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Best external drive for PS5 2024: Get more storage for your gaming

Keep playing your PS4 favourites and archive your PS5 hits with our pick of the best USB hard drives and SSDs for PlayStation 5

You may not realise it, but purchasing the best external hard drive for your PS5 can really make a difference to your PlayStation experience. Despite its awesome power, the PS5’s storage space can be a real cause for concern; even with just a handful of PlayStation 5 games installed and a few PS4 classics, you can soon find yourself running out of space.

Install Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II with Warzone 2.0, and you’re looking at just over 105GB gone. Gran Turismo 7 and Cyberpunk 2077 are even greedier at 159GB and 183GB respectively. Install one or two more blockbusters, and suddenly your 667.2GB of free storage space looks pretty cramped – and that’s without installing any PS4 games that you own.

With games this big, it makes sense to expand your PS5’s storage capabilities with an external hard drive. Unfortunately, since external drives are too slow to run PS5 games, you can only store titles on them rather than play games from there directly – for that you’ll need to install a compatible NVMe SSD. Instead, what external drives are great for is housing an extensive library of PS4 games as these can be played without a hitch. This avoids taking up valuable PS5 storage with games that don’t need to be there.

Below, we’ve explained how expanding your PS5 storage works and then listed our favourite external hard drives for Sony’s latest console.

READ NEXT: The best external hard drives to buy

Best external hard drive for PS5: At a glance

Best drive for low-cost capacityToshiba Canvio Gaming | From £55Check price at Amazon
Best robust driveSamsung T7 1TB | £83Check price at Amazon
Best external drive for speedWD_Black P50 1TB | £123Check price at Amazon

How to choose the best external hard drive for your PS5

What can you do with an external drive?

Here the PS5 is just as flexible as Microsoft’s Xbox Series S and Series X consoles. Like how Microsoft allows you to use an external drive to house Series S/X games while you’re not playing them, Sony also lets you transfer your PS5 titles from internal to external storage. When you want to play a game, you will have to move it back into internal storage, but that’s still a lot faster than having to re-download a title from the internet having previously deleted it.

An added advantage of an external drive is that you can play PS4 games directly from the drive, without having to transfer them to the internal drive on the console itself. This is a great way to keep hold of your gaming library from your previous console while saving space on the PS5 for the games that actually need to be there to run. Plus, many PS4 games look and run better than ever on the faster hardware. What’s more, it’s a great way for PS+ subscribers to make the most of the new PS+ Collection and play any classic PS4 games that they’ve missed.

Does the type and speed of the drive matter?

It does, but don’t discount slower HDDs straight away. It’s all a question of balancing capacity with performance. External HDDs will leave you waiting longer if you’re transferring games or waiting for a game to load, but the difference isn’t always as big as you might expect.

Once you start using SSDs, there isn’t an awful lot between them. We’ve tested drives with a wide range of games, including Ghost of Tsushima (the PS4 version), God of War, The Last of Us Part II and the Resident Evil 2 remake, and while there’s some variation in transfer times between the fastest and the slowest drives, there’s barely any difference in loading times. This means that, whether you buy one of the fastest external SSDs we’ve tested – Seagate’s stupidly speedy P50 – or a slower model, you’re not going to see much of a speed boost on a daily basis.

The difference is more pronounced when copying games to and from the console SSD, but we’re still talking a few seconds rather than anything significant. You can see test results with God of War and Horizon Zero Dawn for different types of drive below.

InternalSATA-6 HDD2,000MB/sec NVMe SSD1,050MB/sec NVMe SSD540MB/sec SATA-6 SSD
Move God of War (PS5 to Drive)n/a07.49.0202.10.9502.11.0202.29.87
Load God of War00.26.4800.38.3800.27.8900.27.6200.28.40
Load God of War saved game00.24.5900.29.7700.25.7800.25.8100.26.66
Load Horizon00.22.3400.27.3600.22.6900.22.1500.22.38
Load Horizon saved game00.33.4401.14.0100.32.8700.33.6200.33.03
Move God of War (Drive to PS5)n/a07.53.3905.46.7805.36.6705.46.17

How much space do you need?

