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PS4: Why 500GB May NOT Be Enough

If you’re anything at all like me, you are still fighting the good fight against an all-digital gaming experience. I collect my video games, never sell them back. By doing this, I’ve amassed a collection of over 100+ NES games, and somewhere around 500+ games across consoles from SNES, Genesis, N64, Dreamcast, and other “past” gen consoles. I don’t like that soon my “collection” of games will reside entirely inside one console, with the potential to have games be accidentally deleted, or worse, an entire HD failure. There is something to be said about the tactility of holding a copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 for the NES, or pulling out my Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 PS1 disc. I will miss that as the all-digital experience gets closer and closer to fruition.

Just to make things clear, going digital isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It provides the ability for someone who may not have the space to store hundreds of plastic game cases the ability to hold tons of games, pending hard drive storage. Given that the PS4 has a 500GB hard drive, nearly 10 times the size of the original PS3 hard drive (60GB) you’ve got a LOT of space for games. Or so it would seem.

ps4-hrdware-large18According to Mark Cerny, the PS4 will actually cache the data of most PS4 games entirely on the PS4’s hard drive while you play. As an example, even with the physical copies of Killzone: Shadowfall and Knack, you’ll still need about 47GB for Killzone and 37GB for Knack available on your hard drive. But here’s the catch: The cache does not auto-erase itself. So if you play Knack once, that 37GB install will stay on your HD, taking up valuable space. Between those two launch games you’re already looking at 84GB of your 500GB hard drive. Considering the formatted space of a 500GB hard drive may only be 470GB of usable space, you’re talking roughly 17% of your hard drive filled on day 1. This presents a very important question:

Considering the estimated lifespan of the PS4 is around 8-10 years (assume no less than 6 based off the PS3’s lifespan); Is 500GB enough for you, over the next 6-10 years?

For me personally, it will probably be enough. I had a 120GB PS3 and only this past year upgraded to a 250GB that was given to me by a friend for free. Even re-downloading most of the things I wanted from PSPlus I still have about 80GB free on my PS3. But knowing that even having physical copies of games may still require up to a 40GB “install,” 500GB may go faster than I am expecting with some of the major titles being released over the next few months. So what to do?

Option 1) Upgrade your PS4 hard drive. If you’ve upgraded your PS3 hard drive then you are already a step ahead of everyone else. It isn’t a difficult task, but you may want to hold off until after the release of the console where many more experienced tech people will make upgrade videos. Greg Miller (@GameOverGreggy) has already purchased a 1TB hard drive and will be making a PS4 Hard Drive upgrade video soon. Also check out this brief pictorial “how-to”.


Option 2) Don’t upgrade your PS4 hard drive. For those who are nervous about screwing up their PS4 (valid claims, one to be considered when taking apart a console), you can opt to just use the 500GB and see what happens. The cached data for physical games can be deleted manually (it will not auto-delete) that space will become available again if you decide to sell back or trade a physical copy of a game.

All things considered, I will most likely take the plunge and upgrade my hard drive to a 1TB or 1.5TB hard drive within the first week of ownership. I would much rather ensure that I have the space needed in the long run, rather than have to re-install 20+ games a year or two down the road when I’m out of space.

What will you do? Stick with 500GB or go for the gusto and get a 1TB? Let us know in the comments below, or tell me if you’ll be going all-digital when the PS4 hits your tv in a few days.

Update 6/27/2014: I upgraded my launch PS4 to a 1TB Hard drive just to play it safe. I did a write-up on how to swap your PS4 hard drive here. My current PS4 library is about 29 games (includes some F2P games like Blacklight Retribution and DCUO) and clocks in at about 290GB of space. The PS4 formats the 1TB and gives it 860GB of usable space, with 548GB Available. 20GB is occupied by game captures and 589MB is Application Saved Data.

Sources (Playstation Lifestyle)(Greg Miller’s Twitter)(ExtremeSpec)


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  • Richard

    What I have done is buy a 1TB HDD that fits all the requirements and will put that into my PS4, then, the 500GB HDD I get out of the PS4, I intend to put into my PS3 so I can abuse all the instant game collection I’ve been missing out on with my tiny 60GB PS3 Fat Original.

    I’m not 100% sure if this will work as intended, but considering that they are both the same kind of HDD, being SATA II with 5400RPM and 9.5 inches, I’m guessing it’s worth a shot considering the money it could potentially save me.

    • jbond

      It should work no problem, the only thing that’ll be time consuming is the PS3 will need to wipe the PS4 500GB hard drive, as it will have the PS4 firmware on it.
      The formatting process will probably take most of the time.

      Then just re-install everything. And you can save your game saves to the cloud so it won’t have to reinstall all that stuff when you put the new HD in.