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The best PS5 external hard drives in 2021

Best PS5 external hard drives
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The best PS5 external hard drives can help you solve your storage issues on Sony’s latest consoles. While the PS5 offers a respectable 825 GB internal SSD, that’s not enough for a very big library, considering that some popular games can exceed 100 GB. If you have a sterling Internet connection and a lot of time on your hands, you can keep all of your excess games in the cloud. Otherwise, you can invest in an external storage option and save yourself some time.

There are two benefits to owning one of the best PS5 external hard drives. The first is that you can store unused PS5 games there, and transfer them back onto your console much more quickly than redownloading them from Sony’s servers. The second benefit is that you can play PS4 games directly from an external drive, meaning you can save all of your precious internal SSD space for massive PS5 titles.

What are the best PS5 external hard drives

Before you buy one of the best PS5 external hard drives, you should know what they can and can’t do. Right now, you can store PS4 and PS5 games on external storage media. You can play PS4 games directly from these drives, but you must copy PS5 games back to the system’s internal SSD before you play them. As such, these external drives are ready-made gaming machines for PS4 games, but a mere digital archive for PS5 games.

You can also purchase either a solid state drive (SSD) or a hard disk drive (HDD) to act as external PS5 storage. You don’t need PS5-specific hardware for this; any system that works with a computer will also work with a PS5. The PS5 itself can format these drives for you; just bear in mind that you’ll lose any data you currently have stored on them.

With that information in mind, the best PS5 external hard drives that we tested were the WD Black P50 and the Samsung Portable SSD T5. Both of these SSDs feature 1 TB storage, as well as considerably faster read and write speeds than comparable HDD models. The Samsung is much cheaper; the P50 is arguably faster, at least if you want to hook it up to a PC. On a PS5, they’re almost identically speedy.

In terms of HDDs, the WD Black P10 with 5 TB storage will let you back up a huge game library, and it also copies and loads data much more quickly than some of the other HDDs we tested. While an SSD will always be faster, the WD Black P10 strikes a good balance of price, space and functionality.

The best PS5 external hard drives you can buy today

Best PS5 external hard drives: Samsung Portable SSD T5

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1. Samsung Portable SSD T5

The best PS5 external hard drive overall

Storage Size: 1 TB | Storage Type: SSD | USB-C: Yes | External Power: No

Quick transfer times
Sleek, compact design
Not too expensive
So-so storage size
Some PS4 transfer slowdown

The best PS5 external hard drive, out of all the models we tested, was the Samsung Portable SSD T5. This 1 TB external drive is tiny, with an unobtrusive design and quiet operations. What really sells the SSD T5, however, is just how quickly it transfers data. Copying Returnal to the drive took only 7 minutes — the fastest transfer speed of any drive we tested — while copying Mass Effect: Andromeda took only 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Loading up Mass Effect Andromeda from the SSD T5 took 35 seconds, which is actually four seconds faster than the PS5’s internal SSD loaded the game.

Of course, 1 TB isn’t a tremendous amount of storage space; you’re essentially just doubling what you get from the PS5’s internal storage. It’s not enough to hold a whole library. The PS4 game-transfer speeds also aren’t the absolute fastest that we tested. But those are small quibbles in an otherwise-excellent accessory.

Best PS5 external hard drives: SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD

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2. SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD

The best budget PS5 external hard drive

Storage Size: 500 GB | Storage Type: SSD | USB-C: Yes | External Power: No

Small profile
Rapid transfer speeds
Not much space
Short cables

The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD is an excellent storage option for less than $100. Yes, you could get cheaper HDD storage, but having an external SSD really is worthwhile, particularly if you plan to transfer PS5 games back and forth often — or if you plan to load PS4 games directly from the drive. This sleek little machine offers 500 GB storage. It’s admittedly not a ton of space, but it’s enough for about 10 big-budget titles, or lots more mid-budget and indie fare.

The big draw is not necessarily the available storage space, but rather the transfer speed. The Extreme Portable SSD moved Returnal from the PS5 in only 7 minutes and 12 seconds, while Mass Effect Andromeda took only 2:06. Furthermore, Mass Effect Andromeda took only 36 seconds to load, which is faster than the PS5’s internal SSD.

