The Best PS5 NVMe SSD Drives

The Best PS5 NVMe SSD Drives
Image: Sony
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So the PS5’s notorious lack of storage finally has a solution — provided you don’t mind dropping a few hundred extra on an NVMe SSD.

While you’ll have to install some beta firmware, the update means PS5 owners finally have a solution to a lack of space. With many games hitting or surpassing the 100GB mark, and the PS5’s “Other” section taking up more space than most games, an NVMe upgrade is well overdue.

Sony’s Mark Cerny was clear from the outset that PCIe 4.0 NVMe drives would be the only ones capable of supporting the next-gen console’s speeds. But the latest restrictions also mean a lot of existing PCIe 4.0 drives with heatsinks won’t fit in the console.

This article has been retimed since its original publication.

What are the requirements for NVMe SSDs with the PS5?

ps5 ssd
Image: Sony

Here’s the full list of requirements any NVMe SSD needs to meet to be compatible with the PS5:

Sequential read speed: minimum 5500MB/s recommended
Form factor: 2230, 2242, 2260, 2280 or 22110
Size with heatsink: 110 x 25 x 11.25 mm
Heatsink size below SSD: 2.45mm
Heatsink size above SSD: 8mm

The above/below sizes matter because some NVMe drives with removeable heatsinks won’t be compatible — not because they’re too high, but because the underside of their heatsinks are too thick. And ideally, you want to have a heatsink if possible: thermal throttling can massively reduce the performance of your NVMe drive. That’s the case on PC, and it applies just as much to your PS5 too.

What NVMe SSDs are compatible with the PS5 so far?

ps5 ssd
Image: Seagate

PCIe 4.0 NVMe drives have been on the market for over a year. At the time of writing, however, only two drives have got the official seal of approval — although it’s possible many others will work if you’re prepared to go through the effort of installing an aftermarket cooler to the NVMe drive. (Some drives like the Corsair MP600 Pro are fast enough, but they won’t work unless you replace the cooler with something smaller.)

Here’s the best options right now:

Seagate FireCuda 530

Announced for Australia last week, the FireCuda 530 comes in two variants: one with a heatsink and one without. Seagate has confirmed the heatsink is slim enough to fit with Sony’s guidelines.

It’ll be available later this month from Shopping Express, Scorptec and Mwave. The 500GB model will be priced at $239, while the 1TB, 2TB and 4TB models will cost you $399, $819 and $1499 respectively.

If you’d rather get the version without a heatsink — and install your own afterwards — it’ll cost you $199/$349/$729/$1429 for the 500GB/1TB/2TB/4TB.

WD_Black SN850

ps5 ssd
Image: Western Digital

Mark Cerny himself has already bought a SN850 with the heatsink. The SN850 has been a popular NVMe drive in Australia, with the heatsinkless version frequently going on sale over the last year. Western Digital has already publicly confirmed the SN850 is compatible,

MWave has the best prices on the SN850 with a heatsink so far — most retailers in Australia are only selling the heatsinkless version. It’ll cost you $215 for the 500GB model, $366 for the 1TB stick and $766 for a 2TB drive. Only the 500GB model is in stock right now, however.

Samsung Pro 980 

ps5 ssds
Image: Samsung

Samsung’s 980 Pro NVMe drive is fast enough — but as you can see, it doesn’t ship with a heatsink. The advantage here is that the 980 Pro is cheap enough that the cost of an aftermarket heatsink will still be cheaper than some of the other drives.

At the time of writing, the 500GB model is available for $164.90, the 1TB for $289 and 2TB for $629.

What aftermarket coolers are compatible with the PS5?

Image: ELUTENG

This is a case where you’ll want to do a bit of math and double check the height and width of everything. Remember, the entire NVMe drive has to fit within 110mm x 25mm x 11.25mm, which includes the cooling unit. So if you’ve got a NVMe drive like the 980 Pro which is 80.3mm x 22.6mm x 0.23mm, you need to make sure the cooler fits within that range.

One heatsink that will fit — using the rubber bands or screws — is the ELUTENG M.2 2280 heatsink, which will set you back around $37. Another option is the icepc M.2 graphene copper heatsink, which will cost $23 from Amazon after shipping.

A lot of heatsinks right now aren’t really built for the small PS5 enclosure. Expect this list to grow massively over the next year, though. Heatsinks aren’t hard to install, whether you’re using screws or heat-resistant rubber bands like the one above. Components manufacturers are likely to offer plenty of variety to capitalise on the need for PS5 storage, which should keep the price of officially branded PS5 compatible NVMe drives down too.

Comments

    • I mean: yes they are, but those cards are also designed in a way that doesn’t really foster competition. So there’s not much you can do about it.

      Being able to buy an off-the-shelf drive and add a heatsink makes it a lot easier on the PS5 side. And in a year or so when a ton of manufacturers start rebranding their drives, that mass of competition will keep prices sane.

