PS5’s Storage Expansion Update Is More Complicated Than It Needs To Be

PS5’s Storage Expansion Update Is More Complicated Than It Needs To Be
Bust out the Phillips head, as you'll have to take this plating off. (Photo: Hopix Art, Shutterstock)

Today, in a new post on the PlayStation website, Sony detailed how to expand SSD storage space for the PlayStation 5. The process is, at least to those who don’t have existing experience with this kind of stuff, potentially a head-spinner.

Sony first confirmed storage expansion for the PS5 back in November, and noted that it would use an M.2 solid state drive (SSD). There’s also the wrinkle that PS5 games need to run on an SSD; a mere hard drive simply isn’t technologically cut out to run next-gen games. Though it’s possible to store and play PS4 games from an external drive, for months, PS5 users have had to work with 667.2GB of storage capacity for PS5 games. (Despite an 825GB listing on the tin, some space on the system is occupied by the operating system, essential files, and a frustratingly baffling “other” field that swells without explanation.)

Read More: The PS5’s Confusing ‘Other’ Storage Leaves Users Less Room For Games

For now, the ability to expand a PS5’s SSD will roll out in a system update provided to so-called beta users. (For the uninitiated, here’s how to get into that program.)

First, there are some pre-requisites as to what drives you can and cannot store. You’re limited in capacity, and can choose something that sports between 250GB and 4TB of storage. The read speed needs to be at least 5,500mb per second. The module itself has to be one of five specific dimensions in length — 30mm, 42mm, 60mm, 80mm, 110mm — and 22mm wide. (Sony says a 25mm drive is not supported by the PS5.) You’ll also need one with this interface: “PCIe Gen4 x4 M.2 NVMe SSD.”

Then you’ll need a heatsink, provided the drive you get doesn’t have one built in. Here’s an image — which looks like it was lifted directly from a government-issued regulatory guidebook, the most famously user-friendly type of text — detailing the recommended dimensions for a double-sided one:

Illustration: Sony Illustration: Sony

And then — yes, there’s more — you’ll need to partially dismantle your console by taking off the external plates, unscrewing the expansion slot cover, carefully screwing in your SSD, adjusting the spacer within, and then reinstalling the cover and plates with some added room, of which Sony recommends about 2cm. Sony detailed this in a series of IKEA pamphlet illustrations.

Illustration: Sony, Other

Illustration: Sony, Other

Illustration: Sony, Other

Illustration: Sony, Other

Illustration: Sony, Other

Illustration: Sony, Other

Illustration: Sony, Other

Illustration: Sony, Other

Illustration: Sony, Other

Illustration: Sony, Other

Illustration: Sony, Other

Illustration: Sony, Other

Of note: Before you do any of this, you’ll want to make sure your PS5 is fully up to date. You can double-check that by heading to the “System Software” submenu under the “System” menu in your console’s settings. The “console information” option should tell you whether or not you’re on the latest version — which, again, will roll out to beta users only. After you’ve successfully installed your SSD, you should see a new field in the storage-focused areas of your PS5’s operating system indicating options for an “M.2 SSD.”

On Xbox Series X/S, to expand your SSD capacity, you plug a $300 proprietary 1TB expansion card into a slot on the console.

Comments

  • Hmm. Starting to reconsider my PS5 purchase. This sounds complicated. Maybe Xbox had to right with it’s expandable storage option and price point now seems ok. Hopefully PS simplifies it a bit more.

    • It’s not that bad, if you can get a drive with a built in heat sink you’re only doing a couple of screws. Wait for the the you-tube instruction videos to come out, it’s dead easy.

  • Looks like there’s some suitable 1TB drives for around $290 after a quick look, so would probably come in a bit cheaper than the $330 for the Xbox Card once you buy a heatsink.

    They really need to work with someone to release an official, ready to install drive though. Way too many specifications for the average person to be able to do this successfully.

    • Yeah I think that’s why it’s for Beta users only at this stage.
      The list of technically compatible drives is alright but the number of brands who have confirmed compatibility stands at one right now.
      Seagate announced they’ve already tested their firecuda drives for the PS5 and I imagine other brands will follow suit.

