Are we all comfortable with the lifespan of SSDs in the new consoles?

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Arjailer

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#1  Edited By Arjailer

With both (all 3?) of the new consoles having motherboard-mounted, non-replaceable SSDs - can we assume that we're all comfortable with the lifespan of SSDs these days?

10 years ago the prevailing wisdom was that an SSD would probably fail within 2 or 3 years. Obviously this has improved over the years, but they're still not ever-lasting - they likely will fail at some point.

My personal experience with SSDs so far has been in desktops (easy to replace) or work laptops (the company's responsibility), and with the PS4 and Xbox One having mechanical drives if they failed you could open them up and replace them. So I think the Series X I just got is probably the first device I've bought where if the SSD fails out of warranty I'm probably going to have to buy a whole new console. Not that this stopped me buying it of course 😁

I've never personally had an SSD fail on me, but those old stories are still there at the back of my mind ...

Are my concerns out of date? Or are we no longer worried about SSD lifespans?

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TFArchive

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In terms of them wearing out, I wouldn't worry as that scales with capacity and a 512 or 1TB SSD is hard to wear out these days.

In terms of failure, these aren't cheap chinese nvme drives, these are from major companies so I would expect them to similar to the mid-high end of the consumer market. Especially, considering the PCIe Gen 4 NVMEs are pretty new on the market.

So overall I would say that SSDs are more reliable than a hard drive at this point.

I have no idea if the consoles monitor the wear level, spare sectors on these drives to notify you of issues or if it will just not let you write at some point.

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Justin258

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#3  Edited By Justin258

If I'm not mistaken, the PS5 has a m.2 slot in it. Currently it's deactivated, but I bet someone will homebrew up a way to get it going someday.

But that's the far future. Right now, you're fine, modern top of the line SSDs tend to last a lot longer than that.

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bigsocrates

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#4  Edited By bigsocrates

Yes and no.

On the one hand, these consoles absolutely had to have SSDs. The idea of going with mechanical drives is a non-starter.

On the other hand, people saying "they're modern SSDs so they're fine" may be right, but also it appears that Xbox couldn't even get their optical media drives right, since lots of people are having issues, and we don't know for sure the long term heat dispersion on these things so it's quite possible that a bunch will fail and these are basically impossible for a consumer to replace.

It would be better if these drives were mounted via some standard slot with user accessibility, like the PS3 and PS4 drives were (I replaced both myself and I am hardly a computer tech, so they were very easily accessed.)

In the end, though, I'm sure Microsoft and Sony will offer some official channel to get your drive replaced if it breaks. It may cost $100 or something but they'll do it because the PR hit of not offering a program is much worse. This will especially be true if there's some big cluster of drive failures. Also now that everything is backed up in the cloud, having your drive fail is much less of an issue. When my drive failed on my OG Xbox I lost my KOTOR II save, and I never finished that game because of it.

This will not be a serious problem for most users, at least for a long time. Either the drives will last in which case we're fine, or they'll fail in which case they'll be replaced like with the RROD, which sucked but didn't end with most people having to purchase new systems (instead it cost Microsoft a billion dollars.) If a small number of drives start failing then there will be a repair solution, like when batteries fail in modern devices with internal batteries.

And if people's SSDs somehow fail because they were blowing vape smoke into their consoles then they darn well deserve it!

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Kaname

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The Xbox Series X has a separate chip for the SSD though I thought? Somebody removed it and determined what speed and such it was. That could technically be replaceable, but probably not by users. The SSD from that teardown has a TBW of 400 (I'm assuming TB), so after about 2000 call of duties it's no longer expected to work flawlessly.

But yeah, SSDs having a limited amount of writes isn't cool, especially not if it's impossible to replace. And with these consoles not having enough space and forcing you to juggle games around, you'll be reading and writing even more, lowering the shelf life. I wouldn't be surprised if these consoles will start dying about 5 years in.

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bigsocrates

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@kaname said:

But yeah, SSDs having a limited amount of writes isn't cool, especially not if it's impossible to replace.

