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Best external hard drive for PS4 2023: The top PlayStation 4 drives from just £50

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Too many games, not enough hard drive space? Get more the easy way with a USB 3 external hard drive for PS4

Is your PS4’s internal hard drive holding you back? Would you like to have more games installed but lack the space to accommodate them? You’re not alone. More of us are buying our games digitally these days, and even those that ship on Blu-ray disc can install 50GB or more of files. Monsters like Red Dead Redemption 2 can consume up to 105GB of your precious hard drive, which is a problem when the standard model only has 500GB to play with, some of which is already occupied by system software. Even the 1TB hard drive of the PS4 Pro struggles when confronted with the files required by today’s most graphically intensive games.

Of course, you can always replace your PS4’s existing internal hard drive with a higher-capacity 2.5in HDD – or even an SSD or hybrid drive if you wanted slightly faster loading times. However, you don’t have to switch drives just to get more capacity, as the PS4 also supports external USB 3 hard drives for use as extended storage. Just plug one in and you’re good to go. You don’t need to transfer any data or lose your existing space.

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Best external hard drive for PS4: At a glance

How to choose the best external hard drive for your PS4

What should you look for in a PS4 hard drive?

Interface type: Any USB 3 drive of almost any size will work; 250GB is the minimum capacity and a whopping 8TB the maximum. Neither the PS4 nor PS4 Pro support USB 3.1 gen 2 or USB Type C, so don’t worry about spending extra on a drive that sports these newer interface standards.

Portable or desktop? For convenience’s sake, we’d recommend going for a portable external hard drive. The portability isn’t actually that useful, but the one USB 3 connection will handle both data transfer and power, so you won’t need an external power supply.

Right now, there are only two reasons to choose a desktop external hard drive. First, they can run to larger capacities: even the biggest portable drives max out at 5TB, while desktop drives go up to the full 8TB maximum capacity. You’d have to have a massive games library, though, to make that a deciding factor. Otherwise, some desktop drives have a 7,200RPM spindle speed, where portable drives usually only manage 5,400RPM. This can mean slightly better performance, and slightly shorter loading times.

Anything else? Drives have to be connected directly to your PS4 – not a USB hub – so make sure you have a USB 3 port available. Both the original PS4 and the newer PS4 Slim have two USB 3 ports at the front, while the PS4 Pro has an extra USB 3 port at the back. You’ll need one free to connect and charge controllers or connect the PSVR control unit, so bear this in mind.

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How much storage space do you need?

You can only have one extended storage drive connected to your PS4, so you really want the biggest drive you can afford. Games these days can eat up vast amounts of storage space, so unless you’re exclusively planning on playing Fortnite or Minecraft, you’re going to need a large external drive.

Here’s a look at some top-selling games for PS4 on Amazon, and how much room they take up on your hard drive (including low-storage games such as Fortnite, for reference):

Game storage requirements – PS4

Apex Legends23.09GB
FIFA 2341.94GB
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla42.76GB
Marvel’s Spider-Man47GB
Ghost of Tsushima50GB
Horizon: Forbidden West88.25GB
Grand Theft Auto V68GB
The Last of Us Part II78GB
Red Dead Redemption II99GB
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (2022)71.4GB

1TB is a sensible minimum, but we would suggest going for 2TB as there’s not a vast price difference between the two and you’ll have enough space for a pretty sizable games library. However avid gamers might want to jump straight to 4TB. You’ll have enough space to download free PlayStation Plus games and take advantage of those tempting PlayStation store special offers, while still spending less than £100 on the drive itself.

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Is it worth spending extra on an SSD?

External SSDs are now fast and very affordable, although with the PS4 you don’t really gain much by opting for the faster 1,050MB/sec and 2,000MB/sec NVMe drives. Where the PS5 has a more efficient storage architecture and a faster USB 3.2 Gen 2 interface to make use of them, the PS4 does not. What’s more, even on the PS5 the differences in loading times don’t appear to be that significant. You could be spending an extra £50 to £100 just to shave off one or two seconds here and there. 

Plus, while 500GB and 1TB drives are now fairly cheap and cheerful, larger SSDs are still a big investment, so you have to work out whether the price and capacity make sense for you. External SSDs of 500GB are now available for around £40 to £60, with 1TB drives at £60 to £90, but a 2TB drive will cost you around £100 to £150. For that money, you would get more than double the capacity by opting for a slower SSD.

Indeed, it might be smarter to spend £50 to £100 on a 1TB to 2TB internal 2.5in SATA SSD. You can fit this inside your PS4 as its main storage, then use a cheap external HDD as your games archive. You may be surprised at how easy it is to fit an SSD inside your PS4, and how much difference it makes when loading games.

How we test external drives for PS4

We run two sets of tests when we’re looking at external hard drives for the PS4 or PS4 Pro. First, we connect them to a PC and run the CrystalDiskMark benchmark to test their raw sequential and random read/write speeds. Sequential speeds are an indication of how fast the drive can read or write large quantities of data in one sustained burst, which makes a big difference when you’re first running a game, loading a saved game, streaming in all the models and textures in a level or transferring a game from one drive to another. Random read/write speeds cover smaller data transfers, and make an impact when you’re running a game directly from the hard drive.

Once these initial tests are complete, we connect the drive to a PS4 Pro and time how long it takes to copy a game from the internal drive to the external hard drive and back again. We then test how long it takes to load a range of demanding PS4 games, and then how long it takes to load the same saved game in each one. We find that drives that take longer to load a saved game are also more likely to keep you waiting while new levels or areas load, or to load the last checkpoint when you need to restart after dying.

