The fastest external SSDs for your gaming console

With the sizes of new AAA games climbing to 200GB and above, a high-capacity external storage drive will be on the shopping list of many gamers.

This may be particularly true for those who prefer to play on console and don’t have the flexibility to upgrade their machines’ internal hardware like PC gamers.

Even older titles like Red Dead Redemption 2, Destiny 2, and the remake of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare took up over 150GB of space.

The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S introduced one major upgrade to the console gaming community – 4K resolution.

While this capability means they offer much sharper details, the files which store those high-resolution textures are much larger than the full HD resolutions from the previous generation.

Despite this, the new generation of consoles offers no significant upgrade in terms of storage capacity.

Despite being advertised as an 825GB console, the PlayStation 5 offers only 667.2GB  of useable space, with a large chunk of capacity being occupied by system files.

This is compared to the 862GB of useable space available on the PS4 Pro.

While the PS5 features an internal NVMe slot to expand storage, this component has not yet been activated.

The Xbox Series X, meanwhile, is marketed as a 1TB system, but only boasts 802GB of space for your games and other files.

Although it has an expansion slot that allows for connecting a proprietary SSD with the same lightning-quick speeds as its internal unit, Xbox’s Seagate Expansion Card SSD comes with a lofty price tag of R4,799 for an additional 1TB of storage.

Important features to consider

Your choice of drive will naturally be dependent on the exact console you own.

While it’s great to get a drive with large enough capacity to store your enormous gaming collection, an essential attribute to consider is the drive’s transfer and read speeds.

SSDs are much faster than HDDs, and while this had a less significant impact with the PS4 and Xbox One as they were limited by their transfer and read speeds, the improvements are clear for the new generation.

Both the PS5 and Series X|S have faster read speeds for internal and external drives, so playing games off an SSD instead of an HDD would result in much shorter loading times than with the previous generation.

However, although their backwards-compatible titles will work in this way, neither the PS5 nor the Series X|S consoles support playing next-generation games directly off of an external SSD.

For those titles, the transfer speeds of the SSD will also be a great benefit as you will have to copy titles between the external and internal drives.

Tests by Gamespot found that a 45GB game would take less than 3 minutes to transfer from a Samsung T5 external SSD to the Series X’s internal SSD.

This was compared to the 9 minutes and 30 seconds it would take using a WD Elements external HDD, as tested by Stevivor.

It is also important to bear in mind that the PS5 does not currently support backing up new PS5 games to an external SSD, but only allows this for backwards-compatible PS4 games.

Another essential point to note is that the Xbox Series X does not feature a USB-C port.

With most top-of-the-line SSDs using a USB-C interface and sometimes coming with a USB-C to USB-C cable, you will either have to connect an adapter or use a USB-C to USB-A cable.

Best gaming SSDs in South Africa

We’ve compiled a list of the best external SSDs for gaming consoles that you can buy in South Africa.

For the storage upgrade to be worthwhile, we have only included drives with capacities of 1TB or above.

Most of the SSDs we considered were either available in 1TB or 2TB, with a 4TB unit at more than R10,000 – almost the price of the consoles themselves.

Sequential read speeds varied from 540MB/s to 2.4GB/s.

The cheapest piece we were able to locate was the ADATA SE800 at R2,699 from Titan Ice.

This fast SSD boasts up to 1GB/s sequential read rate and features a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 interface.

Below are the external gaming SSDs we identified as best-suited for the latest gaming consoles.

ADATA SE800 – R2,699

  • Capacity: 1TB
  • Sequential read: Up to 1GB/s
  • Connection: USB-C 3.2 Gen 2

Crucial X8 – R2,838

  • Capacity: 1TB
  • Sequential read: Up to 1GB/s
  • Connection: USB-C 3.2 Gen2

Samsung T5 – R2,999

  • Capacity: 1TB
  • Sequential read: Up to 540MB/s
  • Connection: USB 3.1 Gen 2

HP P800 – R4,499

  • Capacity: 1TB
  • Sequential read: Up to 2.4GB/s
  • Connection: USB-C Thunderbolt 3

Seagate FireCuda – R5,358

  • Capacity: 1TB
  • Sequential read: Up to 560MB/s
  • Connection: USB-C 3.2 Gen 2×2

Seagate Barracuda – R7,129

  • Capacity: 2TB
  • Sequential read: Up to 540 MB/s
  • Connection: USB-C 3.0

WD Black P50 – R7,415

  • Capacity: 2TB
  • Sequential read: Up to 2GB/s
  • Connection: USB-C 3.2 Gen 2×2

Now read: The best PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X games coming in 2021

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The fastest external SSDs for your gaming console