After months of waiting, Sony has finally unlocked the ability to upgrade the PlayStation 5’s internal storage — and people are understandably a little lost.
While it’s great that Sony is finally letting PS5 users upgrade their console’s storage, the company’s messaging has been confusing. Not only is the upgradable storage option locked behind beta firmware (for now), it’s also unclear which drives will actually work. Sony’s requirements are highly specific and hard to parse for those who don’t know much about SSDs.
Sony published a guide to installing M.2 SSDs on PS5, but it stops short of recommending specific SSDs. Don’t worry though, we’ve got it covered. We put together this guide to explain the benefits of upgrading your PS5’s storage with an M.2 SSD, the requirements for using an M.2 SSD on PS5, and a list of all compatible drives that are currently available.
What are the benefits of an internal expansion drive on PS5?
It’s simple: more storage space. The PS5 comes with just 667.2 GBs of space. That might seem like a lot compared to previous home consoles, but many PS5 games push 100 GBs, and their data footprint will only get bigger as developers are able to pack more and more content into their games. Expanding your PS5’s storage with an extra SSD can add up to 4 TB of extra space.
An internal M.2 SSD is not the only way to boost your PS5’s internal storage space, mind. You can also attach an external USB hard drive to your PS5 and add an extra terabyte or two that way — and you can do so without a screwdriver or worrying about draconic tech specs. However, external USB devices can only store PS5-specific games. They can store and play PS4 games, though, which makes them better for offloading the PS4 games you still play, or the PS5 titles you’re taking a break from.
An internal M.2 SSD, however, can store, play, and update all PS5 and PS4 games. And in some cases, they can play these games with the same super-fast loading times of the PS5’s finely-tuned internal storage (although you do notice some minor performances differences for resource-intensive games).
So while an external USB drive is nice for offloading older games or data you’re not using, an M.2 SSD lets you store and play more PS5 games. You don’t have to pick one over the other, though; you can use an external USB drive and an internal M.2 SSD on your PS5 at the same time. The only hard part is figuring out which SSD devices will actually work on PS5.
PS5 M.2 SSD requirements
Before we get to the list of PS5-compatible M.2 SSDs currently available, let’s go over Sony’s requirements. This info will be crucial if you decide to buy a drive that isn’t on our list below.
- The M.2 SSD must be PCIe Gen4 or newer. PCIe Gen3 and older are not supported.
- The storage capacity must be at least 250 GBs, and a maximum of 4 TB.
- Read speeds of at least 5,500MB/s or faster is recommended.
- M.2 SATA SSDs are not supported.
- The PS5 does not support Host Memory Buffer (HMB), and Sony recommends against using M.2 SSDs with HMB support as they may experience slower performance.
- The PS5 supports single-sided and double-sided M.2 SSDs
- Your M.2 SSD must have a heatsink. Several M.2 SSDs come with a heatsink pre-attached, while others will need to have a heatsink manually added before installing it in the console. Double-sided SSDs will need heatsinks on both sides. That said, do not add additional heatsinks to drives that already include them.
Along with the above hardware specifications, the PS5’s expansion drive slot also has strict size limits. Here’s the sizing requirements for M.2 SSDs, according to the PlayStation support website:
Length: The following M.2 SSD lengths are compatible with PS5 consoles: 30mm, 42mm, 60mm, 80mm, 110mm (corresponding to the form factor type, per above).
Width: A 22mm-wide M.2 SSD module is required. The total structure (including an added cooling structure) cannot exceed 25mm.
Height: The total height of the M.2 SSD and its cooling structure (such as a heatsink) – whether built-in or separate – must be less than 11.25mm. The height must also be in the right place, in relation to the M.2 SSD’s circuit board: The size below the board must be less than 2.45mm. The total size above the board must be less than 8mm.
Sony also warns that some games won’t run as well on third-party M.2 SSD devices as they do on the PS5’s internal SSD, even if the M.2 SSD matches Sony’s recommended specs. According to testing by The Verge, even the slowest PS5-supported drives seem to work just fine for now, but it’s more likely performance issues will crop up as PS5 games become larger and more sophisticated later in the console’s lifespan.
Currently supported M.2 SSDs
As you can see from the previous section, there’s a lot to keep track of if you plan on buying an M.2 SSD for your PS5, but you don’t have to spend hours cross-referencing each M.2 drive currently on the market yourself. Many manufacturers have started testing their drives on PS5, and we’ve rounded up all the M.2 drives confirmed to work on PS5 so far.
Sony hasn’t given any of these SSDs their official thumbs-up yet, but all the SSDs listed below meet Sony’s requirements and they’ve all been tested by other publications or by the manufacturers themselves and are confirmed to work.
We’ve split the list into two sections: The first covers M.2 SSDs with heatsinks, and the second is M.2 SSDs without heatsinks that includes a round-up of recommended heatsinks that will fit the PS5 expansion slot’s drive requirements. We’ve also made sure to separate single-sided and double-sided SSDs and heatsinks into their own subsections.
M.2 SSDs with heatsinks
Buying one of these M.2 SSDs is the simplest option since you won’t have to worry about sizing or attaching your own heatsinks — everything comes ready to install.
At this point, the Western Digital Black SN850 is the best option. Even the PS5’s architect, Mark Cerny, chose it for his and his wife’s PS5s, which is about as high of a recommendation as you can get.
Our solution to our very active two gamer PS5 household? His-and-hers SSDs 🙂— Mark Cerny (@cerny) August 1, 2021
Couple of awesome options for 7000MB/s, ended up putting my $$ down on this one. Going to be SWEEET!!! pic.twitter.com/6TuqPwK49x
However, there are at least three other options available at the time of writing:
Note that some of these drives come in versions without heatsinks. Make sure you buy the ones that already have the heatsinks attached. They cost a bit more if they come with a pre-attached heatsink, but the convenience is worth it.
M.2 SSDs without heatsinks
These drives meet Sony’s hardware requirements and are confirmed to work by the manufacturers, but they do not ship with a heatsink, so you must attach your own before installing it in the console. The exact process will differ based on which drive you buy, whether it’s single- or double-sided, and the heatsink you’re attaching. You may also need extra materials like thermal paste, although some heatsinks will include the necessary adhesives and will include step-by-step instructions.
That’s a lot of extra work for simply expanding your PS5’s internal storage, but might be worth it if you can’t find one of the above heatsink-equipped devices, or prefer the specs of one of these.
Single-sided M.2 SSDs:
- EKWB EK-M.2 NVMe Heatsink
- Eluteng M.2 Heatsink
- Glotrends M.2 Heatsink
- IcePC Copper Heatsink
- IcePC M.2 Heatsink
- Micro Connectors Low Profile Heatsink
Double-sided M.2 SSDs:
Compatible double-sided heatsinks:
That’s the full list of confirmed PS5-compatible drives available right now, but more SSDs will be added to this list in the future. There are also many other M.2 SSDs that meet Sony’s requirements on paper but haven’t been tested yet. However, Sony warns that drives may not work even if they fit these specifications, so it’s best to stick with SSDs that are confirmed to work.