PS4 SSD Upgrade Ultimate Guide
Upgrading the PS4 storage device (featured by a mechanical hard drive) to an SSD has been one of the most popular option among PS4 fanboys who look for the maximum possible performance out of their game console. That’s because SSDs are known to be the fastest and most reliable storage device in history and they proved very high endurance and consistent performance over other storage devices, particularly hard drives.
We’re all big fans of SSDs due to the great performance advantages they offer in all aspects, but that’s only when they are used in computers, not game consoles like PS4 or Xbox. That’s because a computer is qualified with its design and operating system to benefit the most from an SSD, whereas a game console is NOT, no matter how powerful it is, and the 4x or 5x performance increase is only seen in computers, but in game consoles, an SSD can only offer maximum 40% or 50% performance improvement. Yes, this is still a big number in the world of gaming, but when you take into consideration the premium you’re going to pay for that, you’ve to hold back and carefully rethink about it.
For this reason we have prioritized upgrading PS4 HDD to an SSHD as the best PS4 storage upgrade in terms of overall features over all other options, as it offers almost 80% of the performance you’d gain if you go with an SSD, along with a capacious storage space up to 2tb, all of that for a very adequate price.
It’s also worth to note that if you own a PS4 Pro console, an SSD can be a better option for you if you can afford it (Read more about that in the PS4 Pro SSD Guide.)
In this guide you’re going to learn everything you need about this issue until you make the right decision, that whether an SSD suits your needs or not. But as has been stated earlier, and based on our long experience in the tech realm, we advise of an SSHD instead.
Before we go deep into details with this guide, we will list the best SSDs to recommend for PS4 consoles, in case the reader doesn’t get convinced and insists to get an SSD instead.
Best 1tb SSD for PS4
This is the most popular SSD size for PS4, and it’s suitable for the overwhelming majority of users. It comes with almost the same size of the stock hard drive, and as long as you are the only user for your game console, or you have an additional partner on the same console, this 1tb SSD storage capacity is presumed to be sufficient.
The following drives feature good alternatives to the above one. They offer 1tb of storage capacity and high data transfer rate, with the same price range (under $300) as our top recommendation.
Best 2tb SSD for PS4
The 2tb capacity SSD is best suited for enthusiasts with exceptional storage needs. Most enthusiasts are content with 1tb, and when they need an additional storage space, they use an external hard drive for this purpose.
This SSD size comes with a high price tag that most users cannot afford. But if your budget is fine with that, here we list below the best 2tb SSDs for PS4:
There’s only one 2tb SSD that can be a real alternative to the above drive in terms of price and performance. Other SSDs with the same capacities are too expensive and we won’t be recommending them.
Why to Use SSD in PS4 – The Pros
There are several advantages/benefits you’ll gain from upgrading PS4 HDD to an SSD, which are:
- The boot-up, sleep, and wake up processes of PS4 system will be noticeably faster with an SSD. As for an SSHD, it only offers faster boot-up time here, nothing else.
- An SSD in general is the most reliable storage device. If you have a serious concern about storage device failure, then an SSD is the most trusted device for this purpose.
- SSD is the best storage solution for online gaming, especially when you have a very fast internet connection. SSD will help you move faster between game sessions, and respond instantly to your opponent reactions, whereas this is not possible on that level of speed with HDD or SSHD.
- Game and apps installation is faster with an SSD. That’s due to the high write speed an SSD boasts over all other storage media.
- Although an SSHD offers a fast game loading time that’s only a few seconds behind an SSD, the SSHD can’t cut on the time of game session shifting, whereas an SSD can.