  • I’m not struggling that much with storage at the moment so I’m in no hurry.
    The price of some of the 1TB drives look very appealing but I’m going to hold off until there’s more confirmed options.

    The concern I have is a lot of these drives have started slowly coming down in price lately and I’m worried some brands will see an opportunity to bump up the price again lol.

  • Why does everyone get so confused and say it is complicated?

    1) Get a REAL pcie 4 m.2 SSD
    2) Make sure it comes with heatsink

    Once the official firmware is released, manufacturers will slap the label “Compatible with PS5” in their listing.

    • Ari’s been flogging that horse since day one.
      The complaints are valid enough, just overblown to infomercial levels of difficulty.

    • You are missing the biggest point.

      Sony STILL doesn’t guarantee that a drive that meets or exceeds the requirements listed will work with all games on the PS5.

      I’ve ordered a wd sn850 2tb w/ a heatsink at it looks to meet all requirements, but Sony’s messaging on this is so rubbish that its still an unknown if this will work.

      • Would it be reasonable for them to guarantee that though? If the drive requires better cooling than you can achieve in the PS5 expansion bay (or with the heat sink you’ve used), then it might throttle the performance to compensate.

        Offering a guarantee for combinations of drives and heatsinks they haven’t tested doesn’t seem wise.

        • I’d also argue that offering the ability to expand storage without ensuring the capability to do so doesn’t seem wise either.

          Its pretty apparent that if Sony isn’t willing to certify drives, it needs to market a Sony brand drive that is guaranteed to work regardless.

        • It would be reasonable to at least guarantee one. It would also be reasonable to provide guidance, and not rely on a heap of people with disposable income to find out which drives work (at the cost of these things).

  • I don’t think the actual installation of the drive is harder than, say, swapping in a bigger one in a PS4. But deciding which are right and frankly safe to put in will delay me for a while. For example I know jackshit about the comparative benefits of heat sinks.

    • Nicely said – though for me, I am used to the PS4 era of never having to swap out the internal drive. The point is, even though this is a beta phase, the level of specificity (without an actual white list) seems absurd nearly 1 year in. For the majority of people, this will be just too overwhelming… and while competition is great, convenience is better for most.

  • The compatibility notes seem about as complicated as those in my PC’s motherboard manual, complete with a list of compatible key types (the motherboard had slightly different lists for each M.2 slot, even).

    It’s kind of the price for having a connector bundling PCIe, SATA, and USB, when the system really only wants NVME drives plugged in. Simply saying “buy and M.2 SSD” is unfortunately not sufficient.

  • I don’t really understand what’s so difficult about this? The hardest part will be choosing a suitable SSD to plug in there. Once the firmware is released I’m sure there will be any number of online resources that will list exactly which ones are suitable.

    • If you go to PCPartPicker and click on M.2 SSD you are presented with 100+ different drives to choose from. That is stupidly confusing as a lot of these possibly won’t work correctly.

      I admire that Sony has not gone down the proprietary route, cause that’s usually more expensive, but in some cases here I think they should have.

      • Yes, because most of them haven’t been tested because the feature is still in beta and unavailable to most users, and the requirements are more specific than just “M.2 SSD”.

        Just wait until it is actually released and then it will be very easy to find which ones are suitable. Manufacturers themselves will make it known if their product is compatible, and there will be plenty of websites, YouTube channels etc that test them, too. Given what these things cost, I can’t imagine people just blindly forking out the money without spending a few minutes doing some research into which ones offer the best performance / value etc.

        Personally I much prefer this approach which gives me some options in terms of both capacity and price rather than just having to take what I’m given.

  • Expanded the storage on my Series X the other day by just sticking a 5TB portable HDD to the back of the Xbox with picture hook stickers.

    As the Xbox is square, it fits perfectly on the back and is completely out of sight with no random cable/hdd hanging out of it.

    Transfers most games in about 10-20 mins to the internal SSD.

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