Long loading times are one of the biggest problems with today’s consoles. Games are getting bigger, more complex, with ever-increasing levels of asset detail, but the fundamental basis of storage technology hasn’t changed since the Xbox 360 / PS3 era. Solid state drives are the future. The question is, can PlayStation 4 Pro, with its all-new high-bandwidth SATA 3 interface, finally put an end to the extended pauses in the middle of the game, which are often an integral part of gaming on modern consoles?

Obviously we have already analyzed it previously, having carried out numerous tests on the improvements that an SSD brings to gaming on both Xbox One and PS4 and we still have the backup archive that we used previously to be able to compare the different drives on Sony platforms. . This offers an interesting opportunity: to be able to compare the hard drive performance of a base 500GB PS4 (a HGST model from a launch unit) with the equivalent 1TB of the Pro. OCZ Trion 100 SSD that we used for our previous tests, this means that exactly the same data can be run on both PS4 consoles. The best you can hope for for a head-to-head comparison between SATA 2 and SATA 3.

OCZ’s Trion drive is by no means the fastest technology on the market, but the point is, it doesn’t need to be. We simply need to see appreciable benefits in comparison tests to verify that the PS4 Pro’s SATA 3 interface is capable of getting more out of solid-state technology. The OCZ unit certainly can offer more. On base PS4, the Trion 100 hosting The Witcher 3 loads the city of Novigrad in a whopping 69.2 seconds (and that’s already an improvement over the factory HDD’s 92.5 seconds). The PC version installed on the OCZ disk, with the ultra texture level, in addition, loads the same area in 28.4 seconds. It is over twice as fast and this clearly demonstrates the true potential of the drive. The question is, can the PS4 Pro take full advantage of it?

This first test immediately returns a rather comprehensive answer, with Pro offering only a couple of seconds of advantage over the standard PlayStation 4, on the same disc hosting the same data. The purported benefit of SATA 3’s larger data flow is clearly interrupted by a bottleneck somewhere else in the system. Game loading speeds are likely still limited by a fixed ceiling on data transfer speeds. This ensures that other background processes, such as installation, download and recording functions, can all run concurrently on whatever mechanical hard drive Sony may purchase in bulk for its latest production. SATA 3 is offering something of an advantage, but the reductions in load times are hardly revolutionary. The bottom line is that, in this case, loading a The Witcher 3 save continues to take more than a minute.

However, this text brings out an interesting result. The Pro’s 1TB factory disk loads faster in Novigrad City than the standard PS4’s 500GB. That’s 78 seconds versus 92, reducing the time by 14 seconds with the PS4 Pro’s default disc. It’s an improvement we see in almost all situations and it’s obviously a welcome speed boost. While the 2.5-inch mechanical hard drive technology may be a little too old, maintaining the same 5400 rpm spin speed with a drive that offers twice the data density might show some improvement. Plus, file search times on Pro’s new 1TB HGST drive can simply be a lot faster.

The Witcher 3 achievements are a model that can be applied with many other games. Fallout 4 is a great example. We chose a saved game in Concord, one of the longest initial loads we could find, of 55 seconds on the original base PS4 disc. When it comes to the SSD results though, we are once again faced with slight and similar room for improvement between the base model and Pro, with only a three-second lead on the new console. However, even then, we get a more tangible gain when comparing the factory mechanical discs, a seven-second improvement on the Pro.

Just Cause 3 offers slightly different results. Loading a new game puts PS4 Pro just one second ahead of the SSD, similar to what happened on the standard PS4. However, this is a title where PS4’s older HDD is actually faster than its 1TB successor, offering a seven-second lead. It’s an unusual result compared to most of our other tests, but it shows there are some variations when it comes to mechanical discs full of content.

