We upgraded PS4 Pro with an 8TB SSD: can we make a better console?

Way back in 2013, the idea of upgrading a PlayStation 4 with solid-state storage was an option – but not a realistic one when the cost per gig was so prohibitively expensive. Today though, SATA-based SSDs are more affordable and as developers push the hard drive harder, loading times and streaming issues are more prevalent. We’ve been asked to revisit SSD performance for PS4 for some time – and to do so, we’ve deployed a nuclear option: Samsung’s new 870 QVO SSD. To test PS4 SSD performance to its ultimate potential, we effectively have an eight terabyte console. Even factoring in reserved space, we should be getting an order of magnitude more storage than the 825GB PlayStation 5.

To put the drive more fully through its paces, we opted to install it in PlayStation 4 Pro where its SATA-3 interface could perhaps offer more bandwidth and where the faster 2.13GHz AMD Jaguar CPU cores should crunch through compressed data far more quickly. It’s the best way possible to enhance the console – but what advantages does it actually deliver? Can we address the long load times of games like The Witcher 3? Can we mitigate the ugly pop-in issues in Final Fantasy 7 Remake? And crucially, what’s the difference between running this beast as a USB add-on drive as opposed to using it to replace the internal stock hard drive? These are the questions we’ve been asked over the months and now we’ve got some answers.

You can find out more about the Samsung QVO line in prior coverage but how it achieves its remarkable level of storage is fascinating and indeed controversial. Along with other recent high capacity drives, QLC NAND is used, allowing four bits per cell (as opposed to the two to three bits in prior NAND technology). This is combined with the vertical stacking of memory modules to increase storage density. The downside to QLC NANDs is slower read and write speeds but Samsung mitigates this with a large DRAM cache – 8GB in the case of the 8TB QVO 870. Samsung promises a max read of 560MB/s and write of 530MB/s – and our tests pull respectably close to both. There are concerns about QLC NAND’s longevity in terms of endurance but that’s unlikely to be a concern on games console where data is written relatively infrequently.

Read more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.