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dBrand Darkplates 2.0 PS5 & SSD Review and Temperature Tests

Par : Rob Andrews

dBrand Darkplates – Are they Good or Bad for your PS5 SSD & System Temperatures?


The Playstation 5 is one of the oddest looking consoles in…well.. ever! I think we can all agree that when Sony unveiled the console, a large number of us assumed it was concept art, or a tech demo. But no, the PS5 is white and black, has fins and is huge! When they announced that the side plates of the system were removable, it took all of about 10 minutes for brands to start getting to work on replacement side panels (or ‘Plates’) for the console in a multitude of colours and patterns. Sony, needless to say, immediately started pursuing legal action against these companies for infringement of their design and intellectual property without permission and of all the companies that received this legal onslaught, very few made the headlines as loudly as Brand and their Darkplate series. Thanks to a combination of speed of producing concepts, to an arguable savvy social marketing management team, they appeared on the bulk of mainstream gamer news sites and editorial platforms with their ‘illicit’ Darkplates. Sony won the battle of course, but dBrand seems to feel they can win the war with the release of their Darkplate 2.0, a new take on the shape and presentation of the PS5 plates, featuring additional ventilation, a tongue in cheek reference to their legal battles (with a user highlighting to me that the binary 01101 etc embossed inside is translated to the cease and decide Sony issued Brand) and creates a much more compact looking system that can also arrive in multiple colours, patterns and optional LED lighting. Now, I generally never look at things like this on NASCompares, as I focus almost exclusively on storage (NAS, DAS, HDDs, SSDs, Switches, Routers, IP Cameras, etc, etc), however, the Brand DARKPLATE 2.0 covers open up TWO important area of concern for some buyers that ARE very much in my/NASCompares wheelhouse. 1, Do these plates undermine or nullify the negative pressure air in/air out system the PS5 uses with its central fan and 2) if an m.2 SSD expansion drive is installed in the available bay of the PS5 (also inevitable given the baseline storage the system has and AAA games in 2022 onwards), does the increased block of heat that the SSD+HEATSINK+M.2 Cover panels result in ambient heat that the system is not efficiently ejecting? So, today I want to talk a little about these plates, but more importantly, run a series of tests that measure the temperature of the internal system AND the SSD expansion bay in a series of different setup scenarios. But, before we go any further, let’s take a closer look at the dBrand Darkplates themselves and how they install/look on the PS5

DESIGN - 9/10
QUALITY - 9/10
EFFECTIVENESS - 7/10
PRICE - 4/10
VALUE - 4/10


6.6
PROS
👍🏻Nice design, feel, patterns and colours
👍🏻In shape when deployed makes the system look a lot more subtle and understated (no tall fins)
👍🏻
👍🏻The Vented dark plate vents do not seemingly undermine the PS5 negative pressure cooling
👍🏻
👍🏻Mesh covered vents can be removed for cleaning
CONS
👎🏻Quite pricey for what you are getting
👎🏻The vented panels seem largely useless throughout temp testing

 

Twice the Price – What’s the Difference?

The Design and Cooling Differences of the Brand Darkplates 2.0 for PS5?


So, first and foremost, the vent panels of the Brand Darkplates. These are not featured on the official PS5 plates and are one of the biggest differences between the two (and almost certainly form part of the argument that these are not infringing on Sony’s copyright. It should be highlighted though that there are not fan-assisted, they do not connect with any internal/USB power source to increase airflow and are designed to be used above the existing PS5 system fan to allow more air to be pulled into the system before it gets pushed out the back of the console. This is where the concern is for some regarding how these pass airflow vents will undermine the PS5 active cooling system when in operation.



Fairplay to Brand, the presentation of the Darkplate 2.0 kit is incredibly chic, with a box that opens from the middle on dual hinges that reveals the individual plates wrapped in plastic and black foam, then cleaning fabric and a Darkplate 2.0 reference card. It’s all very modern in presentation and dBrand make several references to the Sony legal action, their ‘fight the man style stance and generally trying to promote this as more than just plastic for your home console. It is all laid on pretty thick, but it’s still a good retail kit.



