Two of the most frustrating issues with the latest and greatest AAA video games are download size and load times for game launch and cut scenes. Western Digital’s latest external SSD tackles both of those challenges. The WD Black P50 Game Drive SSD uses NVMe technology and a USB-C (USB 3.2 Gen 2×2) interface for a compact form factor and blistering speeds. Western Digital sent one for me to try out, and I immediately had my 17-year-old gamer twins plug it in.
I’ve had external game drives before, but nothing like this one…
My review unit had a capacity of 1TB, which means you can significantly expand a game console or PC’s game library. The drive is available in capacities ranging from 500GB right up to 2TB, so you can pick the size that’s appropriate. And speaking of size, it is quite compact. Measuring 4.65 x 2.44 x 0.55-inches and weighing just over 4 ounces, this drive is small. Pocketing your game library for easy carrying from machine to machine has never been easier.
The P50’s case is rugged, with a forged aluminum cover that’s clearly made to take some punishment. Western Digital says it is shock-resistant and backs it with a 5-year limited warranty. The case is painted black and designed to look like it means business—one look and you know this thing wasn’t designed for your daily data backups.
So far so good, but I’ve had HDD-based gaming drives that offer mass storage. They aren’t nearly as portable or durable as this one, but they get the job done. However, the P50 Game Drive SSD brings the advantage of speed.
This drive is capable of read speeds up to 2000MB/s. That sounds fast, but you don’t realize just how fast that is until you see it in action. We installed Marvel’s Avengers on a PS4’s internal hard drive and launched it. It took one minute and 10 seconds for the game to launch. That is an excruciating wait. We then installed it on the WD Black P50 external SSD and plugged that into the Playstation. Launching the game from the external drive took 32 seconds—less than half the time! This kind of performance gain is consistent. Whenever the console stops to load content (primarily when switching levels and loading cut scenes), it’s twice as fast when the game is installed on the P50.
As the boys pointed out that doesn’t do anything about the (censored) frame rate of Marvel’s Avengers on the PS4, but cutting down on the waiting by such a high degree makes all games more enjoyable.
And remember, this is is plugged into the Playstation 4’s Type-A USB 3.0/3.1 generation 1 ports. (Western Digital includes both USB-C and USB Type-A cables in the box.) That interface is seriously slowing down the SSD. A recent gaming PC or laptop with a motherboard that can take full advantage of the USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 interface will really scream. It should offer impressive performance on the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X when they are released as well.
If you’re tired of deleting games to makes space to install new ones on your game console or gaming PC, the WD Black P50 Game Drive SSD is available with all the extra storage you need. And its lightning-fast performance is going to make those crushing launch and cut scene loading moments a lot more tolerable. The 1TB drive I evaluated has a $249.99 sticker, which seems pretty reasonable, but you can drop that to under $180 with the 500GB version.
Disclosure: Western Digital provided a P50 drive for evaluation but had no input into this review. As an Amazon Associate, I earn affiliate fees from qualifying purchases.