As we said, you need to think about capacity. External HDDs are now dirt-cheap, and you can pick up a 4TB drive for not much more than a 2TB model. If you can’t stand waiting, though, you’ll need to up your budget. You can now buy most SSDs in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB formats, but outside of the big sales, you’re looking at around £50 for a 500GB drive, £60 to £90 for a 1TB drive and between £100 and £150 for a 2TB drive.

Also, Sony’s support for an additional PCIe 4.0 M2 drive inside the PS5 has changed the game, as has the trend for updating some PS4 titles. With good 1TB drives available for under £100 and 2TB drives for under £150, it makes sense to splash out on an internal SSD to cover your growing PS5 library, and use a cheaper, slower external HDD or SSD to archive games or house your old PS4 games collection.

What about the interface?

Unlike the Xbox Series S and Series X, the PS5 features USB 3.2 gen 2 connectivity, meaning it can support drives over a 10Gbit/sec bandwidth connection. What’s more, there are two USB 3.2 gen 2 Type A connections on the rear plus a USB-C connection on the front. In our tests we found no difference in performance between the two and it looks a bit messy having a drive hanging from the front of your PS5, but the choice is yours. All the SSDs we looked at came with either USB-A and USB-C cables or a USB-C to USB-A adaptor.

How we test external drives for PS5

We run two sets of tests when we’re looking at external hard drives for the PS5. 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.

Following these initial tests, we connect the drive to a PS5 and time how long it takes to copy games from the internal drive to the external hard drive and back again. We then test how long it takes to load a series of PS4 games, including God of War, Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Last of Us Part II and Resident Evil 2 Remake, and then how long it takes to load the same saved game on each one. Drives that take longer to load a saved game will keep you waiting longer while new levels or areas load, or when you have to restart after dying.

READ NEXT: Best external hard drives for Xbox Series X

The best external hard drives for PS5

1. Toshiba Canvio Gaming: Best drive for low-cost capacity

Price when reviewed: From £55 | Check price at AmazonWe used to recommend the cheap and extremely cheerful Seagate Backup Plus Slim as the old-school hard drive to buy for the PS5, but the Toshiba Canvio Gaming is even better. You can get 2TB for £78, or 4TB for around £139, and its faster sequential read/write times really have an impact on saving and loading times, as well as drive to drive transfers. In our tests, it was nearly 60 seconds quicker at copying God of War from the PS5’s internal drive, and over 60 seconds faster copying it back.

When loading PS4 games and their saves, the Canvio Gaming still can’t keep up with the SSDs, but we’re talking about 31.4 seconds to launch God of War rather than 26 to 28 seconds – hardly a night and day distinction – while the time to load save games is in the same ballpark as the slower SSDs.

With twice as much capacity as a similarly-priced SSD, the 2TB and 4TB versions will give you enough room to hold a sizable game library too. Unless every second counts, this drive is a great addition to your PS5 setup.

Key specs – Type: Portable HDD; Connectivity: USB 3.2 Gen 1 (max 5Gbits/sec); Spindle speed: 5,400rpm

2. Seagate FireCuda Gaming Hard Drive 2TB: Best dedicated gaming hard drive for PS5

Price when reviewed: £124 | 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 Xbox heroes and Marvel, Star Wars and PlayStation fan favourites, including Spider-Man (both Peter Parker and Miles Morales) and Aloy from Horizon: Forbidden West. It also has a cool illuminated bar on the front edge that flashes when the drive is busy.

Yet the best reason to pay the extra is the performance. On paper, the Toshiba Canvio Gaming has faster sequential read/write speeds, but the FireCuda isn’t far behind, and it actually outpaces the Toshiba when it comes to copying games, loading games and loading saved games, by 3 seconds in The Last of Us Part II and 5 seconds in God of War. Given that the Canvia Gaming is one of the fastest gaming HDDs we’ve tested, that’s an impressive result. Come for the styling, stay for the speeds.

