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PS4 SSD Load Time Comparison – Is it worth it?

Just how much of a difference does a Solid-State Drive (SSD) make compared to the stock standard PS4 Hard Drive? Read on and we’ll give you the low down on exactly what you can expect. Should you prefer a more visual and auditory adventure, check out this handy video we prepared earlier!

Still with me? Excellent! Let’s get a little housekeeping out of the way first. The test setup we used for our tests are important, and here’s why: whilst we endeavor to provide you with the most accurate information, our tests are only indicative of our setup, which may (or may not) differ to yours.

Test Setup

Console: Original PS4 Console (glacier white because awesome)

PlayStation Software: Version 6.5.0

Hard Drive: Stock hard drive from original PS4 console (mechanical 2.5″ 5400rpm)

SSD: Samsung 860 QVO 1TB

Pretty simple right? One thing to note, if you are using a different model SSD, or a different base console your results may vary to those shared below. With that out the way, let’s push on!

Load Times

The main benefits of upgrading your PS4’s Hard Drive to an SSD is to improve bootup times, load time in games and overall response times in the user interface (UI). All of these benefits, we can safely say, are within your grasp should you decide to drop the cash on this upgrade (we’ll discuss some price points and upgrade suggestions later).

PS4 Boot Time

Let’s start by looking at the bootup times for the PS4 with the original Hard Drive versus the SSD:

 

As you can see, you’ll save a few second off the bootup times. It’s something, but certainly not the smoking gun that will push you to upgrade right? Ok cool, let’s move on to the gaaaaaaaaaaaames!

Anthem

You all know it, you’ve all probably seen it, and if you’re still playing it, your all still experience a load screen to load the next load screen! Anthem is quite simply the best way for us to gauge just how much of a benefit we’ll be able to see with the power of the SSD.

We can see that on average we’ll be able to get roughly 22-28% decrease in load times across the board. Now let’s say we play for 3 hours in a session. During that time, we experienced approximately 20 load screens equating to around 30 minutes of load times. With the SSD installed this time is cut by almost a third with just over 20 minutes of load times. Still high but an impressive reduction thanks to the SSD.

Just Cause 4

Just Cause 4 is a massive open world sandpit explode’y shooter with some hefty load times to get you in to the game. Once in, the game rarely exposes you to additional load screens, until you get your character killed. Whilst the over-time benefits like we saw with Anthem don’t really apply here, we still see a healthy decrease in that initial load time and respawn load times. The upgrade makes the game much more bearable – but then again, it’s not all that often Rico takes one to the knee and you have to reload anyway!

Witcher 3

Yes, I know, it’s old school now, but hot damn it’s still one of my all-time favourite games with perhaps the dumbest horse ever in gaming history (don’t worry, I still love you Roach!). That said one thing was always painful, the load time to get into this beautifully crafted, deep and sprawling world! Behold, no more making a cup of tea, checking socials or even a quick nap while waiting for Geralt to prepare to drop into a nest full of drowners! Yet again we see a substantial improvement in load times which I may have to go back and take advantage of… What’s one more contract right?!?!

 

As you can see overall there are some games where the improved performance of the SSD will see you quite literally save HOURS of time in the long run, while others the savings won’t be as significant but will still show an improvement.

Which SSD?

When it comes to taking the plunge and committing to this upgrade, it’s important that you take the time to shop around and find the right SSD for your needs. For example, I was running on the original PS4 hard drive, limited to 500gb and max 5400rpm speeds on the drive itself – basically not very good at all regardless of any specific PlayStation software optimisation for the drive. So, what should you look for in an SSD?

Capacity

First and foremost, we recommend you look for something that’s going to give you plenty of storage space for those horrifically oversized game files these days, tons of saves and plenty of screenshots and gameplay videos! For me, that was a simple choice of going up to a 1tb sized SSD which more recently has become an affordable option. Similarly, if your rocking a 1tb stock Hard Drive in your PS4, it might be worth thinking about bumping up to a 2tb drive.

Speed

This is where things get really complicated, and I am by no means an expert in SSD technology, so we’ll keep things simple here.

The graphs below show some of the differences between sequential read/write speeds and random read/write speeds for the latest range of Samsung 1tb SSD’s. What does this all boil down to? Basically, you WILL see a difference from the Samsung 860 QVO to the 860 Pro, however for real world load times in games (specifically those on a console) the performance gain vs the increased price point we feel doesn’t warrant your hard-earned beer tokens! The only time we would recommend the top tier option is really for PC enthusiasts that also transfer and write a LOT of data, there the benefits may be far more significant.

Price

The final important thing you should be looking at is the comparative price. At the time of writing this 1tb SSD’s have become more readily available in models like the Samsung QVO range. Essentially sacrificing some of the upper end performance for increased capacity at a reasonable price which all centres around something called V-NAND technology. That’s a whole other story for another day though, back to the price point!

Now the average price for V-NAND 1tb SSD drives varies from $150 AUD to $250 AUD depending on the brand and online retailer and I suggest you pay no more than $175 for this upgrade. Make sure you shop around, look for those sales and pick a brand you trust. Personally, I’ve had absolutely no issues with any of my Samsung or Crucial SSD’s so if you’re unsure, stick with those names (please, don’t sue me if you get one and it’s DOA!).

Conclusion

It’s easy to see there are some significant improvements to load times when using an SSD on the PS4. Some vary from substantial time savers while others are a “nice to have” but by no means are essential. Personally, I think the advantages of adding an SSD to your console are enough to warrant the outlay of cash (no more than $175 AUD though, anything above that and the price to performance ration really isn’t there). And hey, there’s nothing to say you won’t be able to just transfer this SSD into the next generation of consoles either! So, it very well could be an even better investment leading into the next phase of consoles, but we’ll just have to wait and see to confirm that.

Hopefully this gives you an idea on what you can expect from upgrading your PS4’s hard drive with an SSD, the costs involved and our suggestions on what types of SSD’s you should be looking for. One final note of warning before we leave you though, make sure you are careful when selecting your replacement drive! Whether you chose a SSD or HDD the hard drive enclosure in the PS4 will only allow for hard drives up to 9.5mm thickness!

Now, in case you weren’t sure about HOW to upgrade the PS4 Hard Drive to a shiny new SSD, feel free to check out our video on that too! You’re welcome.

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