As for SSD performance on PS4 and how fast it can be, here’s a list of games tested on an SSD in PS4 to see the speed gains an SSD offers for PS4 users:
|Game Title/Loading Time (Seconds)||PS4 500GB Stock Drive||OCZ Trion 100 480GB|
|Bloodborne – Central Yharnam||30.8||16.9|
|Bloodborne – Great Bridge||26.1||15.0|
|Bloodborne – Old Yharnam Respawn||30.7||15.4|
|Bloodborne – Return to Hunter’s Dream||10.7||7.4|
|Fallout 4 – Vault 111||31.7||17.4|
|Fallout 4 – Exiting Vault 111||25.7||17.2|
|Fallout 4 – Concord Town||55.5||29.1|
|Fallout 4 – Diamond City||49.0||28.6|
|Just Cause 3 – New Game||69.9||43.8|
|Just Cause 3 – First Mission Respawn||28.9||21.1|
|Just Cause 3 – Baia||65.6||43.7|
|Just Cause 3 – Baia Respawn||23.4||16.2|
As for the performance of SSHD, you can’t get the full performance advantages of it until you run a specific game at least 5 times so as to help SSHD learn that it’s a frequently used game and save it on its SSD cache, otherwise it will perform just like a mere mechanical hard drive. That’s why most of the reports who underestimated the power of SSHD just tested it with PS4 in the first or second round only and recorded the results.
The advantages of SSD sound so appealing, but in fact, they are minor if you remember that an SSD will cost you more than 5x the price of an SSHD (2tb SSD costs around $450, whereas a 2tb SSHD costs around $90). It’s up to you after all if you that’s worth your money to pay for.
How to Choose the Best PS4 SSD
If you have made up your mind to go for an SSD to upgrade PS4 storage with, then you need to consider the following guidelines before making the final step and purchase that speedy drive.
But before that, I think it’s important to know the capabilities/potentials of PS4, in order to get a broader picture on the whole matter.
PS4 Performance Potentials
PS4 is just a game console that was designed for specific tasks, not like a computer that’s required to handle lots of operations/tasks at once.
That’s why, PS4 doesn’t employ a strong CPU like a computer does. The computer’s CPU is able to handle so many multitasking operations that PS4’s CPU can’t. And if you get to know that SSDs are designed to help computer’s CPU resolve multitasks, then you’ll understand better why SSDs perform much faster on computers than PS4.
In a nutshell, the multitasking feature that an SSD is designed to handle will NOT benefit PS4 system (you cannot play two games at the same time on PS4, neither run multiple applications simultaneously), and PS4 CPU was designed to fit in that situation.
So, what does that mean after all?
It means that the huge data flow the SSD sends to CPU won’t be processed instantly as a whole like a computer does, rather the data will be set in a queue waiting for its turn of CPU processing.
What if you know that PS4 is configured with SATA II interface NOT SATA III? That makes the situation worse and will surely remarkably bottleneck the SSD performance.
Now, if that didn’t convince you enough, you can still go with an SSD for your convenience. Just take note of the following principles when choosing an SSD for your PS4:
- A mainstream (entry-level) SSD offers almost the SAME performance as a enthusiast (high-end) SSD does, due to the limitation of PS4 hardware specifications that cannot even properly and wholly handle the tremendous speed that a mainstream SSD offers. That means an enthusiast SSD is just a waste of money in PS4.
- Although PS4 is configured with SATA II interface, we don’t advise to pick a SATA II SSD for its cheaper price, rather go for a modern SSD instead. That’s because old SSDs degrade quickly and need continuous maintenance and refreshment using the TRIM feature managed by the SSD utility software package provided by the manufacturer, which is only available for install in computer systems. As for new and modern SSDs, they can maintain their performance automatically without the need for TRIM support on the system them are installed in.
- SSD manufacturers have always advised to maintain at least 15%-20% of free space on SSD in order to keep it running at its peak performance. I’m not sure if this has been fixed in the modern high-end SSDs of today though, but it’s worth of your attention. That means you must expect to use only 80% of your SSD storage capacity.
- Preserve the SSD for your important games and apps, and let the less important ones be installed on an external hard drive. Yes, this is the best way of using an SSD on PS4. You’ll run your favorite games and apps on their highest performance level, while keeping others handy on an external hard drive connected to your game console.
