then copied back to the internal one. br>
In the table below you can see the results of the tests, and let's say right away that they are curious. Copying Cyberpunk from internal memory to external hard drive took 16 minutes and 24 seconds, not a little. Much better the situation with SATA support (6 minutes and 15 seconds) and even better with NVMe memory (4 minutes and 46 seconds). Curiously though, the situation isn't quite so outlined when doing the reverse process and moving data to the PS5's internal SSD. While the old-fashioned hard drive took roughly the same 16 minutes, both SSDs took just a little less, and even SATA was a bit faster than NVMe memory. From this test we can clearly say that solid state memories are recommended over mechanical disks, but also that perhaps there is some limit to the bandwidth when reading via USB.

Cyberpunk 2077 (102GB) Seagata 5TB Ext HDD Samsung 870 QVO SATA Samsung 980 Pro NVMe Copy PS5 to SSD 16:24 6:15 4:46 Copy SSD to PS5 16:26 13:37 13: 45 But you don't live on writing and reading speeds alone, on the contrary, loading times have the greatest impact. In these tests we focused on PlayStation 4 games because they are notoriously some of the slowest to load: Battlefield 5, Fallout 4, Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3 are all famous for being kept waiting on last-gen, so we were curious to see how much the situation had improved on PlayStation 5 thanks not only to the SSD, but also to the increased computing power.

The data speaks for itself: a good SATA SSD is more than enough to achieve the best possible results with games PlayStation 4. Again, there appears to be a read speed limiter, which penalizes NVMe memories that on paper may outperform SATA. Curiously, with Fallout 4 and Cyberpunk 2077 the external memories were even faster than the internal one. Strange, but true (we tried and tried).

There is a ton of data to look into here, but the tl; dr is simple: using the PS5's internal memory doesn't give any tangible benefits when playing games PS4. Also, you don't even need to go to the more expensive NVMe, as they are no faster than a good SATA connected with a high-speed USB / SATA adapter. Clearly all solid-state solutions are a step up from mechanical ones, but decent results were not lacking for older hard drives as well.

Loading times (in seconds) PS5 Internal SSD Samsung 870 QVO SATA Samsung 980 Pro NVMe Seagate 5TB Ext HDD Battlefield 5: Nordlys 29.85 29.40 29.75 46.85 Battlefield 5: Tirailleur 30.43 30.02 30.50 51.43 The Witcher 3: Novigrad 47.43 47.50 48.58 59.08 The Witcher 3: White Orchard 22.43 22.44 22.38 22.43 Fallout 18.53 16.07 16.07 41.08 Fallout 4: Diamond City 16.83 12.78 12.85 36.35 CP2077: Ripperdoc 41.12 39.92 38.13 57.85 CP2077: The Pickup 33.08 31.37 31.37 47.93 FF7R: Slums Residential 22.48 22.35 22.60 34.07 FF7R: Slums Church 19.0 18.93 19.12 25.33 5 and PlayStation 4 Pro of some specific games. First of all we organized a race between the PS4 Pro hard drive and the PS5 SSD, and then we took the SATA SSD to last-gen to see how much of the highlighted next-gen advantage remains. By doing so we can also highlight the role of the PlayStation 5 CPU and its ability to decompress assets more quickly.

The data show us a clear advantage of the PS5's internal memory over the analogue present on PS4, with times of loading practically halved, or even reduced even more. Fallout 4 specifically records the most noteworthy data, due to its particularly heavy weight on the older generation CPU. Bringing the Samsung 870 QVU to Pro, however, narrows the gap: Battlefield 5 pretty much loads at the same time, which curiously doesn't happen with The Witcher 3's Novigrad where PS5 holds the top spot (probably due to the CPU). br>
That said, there is no shortage of quirks: Cyberpunk 2077 is faster on PS4 Pro, which is pretty hard to explain. We told ourselves that the "improved" version runs on PS5, and therefore probably with more data to load on RAM to improve streaming (which translates into longer loading times). Final Fantasy 7 Remake is also faster on PlayStation 4 Pro. It's a matter of seconds, of course, but it's still a result we weren't expecting (and in fact we tried over and over to be sure).

Loading times (in seconds) PS4 Pro Internal HDD PS5 Internal SSD PS4 Pro / Samsung 870 QVO PS5 / Samsung 870 QVO Battlefield 5: Nordlys 57.08 29.85 30.33 29.40 Battlefield 5: Tirailleur 65.00 30.43 32.83 30.02 The Witcher 3: Novigrad 90.38 47.43 63.28 47.50 The Witcher 3: White Orchard 40.63 22.43 22.40 22.44 Fallout 4: Commonwealth 48.53 18.07 22.80 16.92 Fallout 4: Diamond City 44.85 16.83 21.12 12.78 CP2077: Ripperdoc 53.52 41.12 24.40 39.92 CP2077: The Pickup 49.63 33.08 24.55 31.37 22.37 Slums 22.57 Residential 22.13R 22.13R FF7R: Slums Church 25.12 19.00 16.38 18.93 FF15: Lestallum 92.18 29.18 30.10 27.48 FF15: Hammerhead 94.47 25.40 27.10 23.98 Speaking of FF7R, we underline an improvement in the pop-in of the textures when leaving behind PS4 Pro's hard drive, which limped a bit when streaming (which clearly doesn't happen on PS5, or with a SATA SSD). It is true that the textures may not appear immediately at the best of quality, but at least the bottleneck is eliminated. Sure, Final Fantasy 7 Remake's real PS5 upgrade should fix a lot of these issues and add a few more improvements, so let's hope things like NPC pop-in are fixed.

Most Read Now

Resident Evil Village: Has Sony Paid to Block Xbox Game Pass and Enforce 'Graphic Parity'?

It seems all false but there is a scandal about nothing.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition has a new comparative video on the improvements compared to the original trilogy

Let's see together the changes we can expect us.

Xbox Series X / S now support AMD FidelityFX technology

The announcement at Microsoft's Game Stack Live event.

From this analysis we can draw some Conclusion: First of all, we now know that an external SSD loads games at the same speed (and sometimes a bit more) than the PS5's internal memory. This is excellent news that allows us to free up internal space with a light heart. Secondly, our tests reveal that it is not necessary to spend a fortune on a top-of-the-range NVMe, as there appears to be a limit to the speed at which data can be read, and therefore a SATA SSD is enough. It is the same option we recommended on Xbox Series X, only here remember that you must have a USB / SATA adapter compatible with SATA-III.

As we said, some anomalies during the tests were noticed. The NVMe memories have proved surprisingly an overkill: they are still the fastest in writing, but in reading they are on a par with SATA. And then, after seeing how Xbox Series X behaves, we expected to see the external memories stop at the values ​​of the PS5 internal one, but there are cases where they go even faster. Net of these curious data, however, the advice does not change: a good SATA drive is perfectly adequate for running PS4 games on PS5.

But it doesn't stop there: during the test dedicated to Xbox the Seagate expansion allowed to run next-gen games thanks to the integrated PCIe interface (but at a little expense). Sony has opted for an internal M.2 slot for certain SSDs but, sadly, it's not enabled at the moment. Even the console turns off if you install an NVMe SSD, but it is only a matter of time and we will be ready to restart the tests as soon as PS5 receives a new software update.

Powered by Blogger.