But what's the alternative? All SSDs have a limited amount of writes associated with them. Making the drives user replaceable would be better in some ways, but these consoles are carefully designed for heat dissipation and it may have been difficult, or it might have been made that way to prevent people from trying to put incompatible drives into their systems, especially because these are not JUST SSDs, they're specialized SSDs (though the same tech is generally available in certain replacement drives.)

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Humanity

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All this talk is getting me more nervous about the Samsung SSD I've had in my PC for over 4 years now.

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Ry_Ry

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we’re much more likely to have parts of the drive become unusable well before the entire thing kicks the bucket. At which point you’re probably looking at a PS7

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Kaname

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@bigsocrates: So I looked it up, and the Xbox Series X' SSD is indeed replaceable. It uses a custom SSD though that you probably can't just buy so it doesn't seem user replaceable, but it does seem fixable if you'd send it in or something. Step 9 of this teardown shows it: https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Xbox+Series+X+Teardown/138451#s275577

That does seem like the best way to go. The PS5's soldered on chips would require basically a new PS5 instead. And the additional M.2 slot seems to also support all the other fancy IO controller stuff from the PS5, so they could've just made them all M.2 I think.

I just think having chips soldered on that have a set time to live is bad. Maybe even separate the OS and where the bulk of the games are stored, so the whole console doesn't die and the chips last longer. Have the soldered on chips be significantly smaller and only store the OS, and have the M.2 slot filled with the actual storage already.

Designing hardware is obviously difficult though, so I'm sure there might be problems with the suggestions I'm doing here.

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bigsocrates

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@kaname: The Series X hard drive is definitely not supposed to be user replaceable, but I agree that the company being able to replace it is something of a solution, though of course I'd prefer it if it were user replaceable and they just sold replacement hard drives with the specialized tech (or even better licensed it out to third parties.)

My guess is that Sony also has some kind of repair plan. Just because something is soldered onto a board doesn't mean it can't be refurbished.

Insert joke about with how much Sony patches their consoles your solution would lead to the drive dying faster because the small chip would get overwritten every few days.

I definitely see what you're saying...I guess my perspective is that these companies have probably thought this through and have plans for this. Phil Spencer has said that Microsoft isn't really in the business of selling Xboxes, it is in the business of selling games and especially Gamepass subscriptions, so I think Microsoft has zero interest in planned obsolescence here. They want people using these Xboxes for as long as possible. Given how both of these boxes have clearly been designed almost entirely with heat in mind it would seem bonkers to me if they didn't account for the SSD issue in some way. Whether that's planning on offering replacements or having used high quality drives that will last the lifetime of the box I don't know, but I am sure this is something that was discussed repeatedly during development of the boxes.

PlayStation is Sony's biggest business line. Microsoft is one of the biggest companies in the world and is clearly heavily invested in gaming with its recent $7.5 billion purchase of Bethesda. I guess I just don't think that they would sell a bunch of boxes that will die in a few years , especially because the boxes aren't even where the profit is so what would be the point of the PR hit? Microsoft spent $1 billion on the RROD fiasco which shows that A) they're willing to address hardware issues if they happen and B) they are acutely aware of just how expensive hardware issues can be.

The Xbox Series X has a one year warranty (I think) so for now the drives are all covered under that. We may see them launch a replacement program in 2021 once those warranties start running out.

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Arjailer

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I'm not worried at all about losing data (I've switched between enough Xboxes to know that that's a non-issue), I just don't want to be left with a 12" x 6" x 6", 10 lb plastic brick in 5 years.

Personally, I'm reassured seeing that the Series X has a replaceable drive. It looks like a tricky job, but do-able 👍

PS5 though 😞 ... but I don't have one of those ...

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GuardianBob87

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SSDs wear down with writes, not reads. Unless you plan on using your console as a scratch disk for big data development, game downloads and updates are trivial writes.

If you really must find something to worry about, SSDs lose their data when stored unpowered for some time. This could be an issue if you want to archive your old box at the end of the generation. You'll plug it in again and find it completely wiped.

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frytup

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You can see here that the Series X SSD is just an M2 drive, and I would expect there will be replacement parts with the required custom ASIC eventually. Whether it can really be considered "user replaceable" is somewhat debatable since you basically have to take the system entirely apart to get at it.

