Sony may not be ready to unveil the PlayStation 5 just yet, but that hasn’t stopped keen observers from analyzing industry trends to find out exactly what components will fill the belly of the beast. Let’s Go Digital has narrowed down the possibilities, determining that the Samsung NVMe SSD 980 QVO drive is most likely to be used. While that particular SSD won’t be the top of the line one made available this year, it will still strike a balance between affordability and the kind of performance that Sony is looking to get on the PlayStation 5.
Sony’s talked about the PS5 SSD before, a “specialized” solid state drive that will all but eliminate load times and allow game file sizes to be a lot smaller. In April 2019, system architect Mark Cerny said that the PS5 SSD would have a “raw bandwidth higher than any SSD available for PCs.” That suggested that this specialized drive was not as of yet commercially available. Sony has avoided giving any specifics or naming a manufacturer, but some recent SSD reveals lend some clues as to what might be inside the console.
At CES 2020, Samsung revealed the 980 PRO NVMe, an SSD that adopts the new PCIe 4.0 standard. This drive can reach 7 GB/s sequential read speeds, an insanely high benchmark that blows every current console and even most high-end PCs out of the water. But those speeds come with a cost, and unless Sony wants to repeat its PS3 pricing mistakes—or take a massive loss on every console sold—don’t expect the PRO to be what’s onboard the PS5.
What’s curious is that Samsung apparently has two other SSDs in the 980 line—the EVO and QVO—but didn’t reveal them at CES alongside the PRO. The company has filed a trademark for NVMe SSD 980 EVO and 980 QVO at the EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office) however, which suggests these SSDs will also be coming this year. Samsung also trademarked the phrase “Unstoppable Speed,” which is presumed to accompany the new 980 series of SSDs and sounds curiously like a marketing term for gaming in particular.
The PRO, EVO, and QVO names have accompanied each generation of Samsung hard drive recently, and Let’s Go Digital estimated the differences between the 980 models based on the 970 generation. EVO is the mid-grade model, and is expected to land at 5.5 or 6GB/s “easily.” Sure, it’s not the insane 7 GB/s of the PRO, but it also makes this particular drive much more affordable and still still twice as fast as older PCIe 3.0 drives.
While Let’s Go Digital doesn’t know how the quad-level-cell technology will scale with the PCIe 4.0 standard, it expects the QVO to benchmark lower than the EVO. QVO technology allegedly “suffers more from speed drops and degradation over time,” but it’s also the most affordable. It will still be far faster and more reliable than anything we’re used to with current-gen HDDs.
So how does that tell us what the PS5 SSD will be? Tech insiders have apparently been saying that the PS5 will use an NVMe SSD from Samsung. While Samsung revealed its PRO model at CES 2020, it suspiciously kept the other two models from this generation of SSDs under wraps, suggesting that Sony may want to be the one to reveal its specs when the PS5 itself is unveiled. Between the EVO and QVO, Let’s Go Digital projects that Sony is going with the Samsung NVMe SSD 980 QVO for the simple reason of cost. Sony made the same move in 2013 with the PS4, with the goal of lowering the front-end price of the console while retaining power and performance. Let’s Go Digital estimates that the Samsung NVMe SSD 980 QVO won’t run any cheaper than $149.99 for a 1 TB drive, while the PRO model will be somewhere in the range of $349.99. Where the EVO falls (and if Sony is willing to take a loss on it) would be somewhere in between these two. Don’t expect Sony to load the console up with anything bigger than a terabyte unless it releases a larger premium-priced option.
The PS5 SSD is just one piece of the next-gen console puzzle, with plenty of additional components and specs to be detailed in the future. Sony still hasn’t committed to a final PlayStation 5 price yet, further suggesting that going with the cheapest SSD model gives them a bit of wiggle room to undercut Microsoft. The company has yet to even name the controller, though leaks from its own official site in France indicate that it will be the DualShock 5. Many expected a February PS5 reveal event to mirror the PS4’s 2013 reveal, but as we get into the month, it’s starting to look more and more unlikely.