KitGuru focuses primarily on PC oriented hardware reviews – but that doesn’t mean from time to time we won’t find something genuinely interesting enough for our readers in other hardware related areas. With this in mind we were recently offered a look at the Seagate 1TB SSHD drive, a hybrid mechanical drive with 8GB of solid state NAND flash. Our article today highlights Playstation 4 performance differences between the built in hard drive, the SeaGate 1TB SSHD and a Samsung 840 EVO 1TB Solid State drive.
The prices of hard drives, and even Solid State drives have been dropping rapidly in the last year, and today you can pick up a fantastic bargain to upgrade your system.
If you bought a Playstation 4 then Sony make it extremely straightforward to upgrade the internal drive without invalidating the warranty. You can also upgrade the drive in the Xbox One, but it isn’t quite as straightforward.
The Seagate 1TB 2.5 inch Solid State Hybrid drive can be picked up online today for around £70 inc vat. If you want a similarly sized, pure Solid State Drive, then you need to dig deeper into your bank balance. The Samsung 840 EVO 1TB drive may have seen some recent price drops but it will still set you back £349.30 inc vat. We published a full analysis of the Samsung 840 EVO 1TB drive in December last year – you can read it over here.
The three drives on test today (image above). The 500GB mechanical drive included with the Playstation 4 is a 500GB HGST (Hitachi Global Storage Technologies) unit. Hitachi are now owned by Western Digital and sadly (but as expected) is a slower 5,400 rpm drive. It may seem fair enough that companies such as Sony and Microsoft save some money by incorporating 5,400 rpm drives in these consoles, but in such massive bulk orders a 7,200 rpm drive would really only cost them a few pence extra … per console.
The Sony Playstation 4 accepts 2.5 inch drives including 7mm and 9mm units.
The HGST 500GB drive can be bought online today for £32.85 inc vat.
The Samsung Evo 840 1TB can be bought online today for £349.30 inc vat.
The Seagate 1TB SSHD Hybrid Drive can be bought online today for £71.59 inc vat.
We recommend you back up all your save game data to the cloud, or to a USB drive before swapping drives. You can redownload and reinstall the games when you get the new drive installed. Sony have a handy step by step guide online showing their support for end user drive swapping. If you are installing a new drive into your console then we recommend you familarise yourself with this procedure before moving forward. A little USB pen drive is a must.
You can get the operating system files for the Playstation 4 over at this link. (It is version 1.71 as we go to publication, but these update fairly regularly).
Sony have tried to ensure that the Playstation 4 is easy to work with. You don’t even need to release a screw to open the main drive bay. Turn the console off properly and disconnect all the cables. Just pull up on the black plastic cover and it slips off (see image above).
This is the first time you need a screwdriver. The large screw in the image, above left needs removed to access the internal drive.
The drive can then be removed by pulling on the top area of the tray.
Four screws hold the drive in place, remove them and slide out the drive. Then reverse the procedure with the new drive.
Replace the drive you are using, slide it in all the way …
Seal the drive in place with the large screw.
Testing these drives on the Sony Playstation 4 is strictly real world.
To measure the times in this article we use Ultrachron Lite running on a Sony Xperia Z Ultra smartphone. Figures were rounded up or down to the tenth digit.
The stock HGST drive installed in the Playstation 4 is very slow, not a shock considering it is an inexpensive 5,400 rpm 2.5 inch model. When we swap over to the Seagate 1TB SSHD model the times are eventually reduced to 18.8 seconds, a noticeable improvement. The Samsung EVO 840 1TB Solid State Drive is by far the fastest, dropping the time by 7 seconds overall.
First we want to test just how the Seagate 1TB SSHD works over multiple runs, by installing, then loading and reloading Assassins Creed IV Black Flag. We also bought Assassins Creed IV Black Flag on the PSN store to check speed differences between the disc install version.
When we first went to run Assassins Creed IV from the disc it took just over 41 seconds to load via the Seagate 1TB SSHD drive. By the third time it had reduced the load to around 33 seconds. This continued to improve to the 5th run – with the load time reduced to 26.5 seconds. After this however the load time seems to change almost randomly. We would take an educated guess that the system is accessing the disc from time to time (security checks or to ensure the disc is still inserted) causing little delays in the load times.
We installed Assassins Creed via the Playstation store, removing the bluray disc from the equation completely (all game data is installed on the internal hard drive). We can see that the times are much more consistent after the fourth run takes place.
Assassins Creed IV certainly loads faster when the complete game is installed onto the drive, rather than relying on the optical media.
Killzone is a very slow loading game especially on the stock HGST drive, taking just over 53 seconds to complete. The Seagate 1TB SSHD drive reduces the time to 45.6 seconds on the fifth run – although the times do vary slightly every time. The Samsung Evo 840 1TB Solid State Drive holds a constant 38.2 seconds – the fastest drive by far in this test.
The Seagate 1TB SSHD is around 3 seconds faster than the stock HGST drive inside the Playstation 4, although again we noticed some fluctuation between individual runs. The Evo 840 1TB Solid State Drive is consistently 4 seconds faster than the Seagate 1TB SSHD drive loading this game.
We are always disappointed when a big corporation such as Sony or Microsoft ship slow 2.5 inch 5,400 rpm drives with their consoles. The 500GB Hitachi Global Storage Technologies does nothing to help enhance the user experience, so it has been interesting to take a look at the Seagate 1TB SSHD drive today.
If you buy the Playstation 4 and are getting a little annoyed with some of the painfully slow game load times then you have some choices available. The best (and fastest) option is to buy a solid state drive. The downside with this is that you wouldn’t really want to be compromising on storage capacity so you need to aim for a 500GB drive, or even bigger.
Even with falling solid state prices, this is expensive.
If you are happy keeping the same storage capacity, then the Samsung 840 Evo 500GB is £182.48 inc vat from Amazon. If you wanted to enhance the storage capacity as well as the speed then the 1TB version of the Samsung 840 Evo is £341.55 inc vat. This is basically the same price as the Playstation 4 console (£349.00 inc vat) – so for most people it wouldn’t make a lot of sense.
The other, more cost effective option is to buy a Hybrid 2.5 inch drive, such as the Seagate 1TB SSHD we have analysed today. This drive is in stock at etailers such as Overclockers – who have it available for £69.99 inc vat, with a free pen drive to help with the Playstation 4 OS installation.
This hybrid drive adopts 8GB of Solid State cache to help boost overall performance. The Playstation 4 benefits from a noticeable reduction in game load times, especially with titles such as Killzone. We did find some erratic behaviour, although this is clearly related to the small 8GB NAND cache. It certainly won’t get close to matching a pure Solid State Drive such as the Samsung 840 Evo, but it will enhance the overall experience.
When you factor in the modest cost and the fact you are still doubling the storage capacity of the console, it is certainly worth looking into.
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- reasonably priced.
- will reduce load times over the stock PS4 drive.
- doubles internal storage.
- Can’t compete against a pure Solid State Design.
- A larger NAND cache would work better.