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

3. Samsung T7 1TB: The most robust external drive for your PS5

Price when reviewed: £83 | Check price at AmazonThe Samsung T7 was at one time the fastest portable SSD around, and it’s still a hugely popular drive. It’s a sleek, fantastically robust little drive with an aluminium unibody, available in blue, red or titanium grey. It also comes with both a USB-C cable and the USB-A cable, so you’re covered whichever way you want to hook it up. In our tests, it was virtually indistinguishable from the internal SSD when it came to loading PS4 games and saved games. The T7 has also come down in price over the last year, and you can usually save by going for the titanium grey finish.

Key specs – Type: Portable SSD; Connectivity: USB 3.2 Gen 2 (max 10Gbits/sec), USB-C; Max read speed: 1,050MB/sec

4. Crucial X8 Portable SSD 1TB: Another cracking console SSD

Price when reviewed: From £61 | Check price at AmazonThe Crucial X8 is another great option, especially if you can catch it in a sale. While it’s normally priced at the same kind of level as the Samsung T7, it dropped even cheaper in recent times, making it the best storage bargain in town. It’s another 1050MB/sec drive, so there’s little between it and the WD My Passport Portable and Samsung drive when it comes to gaming performance, minimising any wait while your last-gen favourites load and reload, or while you transfer newer PS5 games from external storage to the internal HDD. If you spot it cheap, don’t wait; just bag it. You can also pick this up in 2TB and 4TB versions.

Key specs – Type: Portable SSD; Connectivity: USB 3.2 Gen 2 (max 10Gbits/sec), USB-C; Max read speed: 1,050MB/sec

5. WD_Black P50 1TB: Best PS5 external drive for speed

Price when reviewed: £123 | Check price at AmazonThe WD_Black P50 is one of the fastest gaming drives we’ve tested, although it’s at its absolute best on a new PC equipped with a 20GB/sec USB 3.2 Gen2x2 port rather than the PS5’s straight 10GB/sec Gen2. Even so, this drive manages some impressively speedy game transfers, grabbing Ghost of Tsushima from the internal SSD in 2 minutes and 2 seconds where the Samsung T7 took 2 minutes and 25. It was only a few seconds ahead on transferring it back, though, while its speeds in loading games and loading saved games is virtually identical.

However, where other drives with a similar spec have been overpriced, the P50 isn’t hugely more expensive than the T7 or its 1TB rivals, so you might find the reduction in transfer speeds makes buying it worthwhile. It’s also a well-built, stylish effort that looks good next to your Sony system. If you don’t mind spending a little extra, this is the best PS5 external drive.

Key specs – Type: Portable SSD; Connectivity: USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C (max 20Gbits/sec); Max read speed: 2,000MB/sec (USB 3.2 gen 2×2 required)

6. Seagate FireCuda Gaming SSD: A great high-performance gaming SSD

Price when reviewed: From £161 | Check price at AmazonLike the WD_Black P50, the Seagate FireCuda Gaming SSD is a ludicrously speedy USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 SSD, and you won’t get close to its full 20Gbits/sec potential on a console with a 10Gbits/sec USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port. That said, the 1TB version isn’t stupidly expensive, and it’s seriously fast both when copying files and when loading saved games, keeping up with the P50 in every test from The Last of Us Part II to God of War. For the 2TB version, you’re looking at spending an extra £100.

What’s more, the FireCuda is an attractive, slimline SSD that will look stylish even while connected to the PS5’s front-facing USB Type-C port, with an illuminated bar stretching across the top of the block that flashes when the drive is busy. We would still suggest saving some cash by opting for the Crucial X8 or the Samsung T7, since there really isn’t a significant difference in real-world performance. But if you want the fastest drive for your console, this is the first drive to give the WD_Black P50 serious competition.

Key specs – Type: Portable SSD; Connectivity: USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C (max 20Gbits/sec); Max read speed: 2,000MB/sec (USB 3.2 gen 2×2 required); Size: 104 x 53 x 10mm

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