~ By Felix Holtz ~
The newest video game systems are being unleashed for the 2020 holiday season. Aside from powerful new CPUs, GPUs, and RAM, a significant change for the industry will be the adoption of solid-state storage as an internal standard. For the first time, improved load times over previous generation models won’t be reliant upon processor and memory clock cycles. Finally, with PCIe SSDs in the Playstation 5, we might not have to worry about loading pauses for the first time since the Nintendo 64!
With the Playstation 4—and presumably PS5—the entire disc data is installed onto the internal drive the same way PC games are. Therefore, SSDs provide impressive performance regardless of whether or not you’re playing digitally or physically.
However, why wait until Playstation 5?! OWC specializes in memory, external enclosures, and internal solid-state storage for your “vintage” or “legacy” Macintosh computers – so let’s apply the same idea to your Playstation 4, shall we? Our SATA III Mercury Electra 6G SSD is a perfect fit for such a purpose and won’t disappoint.
The internal architecture for the PS4’s standard storage is 2.5-inch 5400rpm hard drives. Both the 2013 launch units—when SATA SSDs were still prohibitively expensive—and the 2016 Slim and Pro models used mechanical hard disks. Perhaps Sony should’ve adopted solid-state or at least 7200rpm 2.5-inch options for the mid-cycle revisions, but neither were ever offered. Then again, they did make sure to give users the ability to customize storage with ease, so let’s take advantage!
Much like we do for the install videos of Mac upgrades, we have a guide for replacing the PS4 internal drive. There will be a combo kit with an Electra 6G bundled alongside our Express USB3 enclosure and a USB thumb drive for save files and/or the system software. The advantages? Flash storage provides instant, noticeable results. Starting the system from full shut-off to power-on is completed much quicker; everything else processes more efficiently as well, such as cutscenes, maps, and launching games from your library. Even the GUI feels snappier with a full menu to scroll through.
Installing the SSD
Some quick installation tips:
- Make a note of how the factory drive sits in the sled.
- Always keep the bottom of the drive facing outward from the carrier’s open side, with SATA connections exposed upward.
- Flip it around with the bottom and SATA pins facing downward when installing it back inside the storage bay.
- The drive will “float” while screwed into place because the carrier accommodates a 9mm thickness, although our SSD and the factory HDD from PS4 Pro are a 7mm thick form factor.
- Another minor bit of advice: the Pro model’s small black cover has a little tab on the corner that bends easily.
The original and Slim versions also have a similar cover, though it’s uncertain if they’ll have a similar issue. The latching does not take much force at all, so if it refuses to snap in, don’t force it too hard—see if the small tab has bent down; straighten if needed.
With a new era of console video games dawning upon us, titles will not only be somewhat sparse but plenty cross-generation. If you’d like to extend the life of your Playstation 4, upgrading your internal HDD to an SSD allows you a taste of the next generation experience now rather than later. Without a doubt, you’ll be pleased with the enhancements and might regret not treating yourself to the benefits earlier. It makes for a fun, simple, and well worthwhile mini project for a weekend afternoon!
Testing HDD vs. SSD on PS4
The following capture tests will be contrasting the map load time of my two favorite games on PS4: Shenmue 3 and Judgement. The difference between HDD and SSD of the app launching from the PS4 OS is only a 3 to 5 seconds difference, yet the real advantage comes with loading your save file. The footage speaks volumes—pun intended—so without further ado:
Shenmue 3 loads 10 seconds quicker while Judgment a whopping 17 seconds faster—50% improvement! My personal theory being, Shenmue is a moderate “AA” budget game that has dense-yet-small towns, whereas Judgment has a blockbuster “AAA” production with a huge metropolis. It seems the grander the world, the greater an SSD will perform.
Thank you for reading – feedback is much appreciated, please! I Hope to do smaller related posts with other games tested. If your interest has piqued and you want to take the plunge, see our MacSales page for PS4 upgrade pricing and other details.