PS4 Hard Drive Specs – Small, Slow and Obsolete

PS4 hard drive specs

Confidently speaking, and from a technical perspective, the WORST piece of hardware in the structure of PS4 is its primary storage device featured by a mechanical hard drive. Worst in almost every aspect that can make it good. Charles Jefferies, an IT professional who works for storagereview.com, tested PS4 stock hard drive and stated in his conclusion that:

The Z5K500 suffers considerably when it comes to performance, however; its read performance is middle of the pack but its write performance is downright awful.

This is the opinion of experts who tested this drive. In a nutshell, it’s just a worthless drive, and must be replaced with a better one that offers solid performance and consistent reliability.

Old and Obsolete Drive

PS4 Hard Drive front lableIf you download the official datasheet of HGST Travelstar Z5K500, which is the drive model that PS4 adopts, you will wonder how HGST states that the drive is configured with SATA III interface, whereas the front label of the PS4 stock hard drive says something else that it is SATA II, as you can clearly see on the side image (click to enlarge).

Also, if you investigate it more and do additional research, you’ll find that Tech websites verifying the SATA II interface of PS4 hard drive, such as this page.

So, what’s the secret behind that?

Actually, the answer is too easy for everyone who regularly pursue the news of technology and knows how hardware manufacturers manage their production.

Simply, the initial version of HGST Travelstar Z5K500 was configured with SATA II, then, later, and for some reasons, was upgraded with SATA III interface.

Now, what should the company do with the heaps of the older versions in their stores? Simply, offer them for a very low price to a huge company that doesn’t care much about the performance of a hard drive, as long as the storage capacity goes with its desire. That’s the bargain we assume has happened between HGST and Sony.

You can easily now understand the primary reason why Sony made the process of upgrading/replacing PS4 hard drive too easy and flexible, unlike other game consoles like Xbox and Nintendo. It’s just a strong and clear indicator that Sony is telling its users to change that drive with a better one, because simply it’s not worth it.

The same thing exactly Sony has done with PS4 Pro and the 1tb version of PS4. Please read our article on PS4 Pro hard drive specs to see how that 1tb hard drive also an obsolete version with SATA II interface!

But why did Sony employ a cheap (low-quality) hard drive in its flagship game console in the first place?

Well, the answer is quite simple, and it’s based on several facts, that are:

  1. The priority of offering PS4 at a competitive price comes first, as long as the employed hard drive can do its job well enough with an adequate performance that the overwhelming majority of users won’t have to complain of. So why force buyers to pay extra money for something they don’t care much about?
  2. At the time of launching PS4 (particularly in Nov. 2013), games didn’t need high-end hardware to run smoothly, and their file size was relatively small, and a 500gb hard drive with minimal specifications was sufficiently qualified for this mission.
  3. Replacing PS4 hard drive is rather made simple and easy, so there’s no need to take an extreme position against it. If you don’t like it, just change it.

For these reasons Sony did not give big care for what kind of hard drive PS4 is using as long as it does what it’s supposed to do.

In just less than a year, users began to complain of the too limited storage space of PS4 hard drive, as game developers were releasing their games in huge file size that can exceed that 50gb limit for a single game. And in order to avoid any loss in market share, Sony was forced to release an updated version of PS4 that bore the name “1TB Ultimate Player Edition PS4“. As the name indicates, it comes with 1tb storage capacity.

So, here we have two versions of PS4: One that comes with 500gb hard drive and the other with 1tb, and we will outline below the major specifications of each drive.

PS4 HDD Major Specs

Here’s is a table that combines the specifications of both hard drives (500gb and 1tb) in one place, so as to make it easier to compare.

Brand & ModelHGST Travelstar Z5K500 (500gb model)
HGST Travelstar 5K1000 (1tb model)
Capacity (Size)500gb (Initial PS4 version)
1tb (Updated PS4 version)
Spindle Speed5400 RPM (both drive models)
InterfaceSATA II (3.0 Gbps) (both drive models)
Form Factor2.5-inch (both drive models)
Thickness9.5mm (both drive models)
Memory Cache8mb (both drive models)
Warranty2 Years Limited (both drive models)
Year of Manufacture2011 (both drive models)

Below we will elaborate a little on the 4 basic specifications of PS4 hard drive that every user have to be aware of.

Speed

The rotational speed of PS4 hard drive is 5400RPM, which is the standard speed of modern, 2.5″ laptop hard drives. It’s important to note, though, that the rotational/spindle speed of mechanical hard drives is NOT the only factor that determines the overall speed of the drive, as there are other factors, such as data buffer (cache memory), controller solidness, power management, device firmware driver that manages how the hard drive handles data, file system, and more.

So you shouldn’t be surprised if you find a 5400RPM hard drive, such as Seagate Firecuda 2tb SSHD beats a 7200RPM drive, and computer savvies are well aware of this fact.

Size

The size of PS4 hard drive is 500gb, offering almost 408gb of usable storage space. As for the 1tb version, it offers 861gb of usable space.

To a novice user, the 500gb capacity is too much and can last for ever. But an average user, let alone enthusiasts, know that they can quickly run out of space, considering the huge file size modern games, applications and movies are coming with.

If you upgrade to 2tb hard drive, and we recommend Seagate Firecuda 2tb SSHD, you’ll get a usable space of 1.77gb, which can serve you too long.

Cache

HDD cacheHard drive cache is often known as the disk buffer. By that name, its purpose becomes a little more clear. It acts as temporary memory for the hard drive as it reads and writes data to the permanent storage on the platters. In other words, when you try to access a content from hard disk, it takes time to find the content you need. HDD cache buffer is made from good stuff with high speed access. So when you find a content, it will save them all to cache buffer through an algorithm. And having the cache size big means you give a chance for bigger amount of data to be processed at a time, which increases the speed of the hard drive.

You can think of a hard drive’s cache as being like RAM specifically for the hard drive. The analogy actually fits very well too. Hard drives have built-in micro controllers that act to govern and process data coming in and out of the drive, much like a CPU. The cache works in conjunction with that controller to store memory as its being processed.

PS4 stock hard drive cache buffer size is just 8mb, which implies the level of its performance. Whereas, modern hard drives come with at least 64mb of cache buffer, and Seagate Firecuda 2tb SSHD comes with 128mb cache in the first tier, and 8gb NAND memory in the second tier caching.

Conclusion

The specifications of PS4 stock hard drive are not appealing at all, rather they are disappointing. If you’re serious about enhancing your gaming experience and want to unleash more power of your PS4, try to replace the stock hard drive with a more powerful one that can give your PS4 a big performance boost.

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