Unfortunately, I don't think just throwing a drive into the expansion slot of a PS5 would bypass a broken soldered-on SSD since I doubt you can boot off the expansion drive.

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#14  Edited By gundogan

I still have a 40gb Intel SSD around which is doing work in various configurations for over 8 years now (bit enthusiastic with the 10 years) so I think it should be fine for the lifespan. Not being able to replace them is kinda of a bummer, but that's something to worry about if you want to keep them around for 15-30 years I guess.

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Viqor

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I've been using SSDs as my OS drive for at least 10 years now, and I've only ever had one fail (I don't remember the brand, but it wasn't one of the major players and it way 64GB, so it was a long time ago). Modern SSDs are very reliable and are rated for lots of reads / writes (the 1TB Samsung 980 pro, for instance, is rated for 600TB of write endurance), so I honestly don't think that reliability will be a major concern in the short term (as in the 6-10 year life cycle of these consoles) unless there is something wrong with them.

For me, the bigger issue may come from long term preservation, especially for the PS5. What happens in 10/20/30 years when the SSD finally dies? Will there be any way to perfectly experience those games as they originally existed? If the XBox Series becomes Microsoft's platform going forward, then theoretically, you should be able to simply buy the newest Xbox and keep playing your games, but will Sony make the same investment in backward compatibility going forward? The answer could be yes, but if they move to a new tech platform at any point, there could be content that is simply stuck on old platforms (as is the case with the PS3 right now), with little hope of long-term preservation once those drives die.

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Gundato

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#16  Edited By Gundato

@humanity: Honestly? You're probably fine. A lot of the SSD fear is based on earlier tech and people running defrag every night. Lifespans and software have gone a long way and I consider them just as reliable as any spinning disc at this point

Which is to say: Back up data you aren't willing to lose/regenerate and duplicate that backup for the really important stuff. But don't worry about failures.

-----

As to the topic at hand: From a hardware standpoint, no. But I am a bit concerned that Sony's long history of bad filesystems and infrastructure might exacerbate things.

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Diamond_Lime

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@humanity: If it's not backed up in at least 3 different places, it's not backed up.

I lost a hard drive with a bunch of music I'd made about 10 years ago, and it still bugs me to this day.

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FacelessVixen

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#18  Edited By FacelessVixen

In 2010: Yes.

In 2020, with the possibility of mid generation upgraded consoles being a continuing trend, the SSDs that are in the current gen consoles (if no faster and have more read and write cycles) will most likely be available at retail along with PCIe Gen 4 being more commonplace within a year, and most people having backups of their saves one their respective cloud server: I've convinced myself that it isn't an issue while typing this, but let me know when I can buy a 4TB or 8TB SSD for the price of a 4TB or 8TB HDD.

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OurSin_360

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#19 OurSin_360  Online

I wonder if the os could be run off the expansion slots if they failed? Seems odd they'd make it non replaceable, but maybe it was more cost effective or improved performance some.

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clagnaught

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With SSDs they in theory can last not as long as HDDs, although the real world use does not actually impact it that much. Making up numbers here, but it’s not like SSDs only last 50% as long as HDDs.

In terms of this question, not really. I had a 360 and a PS3 die, and that’s about it. I end up being new computers before anything ever died. Also, as an owner of a PS4 Pro, there is a non-zero percent chance I will buy a hypothetical PS5 Pro.

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#21  Edited By dsjwetrwete

The only worry I'd have is just the implementations fucking up in some way, particularly with PS5's unique setup. And let's be honest console quality control has always been kind of shit. Otherwise SSD's have been reliable for ages. Techreport did an endurance experiment many years back and I believe nearly every SSD they tested survived, at minimum, the listed number of writes. More often than not they survived multiple times that amount. https://techreport.com/review/24841/introducing-the-ssd-endurance-experiment/

People who remember hearing horror stories about SSD's probably read about bad controllers, OCZ, etc. which was a problem during the early days. Modern SSD's have SIGNIFICANTLY higher endurance ratings. I have a budget crucial drive from seven years ago that is still used for a gaming (and everything) PC. When I checked the S.M.A.R.T data, only about 10% of it's life had been used up.