      • This idea that XBSX’s solution won’t generate competition would be fine in a PC environment… Sony’s requirements have (at best) currently brought in two variants. That may change, but who is to say that it’s worth companies trying to fit into that miniscule (and unproven) compartment. I’m fully Sony, however, I think the narrative on telling people how good a PC approach is… it’s not a PC. It’s a console. That means that people who buy it are by-and-large “non-tech-savvy” people(on average). I appreciate the beta program is focused more on “tech leaders” – but Sony has just designed in a restriction to its platform that can’t be fixed after-market (at least by Sony…). I get that people think competition is good to drive down markets – however, as the current issues on supply show (across the PC market) open competition can sometimes actually be counter-productive.

        • Yes – I’m intentionally being hyperbolic regarding the compartment(for those that don’t understand that). It may be great, however, the current guidance from Sony suggests this is not an easy performance-requirement to meet (within the space available). Time will change that. I’d prefer at least 1 Sony derived product to actually guide and force that competition.

          • Sony’s not in the business of producing SSDs or NVMe drives though, and I can’t imagine it’s a business they want to get into.

            Plus, there will be lots more variants pretty quickly now that everyone has specific guidelines on what the enclosure limits are. The advantage here is that people just need an off-the-shelf NVMe drive that’s fast enough. Getting those won’t actually be difficult, and the heatsinks can be easily modified by the manufacturers once they know what limitations they have to work with.

            Those manufacturers will also be able to produce and meet demand a lot faster than Sony could anyway; Sony would have to go to them in the first place if they wanted to make an in-house NVMe product. But who knows – maybe they’ll do that, the same way they have a wireless 3D headset. We’ll see.

  • Damn I wanted to add 2TB but not for $630+ with no guarantee of it being compatible.

    Think I’ll be chucking my multiplats on xbox this gen.

    • The feature’s still in beta so hopefully Sony will offer more guidance when it’s formally released. The stuff with the heatsink definitely throws a spanner in the works though.

    • I paid $379aud for one like a year or so ago but was PCIe Gen 3 so only 3500MB/S R/W. These Gen 4 ones do seem to be quite a bit more expensive unless their are other off market brands selling them for cheaper on Aliexpress or something.

  • So where exactly are you sourcing which drives are “approved” by Sony? I know there’s been noise about companies saying they are compatible, but AFAIK, Sony will work on a white-list only framework. Also, while i appreciate this is a beta – WTF is Sony doing by saying, here’s a spec-list, fill-ya-boots on trying to get drives to work (at the cost of those drives). How is it that at this stage in development that Sony hasn’t been able to confirm it’s approved drives (if they have, please drop the link). Also, “few hundred extra dollars”… just how few are they? Final point – this line that you can buy alternatives as long as you buy (and install) your own heatsink onto the drive is ridiculous… this is a consumer product. Who says that a person will correctly install that heatsink – and who will be responsible if it fails? People keep telling me that Sony’s PC-focused DIY option will be great because it’s cheap. Nearly 1 year in, and I can’t buy expansion, and I certainly don’t want to drop AUD700-800 for a 2TB drive just on the off-chance that I can make it work. Even for a beta campaign, this just smacks of amateur hour.

    • Whoa. OK. Lot there.

      So list of drives approved by Sony: for now, it’s whittled done to the ones whose manufacturers have officially confirmed their drives are compatible. (I’ve spoken to others who said their drives meet Sony’s specs, but they’re not officially compatible because of the size limitations.)

      How is it that at this stage in development that Sony hasn’t been able to confirm it’s approved drives (if they have, please drop the link)

      I think that’s not as unreasonable as you might think. Sony built it knowing faster, PCIe 4.0 drives would come out over the lifetime of the console. PCIe 4.0 2×2 drives had barely started hitting the market by the time the PS5 dropped (there was PCIe 4.0 NVMe drives, but they were more around the 3-5,000MB/s mark, not the 7000-7500 these latest drives have).

      They built a custom I/O which meant a certain amount of headroom was required, moreso than the Xbox Series S/X which doesn’t utilise quite so much SSD bandwidth.

      Who says that a person will correctly install that heatsink – and who will be responsible if it fails? People keep telling me that Sony’s PC-focused DIY option will be great because it’s cheap.

      This is fair! I’ve seen some suggest that Sony should just have their own branded SSD that people can buy to avoid confusion too.

      But this is the same as building your own PC or buying an NVMe drive for your computer, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing that Sony has made this an available option for people today. People don’t have to open up their console and upgrade them if they don’t want to, but having the option there is beneficial.

      Also, 2TB pricing will come down over the next few years. Storage has been hit by the components shortage too (NAND memory chips, which power NVMe drives among other devices, have been in short supply for the last few quarters).

      I think the 1TB option will be the most reasonable; with at least 1.6TB storage between the base console and the expansion, that honestly should be enough for 99.9999% of people. Having to delete one or two games every six months isn’t the worst thing in the world.

      Oh also: the drive won’t fail if it doesn’t have a heatsink. It’ll just suffer from thermal throttling, reducing performance to save on temperature.

  • Paid like $340AUD for my 2TB NVMe, but it only does like 3500MB/s R/W.. I felt the PCIe4.0 ones were way too expensive. Prices probably went up since I bought mine 1 yr or so ago.

  • I’m curious about these size limitations, could’t you just leave that metal ssd cover off the ps5 and fit whatever one you want in there?

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