When the PlayStation 5 was finally officially announced, I let out a little scream – I had to buy this console and have it in my home day-one. Thankfully, I was very lucky and I was able to scoop one up for the European launch on the 19th November 2020. However, one thing which I really didn’t like about the system was the lack of storage space, I have literally over 2,000 digital PS4 games, so having to share a measly ~600GB between both my 50+ PS5 games and these PS4 titles would be impossible. I needed an external HDD for my PS4 games, the question was – which one should I get, the WD_BLACK P10 looks nice…
Now, I’ve been asked a few times which drive I recommend, what size to buy, and most commonly of all, does it actually work? Today I’m going to talk about these points as well as whether or not I recommend this WD_BLACK drive which was kindly given to us for review purposes. First of all, although this drives’ purpose (for me) is to install and run PlayStation 4 games on my PlayStation 5, I did do a few tests on my PC before converting it to the custom format on the console.
So let’s look at what you get and how it performs on PC before I set it up on my PS5.
**As of the latest firmware (which should be going live on the 14th of April, 2021), the PS5 can now store PS5 games on an external drive. You can’t play them from there (just like on Xbox), but it is quicker to back them up than deleting and re-downloading them when you grab a new game and don’t have enough room. This particular drive was loaned to us for a review, so we no longer have it, but I do have the D10 8TB drive, which is twice as fast as it has a 7200RPM HDD. As such, I will be posting a small mini-review on that one, later this week.**
Upon unboxing the portable drive, one thing was clear – this is a drive that isn’t only built to perform well, but it’s also very stylish in its appearance. The chassis is made of metal with a ridged design so that it can allow for passive cooling, to prevent overheating if it’s being used for long periods. The interface, according to the Western Digital website, is USB 3.2 – matching the ports found upon the PS5 and Xbox Series consoles – although the cable supplied is a 5GB/s one (rather than the full 10Gb/s). However, you don’t have to worry about that as the speed doesn’t get close to hitting the maximum bandwidth, so the supplied cables are fine.
One other thing to note is that every brand new WD_BLACK P10 5TB drive comes with a 3-year warranty, so if anything does happen to your storage then you have the peace of mind that Western Digital will look after you post-sale.
The first thing I did with the drive was run it through CrystalDiskMark to see if the specs described on the website and the box were correct. The box says you can expect up to 130 MB/s (for reading) and the website says 140 MB/s (it’s a little more optimistic on there). My actual results were around 125 Mb/s for both reading and writing, which may not sound amazing when compared to the PS5’s 5.5GB/s SSD, but it’s over double the speed of my existing 8TB drive (which stopped working on my console a few weeks ago).
Also, I haven’t taken my drive apart but I’ve seen someone do it online (I don’t have the tools) – it’s a 5400RPM mechanical drive.
So, the box and marketing were almost spot-on with the advertising and specs, this made me very confident that the drive would be perfect for my PS5 – as this is, according to Western Digital, a ‘Game Drive’. Before I jump into my experience using it on my console, if I had any issues, how many games it holds, and how fast it is in comparison to the super-fast internal SSD, let’s briefly talk about the PS5 itself.
Sony, annoyingly, disabled the internal M.2 port within the PlayStation 5 – this is the only way you can expand the PS5 storage space in relation to installing ‘PlayStation 5’ games. However, they allow you to plug in an external HDD (either mechanical or SSD) into the front USB-C or the two rear USB-A ports (not the front USB-A port as it’s too slow/under-powered). Once you have a drive connected, any PS4 games you download (as all but a handful work on the PS5) will be installed to the external drive – unless you’ve specified otherwise within the ‘Storage’ options.
If you have been using an external drive with your PS4 console previously, you can literally just unplug it and connect it to the PS5 (whilst it’s turned off) and all the games will slowly start to appear on the new console, playable as long as you have the account they’re tied to on the PS5. This worked with my 8TB drive but due to its age and how it had got quite slow, it was freezing my console for up to an hour whilst rescanning the games – this is why I opted for a smaller and more efficient drive to try out.