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isomeri

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I'm not worried at all. I think it's more likely for moving parts like the fan or the disc-drive to fail way before the SSD does. The first two years are covered under warranty and after that we're probably looking at the new hardware refresh anyway which I'll likely be dumb enough to buy.

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I'll just add that my fear isn't based on old SSDs failing or bad usage or bad brands, I've have modern SSDs fail from overuse in the last couple of years from major brands. Obviously just anecdotal as well, but modern SSDs aren't failure proof like some seem to imply. With patches of 30GB every 2 to 3 months, and games of 200GB, and limited space forcing people to juggle games around, I really don't think these consoles will last 8 years.

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bigsocrates

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@kaname: It sounds like you've had some bad luck.

I don't think anyone is suggesting that these SSDs can't fail. Some percentage of them definitely will, just like some percentage of every component of a console can and will fail. The question is what percentage and also how the console manufacturers will handle it, and we can't know that yet. But magnetic hard drives fail too, and have mechanical parts that wear out, plus they aren't practical for the loading speeds these consoles want to achieve. There's just no alternative to SSDs for these things, and since we have no reason to believe these particular SSDs are more prone to failure than others there's just no specific reason to worry here.

The Xbox Series X SSD is replaceable and I would assume that Sony has some kind of plan for the PS5 drive. It seems like the only way this situation could be better would be to have drives that users could easily replace themselves, but these consoles are also already being criticized for being too big and are engineered as giant heat sinks, so it seems like that just may not have been possible this time out.

I also think that your concern is much more valid for very engaged gamers (like people on this board) than for the public at large. A lot of people just don't buy or play that many games, so they'll never run up against these limits, whatever they turn out to be. Maybe with Game Pass that will be different for Microsoft (they're pushing it hard and it will lead to people downloading and playing a lot more stuff) but I think that people posting on this board are probably in the top 5 or 10 percent of usage cases.

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Kaname

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@bigsocrates: It really wasn't luck, it's just logical based on what they could do and what they did. And obviously I'm not suggesting that anybody is suggesting these SSDs are impervious. I thought that was obvious.

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SSD's don't have the shorter lifespan they use to from back in the day and modern ones have just as good or even better lifespan than traditional platter drives (due to the lack of actual moving parts). I think the last thing I saw puts there lifespan at about 10 years.

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goosemunch

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@kaname said:

@bigsocrates: It really wasn't luck, it's just logical based on what they could do and what they did. And obviously I'm not suggesting that anybody is suggesting these SSDs are impervious. I thought that was obvious.

So you didn't get lemons, you were writing data to them until they're worn out? What were you doing with them?

I agree 100% that it sucks they're not user-serviceable in the new consoles, but like BluPotato said, modern SSDs have much write endurance than earlier stuff, so unless they're using really crappy bottom of the barrel quality SSDs, I doubt they'll wear out in 8 years as you say.

For example on my current PC, I've written nearly 20TB of data over the past 7 months according to smart utility, which is a lot for a consumer (nearly 100GB a day). Despite that, at current rate I'd have to use it for 52 years to reach its TBW rating if the manufacturer's claim is to be believed. Basically I expect something else inside the SSD to break before its NAND wears out.

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MonkeyKing1969

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I'm not terrible concerned about the storage on consoles at least for their expected life.

The interesting things is that for collectors there is a finite life expectancy for console in use teh more compelx they become. If you used a PS 5 every of 15 years it would likely works if nothing goes wrong with other components. But, collectors might have their systems for 20, 30, or 40 years, so at that point with regular use will the memory chips on the PCB fail on PS5.

However, expeted life expects of memory stage chips is an average. There will be some chips that fail after fewer cycles and some will last multiples of their expected life. On old systems you might worry about fat capacitators failing or batteies leaking. Now we might worry about life cycles on solid state memory.