One question many buyers have about the dBrand Darkplates is about value for money. Once you step aside from the marketing and legal fandango, you are looking at type plastic plates for your PS5 that are $59 to buy. Now, Sony is already releasing their own plates now at a notably higher price, but also you need to factor in that ALOT of budget eTailers (eshops, online retailers, etc) are now selling plain black budget plates for upgrading your PS5 for just $29 – half the price fo the black dBrand Darkplates. You can also add that if you wanted to upgrade your PS5 with a new SSD and wanted to ensure low operating temperatures and/of the longevity of the SSD, then you can look at PS5 designed SSD heatsinks for the system for as little as $20. So that means that the dBrand Darkplates 2.0 arriving at $59 puts it very much in a price bracket than many might think. The PS5 designed heatsink as an optional purchase is particularly pertinent as not only will it ensure that your PS5 SSD runs at a much better general heat level, but it does so with little/no impact on the system cooling (testing here on NASCompares several times in 2021/2022). So, do the dBrand Darkplates keep the system running cool still?

How the dBrand Darkplate PS5 Temperature Testing was Conducted?


For this test, I used the following components in four different hardware configurations, with each test cycle featuring four individual components that feature heavy Write activity actioned by moving 300GB of data from the internal system SSD and over to the expansion SSD, gameplay of two PS5 titles located on the SSD and a heavy Read activity by moving the games back onto the default system storage. When each test was completed, I turned the system completely off for 15 minutes and removed the side plates between tests, to allow the system the chance to dissipate heat. This seemed reasonable instead of leaving the system off for hours at a time to completely cool naturally and as long as all tests were afforded this same cool-down period equally, it still kept things even. Here are the hardware components used in this these tests:

  • PS5 System
  • Original Official Cover Plates
  • Seagate Firecuda 530 1TB SSD with EK Official Heatsink
  • Seagate Firecuda 530 1TB SSD without Heatsink
  • M.2 SSD Cover Plate
  • Sabrent PS5 Designed Heatsink
  • Twin Node Temperature Sensor

In all tests, a temperature node was placed an inch beneath the core system fan to measure ambient system temperature at all times. This was to see if 1, the ventilated debrand plates prevented the PS5 negative pressure cooling doing its job and 2, to see if the additional heat of the SSD with/without a cover would particularly increase heat in light of the brand plates changing the system passive cooling system. The first thing to do was to get a default/baseline from the PS5 system in all these tests, so I set up the PS5 in its original plates. I installed the Seagate Firecuda 530 SSD, set in place the metal m.2 cover plate, closed the system side plates and then begun running the tests on this ‘control’ or ‘baseline’ setup.



After the first range of tests were completed, I removed the official PS5 cover plates, left the system to cool for an hour (removing and then replacing the SSD at the start and end including the m.2 cover plate), then added the dBrand Darkplates to repeat all the tests.



The range of tests and operations were repeated in this near-identical setup (but with new plates) around 2 hours after the start of the first tests and with little meaningful change in the room temperature.



Next, I wanted to see what impact that m.2 cover plate had on the running of the PS5 with the dBrand plates, so after test phase 2 was completed, I powered the device down and removed the m.2 cover plate. This time I did not leave it covering the SSD during test phase 3. The Seagate Firecuda 530 SSD used for these tests features its official EK gaming heatsink and it would be interesting to see if the additional passive ventilation in the dBrand plates would allow the air to be better drawn through the m.2 SSD bays even slightly.



After Test Phase 3 was completed, I had one final test and that was using the Sabrent PS5 designed heatsink inside the dBrand darkplate setup. Swapping the Seagate Firecuda 530 EK Heatsink version in favour of the bare/non-H/S version for this test, I installed it + the Sabrent heatsink and then replaced the Darkplates for testing as before. It would be interesting to see if the increased surface mass of the Sabrent would possibly benefit from the dBrand plates and/or if the system would be impacted in any way.