Loading times (seconds) Original 500GB PS4 disc PS4 OCZ Trion 100 SSD Original 1TB PS4 Pro disc PS4 Pro OCZ Trion 100 SSD
Witcher 3: Novigrad (initial load) 92.5 69.2 78.1 67.5
Witcher 3: Woesong Bridge (Fast Travel) 46.8 35.5 44.5 34.1
Fallout 4: Concord (initial load) 55.5 29.1 48.9 26.6
Fallout 4: Exiting Vault 101 25.7 17.2 24.2 15.9
Just Cause 3: new game 69.9 43.8 76.6 42.4
Just Cause 3: respawn on a mission 28.9 21.1 33.4 17.8
Project Cars: French Riviera (31 cars) 50.5 40.4 43.9 41.0
Project Cars: return to the menu 21.4 20.5 21.6 20.5

Of course, not all titles have such long loading times. Let’s take Project Cars as the final case study. Starting the game on the Côte d’Azur circuit with thirty-one cars takes 40 seconds on the SSD regardless of the PS4 hardware you are using, and again, the only significant difference is observed between the factory discs of the two PS4s. If we look at the shorter load times, such as returning to the main menu, you get an almost identical reading from all four tests. Whether it’s a mechanical or solid-state disc, a base PS4 or a PS4 Pro, you always get loading times around 20 seconds, with little differences.

Having already covered the basic PlayStation 4 games, the next issue to be addressed is the possible advantage offered by Pro mode. This idea theoretically seems unlikely, but we hypothesize that the PS4 Pro southbridge could be weakened in the basic mode for compatibility reasons. The general theory may indeed have a foundation. The titles are certainly different, but differences are observed on the same OCZ disc when running on the base PS4 versus Pro. The newer console cuts loading times by 12 to 20% based on the test. It may very well be that Sony has increased the data flow cap on the PS4 Pro. We are not yet at the potential performance levels of the SATA 3 bus, but at least it is faster than the standard PS4. Fallout 4 is expected to receive a patch on Pro and when it comes out we will definitely check the results a second time.

As things stand, the Battlefield 1 test results in particular hint at why so many console users want to pay the hefty extra expense of upgrading to solid-state memory. The base PlayStation 4 approaches two minutes in loading the Through Mud and Blood campaign level, while switching to an SSD decreases load times by 56%. The Pro also achieves a very similar reduction in load times. Skyrim doesn’t have similar wait times, but as a percentage, switching to an SSD once again shows tangible benefits.

Loading times (seconds) PS4 500GB Stock Drive PS4 OCZ Trion 100 SSD PS4 Pro 1TB Stock Drive PS4 Pro OCZ Trion 100 SSD
Battlefield 1: Through Mud and Blood 109.6 47.7 95.3 41.2
Battlefield 1: The Runner 70.2 31.5 60.0 27.8
Skyrim: new game 22.1 16.7 19.0 13.7
Skyrim: Helgen rescue 27.9 20.9 24.5 16.9

The verdict doesn’t reflect what many of us would have wanted, but here’s what we’ve come up with. First of all, games run faster on PS4 Pro with an SSD, but we’re talking about a saving of one to three seconds when compared to the same drive on the original hardware. An additional time saver we found in Pro-enabled titles, up to six seconds, although we’re talking about an unusually long load.

There is no question that choosing an SSD is better than putting data on the original disk, but the room for improvement is no better when compared to the launch PS4 when switching from the original to the SSD. On PlayStation 4, you don’t get the most out of your solid-state drive investment, bearing in mind that running the same drive on PC offers significant improvements not seen on home consoles.

However, there is some good news, albeit unexpected. We’re seeing some games that generally load faster on the 1TB 5400rpm drive that the PS4 Pro is equipped with. There are a few exceptions, but in general most games load faster than the base PS4 and no disc replacement is required. It is not only in these titles that we see improvement. In particular on Uncharted 4 we have seen reductions in loading times of around 26%. This could be due to a combination of increased data density on the disk itself and increased bandwidth on the new console.

While there are some improvements in load times, the bottom line is that the SATA 3 interface on the PS4 Pro still doesn’t really make the most of the upgrade to the SSD, these drives really work a lot better on PC and that’s a really big deal. sin.

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