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Gundato

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@monkeyking1969: I mean, if you are "collecting" or "preserving" a modern console with the expectation of it being anything more than a piece of plastic on the wall you kind of missed the point

Even if we pretend that you only ever need physical discs (with many top games never having a physical release), an increasing percentage of those are released without zero day patches so the actual disc version isn't even the version anyone but a game journalist played through. And when you consider future patches, DLC, updates, live games, etc: that console is useful up until the server shuts down.

It is why, as shitty as the Switch's build quality is, the vast majority will last up until the Switch U and Nintendo shuts down all the Switch related services.

Also, don't forget bulging vitas and popping xbox caps and the mother fucking worm gear on the first 2 (maybe 3?) playstation generations.

I could also go on a rant about how digital software preservation is increasingly meaningless and it is really youtube where these games are being preserved, but that is a different discussion.

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frytup

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@gundato said:

@monkeyking1969: I mean, if you are "collecting" or "preserving" a modern console with the expectation of it being anything more than a piece of plastic on the wall you kind of missed the point

Even if we pretend that you only ever need physical discs (with many top games never having a physical release), an increasing percentage of those are released without zero day patches so the actual disc version isn't even the version anyone but a game journalist played through. And when you consider future patches, DLC, updates, live games, etc: that console is useful up until the server shuts down.

Yep, largely true, but every time I've assumed something is impossible emulation devs and preservationists have surprised me. You can already back up PS4/Xbone games with all the patches and DLC to an external drive. From there, it's likely just a DRM problem.

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Gundato

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#33  Edited By Gundato

@frytup: Which gets back to the idea that it is software and experiences that need to be preserved. Even if you were to remove all DRM (let's not discuss that aspect any farther...) and mirrored everything... your controller is bulging and at least one cap is about ready to spray some acid on that mobo.

Software emulation continues to go a long way and there is every sign that it may get even easier with more and more of the first party studios and engines being designed with future PC releases in mind., Which gets back to the idea of whether you can ever "preserve" a CoD, let alone a Warframe or a WoW.

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frytup

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@gundato said:

@frytup: Which gets back to the idea that it is software and experiences that need to be preserved. Even if you were to remove all DRM (let's not discuss that aspect any farther...) and mirrored everything... your controller is bulging and at least one cap is about ready to spray some acid on that mobo.

Software emulation continues to go a long way and there is every sign that it may get even easier with more and more of the first party studios and engines being designed with future PC releases in mind., Which gets back to the idea of whether you can ever "preserve" a CoD, let alone a Warframe or a WoW.

You're going a little nuts with the electrolytic capacitor "spray". Generally speaking it's more of a slow leak, and it's also less likely with modern components than it was during the bad cap apocalypse of the 90s. Regardless, caps can be replaced. As can controller batteries.

I'm definitely not arguing against software emulation, which is great, but there's just no substitute for original hardware in a perfect world where games can be ripped.

I don't really have much of an opinion on preserving multiplayer experiences. Those aren't the games I care about.

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MonkeyKing1969

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@gundato said:

@monkeyking1969: I mean, if you are "collecting" or "preserving" a modern console with the expectation of it being anything more than a piece of plastic on the wall you kind of missed the point

Even if we pretend that you only ever need physical discs (with many top games never having a physical release), an increasing percentage of those are released without zero day patches so the actual disc version isn't even the version anyone but a game journalist played through. And when you consider future patches, DLC, updates, live games, etc: that console is useful up until the server shuts down.

It is why, as shitty as the Switch's build quality is, the vast majority will last up until the Switch U and Nintendo shuts down all the Switch related services.

Also, don't forget bulging vitas and popping xbox caps and the mother fucking worm gear on the first 2 (maybe 3?) playstation generations.

I could also go on a rant about how digital software preservation is increasingly meaningless and it is really youtube where these games are being preserved, but that is a different discussion.

True. Then again I don't collect anything that is mass produced.

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RobertForster

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@kaname: By the time the soldered on SSD dies. It will be obsolete compared to the fast M.2 SSD that you would replace it with. So, it really doesn't matter.

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cadilla430

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I truly don't think anyone can answer this question until about a year in on these new machines

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ryudo

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My PS3,OG Xbox,360 and PS4 HDDs are still fine. Not that worried about an SSD.