Best PS5 external hard drives: WD Black P50

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3. WD Black P50

Storage Size: 1 TB | Storage Type: SSD | USB-C: Yes | External Power: No

Fast transfer speeds
Stylish design
Loads PS4 games quickly
Not optimized for PS5

The WD Black P50 comes from respected hard drive manufacturer Western Digital. As such, it’s not surprising that it’s one of the best PS5 accessories you can buy. This SSD features 1 TB storage space, as well as a stylish, durable design and very quick transfer speeds. It had the fastest PS4 transfer speeds of any storage drive we tested, as well as the second-fastest PS5 transfer speeds. The P50 copied Returnal from the PS5 in only 7 minutes and 2 seconds, and Mass Effect Andromeda in a best-in-class 2:04. Mass Effect Andromeda also loaded up in 36 seconds, three seconds faster than the PS5 itself could manage.

Granted, the P50 is extremely expensive as these things go, offering similar storage to other SSDs at approximately twice the price. That’s arguably because WD designed the hardware with PCs in mind; indeed, you can get better performance if you hook the P50 up to a computer. But if you’ve got the money, it’s one of the best PS5 external hard drives you can buy.

Best PS5 external hard drives: WD Black P10

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4. WD Black P10

Storage Size: 5 TB | Storage Type: HDD | USB-C: No | External Power: No

Lots of space
Solid design
Reasonable price
Middle-of-the-road transfer speed
Doesn’t load PS4 games that fast

The WD Black P10 is probably the best traditional HDD for external PS5 storage. As such, it strikes an enviable balance between price and performance. While the P10 isn’t exactly cheap, it also doesn’t cost all that much money for a whopping 5 TB of storage space. That’s enough for dozens of big-budget titles, or hundreds of smaller ones. It’s entirely conceivable that a P10 could last you for the PS5’s entire lifespan.

As long as you’re not absolutely married to SSD speeds, the P10 has very few drawbacks. It copied Returnal in a respectable 11:41, and Mass Effect Andromeda in 8:30 — both very good times for an HDD. However, it took 53 seconds to load Mass Effect, so you may not want to play PS4 games directly from this drive. At least copying them doesn’t take too long.

Best PS5 external hard drives: G-Technology ArmorAtd

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5. G-Technology ArmorAtd

Storage Size: 4 TB | Storage Type: HDD | USB-C: Yes | External Power: No

Tough, durable design
Connects via USB-C
Decent transfer speeds
Not designed with consoles in mind
Slow PS4 load times

The G-Technology ArmorAtd was the biggest surprise I encountered while evaluating the best PS5 external hard drives. At first, I thought I had received it by mistake. The ArmorAtd isn’t a console hard drive; it’s one of those “rugged” hard drives that can withstand shock, water, dust and so forth. But despite being designed for a construction site, the ArmorAtd is not only generous with storage space and surprisingly affordable, it’s also darn good at transferring data.

The ArmorAtd was one of the faster HDDs we tested, moving Returnal in 12:55 and Mass Effect Andromeda in 7:47. Like other HDDs, it didn’t load Mass Effect Andromeda all that quickly, taking 58 seconds to Resume a game from the main menu. It’s also too big, bulky and garish to sit comfortably in an entertainment center — but that’s not really what it was designed for, anyway.

Best PS5 external hard drives: Seagate Last of Us II

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6. Seagate Last of Us II

Storage Size: 2 TB | Storage Type: HDD | USB-C: No | External Power: No

Striking design
Quick PS4 transfer speeds
Designed with PlayStation systems in mind
Slow PS5 transfer speeds
More expensive than non-branded gear

Sony doesn’t have any official PlayStation external drives, but the Seagate Last of Us II hard drive is about as close as you’ll get. This decent HDD offers 2 TB storage, as well as a stylish front design with a logo from The Last of Us, Part II. The branded logo arguably adds a good $10 or $15 to the price, but it’s definitely more aesthetically pleasing than the sea of plain black boxes we evaluated.

Transfer speeds are OK: moving Returnal took a somewhat sluggish 13:49, while copying Mass Effect Andromeda took a much brisker 6:12. Andromeda took 53 seconds to load, which was pretty fast among HDDs — and pretty slow compared to SSDs, including the PS5’s internal drive. While the Seagate Last of Us II drive isn’t impressive, per se, it’s not bad, as branded gear goes.

Best PS5 external hard drives: Seagate Expansion

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7. Seagate Expansion

Storage Size: 6 TB | Storage Type: HDD | USB-C: No | External Power: Yes

Tons of storage space
Fast transfer times
Long cables
Requires external power
Large and bulky

If you need a lot of storage space and power outlets are not an issue, consider the Seagate Expansion 6 TB drive. This device is hefty in more ways than one: It offers 6 TB storage, but it’s also quite large and heavy. In fact, this external HDD requires its own electrical outlet; it’s too much of a power-hog for a USB connection.