So, there you have it. Those were the tests. So, now let’s go through the results and everything we observed. It is worth remembering that the temperature for the airflow/ambient temps inside the PS5 between each test (due to factors such as the time of day and surrounding room temp that were beyond my control) at the start and end of each test cycle had a few degrees of difference between tests and although I will be adding start/end temp levels into consideration, the increase between them inside each test will be primarily what I will compare, as it will demonstrate how well the system adapted/adjusted to the change in hardware setup. For the SSD temperature, I have used CrystalDisk for PC to access the logs of the SSD controller and see how the SSD changed temp throughout the four tests each time. The spike in the graphs represent the peak of the heat recorded during each test and decreased between tests. This temp was NOT a constant and just shows its highest point.


Key – Heavy-Write = Heavy Write Activity (300GB) moving games from internal PS5 Storage to M.2 SSD, Far-Cry-6 = Far Cry 6 Gameplay, Demon -Souls = Demon Souls Gameplay, Heavy-Read = Heavy Read Activity (300GB) moving games from M.2 SSD to internal PS5 Storage

Original PS5 PLATES + Seagate FC530 H/S + M.2 Cover Test Results


In test one, I used the original PS5 Plates, the Seagate Firecuda 530 H/S Edition and the m.2 expansion cover plate. Here are the results:

Type of Reading

Ambient System Temp.

SSD Controller Peak Temp.

Heavy-Write

20.2 > 20.8 = 0.6°C

45°C

Far-Cry-6

21.6 > 24.0 = 2.4°C

43°C

Demon -Souls

22.8 > 26.6 = 3.8°C

48°C

Heavy-Read

20.8 > 24.3 = 3.5°C

51°C


The general system temperature throughout the tests was quite normal for the PS5 (as you would expect in this default setup) but the SSD controller temperature was higher than I would have liked (especially compared to a PC setup) and a lot of that can be blamed on that M.2 cover plate. I have raised this before, but I do not think the cover for the M.2 is a good design for a closed system like the PS5.



 

dBrand PLATES +Seagate FC530 H/S + M.2 Cover Test Results


The next test was the dBrand Darkplates this time, but still with the same Seagate Firecuda 530 H/S SSD and m.2 cover plate. This was mainly to see if the additional ventilation would be a positive/negative to the system’s negative cooling (as its introduction of two meshed vents had to make an impact!).

Type of Reading

Ambient System Temp.

SSD Controller Peak Temp.

Heavy-Write

20.2 > 20.5 = 0.3°C

28°C

Far-Cry-6

20.4 > 22.2 = 1.8°C

39°C

Demon -Souls

21.0 > 24.0 = 3.0°C

44°C

Heavy-Read

20.9 > 24.8 = 3.9°C

47°C


The SSD temperatures were still predictably high, because of that m.2 cover, but overall the system temperature was very close to the official test temperatures and in some cases even managed to be a little cooler. Below is the temperature of the SSD controller at each test. Still higher than in a PC/Open setting, but a pinch lower.



 

dBrand PLATES + Seagate FC530 H/S + NO M.2 Cover Test Results


Next I wanted to remove the m.2 plate from the equation, so I repeated the previous test setup hardware WITHOUT the M.2 cover plate. Would allowing more active airflow in contact with the SSD heatsink help?

Type of Reading

Ambient System Temp.

SSD Controller Peak Temp.

Heavy-Write

21.3 > 21.0 = -0.3°C

18°C

Far-Cry-6

20.1 > 23.2 = 3.1°C

29°C

Demon -Souls

20.9 > 22.2 = 1.3°C

39°C

Heavy-Read

22.2 > 24.0 = 1.8°C

45°C


Overall the numbers were better for the SSD but negligible for the ambient temps. Nothing incredible and certainly not something that makes the dBrand plates worth the $59 asde from their look, but they did seem to run a slightly cooler system temp most of the time. The SSD controller was definitely a noticeable degree lower in running temp and although it still reached a height of 45 degrees after all the tests, it maintained the lower temperature recording for longer than the previous two tests.



