PS4 Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD) Guide [Best of 2017]

Laptop SSHD for PS4 internal storage upgradeSolid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD) has been one of the most recommended internal storage upgrade for PlayStation-4 (PS4) in the pursuit of expanding the limited capacity of the stock hard drive of PS4 (which has been recently upgraded officially by Sony to 1TB) and, at the same time, boosting up the overall performance of PS4 system that will eventually lead to shorter load time and faster game processing.

Previously, we used to dissuade our readers from going with an SSHD for their PS4 storage upgrade, due to several reasons, including the limitation of capacity that didn’t exceed 1TB, and the small size of the 1st-tier cache memory, which was 64MB.

But now, with Seagate FireCuda 2TB Gaming SSHD [ST2000LX001] the situation has changed. The 1st-tier cache memory is now 128MB, alongside with a 2nd-tier 8GB SSD cache memory, to provide the best possible performance out of a traditional hard drive.

We have spent long time compiling this guide from many different technical resources in order to educate our readers and provide them with rich and accurate information that will enlighten them during their trip through the world of SSHD and eventually will help them decide whether an SSHD is what they really need for their PS4 or a traditional hard drive is a better upgrade.

Before we start with this guide we would like to present our top SSHD picks for PS4 so as to facilitate it for quick reader who have already decided for themselves and don’t want to read anymore about this matter.

So, here we go..

PS4 SSHD Top Picks for 2016

There are two types of hybrid drives (SSHD) that you can use for PS4 HDD upgrade. The first is called “laptop/mobile SSHD, which comes in 2.5-inch form factor that fits properly into PS4 HDD drive bay. The second is called “Desktop SSHD which comes in 3.5-inch form factor and is originally designed for desktop computers. It doesn’t fit into PS4 drive bay and it needs an additional tool/add-on (called “data bank”) to get it operating with PS4 system, which you’re going to learn how within this guide.

laptop/mobile SSHD

There are not many laptop SSHD that match the PS4 HDD upgrade standards and we only could find three brands in the market, but we have chosen just one of them because other brands are just obsolete.

Seagate FireCuda Gaming SSHD Seagate FireCuda Gaming SSHD
Finally the long-waited Seagate FireCuda [ST2000LX001] is here in 2TB storage capacity and 2.5-inch form factor alongside with a thickness of 7mm that fits precisely into PS4 drive bay. Although this drive is classified as an SSHD (hybrid hard drive) and not a mere HDD, we couldn’t overlook it in our recommendation list, as this is the ultimate best PS4 storage upgrade you can ever go for. It has all the features of Seagate Barracuda [ST2000LM015], which is the fastest 2.5-inch HDD, with an additional 2nd-tier 8GB SSD cache memory for a better performance.
Available on Amazon

Desktop SSHD

SSHD shines vividly in desktop environment because the focus of HDD manufacturers nowadays is concentrated on developing mechanical hard drive solutions for desktop systems, as with the dramatic price drops of Solid State Drive (SSD), the trend to configure laptops with an SSD is rapidly increasing among both laptop manufacturers and users.

Unlike laptop users who use their storage subsystem for temporary lightweight storage purposes, desktop computers need massive storage devices for long-term storage purposes. So the idea of developing a massive capacity SSHD has what strongly justifies it.

In this guide you’ll learn how to use a desktop SSHD with PS4 seamlessly and without any hassle. Just let’s first see what brands we recommend:

Seagate Desktop 4TB SSHD Seagate Desktop 4TB SSHD
Official Product Description: With a Seagate Desktop Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD) kit, you can experience SSD-like performance for a fraction of the cost. Desktop SSHD fuses solid state storage with a traditional hard drive to deliver the best of both worlds: Blazing-fast performance and high capacities at prices that work.
Available on Amazon

Official Product Description: WD Blue Solid State Hybrid Drives (SSHD) combine a generous amount of NAND flash SSD technology and massive HDD storage capacity into a single drive. WD engineers team up the best of SSD and HDD to produce a hybrid that can increase overall system performance – resulting in quicker system boots, faster application loads, and improved responsiveness when compared to traditional hard drives.
Available on Amazon

How to Upgrade PS4 Stock HDD to SSHD

Replacing the internal stock hard drive of PS4 with a hybrid hard drive (SSHD) is an easy process that doesn’t require lots of efforts to carry out. It’s just exactly the same process as upgrading to another classical hard drive which we have addressed in detail in our PS4 HDD Upgrade—Step-by-Step Guide.

But if you’re going for a Desktop SSHD for your next PS4 HDD upgrade, the process is slightly different, because you need an additional tool/equipment that replaces the standard small drive bay of PS4 console with a larger one that allows 3.5-inch form factor hard drives to integrate with PS4 box. Just like the one in the image below:

DongCoh Game Bar for PS4

You can read more about this in our PS4 4TB Hard Drive Upgrade Guide.

Understand What an SSHD is and How It Works First

Before deciding whether a hybrid hard drive (SSHD) is a good PS4 storage solution for you or not, you need to educate yourself first about it and how it works in order to surpass the performance of traditional hard drives.

The concept of Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD)

Solid State Drives (SSD) are magnitudes faster than Hard Disk Drives (HDD), whereas HDDs are way larger in space than SSDs. It would be a brilliant idea if there exists a single drive designed to be a compromise between these two technologies together and offers the best of their features for an affordable price to the masses.

This persistent need for such a solution triggered the mind of storage device manufacturers to innovate what they called: Solid State Hybrid Hard Drive (SSHD).

