Early on in the life of the PS4, it became clear the internal 500GB hard drive just wasn’t going to cut it. From disc-based games installing to the hard drive to the advent of digital games, not to mention the almost exponential growth of game file sizes, the PS4 needed an upgrade. I can’t remember exactly when I upgraded to a 2TB internal drive, but even that quickly capped out. I began using the old 500GB drive as supplemental external storage, but even then, I was regularly deleting games to make room for new titles and updates. Soon I had multiple external supplementary drives, hassling with disconnecting, reconnecting, remembering what was on each one, and even entirely misplacing (temporarily) one drive I’d dedicated to VR games. Then a few months ago, WD Black dropped into my inbox and offered a solution to my frustrations: the WD Black P10 Game Drive.
The WD Black P10 Game Drive is an up to 5 TB portable hard drive from Western Digital (they also offer 2 and 4 TB models). The process of transferring the games was an enormous hassle, through no fault of Western Digital’s. Because Sony won’t allow you to connect more than one drive at a time, I had to undergo the arduous task of moving games off of my internal drive to the P10, then off of my other supplementary drives to the internal drive, then once again from the internal drive to the P10. After a couple days of leaving it on for overnight transfers, everything was complete and I could begin using the WD Black P10 Game Drive properly.
What immediately caught my attention was the drive’s size, eliminating my need for multiple drives. 5TB at around $150 isn’t too terrible if you’re simply looking for a big hard drive. It’s an unusually large hard drive that isn’t yet common elsewhere—mostly seeing 2TB as the kind of default go-to drives right now. Combined with my internal drive’s 2TB, I now had 7TB to work with, more than enough for all of my current games as well as future-proofing against more updates and the final few games of this generation of hardware.
To that end, the P10 has been my primary PS4 hard drive for the last couple of months to get a good sense for how it works. And quite simply, it works. It’s got an almost industrial looking exterior shell, a tough casing that hides well on my entertainment center next to the PS4. I’m not as worried about a cat carelessly knocking it onto the floor as I am other portable drives with flimsy plastic cases. Of course, I’d prefer if they didn’t knock any of my stuff on the floor, but this is clumsy Fry-fro we’re talking about here. The P10 seems designed to be ruggedly portable, if I ever actually went anywhere.
WD Black P10 Portable 5TB Game Drive Review – Speed Up
The WD Black P10 Game Drive is not a solid state drive, though Western Digital does offer that significantly more expensive option (a 2TB SSD is $500). Advertising and specs for the P10 talk about “performance boosts” and subtly suggest that speeds while using the drive could be faster. Curious, I tested on a game I knew for certain to have notoriously long loading times to see where the P10 put it on that spectrum: Destiny 2. I knew that Destiny 2 loading times were improved by moving the game to an SSD, but I was curious how the P10 Game Drive, a standard mechanical hard drive, impacted it.
To be fair to the WD Black P10, it did offer moderate improvements in three key loading areas. It was nowhere near what an SSD might offer, but seemed to offer approximately 13% improvements over my internal drive. Going from the game’s main menu to the character selection screen takes an average of 2:01 on the internal drive, but the P10 was able to load that in 1:45. Loading from orbit into the Tower was reduced from 1:27 to 1:16. And even pulling up the character gear menu was reduced from 8.5 seconds to just 7 seconds with the drive. It’s not much, and the primary reason to switch to this drive shouldn’t be in the interest of loading speeds, but it’s a nice bonus to the space offering.
In order to fully test the WD Black P10 Game Drive, I have used it near daily since the middle of July. In that time I’ve downloaded entirely new games to it, let the PS4 auto-update existing games on the drive, deleted and shifted some files around, and even had to do a full profile reset on my PS4 to fix a trophy-sync error. Through it all, the P10 has been a reliable partner in harboring all of my game data and letting me play all of my games with no hard drive-related errors whatsoever. Ol’ Launchy (my nickname for my launch PS4) on the other hand, is starting to show its struggles.
WD Black P10 Portable 5TB Game Drive Review – Future-Proofed
The good news with next-gen on the horizon is the WD Black P10 Game Drive is somewhat future-proofed. While you’ll need a special SSD if you want to expand on the PS5’s internal storage for PS5 games, Sony has confirmed the PS5 will support external hard drives for digital PS4 titles and backwards compatibility. That means I can effectively keep space on my PS5 SSD cleared up by using the P10 as a PS4 game storage center. The big question is how easy Sony will make using the drive with the PS5. Right now it’s unknown if I’ll be able to simply plug it into the PS5 and have access to my games right away, or if there’s going to be a complicated amount hoops to jump through to make it work, including but not limited to having to redownload all of the games via the PS5 to the drive. That’s a decision that’s entirely in Sony’s hands though. As far as the P10 itself goes, it will soon become my backlog storage, regardless of the nightmare worst-case scenario of capping out my Xfinity data cap downloading old games.
As the conversation about video game hard drive space continues reaching a fever pitch, WD Black is one of the first to solve storage issues in a bigger and more affordable way than many portable hard drives that have come before. Even if you just need a 2TB or 4TB, they provide reliable options for game storage with a nice, if small, speed boost to boot. Massive Call of Duty Warzone updates? Trivial. A new PlayStation exclusive? No big deal. The countless smaller indies I’ll probably never get around to playing again but can’t justify deleting? Oh, you can bet that full library is all there on my P10, ready to go should I ever decide to go back and Platinum something versus playing something that lands in my comfort zone.
All in all, this is over a thousand words just to say that the WD Black P10 Game Drive is a great, if relatively basic, hard drive. It’s certainly not a solid state drive, but if you’re considering expanding or upgrading your PS4 storage solutions, it’s well worth a look to prevent any further space issues when it comes to massive games and enormous updates, not to mention its PS5 compatibility for all of your PS4 games.
WD Black P10 Portable 5TB Game Drive review unit provided my manufacturer. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
You can get the WD Black P10 5TB Game Drive for $139.99 through Amazon right now. For more information on specs and detailed product information, visit Western Digital’s website.