The PS5 and Xbox Scarlett presentations herald a real revolution related to using SSDs. But after all, it’s nothing new – we can also use them with PS4 or XONE. However, after connecting an external drive, we can notice the difference.
The current generation of consoles is not going away, as we will see PS5 and Xbox Scarlett in a year at the earliest. So, there is still a lot of gaming ahead of us on old hardware. Of course, if you’re using a PC with an SSD drive, loading times on current-generation consoles may scare you a bit, but frankly, that wasn’t the reason I started looking around for an upgrade option for my vintage PS4.
I bought Sony hardware shortly after the release, so I’m still using the “fat man” with a 500 GB drive. And this amount is far too small for the standards of modern productions. RDR2, God of War, FIFA, and several online shooters effectively clogged up the console’s memory. Sure, my bad – you need to play one, maybe two titles and dump them when you’re finished, rather than grabbing 10 tails and whining that there’s not enough space.
Such juggling of games may be some solution, especially for those with a fast connection, but in the end, consoles are bought for convenience, not strange combinations. I opted for an external drive, which is trivial to set up. And when the PS4 retires to a well-deserved retirement, it will come in handy as an additional storage medium for my computer.
PS4 was not immediately so willing to work with external drives. Their support was introduced by Sony with a system update (numbered 4.50) only in 2017 – before that, the console recognized the drives as a flash drives and only allowed us to take copies of records or screenshots. Now we can freely install games on the external drive as well.
I realize that everyone has different needs, so I’m not going to press you on what console disk capacity is best. In my case, a tandem of 500 GB built-in drive plus an external SSD of the same capacity is completely sufficient. At the same time, the purchase of a carrier with this amount of memory is unlikely to ruin the household budget (its price should not exceed 70$). Moreover, a very pleasant side effect of this purchase was a noticeable reduction in loading times for games installed on the SSD – about which is on the following pages of this article.
If you’re an aesthete and think that a portable drive banging around your console will disrupt the feng shui of your living room, you can replace the standard built-in memory storage of your PS4 or Xbox with something faster/better. Later in the article, I suggest how to do this.
How much faster do games load on an SSD?
Sony decided to equip the PS4 with traditional hard drives, whose platters spin at 5400 RPM. Switching from such a snail’s pace to a fast SSD is a very pleasant experience not only for PC owners – but console players can also experience at least a substitute for the power hidden in flash memory. Of course, the games themselves will work the same, don’t count on any magical extra frames per second. However, there will be a noticeable improvement in in-game loading times and console boot speed (if you opt for the internal drive).
Below is a table of game loading times on a “regular” PS4 – you’ll see how much each title launched on a standard 5400 RPM drive and on a Transcend ESD230C external SSD.
Connecting an external drive to a console
Connecting and configuring an external SSD to the PS4 is an activity almost as trivial as accusing violent video games of causing school shootings. The entire process is also described in some detail on the official PlayStation website. In fact, from the moment you plug the drive into the USB slot, the console system takes you by the hand step by step, telling you what it is for and what it entails.
Along with the aforementioned PS4 software update to version 4.50, the possibility of supporting external drives with capacities from 250 GB to 8 TB was introduced. In addition, it is worth noting when purchasing that the drive features compatibility with USB 3.0 or later.
It is worth knowing that we can transfer games of interest from one drive to another at any time. This will help us even more in organizing space for more titles. However, only one device at a time can be used as expanded storage, and the second drive can only be connected for use with a media player. And remember – do not unplug the external drive while your console is running. There is a considerable risk of damaging the data stored on it.
Replacing the drive in the PS4 with an SSD
When buying an internal drive for the PS4, we must pay attention not only to its capacity, of course. This is because it still has to fit into the not-very-extensive housing of the console. Therefore, we will be interested in “laptop” 2.5″ drives with a SATA 2/3 connector and a height not exceeding 9.5 mm. However, this is still not bad because PS4 is a unique case of a console in which you can make any modifications to the components yourself without the risk of voiding the warranty.
It doesn’t make much sense to pay extra for a drive with a SATA 3 connector, as the PS4 won’t benefit too much from it. So, if you come across an older model at a good price, do not hesitate to use it.
Once again, with a clear conscience, I can confidently recommend the guide prepared by Sony and available on the official PlayStation website. Replacing the PS4’s built-in drive is an operation that is only slightly more difficult than connecting an external memory. Still, it varies depending on the model of the device you have. It will be necessary to use a long Phillips screwdriver.
However, before you get down to “gutting” the console, remember to back up your saved data – for this, we can use a flash drive or… an external drive. If you’re a PS Plus subscriber, your “saves” should be rocking in Sony’s cloud (but double security certainly can’t hurt). We should also have a memory stick with uploaded PS4 system files on standby. Download them to your computer from the PlayStation website – they need about 1 GB of space.