 

dBrand PLATES + Seagate FC530 H/S + Sabrent PS5 H/S Test Results


The final test was the most unofficial sony one of the three, using the dBrand plates in conjunction with the Sabrent PS5 designed heatsink. This heatsink fills the entire M.2 slot and is raised slightly from the expansion aby in order for active airflow drawn by that internal fan to travel over/through the grooves of the heatsink. Use of the Sabrent heatsink means that I have to switch the Firecuda 530 SSD out for the same SSD but without the official/pre-applied heatsink. Now, the question here is that if the system internal negative pressure cooling is not as efficient with the vented panel of the dBrand plates, will that means that air flow over the Sabrent heatsink will be reduced (as the air gets pulled through the circular vents of the plates and not the grooved front vents of the PS5 normally?

Type of Reading

Ambient System Temp.

SSD Controller Peak Temp.

Heavy-Write

21.9 > 22.4 = 0.5°C

28°C

Far-Cry-6

19.8 > 24.9 = 5.1°C

32°C

Demon -Souls

20.3 > 22.9 = 2.6°C

33°C

Heavy-Read

18.5 > 20.9 (fan increased) = 2.4°C

38°C


Overall, this was a great test and the SSD temperature was at its lowest here than in any other test. The ambient system temperature was good too, lower at boot and by the end of a test wave than any other test. The only thing that marred it slightly was the fact the system fans appeared to ramp up in the closing stages of the heavy read test.



Let’s compare each test vs the default setup below.


In all four scenarios, games were being loaded from the Seagate Firecuda 530 NVMe SSD inside the PS5 expansion bay and an interesting take from this is the varying differences in temperature between them (in the white and red graphs) that, even if you factor small changes in the environmental temperatures around the machine, are still notably different, the more access airflow had to those heatsinks. Likewise, you can see that the temperatures displayed for the ambient system temperature were from the last seconds of each test in jsut the standard setup in conjunction with either plate set choice were still incredibly similar. Therefore I think this indicates that the system temp with the dBrand plates is still comparable in either setup (at most 1-2 degrees of difference):

Click to view slideshow.

Comparing the initial setup with dBrand and Official PS5 plates side by side, you can see that most fo the internal PS5 temperatures were largely identical and it’s only really on the SSD controller reports that we see a significant difference (with the dBrand SSD heatsink being the lower temperature at boot, but closing in on the same temp as the official plates as each test was completed. Overall, comparing these showed (at least to me) that the use of the dBrand plates did not impact the PS5 system operational temp levels negatively.


RESULTS:

TEST Original PS5 Plates + SSD + M.2 Cover

dBrand Darkplates 2.0 PS5 Plates + SSD + M.2 Cover

Ambient System Temp Start/End/Diff SSD Controller Temp Max Ambient System Temp Start/End/Diff SSD Controller Temp Max
Heavy-Write

20.2 > 20.8 = 0.6°C

45°C

20.2 > 20.5 = 0.3°C

28°C

Far-Cry-6

21.6 > 24.0 = 2.4°C

43°C

20.4 > 22.2 = 1.8°C

39°C

Demon -Souls

22.8 > 26.6 = 3.8°C

48°C

21.0 > 24.0 = 3.0°C

44°C

Heavy-Read

20.8 > 24.3 = 3.5°C

51°C

20.9 > 24.8 = 3.9°C

47°C


 

dBrand Darkplates 2.0 vs Original PS5 Plates (WITHOUT m.2 Cover Plate)


Whereas if we look at comparing the default PS5 setup+SSD+m.2 cover against the dBrand plates+SSD+no cover, we see that temperatures were even better for the SSD controller. In terms of ambient airflow, the uncovered SSD heatsink did not really negatively impact the PS5 system and in the areas, it did get hotter than the official PS5 plates and cover, it was very small indeed and negligible at best!