5TB will be overkill for most people, but for me, it’s quite small and only holds a quarter of my games. However, does having fewer games result in a faster seek time and more reliable experience? I’ll give you one guess…
Setup on the PS5 is very easy, simply connect to drive to one of the supported ports (not the front USB-A) and go into Settings>Storage. You’ll have to format the external drive so that it can have games installed – this is simply one click and you’re done. If you don’t format it, the drive can only be used to back-up saves and media. Now you’ve got it installed, sit back and install all the great PS4 games you want to play on your new console – Games like The Division 2 and God of War (which are being updated today for 4k/60 on the new console) are technically still PS4 games yet they have specific enhancements on the PS5, so they can still be installed on the external drive.
I have 482 PS4 games installed on the WD_BLACK P10 5TB drive, it has 4.60TB free for use (you never get the full amount specified), and I still have 397GB free – so if you have a lot of PS4 games, you’ll be able to install a decent amount of them (providing they’re not all massive Call of Duty games).
Browsing your games is also very easy, once installed on the drive. Simply go to your library on the PS5, push down then R1 so you’re looking at your ‘Installed’ games. Then, scroll below the ‘Console Storage’ games and you’ll see the games installed to the external drive. For me, as I have installed as many games as I can, the console can take up to two seconds to display the image of the games if I’m scrolling through them really fast. But, that’s nothing compared to the 10-20 seconds I had to wait using my 8TB with almost 900 games installed on it.
One question I’ve been asked a few times is, should you install on the internal SSD or external HDD if you want the best performance and loading time. To test this, I installed five games on the external drive, created a new save and then quit. I then went back in and loaded the saved game, timing how long it took. Once I’d got the time, I moved the game over to the internal drive and reloaded the save, once again timing how long it takes. Now, I went into this expecting the internal SSD to be much faster, but is the difference that huge? Let’s see…
The Sims 4 (loading a saved family from the lot)
PS5 SSD: 8 seconds | WD_BLACK P10: 8 seconds
The Outer Worlds (continue from the main menu)
PS5 SSD: 23 seconds | WD_BLACK P10: 40 seconds
Monster Hunter World (Continue from the menu)
PS5 SSD: 14 seconds | WD_BLACK P10: 66 seconds
Just Cause 3 (just after the online sign-in)
PS5 SSD: 24 seconds | WD_BLACK P10: 40 seconds
Red Dead Redemption 2 (loading from the main menu)
PS5 SSD: 40 seconds | WD_BLACK P10: 94 seconds
As I expected, installing and running games off the internal SSD, on the PS5, is faster than using a mechanical 5400RPM drive. However, consider the space available is very limited, and the fact you can’t dump PS5 games to the external drive like you can on the Xbox Series consoles (yet), I’m more than happy to sacrifice a little speed in exchange for more storage. Also, most games will have a very small difference once you’ve overcome the initial load, with some not even having any speed advantage (like the Sims 4, above).
Stability, issues, and portability
First of all, the WD_BLACK P10 is very small and portable, it’s a 2.5-inch drive encased in a small form-factor outer shell. Once you’ve plugged it into your console you can easily hide it around the back or place it to the side so you can see the light slowly pulsing when data is being read or written to it. As it’s such a small drive, it doesn’t actually require its own power supply, it pulls as much as it needs from the PS5 console itself – I personally thought anything over 4TB had to have external power.
I had no issues at all with leaving the drive plugged in whilst the console was in sleep mode, it would automatically wake up the external drive if there was a patch it wanted to download and install, then put it to sleep once it was finished. On the flip side, my previous drives (which were both powered) actually caused my PS5 to restart and get stuck in a ‘Rebuilding Database’ loop a few times – I’ve had literally no issues with this drive.
As stated above, I’ve had no stability issues with this drive other than with one game, the recently released Ys IX. However, that game crashed on the internal as well, it was an issue with the game not liking the PS5 – something NIS America is fixing via a patch. No matter how fast I scan through the games installed on the drive, how many games I queue up to download, or the number of hours I play continuously, the WD_BLACK P10 never seems to show any signs of wanting to stop working.
If your PS5 does end up shutting itself off, as mine has a few times (I’m on my second PS5 as they don’t seem to like me), it took around 5-10 minutes for the PS5 to rescan the 450+ games I had installed on the drive, before it’ll let me use them. This is very similar to the PS4, yet the same thing happened to my friend with a different brand and only 200 games installed and it took almost an hour to scan the games for him. So, although it’s not the fastest drive in the world, it’s very reliable and efficient at what it does.
