Best external hard drive for PS5 2022: The top HDDs and SSDs for the PlayStation 5

Stuart Andrews Matt Reed
23 Jun 2022

Find a new home for your PS4 games and archive those PS5 blockbusters with our pick of the best external drives

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: Black Ops Cold War with Call of Duty: Warzone, and you’re going to lose at least 225GB of your 667.2GB of space. Gran Turismo 7 will guzzle 183.2GB. Install the PS5 Director’s Cut of Ghost of Tsushima, and that’s another 112.4GB gone.

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: We review the PlayStation 5

Save over 20% on the Crucial X8 Portable SSD

This option from Crucial is a top choice - especially with an extra £25 off its average Amazon selling price. It's a 1050MB/sec drive with 1TB in space, making it an ultra-fast choice to store your PS5 titles and run all your PS4 favourites.
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Best external hard drive for PS5: At a glance

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’s not an awful lot between them. We retested drives this year by running transfer tests and load time tests with Ghost of Tsushima (the PS4 version) and the Resident Evil 2 remake, and while there’s some variation in transfer times between the fastest and the slowest drives, there’s basically no tangible difference in loading times. This means that, whether you buy one of the fastest external SSDs we’ve tested – Seagate’s stupidly speed P50 – or a slower model, you’re not going to see much of a speed boost on a daily basis.

We timed the process of copying God of War from the PS5’s internal storage to each drive, then timed how long the game took to launch, and then load a saved game from the main menu. We also ran some tests with Horizon: Zero Dawn, as Guerrilla’s open-world hit is well-known for its epic load times. Finally, we timed how long it took to copy God of War back from the external drive to the internal SSD.

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

You won’t be surprised to find that the Seagate Backup Plus external HDD is significantly slower when it comes to big game transfers than any of the SSDs, though there’s not as much difference between the fastest SSD and the mid-range 1,050MB/sec SSDs as you might expect.

The HDD is also slower when it comes to loading games and loading saved games; you’re looking at 10 seconds extra to load God of War and roughly five seconds extra to load a saved game. With Horizon: Zero Dawn, you’ll be waiting for well over a minute to load a saved game, where the fastest SSD is done in just over 30 seconds – hardly instant, but not bad at all.

With the SSDs, there’s not much between them, with barely a second between the fastest and the slowest in most scenarios, and precious little difference in performance between any of them and the internal SSD. In short, you can get away with buying a cheap SATA-6 SSD to play your PS4 games from and store big PS5 titles. However, there’s now little difference in pricing between them and some of the new 1050MB/sec drives based on NVMe technology, so it’s smart to swallow the small extra and buy one of those.

As a final note, we noticed that saved games load a second or two faster when you reload the same saved game for a second or third time. Obviously, there’s some kind of caching going on, though we’re not sure whether this is just the game or a feature of the system as a whole.

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 1TB or 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 between £50 and £80 for a 500GB drive, £80 and £150 for a 1TB drive and between £150 and £200 for a 2TB drive. That’s a lot for some extra storage.

Also, Sony’s support for an additional PCIe 4.0 M2 drive inside the PS5 has changed the game over the last year, as has the trend for updating even older PS4 titles. Some of the best 1TB options are now under £100. If you’re choosing between a 2TB external SSD or a 1TB SSD plus a 1TB M2 drive, we’d say go for the latter combo every time.

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.

READ NEXT: The best external hard drives for Xbox Series X

The best external hard drives for PS5

1. Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB: The best drive for low-cost capacity

Price: £73 | Buy now from Amazon

While you can buy dedicated PlayStation or console gaming HDDs, in practice they don’t tend to perform any faster than mainstream PC models. This Seagate drive is a great example. It’s good-looking, cheap and gives you plenty of space. The downside is, of course, longer waits. Big games will take minutes more to transfer to or from internal storage, and you’ll be twiddling your thumbs for a few extra seconds while loading games or loading up a saved game. In big open-world games like Horizon: Zero Dawn, you could be waiting half a minute longer, which makes a big difference if you die and need to reload. For this reason, we’d advise splashing out on an SSD if you’re impatient, and to only go for an HDD if you need a lot of storage and you’re prepared to wait.

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

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

Price: From £86 | Buy now from Amazon

The 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

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

Price: £92 | Buy now from Amazon

The 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.

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

4. WD_Black D30: The best 2TB PS5 drive

Price: £195 | Buy now from Amazon

Aimed specifically at PC and console gamers, the WD_Black D30 is a little chunkier than most USB SSDs, and comes with a nifty plastic cradle to hold it upright on your TV stand or desk. In its 1TB form it's more expensive than the Crucial X8 or WD_Black P50, which is a problem when it's slower in our game transfer tests. In fact, it took three minutes and 26 seconds to transfer Ghost of Tsushima to the drive, plus another three minutes and 13 seconds to transfer it back again. Here the Samsung T7 took two minutes and 25 seconds and three minutes and 2 seconds in the same operations.

However, once you have games in place it’s no slower than the mighty P50 or any other SSD we’ve tested, and the 2TB version can be found for less than £200 online. That’s a whole lot cheaper than the £300 or more you’ll pay for the P50, although we have seen the 2TB X8 at a similar price. Grab either if you find them cheap, and you’ll have plenty of storage for those PS4 classics without blowing your budget sky high.

Key specs – Type: Portable SSD; Connectivity: USB 3.2 Gen 2 (max 10Gbits/sec); Max read speed: 900MB/sec

5. WD_Black P50: The best PS5 external drive for speed

Price: £110 | Buy now from Amazon

The 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 2x2 Type-C (max 20Gbits/sec); Max read speed: 2,000MB/sec (USB 3.2 gen 2x2 required)

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