SSHD from insideIn a nutshell, Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD) features the combination of Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and Solid State Drive (SSD) into one form factor (i.e. you get a single drive structured with these two storage technologies altogether).

The primary concept behind this pattern of design is to leverage the high speed of SSD and the massive capacity of HDD simultaneously while keeping the drive at a relatively low cost.

How does SSHD work?

SSHD technology works by using a relatively small amount of high-performance NAND flash solid state memory to store the most frequently used data. This is the SSD portion of the drive, typically around 8GB in size, meaning files can be accessed far quicker than HDD.

The rest of the SSHD is made up of traditional HDD storage, usually 1TB and above, to hold the bulk of your lesser used files. This could be anything from games to video music and documents.

Since an average computer workload accesses a relatively small portion of the entire data stored, most frequently used data needed by the host computer will be located in the solid state memory when requested.

When this is the case, system performance improves because there is less time spent locating, reading and delivering data to the computer.

It’s all about caching NOT performance

SSD portion of SSHD that behaves like a cache memorySSHD is designed to “learn” the user’s behavior on the system and accordingly determine the frequently-used files in order to store them later in the SSD portion of the storage device.

That means, in other words, the initial launch of a particular application won’t benefit from any performance advantages the incorporated SSD offers until it is launched multiple times to the extent that the SSHD’s built-in management software learns that it’s a frequently-used application then stores it on the SSD portion to make it ready for the next launch with a much higher speed.

This concept is similar to that of RAM memory, except that RAM is a temporary cache memory, which is drained off entirely once the system is shut down, whereas the SSD cache on SSHD is permanent until the built-in management software learns that a particular stored application is no more frequently used.

Now you can better imagine how PS4 operating system will benefit from SSHD. Read more below to get a clearer view on this matter.

SSHD for PS4—Pros and Cons

Many PS4 fans would advise of SSHD over regular HDD for your PS4 storage upgrade due to the “better performance” an SSHD offers to PS4 than regular hard disk drives.

Before we investigate this claim, we would like first to layout the major benefits of using an SSHD in PS4 systems.

Major Advantages of SSHD for PS4

We couldn’t think of more than three, that are:

  • Faster operating system boot-up. Since the PS4 operating system is the most frequently used software, it will surely be stored on the SSD cache permanently after the first or second launch (depending on how the SSHD built-in management software understands “frequency”). It was reported by those who used SSHD with PS4 that the boot-up time of PS4 OS will decrease by almost 10 seconds.
  • The games you have previously played in the near future will load now faster. This point is clear enough to not explain it. It has been reported that SSHD can save you up to 15 seconds of the loading time of certain high-end games. The newly-launched games and movies will not benefit at all from the performance boost the SSHD offers until they are launched again next time.
  • A massive storage space for more data to keep. This goes to the HDD portion of the SSHD. It just works like any traditional hard drive in this regard.

SSHD vs HDD in PS4 System

Here is a quick performance comparison between SSHD and stock drive of PS4 made by testing these two drives with large game titles in the PS4 world.

SSHD vs HDD in PS4 Load time Comparison
Game Title Seagate 1TB Laptop SSHD PS4 Stock 500GB HDD Difference
Bloodborne – Central Yharnam 23.4 30.8 7.4
Bloodborne – Great Bridge 16.2 26.1 9.9
Bloodborne – Old Yharnam Respawn 23.9 30.7 6.8
Bloodborne – Return to Hunter’s Dream 9.1 10.7 1.6
Fallout 4 – Vault 111 28.8 31.7 2.9
Fallout 4 – Exiting Vault 111 24.1 25.7 1.6
Fallout 4 – Concord Town 39.7 55.5 15.8
Fallout 4 – Diamond City 40.4 49.0 8.6
Just Cause 3 – New Game 55.6 69.9 14.3
Just Cause 3 – First Mission Respawn 25.4 28.9 3.5
Just Cause 3 – Baia 59.7 65.6 6.1
Just Cause 3 – Baia Respawn 23.2 23.4 0.2

That’s all what you get when using an SSHD for PS4. The best result recorded is 15.8 seconds and the worst is 0.2 (almost nothing). These results are taken after the SSHD already marked these games as frequently-used.

Major disadvantages of SSHD for PS4

Probably you have already known them now. Let’s lay out them below quickly:

  • Small performance gains. The maximum time cut-down on running a high-end PS4 game doesn’t exceed the 15-sec limit.
  • The game must be run multiple times before any speed improvement. That means, in other words, the initial first or second run of a particular file will have the same speed as that of a regular hard drive, which can be frustrating to a wide variety of users.

What Storage Solution We Recommend For PS4 HDD Upgrade

the three major storage solutions for PS4Had Solid State Drive (SSD) been cheap, it would be the best PS4 storage upgrade solution ever. It can decrease the initial game launch by up to 30 seconds or even more! But due to its high price we withhold you from obtaining one. [Read more about this issue in our PS4 Solid State Drive (SSD) Guide].

On the other hand, the performance improvements the SSHD offers are sort of disappointing. Let alone that these improvements don’t occur from the first run, you’ll need to wait until the SSHD built-in software learns about your preferred game until it acquire that tiny gain of launch speed next time.

But if you feel you don’t have any issue with that, and you still like the little speed improvements, no one can stop you. It’s eventually your choice. We would prefer to you a Desktop SSHD instead, because it has a better performance than laptop SSHD, bearing in mind that it incorporates 32GB of SSD cache, while laptop SSHD incorporates 8GB only.

Otherwise, a regular hard drive for PS4 can be a good solution if you are not ready to pay almost $20 additionally on an SSHD.