For a console that pushes technology to the next level in so many respects, there is one defining limitation to the PlayStation 5 hardware – its restrictive 667GB of useable storage. This week's system software update finally allows users to archive PS5 titles to external hard drives and SSDs, and of course, PS4 titles can be run from plug-in storage too – but what's the best option? We decided to put things to the test, stacking up the internal solid-state solution against three alternatives: a passport-style external hard drive, a SATA SSD and an NVMe alternative, housed within an appropriate enclosure.
It's an exercise we've carried out before of course, when we tested out the same SSD storage options on Xbox Series X, the difference being that Microsoft offers its own external solution that does allow next-gen titles to run. However, our alternative options remain the same – an off-the-shelf 5TB Seagate hard drive, a Samsung 870 QVO hooked up via a Sabrent USB to SATA adapter and an NVMe drive housed within an Asus ROG Strix Arion enclosure. In our Xbox Series X tests, we used an OEM Samsung SSD but for PlayStation 5 we went one step further, slotting in a Samsung 980 Pro – one of the very fastest drives on the market.
Before we go on, we should state that the PS5 is a little picky about what kind of USB to SATA adapters it will support – make sure you get one with UASP SATA-III support, otherwise you may get an error telling you to use a USB device with higher bandwidth. Oh, and we also tested both the front USB-C and rear USB Type-A ports to see if there was any advantage either way. Long story short: using Cyberpunk 2077 for our tests, we noted no real difference whatsoever.