- If you want your SSD to last long on PS4, then pick a prominent, highly-reputed brand that has a good history in the industry and offers at least 3-year limited warranty. Unknown brands are risky to consider.
- Don’t go for less than 1tb of SSD storage capacity, because then you’ll limit yourself too much with the too small space.
- PS4 games are designed to accommodate PS4 hardware, and an SSD is not into the designers’ consideration. Maybe if you own a PS4 Pro the situation differs, especially with its support for SATA III interface, but games made for PS4 standards won’t benefit too much from an SSD the way you want.
Once you fully comprehend and follow these guidelines, you’ll be safe in your route for picking the right PS4 SSD.
How to install an SSD in PS4
Sony has made PlayStation 4 hard drive so easy to replace and upgrade, and upgrading it to an SSD is just as easy.
All what you need to do is the following:
- Obtain a PS4 compatible SSD (one from the above list) and bring it with you to the work desk.
- Get a Philips-head screwdriver in order to unscrew the stock hard drive and fix the new SSD in its place.
- Make sure you have a PS4 compatible USB flash stick and PS4 compatible USB external hard drive ready with you.
- Download the FULL package of PS4 System Software from here (NOT the update patch) and save it on the USB flash drive.
- Now, follow the instructions illustrated in this video and you’ll be done.
Now everything will be fine with you, and you can enjoy the power of SSD with your favorite game console and enhance your gaming experience with it.
After this point, the information are intended for novices who are new to the world of SSD. So if you’re a savvy, you’re not supposed to continue reading.
What’s an SSD?
Solid state drives, or as we commonly refer to them, SSDs, are storage devices very similar to that of a traditional hard drive in terms of functionality. While the same purpose is fulfilled, SSDs by design are to perform the same functions as performed by a disk drive but at an incredibly faster rate. When combined with being more energy-efficient (consumes less power) and having a decreased chance of malfunction—it’s understandable why some console players choose to install SSD in PS4.
In terms of performance only, that includes reliability, endurance and speed, an SSD is the best PS4 storage upgrade option for those who have the budget for such hardware that care most about maxing out load-time performance and speed potential. What makes SSDs so much faster than mechanical hard drives is that, unlike an HDD, an SSD is free of both moving and mechanical parts. Rather, SSDs take advantage of technological advancements and combines together memory blocks known as “NAND” which transmits and processes data electronically that’s passed through microscopic transistors.
NAND is one of two Flash architecture technologies (the other one is known as “NOR”). NAND is the architecture that permits us enthusiasts to derive such speeds from out PS4. By making the switch to an SSD, your PS4 will have the built-in technology capable of high-capacity storage, fast erase and write speeds, and improved read capabilities.
One secret to the design of SSDs that most are unaware of is that when developed they contain a magnetic coating of sorts located on top of the “platters”. Here, data is routinely stored on what are known as “interconnected flash memory chips” which maintains storage of your data even when power isn’t being delivered. This is the secret ingredient to the SSDs ability of being able to perform actions much quicker while being more energy efficient.
Take for example your traditional portable USB stick. In such hardware, mechanical parts will not be found. Rather, similar to that of an SSD, information is shared, stored, saved, and made accessible from microchips. So, when you think of an SSD, in a way, you could view it as an over-sized, more sophisticated version of the common USB stick.
So, how does all of this technology piece together to provide improved performance?
Well, thru the use of microchip technology and the removal of physical mechanical hardware – information is able to rapidly transmit and load. Imagine a walk to the kitchen for a glass of water. What if you could snap your fingers and a glass of water originating from the fabric of reality just appeared in your hand? An SSD keeps your information stored and quickly makes your information readily available from its design to store information in microchips. This means the loading of applications and multitasking become swift operations that effortlessly loads information in a fraction of the time.
It’s so quick, it’s near-instantaneous. Users that have made the upgrade to a PS4 SSD have mentioned that their system feels overall smoother, much more responsive, and easier to navigate. Of course, many of these reviews are accompanied with gripes about how much the upgrade costs but overall, the tone from upgraders is rather positive and leans towards the performance increases outweighing the investment.
