PS5’s M.2 NVMe Expansion Storage Can Load Some PS4 Games Faster than Internal SSD

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Image: Sony

PlayStation 5 owners may want to look into adding an M.2 NVMe SSD to their next-gen console even if they feel that the system’s arguably paltry 825 GB (667 GB available) of internal storage might be adequate for their game library.

Digital Foundry took the new beta firmware 2.0 update that enables the PS5’s expansion slot for a spin this weekend and ended up with some interesting results that went beyond mere parity between the two storage options.

One of the more surprising discoveries is that the expansion drive seems to load select backward-compatible PS4 titles noticeably faster than the PS5’s internal storage. These include CD PROJEKT RED’s The Witcher 3, whose Novigrad Centre loaded seconds faster than the internal drive. Bethesda’s Fallout 4 also saw some improvements in loading times, with the Commonwealth and Diamond City areas loading one to two seconds faster.

The expansion drive that Digital Foundry used in its test was a Samsung 980 PRO SSD. This is a PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD that offers sequential read and write speeds of 7,000 MB/s and 5,000 MB/s, respectively. It’s available in 250 GB ($69.99), 500 GB ($129.99), 1 TB ($199.99), and 2 TB ($429.99) versions.

Digital Foundry also pointed out that writing to the M.2 drive seems to be much faster than copying that data back to the PS5’s internal storage. It took just one minute and 11 seconds to copy Cyberpunk 2077 from PS5’s internal storage to the Samsung 980 PRO, but seven minutes and 18 seconds to copy that back to the internal storage.

PlayStation 4 Games

PS4 App Loading Times (Seconds)Stock Internal PS5 825GBSamsung 980 Pro 500GBSamsung 980 Pro 500GB/Heatsink
The Witcher 3: Novigrad Centre48.0145.0744.67
The Witcher 3: White Orchard22.8822.8822.70
Cyberpunk 2077: Ripperdoc41.1243.9338.48
Cyberpunk 2077: Maelstromers HQ33.0831.0831.12
Fallout 4: Commonwealth16.5014.8715.13
Fallout 4: Diamond City15.2714.0114.17
Final Fantasy 15: Lestallum29.1827.4327.60
Final Fantasy 15: Hammerhead24.5724.0823.87
Battlefield 5: Nordlys31.5034.5734.57
Battlefield 5: Tirailleur31.5834.6334.53
Source: Eurogamer

PlayStation 5 Games

PS5 App Loading Times (Seconds)Stock Internal PS5 825GBSamsung 980 Pro 500GBSamsung 980 Pro 500GB/Heatsink
A Plague Tale Innocence: Mission 115.1314.9514.92
A Plague Tale Innocence: Mission 216.9216.4816.53
Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order: Kashyyyk16.4316.4316.45
Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order: Bracca15.3015.3015.35
Source: Eurogamer

Transfer Speeds

Cyberpunk 2077 (102GB)Samsung 980 Pro Internal NVMeSamsung 870 QVO SATA SSD (via USB)Seagate 5TB Ext Hard Disk (via USB)
Copy from PS5 Storage1:116:1516:24
Copy to PS5 Storage7:1813:3716:26
Source: Eurogamer

[…] across all of our tests here, a trend is clear: using the Samsung 980 Pro in the expansion bay, loading times are generally better than they are on the internal drive and there seems to be an advantage in adding a heatsink to the NVMe SSD too, albeit slight. The exception to the rule is Battlefield 5, which consistently saw the internal SSD beat external options.

Source: Eurogamer

Tsing Mui
News poster at The FPS Review.

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