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The PS5 Can Use Slower and Cheaper PCIe Gen 4.0 SSDs

Even though Sony has set in place some hefty requirements for the PS5 SSD expansion slot, it seems that users can actually get away with installing slower drives. This includes other PCIe Gen 4.0 SSDs with speeds of up to 3200MB/s instead of the required 5500MB/s. However, users need to keep in mind that slower drives also lack other tech that the PS5 needs. Well, it asks for anyway. This is specific to DRAM cache.

In a new breakdown, Digital Foundry put the Western Digital SN750 SE to the test on the PS5. This SSD can only manage 3200MB/s which is far short of the 5500MB/s speed requirements set out by Sony. The drive also doesn’t have a heatsink but users can manually install their own.

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In the tests, the channel compared gameplay and the copy rate between the built-in PS5 SSD, the 5500MB/s Western Digital SN850 and the 3200MB/S Western Digital SN750. The tests showed an almost identical experience across all three drives but the winner, in the end, was the built-in SSD. Digital Foundry says that Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart did show some split-second performance dips when using the SN850 and SN750 in comparison to the PS5 SSD but these were literally single dropped frames and only popped up while moving from one dimension to another.

Even when putting the loading times to the test, the drives were almost identical. This included opening and closing games, going in and out of menus and navigating through the settings. All the drives were also capable of loading into games at almost the same time. Some tests showed a one-second difference here and there but most were almost identical or a split-second off.

When copying games to and from the PS5 SSD to the SN750 and SN850, the results were drastically different but you could get away with it. Copying games off of the PCIe SSD to the PS5 SSD were almost identical.

  • Cyberpunk 2077 copy to NVMe
    • WD SN750 – 9:22
    • WD SN850 – 1:11
  • Marvel’s Avengers copy to NVMe
    • WD SN750 – 3:27
    • WD SN850 – 1:17
  • Cyberpunk 2077 copy to PS5 SSD
    • WD SN750 – 7:15
    • WD SN850 – 7:24
  • Marvel’s Avengers copy to PS5 SSD
    • WD SN750 – 7:04
    • WD SN850 – 7:02

Digital Foundry does express warning to those who want to use a slower drive. The publication fears that if you do upgrade to a 3200MB/S drive, PS5 games in that future that might take further advantage of the built-in SSD controller might not work correctly. At the moment, games on the market don’t seem to fully utilize the PS5’s hardware to the max. If games come along that require the full 5500MB/s speeds, your 3200MB/s SSD might not function correctly.

In the end, even though the PS5 seems to work with slower drives, you shouldn’t consider them as an option. Even though the tests show a similar experience in copying files, loading games and running them, if Sony and other developers were to utilize more bandwidth, you might be stuck with an SSD that doesn’t perform properly or even cause damage to the system itself.

You can read the full report here and watch the demonstration down below.

Marco is the owner and founder of GLITCHED. South Africa’s largest gaming and pop culture website. GLITCHED quickly established itself with tech and gaming enthusiasts with on-point opinions, quick coverage of breaking events and unbiased reviews across its website, social platforms, and YouTube channel.

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