In the 1980s, game loading times were long and laborious, plus they were noisy. Now with the current generation, the noise may have gone, but the long loading times are back, mainly due to the size and complexity of games and the fact that storage tech hasn’t changed since the PS3/Xbox 360 days. So with the recent launch of the PS4 Pro, can it, with its high-performance SATA 3 interface, take a bite out of loading times?
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PS4 Pro vs. PS4
Thanks to Eurogamer, the gaming world now has some answers to the above question. Because that answer cannot be explained in black and white terms, we’ll have to share the details.
For this comparison, a base 500GB PS4 was used, and the hard drive unit included was an HGT model. The PS4 Pro that was used is a similar equivalent, even though it’s a 1TB device. Essentially, this will determine which console can get the better performance from an SSD and the standard mechanical drive.
SATA 2 vs. SATA 3
The SSD drive used for this comparison was an OCZ Trion, which isn’t the best available, but it doesn’t need to be. What needed to be proved was whether the PS4 Pro would see gains or not.
For the purpose of the comparison, Eurogamer chose four games to test: Witcher 3, Fallout 4, Just Cause 3, and Project Cars. Here’s what the test revealed about the PS4 Pro and how it compares to the base PS4.
On the base PS4, Witcher 3 took 69.2 seconds to load a Novigrad City save. Compare this to the PS4 Pro, and surprisingly, the difference is minimal. Only 2 seconds of load time is gained, meaning that somewhere SATA 3’s higher data transfer rate is being restrained. That restraint could be due to a bottleneck somewhere in the system. Ironically though, it has been suggested that the cause is by design, as this would enable background processes to continue their work. The downside, however, is that a Witcher 3 saved game still took over 1 minute to load on the PS4 Pro.
The standard mechanical drives for both consoles were also tested, with the Pro loading the same save file in 78 seconds and the base model in 92 seconds.
Next up there’s Fallout 4, and again it was tested using the same SSD and a saved game. For this test, Concord town was loaded on the PS4, which took 55 seconds to complete. However, when the PS4 Pro was tested, it again showed less than modest gains, offering only a three-second improvement.
Astonishingly though, it was when the stock drives were compared that the Pro yet again showed improvement, this time offering a clear seven-second margin compared to the base model PlayStation.
Just Cause 3
Again another test with negligible differences between the two consoles. This time the gain for the PS4 Pro using the SSD drive was a miserly 1 second, hardly noticeable! When it came to comparing the mechanical drives, a surprise was in order, with the PS4 outperforming the Pro by 7 seconds.
The last game on the loading time comparison list was Project Cars, with the Azure Coast, used as a start point. Loading times using the SSD drive took 40 seconds on both consoles, meaning that the only difference to be seen was with the stock mechanical drives, which gave the PS4 Pro a loading time lead of 6 seconds.
The results seen for the PS4 Pro using both SSD and mechanical drives are not great. Yes, games do run faster on the console; however, right now the difference is marginal, with only one to three seconds seen on the SSD. As for stock drives, the improvement is tangible, with differences up to 7 seconds, but games still take over 1 minute to load.
So what does this suggest? We’d say that Sony/developers have yet to figure out how to get the best out of the SATA 3 transfer rates. Due to this, upgrading to an SSD is not yet worth a gamer’s money. Stick to a stock drive to see some gains with the PS4 Pro. However, overall, right now, the PS4 is definitely holding its own.
Are you a PS4 Pro owner? What are your thoughts on Sony’s latest console?