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The best external hard drives for PS4

1. Toshiba Canvio Flex: Best all-round external hard drive for PS4

Price when reviewed: £50 (1TB), £71 (2TB) | Check price at AmazonAlthough Toshiba sells a gaming-specific version of its Canvio external HDD, the Canvio Flex is the current king when it comes to price, performance and value. It’s cheaper than most competitors, yet also one of the fastest portable HDDs we’ve tested. Our PC benchmarks place its sequential read/write speeds over a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A connection at 151.5MB/sec and 158.9MB/sec.

When it comes to running games on PS4, it’s actually the fastest HDD we’ve tested. In A-B tests with the Seagate FireCuda Gaming Hard Drive, it shaved 12 seconds off the time it took to load The Last of Us Part II, and 13 seconds off loading a saved game. Differences in other titles aren’t so noticeable – we’re talking just a second or two with Resident Evil 2 – but this is a great HDD if you want your PS4 library close to hand, or want to make the most of PS+ Extra.

Key specs – Type: Portable HDD; Connectivity: USB 3.2 Gen 1; Spindle speed: 5,400rpm; Size: 111 x 89 x 13.5 – 19.5mm

2. Crucial X8: Best external SSD for PS4

Price when reviewed: £56 (1TB), £91 (2TB) | Check price at AmazonThe Crucial X8 is a common recommendation for both PC and console use, simply because it’s both very cheap and a seriously speedy SSD. The PS4 and PS4 Pro both have a USB 3 interface, which means you can’t actually make the most of the X8’s up to 1,050MB/sec read and write speeds; but who cares when you can chop a good 30 seconds off the time it takes to load a saved game in God of War or The Last of Us Part II? It doesn’t make so much difference when it comes to simply loading games, but you can still shave off 10 to 15 seconds in most games, and the high transfer speeds also make it faster for copying games back and forth; over a minute faster in Resident Evil 2 and slightly more in The Last of Us Part II.

Beyond that, this is a well-built drive with a tough anodized aluminium casing, and it even comes with both a USB Type-C cable and Type-A adapter bundled in. You don’t need to spend more on an SSD for your PS4, and the pricing is nearly in HDD territory.

Key specs – Type: Portable SSD; Connectivity: USB 3.2; Spindle speed: N/A; Size: 115 x 53 x 12mm

3. WD_Black P10 Game Drive: Best high-capacity HDD for PS4

Price when reviewed: £119 (5TB) | Check price at Amazon best external hard drive for PS4 - wd black p10Western Digital’s Black line of HDDs has always had a good reputation with PC gamers, but this is its first foray into the console gaming world. Not only do you get rugged build quality and a cool, industrial design, but you have more choice when it comes to capacity, with 5TB drives available for just over £100. If you don’t mind setting aside a mains socket, the P10 also comes in larger 8TB and 12TB sizes as a desktop hard drive.

Meanwhile, performance is on a par with WD’s MyPassport Ultra drives, with sequential read/write speeds of 133MB/sec and 129MB/sec – not bad given that the latter is widely seen as a fast drive and the P10 isn’t any more expensive. Factor in that it’s also more affordable than Seagate’s and WD’s PS4-specific drives, and the WD_Black P10 is a gaming drive that’s worth the little extra.

Key specs – Type: Portable HDD; Connectivity: USB 3; Spindle speed: 5,400RPM; Size: 118 x 88 x 21mm

4. WD My Passport Portable Gaming Storage for PS4: Best-looking hard drive for PS4

Price when reviewed: £51 (1TB), £63 (2TB) | Check price at Amazonbest external hard drive for PS4 - wd my passportBoth Western Digital and Seagate manufacture gaming drives for Xbox One and PS4, which mean that they’re designed to complement your console, for which you’ll pay a small premium. There’s no real benefit in terms of easy setup or performance, but WD’s textured top and bottom panels, and the blue edge, replicate the colours of a switched-on PS4. Stick it on top of your PS4 or Pro and it’ll blend right in with the hardware. Speeds are in the same ballpark as the regular MyPassport (available for £15 less), but if you’re proud of your PS4 then this is one drive you won’t want to hide behind it. There are 4TB and 5TB versions available for £97 and £105, respectively.

Key specs – Type: Portable HDD; Connectivity: USB 3; Spindle speed: 5,400RPM; Size: 110 x 81.5 x 13mm

5. Seagate FireCuda Gaming Hard Drive: Best dedicated gaming hard drive for PS4

Price when reviewed: £59 (1TB), £77 (2TB) | Check price at AmazonThere are some cosmetic reasons to go for the FireCuda Gaming Hard Drive, not least because it comes in a range of different designs featuring classic Marvel, Star Wars and PlayStation fan favourites, including Spider-Man, God of War and Aloy from Horizon: Forbidden West. It also has a cool illuminated bar on the front edge that flashes when the drive is busy.

The other reason to pay extra is that its performance is very good. The Toshiba Canvio Flex is a little faster, particularly when it comes to sequential read/write speeds, but the FireCuda isn’t far behind – and it outpaces most other rivals when it comes to loading games and saved games, albeit only by a couple of seconds in some titles. Its transfer times are also competitive when you’re copying games to and from the internal HDD. If you like the styling, this drive won’t let you down when it comes to performance.

Key specs – Type: Portable HDD; Connectivity: USB 3.2; Spindle speed: 5,400rpm; Size: 119 x 80 x 14 – 20mm

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