Still, 6 TB is an awful lot of storage space, and the Seagate Expansion puts its extra power to good use. This was the fastest HDD that we tested, moving Returnal from the PS5 in 9:15, and Mass Effect Andromeda in 4:46. It also loaded Mass Effect Andromeda the fastest of any HDD we tested: 52 seconds. That’s still a far cry from the PS5 internal SSD’s load time of 39 seconds, though, so you should use the Expansion primarily for long-term storage.

Best PS5 external hard drives: WD My Passport

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8. WD My Passport

Storage Size: 4 TB | Storage Type: HDD | USB-C: No | External Power: No

Smart design
Good amount of space
Not that expensive
Slow transfer and load times
Other WD devices perform much better

While we recommend a handful of WD external drives on this list, the WD My Passport is not one of them. This device looks promising enough, with an elegant rectangular design, a small profile and 4 TB of storage space. However, it was surprisingly slow, compared to the other HDDs we tested: 13:06 to move Returnal and 12:09 to move Mass Effect Andromeda. It also took 62 seconds to load Andromeda, the only external drive we tested that took more than a minute.

The My Passport comes with the WD pedigree, and you can get it in a variety of colors, so it’s not all bad. It’s also not terribly expensive, particularly compared to some of the SSDs we recommend on this list. Still, just about every comparably priced HDD we tested was faster. If you want to grab WD gear for your PS5, stick to the company’s gaming lineup.

toshiba usb 3.0 hard drive

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9. Toshiba USB 3.0 Hard Drive

Storage Size: 1 TB | Storage Type: HDD | USB-C: No | External Powers: No

Relatively cheap
Good PS4 transfer times
Small and lightweight
Incredibly long PS5 transfer times
Slower than similarly priced devices

On the surface, there’s a lot to like about the Toshiba USB 3.0 Hard Drive. It’s inexpensive; it’s sleek; it’s got a respectable 1 TB of storage space. However, the Toshiba whiffed our most important test: the PS5 transfer time. This external drive took a mind-numbing 44:50 to transfer Returnal from the PS5. That’s about four times slower than the next-slowest HDD we tested. Oddly, it took less than 10 minutes to transfer the game from the drive to the PS5, but in every test, the initial transfer was at least a 40-minute odyssey.

It’s a shame, because there’s a lot to like about the Toshiba otherwise, including its 8:10 transfer time for Mass Effect Andromeda. (It took 57 seconds to load the game, though, which is pretty slow.) But you could conceivably download a whole game faster than the Toshiba would transfer it.

How to choose the best PS5 external hard drive for you

The most important consideration when choosing the best PS5 external hard drive for your setup is whether you want an SSD or an HDD. While everyone’s situation is different, if you can afford an SSD, you should get one. SSDs transfer data much more quickly, which is an important consideration if you’re thinking about storing gigabytes upon gigabytes of data in one of these drives. SSDs are also less prone to failure over time, since they have no moving parts.

Otherwise, you’ll want to take price and storage space into account. The PS5’s internal SSD offers about 825 GB worth of space (minus some, for necessary system files). As such, a 1 TB drive essentially doubles your storage; a 2 TB drive triples it, and so forth. More space usually means more money, so adjust your expectations accordingly. Remember that modern-day PS5 blockbusters tend to take about 50 GB worth of space, if that helps you calculate how much space you’ll need.

How we test the best PS5 external hard drives

Testing the best PS5 external hard drives is extremely simple. All we have to do is see how fast the drive can move files from the PS5, and how fast it can load PS4 games. These drives can’t actually do a whole lot else, at least not when they’re formatted for PlayStation compatibility.

NameTypeSizeME: Andromeda copy time (min:sec)ME: Andromeda load time (seconds)
Samsung T5SSD1TB2:3035
SanDisk Extreme Portable SSDSSD500GB2:0636
WD Black P50SSD1TB2:0436
WD Black P10HDD5TB8:3053
G-Technology ArmorAidHDD4TB7:4758
Seagate Last of Us IIHDD2TB6:1253
Seagate ExpansionHDD6TB4:4652
WD My PassportHDD4TB12:0962

For testing purposes, we transferred Returnal, a PS5 exclusive, and Mass Effect Andromeda, a PS4 game with no special PS5 upgrades. This helped to prevent confusion between different potential versions of the game. Returnal clocks in at 56.2 GB; Mass Effect Andromeda, 46.8 GB. From there, we measured how long it took to transfer the files to and from each drive, using only the PS5, the drive in question and a stopwatch.

It’s worth noting here that we connect these drives via USB-C whenever possible, for faster, more accessible connections. The front-facing USB-A on the PS5 does not accept external drives. As such, having a USB-C connection available is a big advantage, particularly for setups where the back of the PS5 is hard to reach.