RESULTS:

TEST Original PS5 Plates + SSD + M.2 Cover

dBrand Darkplates 2.0 PS5 Plates + SSD + NO M.2 Cover

Ambient System Temp Start/End/Diff SSD Controller Temp Max Ambient System Temp Start/End/Diff SSD Controller Temp Max
Heavy-Write

20.2 > 20.8 = 0.6°C

45°C

21.3 > 21.0 = -0.3°C

18°C

Far-Cry-6

21.6 > 24.0 = 2.4°C

43°C

20.1 > 23.2 = 3.1°C

29°C

Demon -Souls

22.8 > 26.6 = 3.8°C

48°C

20.9 > 22.2 = 1.3°C

39°C

Heavy-Read

20.8 > 24.3 = 3.5°C

51°C

22.2 > 24.0 = 1.8°C

45°C


 

dBrand Darkplates 2.0 vs Original PS5 Plates (with m.2 Cover Plate)


Finally, there is comparing the default setup of the official plates versus using the dBrand Darkplates, M.2 SSD and the Sabrent PS5 designed heatsink. The controller was easily at it’s coolest point on the tests using the Sabrent heatsink, which wasn’t a big surprise. However, what really stood out was that the heat increase inside the PS5 system (although STARTING lower) increased quite quickly. Even though it was still lower than the SSD+official heatsink+m.2, it increased fast enough to make me wonder if the additional vents of the dBrand design lost some of that sucked in airflow directly next to the Sabrent heatsink. Here is how they compare:


RESULTS:

TEST Original PS5 Plates + SSD + M.2 Cover

dBrand Darkplates 2.0 PS5 Plates + SSD + SABRENT HEATSINK

Ambient System Temp Start/End/Diff SSD Controller Temp Max Ambient System Temp Start/End/Diff SSD Controller Temp Max
Heavy-Write

20.2 > 20.8 = 0.6°C

45°C

21.9 > 22.4 = 0.5°C

28°C

Far-Cry-6

21.6 > 24.0 = 2.4°C

43°C

19.8 > 24.9 = 5.1°C

32°C

Demon -Souls

22.8 > 26.6 = 3.8°C

48°C

20.3 > 22.9 = 2.6°C

33°C

Heavy-Read

20.8 > 24.3 = 3.5°C

51°C

18.5 > 20.9 (fan increased) = 2.4°C

38°C


Throughout Feb 2022, I will be publishing the videos of my tests (x3 videos) and they will be published below. Take a look at them as they get published, as well as my video detailing the results of temperature testing of the Sabrent PS5 SSD heatsink:


Note: if a video is showing as ‘unavailable’, it means it is still awaiting publication in the schedule and will be coming soon.

dBrand Darkplate 2.0 Temp Test 1

dBrand Darkplate 2.0 Temp Test 2

dBrand Darkplate 2.0 Temp Test 3

Sabrent PS5 Heatsink Temp Test


 

dBrand Darkplates 2.0 for PS5 and Keeping it Cool? – Conclusion & Verdict


Overall, I would say that the pricetag of the dBrand Darkplates is a lot more about having a unique looking and possibly better design looking PS5 in your home, than it is about improvements on systems temperatures and efficiency. The $59 price tag of the base/default dBrand Darkplate 2.0 kit is quite steep, when there are budget $25-30 PS5 plate kits in the market right now and the ventilation that forms a big part of the design of these newly refreshed designed plates looks interesting/effective, but in reality seems to change the operating temperature of the PS5 very little. Therefore although they don’t seem to improve the temperatures much, it can be argued that the plates do NOT undermine or negatively affect the PS5’s negative cooling system. Regarding their use in conjunction with an SSD, m.2 PC style heatsink or a PS5 designed alternative, the differences between identical setups with the official PS5 plates or Darkplates were too similar to declare any form of advantage. Ultimately, in 2022, if you want the SSD that is housing your bigger games to run at its coolest, investing in a better system designed heatsink or running without the m.2 cover plate is much, much more recommended than upgrading cover plates. I like the look, feel, presentation and overall design of the dBrand Darkplates, I just question whether they are worth $59, or double the price of budget plate replacements out there.

PROs of the dBrand Darkplates 2.0 CONs of the dBrand Darkplates 2.0
Nice design, feel, patterns and colours

In shape when deployed makes the system look a lot more subtle and understated (no tall fins)


The Vented dark plate vents do not seemingly undermine the PS5 negative pressure cooling


Mesh covered vents can be removed for cleaning

Quite pricey for what you are getting

The vented panels seem largely useless throughout temp testing



 


 

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