PlayStation 5 / Xbox Series S and X: Does SSD Really Reduce Installation Size?

The famous “magic SSDs” of the next-gen consoles are full of promises. In addition to drastically reduced loading times, they must allow games with less heavy downloads and installations. Is that the case ?

They are not done talking about them, the super-fast SSD storage powering the next-gen consoles that are the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S – for good and for bad. Advantageous as they are for the loading times of the games, the very expensive cost price of flash memory for manufacturers obliges them to deliver it in sparse quantities in their machines. The Xbox Series X does the best with 802GB of storage available to the user. The PlayStation 5 is content with 667 GB. The Xbox Series S, finally, is forced to diet with its skinny 364 GB.

A priori, there is something very paradoxical here, at a time when ever richer and more complex games tend to require more and more spacious homes for their installation. But could these SSDs provide the solution along with the problem? Indeed, one of the more subtle benefits of technology is that it must also allow the size of the installation of games to be reduced. Indeed, on a classic hard drive, developers must constantly keep in mind the limitations of the support when it comes to seek times – that we could translate, certainly not quite rigorously, into access time. Whenever the game needs new data on the disc, the magnetic playhead should move to where that data is stored and then read it. All of this takes a significant amount of time, which may affect the proper functioning of the game. In order to limit the problem, developers are therefore forced to duplicate certain data in multiple places on the disc, thus reducing the movements of the reading head. . This state of affairs was summed up by Mark Cerny, the chief architect of the PlayStation 5, during his famous presentation last March (from 10:30).

On SSD, all this no longer applies: since the data is no longer read by a mechanical element, but directly by an electrical signal, access times are reduced to zero. In fact, there is no need to duplicate certain data in the installation files at all, which potentially saves space. What kind of gain are we talking about? Our first observations on the cross-gen games available to date already give an idea, with sometimes surprising results.

Small, but beefy PS5 versions

So the PS5 version of Spider-Man: Miles Morales, in a rather counter-intuitive way, is satisfied with only 40.26 GB, while its counterpart PS4 occupies 53.43 GB. Less deep gains are noted with Sackboy: A Big Adventure, another title first party from PlayStation studios. But the most spectacular case is that of the adventure game The Pathless, of which the 10.52 GB on PS4 is almost divided by three on PS5!

Of course, all this is not yet a rule: unsurprisingly, cross-platform games have not received such careful care. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla thus displays the same weight on the scale in both versions, while Dirt 5 takes 7 GB of overweight on the next-gen console. In the latter case, it is therefore rather the use of textures and 3D models of higher quality that is felt.

PS4 PS5
Spider-Man: Miles Morales 53,43 Go 40,26 Go (-25 %)
Sackboy: A Big Adventure 34,66 Go 30,63 Go (-12 %)
The Pathless 10,52 Go 3,87 Go (-63 %)
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla 45,66 Go 44,34 Go (-3 %)
Dirt 5 40,45 Go 47,45 Go (+17 %)

Xboxes in withdrawal for the moment

Of course, what is allowed by the SSD of the PlayStation 5 should also be allowed by the SSDs of the two Xboxes. But at this time, the examples are rarer. To be honest, we only found one: the Series S version of Gears 5, extremely similar in its graphics settings to the Xbox One X version, yet occupies 10 GB less on the hard drive. The Series X version, on the other hand, with its ultra high definition textures, does the opposite. Forza Horizon 4, for its part, is more disappointing: the Series S and Series X versions, although both using textures and models almost identical to the One X version, occupy for the first an almost unchanged place, and for the second 7 GB Furthermore. As for Sea of Thieves, its Series S version is spectacularly lighter than the Series X and One X versions, but this is only due to the very low quality textures it uses.

Xbox One X Xbox Series S Xbox Series X PS5
Gears 5 64,5 Go 55,7 Go 72,4 Go
Ori and the Will of the Wisps 4,8 Go 5,6 Go 5,6 Go
Sea of Thieves 46,6 Go 17 Go 46,6 Go
Forza Horizon 4 75,4 Go 72 Go 82,5 Go
Yakuza: Like a Dragon 37,8 Go 37,8 Go 37,8 Go
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla 51 Go 46,8 Go 46,8 Go 44,34 Go
Dirt 5 44 Go 46,8 Go 46,8 Go 47,45 Go

Still, the results observed on PS5 show that in return for good optimization, new generation games could effectively stop their incessant swelling, and thus not make us suffer too quickly from totally saturated storage. We hope that the trend will be confirmed in the future.

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