Should you buy a WD_BLACK P10 external HDD?
If you’re like me, someone with a big catalogue of PS4 games (either digital or physical) yet you never know what to play – flicking through games like its Netflix and you can’t decide what to indulge in – then yeah, an external drive would allow you to install many games at once without having to worry about deleting and redownloading them to make room. In terms of, “should you specifically get the WD_BLACK P10 drive” – as I’ve had no issues with it and it’s actually faster than my previous (and more expensive) drives – I’d have to once again say yeah. Sure, the internal SSD is faster, but it’s also much smaller and has to be shared with any PS5 games you own – my internal SSD is currently full with 28 next-gen games.
There has been a lot of comments since the PS5 released, sites and people telling everyone to not use an external drive, they don’t work, avoid rest mode, and other such fearmongering comments. I admit, I said a few things about the console when my first one was breaking every 20 minutes, but since I got my new system I’ve had very few issues. Basically, yes, it is safe to use an external drive for your PS4 games, and yes, you can do so with Rest Mode enabled – if your PS5 is going to crash, it will do so regardless of what you have shoved in its ports! However, I don’t know if it’s because this drive is self-powered from the USB, but I’ve had a much better experience with this over 3.5-inch drives which you have to plug into the wall.
Currently, this particular drive is quite cheap, at just over £100 on Amazon, but should you have money that’s burning a hole in your pocket, you could splash out on the WD_BLACK P50 NVMe external SSD drive, a 1 or 2TB encased SSD which delivers up to 2GB/s over USB 3.2 – almost the same speed as the internal drive in the Xbox Series consoles. However, we don’t have one of those to test the speeds of as they’re between £240 and £400. But, if you want the speed of the internal SSD combined with more storage for PS4-only games, then they’re your best option right now. If you don’t mind compromising a few seconds here and there, the WD_BLACK P10 is a great addition to your gaming setup.
If you have a collection of PS4 games which you wish to install at once and swap between on your PS5, an external hard drive is essential. The WD_BLACK P10 range offers plenty of room to store a large chunk, if not all, of your digital and physical PS4 installs, saving you the hassle of constantly deleting games in order to make room for others. Although the loading times won’t be as fast as installing the games to the internal SSD within the PS5 itself, you’re sacrificing a few moments for a lot more storage space – I’d rather wait a few seconds to load a game than a few hours to redownload a game. The fact that the drive is powered by USB, it’s only a small 2.5-inch drive, and it’s designed to dissipate the heat effectively, means it’s very portable, reliable, and you won’t even notice it’s there.
Basically, if you’ve ever spent a while thinking what games to delete because you have no room, or sat there waiting for a game to download because you couldn’t have it installed previously, consider grabbing one of the WD_BLACK P10 drives. I have the 5TB one but there are 1, 2, 3 and 4TB versions also available. I’ve noticed there’s also an 8 and 12TB drive but I’m not sure on the compatibility with those, the 8TB should work but it may get slow – as my old one did – and the PS4 never supported 12TB so I don’t know if it’s going to be the same with the PS5.
In this review, I’ve only gone through how to use the drive with the PS5 and how it benefited me. The drive, if you’re not aware, isn’t locked to any one format – you can use it on your PC as a new HDD to install your games on, a portable drive to move about your images and files, on your Xbox consoles as extended storage or a place to dump your Series games, and you can even use it on your PS4 for the same purpose I have, to store your PS4 games. But, I thought it would be more beneficial to explain how I’ve used it and why it’s an essential piece of hardware that I seriously couldn’t be without.
WD_BLACK P10 5TB£104.99
- - Works perfectly with the PS5, with no issues in around three weeks so far
- - Self powered via the USB
- - 4.60TB usable space, I have over 480 games currently installed with over 300GB spare
- - May not be the fastest drive but its fast enough for gaming without streaming issues
- - It may get hot after long sessions but the case is designed to dissipate the heat quickly
- - Contains a 5400RPM drive (not sure if they have 7200RPM drives at this size and form-factor though)
- - Nothing, this is essential if you have a lot of PS4 games and don't want to keep deleting and reinstalling them