SSD vs HDD – Quick Comparison
To realize the actual power of SSDs, you have to compare them with their competitor—the mechanical hard disk drive (HDD). Then, and only then, you’ll realize why an SSD is the best storage device for all systems in terms of performance and reliability. But as a user with limited budget, price is a major factor to determine what is “best” for you.
|Heat & Power Consumption||Due to the use of microchips – SSDs use very little power and product nearly no heat.||Because of the moving parts in an HDD, they use more power which results in more heat output.|
|Components||SSDs are free of mechanical parts. They’re comprised of ICs (integrated circuits) that work alongside an interface connector. Primarily, there are three main functions – the capacitor, the cash, and the controller.||Inclusive of moving and mechanical parts designed with a motor-driven disk that’s responsible for holding data platters (with a magnetic strip layer). Atop the platter are heads that “read” and “write” data.|
|Reliability||SSDs are more resilient, are less likely to encounter malfunctions, and provide better long-term use because of this. Because of their reliability, it’s not at all uncommon to receive a 5-year or 10-year manufacturer warranty.||HDDs are more prone to malfunction than SSDs due to their mechanical parts. In fact, an HHD is 7x more likely to encounter a failure than an SSD because of their use of mechanical parts.|
|Weight||No disk, spindle, or disk motor is present making it weigh less than an HDD.||They weigh more than an SSD due to their mechanical parts.|
|Defragmentation||SSDs are not prone to fragmentation and remain unaffected.||Over time an HDD drive can lose its performance due to fragmentation which can require routine maintenance.|
|Speed||Reduced latency and increased read/write speeds. Can handle more operations per second.||HDD’s provide higher latency and longer read/write durations. They handle fewer operations per second than an SSD.|
|Warranty||Due to mechanical parts that are prone to malfunction, most manufacturers only extend a 5-year warranty.||Due to there being no moving parts, malfunction or breakage is less likely to occur. Most manufactures offer a 10-year warranty.|
But like what’s said earlier, if you cannot afford the high price of SSD and want a viable alternative that offers nearly 80% of the SSD performance, you should make the SSHD a priority.
Limitation of PS4
When it comes to the PS4, there are certain parameters in place set in place by Sony. These standards can be inclusive of certain limitations that you should be made aware of when determining if upgrading is the right choice for you.
For example, one limitation is that because the PS4 has a 2.5″ laptop-sized drive you’re limited to upgrading storage capacity to 2TB. Since manufacturers aren’t making 2.5″ drives over 2 terabytes it’s something you’ll need to keep in mind. Now, there have been reports of individuals surpassing the 2TB storage by installing a larger drive however this is quite involved and requires more work that what would want to undertake. Furthermore, reports have been made from those that installed larger drives that operating systems sometimes occur and such problems you certainly want to avoid.
At this point, Sony hasn’t been forthcoming on whether or not the PS4 incorporates SATA-II or SATA-III. However through a serious of tests and benchmarking it has been determined that the PS4 bus speed is in fact slower than that of SATA-III. Because of this, performance capabilities of installing an SSD will be limited to some degree. Performance increases will be noticeable when swapping the old HDD out for a SSD but because of the bus speed information won’t be able to travel quite as quickly.
While the hard drive can be upgraded, it’s the only interchangeable hardware in the PS4 console. This means tampering with or upgrading the RAM, processor, or any other components isn’t possible. Just something to keep in mind.
There’s no doubt that a ps4 ssd upgrade will provide an improved console experience. Of course, before making the choice to upgrade – you’ll want to consider the cost, the performance return, and the cons. Really, the only downsides to upgrading are the cost and the limitations of the PS4 (referring to the bus speed). However, if cost isn’t an issue and storage capacity and speed are what’s most important to you then go for it. Overall, console actions, the loading of games, and multitasking all are done much more quickly and will bring your console up-to-date with solid state technology.