500 GB vs 1 TB: which PS4 model makes sense?

What started as 30 GB at the start of the PS4’s life has now ballooned over 100 GB with some large scale titles. And if you’re looking to buy or upgrade your PS4, the choice between models is an important one when it comes to hard drive space.

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As far as 500GB vs 1TB models go, which is better?

1TB is generally going to be the better model for most – more storage is never a bad thing – but some gaming habits might align with the cost savings of a smaller storage unit.

It’s also much harder to find a new 500 GB model these days, and if you do, the price is well within reach of 1 TB versions. For this reason, getting a 500 GB version makes sense if you’re looking to save by buying used.

Read on to find out which storage capacity is right for you, the differences between models, and when each makes the most sense.

Differences between 500GB and 1TB models

In most cases, there is going to be no difference between 500GB and 1TB models other than the amount of storage they offer.

For example, when comparing a 1 TB Slim to its smaller storage cousin, the processing power, available inputs, and every other spec is going to be the same.

1 TB Slim models offer:

The only differences emerge when comparing either Slim/original PS4’s to the Pro, or the Slim to the original.

Sony has made it clear that storage speed is of high priority for the PS5, and it’s speculated that the next-gen console will implement some sort of proprietary SSD.

The PS4 Pro is only available in 1TB and it’s significantly more powerful than the original PS4 or Slim models.

1 TB Pro models offer:

  • Upclocked CPU (1.6 GHz to 2.1 GHz)
  • Much more powerful GPU (1.84 TFLOP to 4.2 TFLOP)
  • 4K streaming (Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.)
  • Optical port
  • 4K gaming (checkerboard rendering)
  • HDR
  • Smoother OS navigation
  • 1080p/60 fps Twitch streaming

The Slim also loses the optical input port among other slight differences to the base PS4.

It’s also the quietest console out of the bunch.

Furthermore, every version of the PS4 comes with a 5400 RPM HDD. Not even the Pro comes packed with an SSD or hybrid drive, so if speed is something that is important to you, you’ll need to install a third party drive.

Thankfully, the original PS4, Slim, and Pro support easily swappable HDD’s, and many games do show loading time improvements when an SSD is used.

Patches, DLC, and digital games: the HDD bottleneck

Gaming is no longer how it was during the Xbox 360 and PS3 years. Booting up your PS4 and Xbox One is more than likely to lead to a barrage of updates that need your attention.

And then there are the dreaded system messages informing you that you don’t have enough storage.

If you’re someone that likes a large library on tap, managing the PS4’s OS quickly can quickly become tedium.

In this way, consoles aren’t unlike PC’s. Windows 10 requires driver updates while Sony pushes out PS4 OS updates. And the game updates are even across the two platforms.

The game of managing storage on consoles is no joke – Red Dead Redemption 2, one of the biggest PS4 games to date, boasts an install size of 99 GB.

All of this culminates to a potential storage management nightmare if you plan to install more than a few AAA releases on your new PS4, and it’s why you should choose the 1TB model if you’re liable to play more than a few big games a year.

The pro’s of the 1TB models are obvious:

  • Little need for storage micromanagement
  • Huge reduction in re-downloading digital games
  • The ability to install more than a few big PS4 games

It should be noted, however, that a 1TB PS4 might not be enough if you’re sinking coin into every PSN Flash Sale that passes by. If you’re always on the hunt for a new enthralling experience, sooner or later, you’re going to run out of space.

Models on the market in 2019 that offer 1 TB variants:

  • PS4 Pro
  • PS4 Slim

Thankfully, you can add storage to your PS4 at any time with external storage as long as the external HDD supports USB 3.0. You’re also able to swap out the internal drive for something bigger.

Quick facts about upgrading your PS4 storage:

  • New internal drives must be 2.5 inches and serial ATA
  • External drives must be USB 3.0
  • External drives are limited to capacities between 250 GB and 8 TB

The problem of no spare storage is especially true for those who like to play a mixture of big single player games and GaaS games like Rainbow Six Siege, Fortnite, Overwatch, and Apex Legends.

You’re gonna get hit with constant patches and content additions, and it’s incredibly annoying to have to free up space by deleting games and media.

It’s also why buying physical games might be the better option.

Physical games may only function as glorified DRM these days, but they do install the base game infinitely more quickly than digital downloads.

And we all know that when you want to play a game again, it’s now…and not 5 hours later.

500GB for when you know what you want

1 TB models are by and large the most popular models sold by retailers at this point, but there are still brand new 500GB models available and millions of used units floating around.

When does 500GB make sense?

If you know you’re only going to want to install and play a few games, the savings from a used or new 500GB model might be the right call.

Say you just want to get in on the Fortnite or Apex Legends craze and play the odd single player game here and there. In this case, you’re never going to have to worry about storage.

At this point in the PS4’s life, grabbing a used 500 GB model might make the most sense for those who play a select few games. PS5 versions of games like Cyberpunk 2077, Death Stranding, and The Last of Us Part II are just over the horizon…

Sure, you’ll have to download updates on a regular basis, but it’s hardly going to cause storage issues if you only ever have 1-3 games downloaded.

Patches, while sometimes monstrous in size, usually overwrite the previously installed update. In some cases, patches will overwrite the game install entirely, as was the case with Overwatch on multiple occasions.

As mentioned above, you can always upgrade your hard drive, either internally or externally, down the line.

You don’t need a PS4 Pro to have a great time, and buying a used console can be a great way to get into the ecosystem on the cheap.

The PS5 will also release no later than 2020-2021 – Sony is full steam ahead with trickling in details about the next-gen platform as of late.

Getting in on the PS4’s lifespan this late in the game makes saving now for mind melters like Cyberpunk 2077 on the PS5 all the more worthwhile.

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