How to expand PS5 storage
The PlayStation 5 console comes with an internal NVMe SSD that doesn't offer much storage space, so how do you upgrade and expand its size?
The PlayStation 5 video games console from Sony comes with a revolutionary PCIe Gen 4 M.2 NVMe SSD internal hard drive. It's great for next-gen features, but it's very limited in size. In fact, after the operating system is installed, you're looking at just over 660GB of space. And that space is not just used to store games, but other media and any screenshots or videos you take as you play.
The PS5 does come with an SSD expansion bay, and you can see in the video above how that is accessed. However, it was not activated at the launch of the console. The good news is, as of 16 September 2021, that feature has gone live. Hooray! Here's everything you need to know to upgrade your PS5 hard drive space. And we've already compared the best PS5 SSDs in Australia.
3 ways to expand your PS5 storage with more space
There are 3 ways you can expand your storage space so you can have more games available on demand when playing your PS5. But only 1 of them really delivers what you want.
- There is a PCIe expansion bay in the PlayStation 5 that you can fill with a compatible PCIe Gen 4 M.2 NVMe SSD card from late August 2021.
- You can plug in an external SSD hard drive.
- Or you can plug in a portable HDD storage solution.
I'll go into more detail on these options further down, but here's a quick snapshot of the performance differences. A note about read speeds: Internal storage solutions plug straight into the console, but external solutions go through a USB cable. Now, USB 3.0 is capped at 625MB/s, with the latest USB 3.1 – which is available on PS5 – capped at 1.25GB/s. Something to keep in mind.
|PS5 storage expansion||Read Speed||Can PS5 games be played from it?||Can PS4 games be played from it?||Can PS5 games be stored on it?||Can PS4 games be stored on it?|
|PS5 internal NVMe||5.5GB/s to 9GB/s||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|External SSD (USB 3.1)||500MB/s to 1GB/s||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|External HDD (USB 3.1)||60MB/s to 160MB/s||No||Yes||No||Yes|
If you look at our list of install sizes for PS5 games, it will be immediately obvious how claustrophobic that 667GB feels. Many next-gen games, in particular popular blockbusters, are well over the 100GB mark each. We need more PS5 storage space.
If you caught our PS5 review, you'll know there is plenty to love about the console. However, while the internal NVMe SSD facilitates many of its most enjoyable features, it was too expensive for Sony to include enough space on it to last gamers very long. So, how can you upgrade?
Requirement specifications for internal SSD expansion cards
Sony has revealed the specifications that hard drives will need to match or exceed in order to work with the PlayStation 5. It's important to note that the company is still hedging its bets. The official post states:
We cannot guarantee that all M.2 SSD devices meeting the described specifications will work with your console (or get) exact same performance (as the internal drive).
With that in mind, here are the base requirements that your NVMe M.2 PCIe Gen 4 SSD will require:
- Be an M.2 drive type of either 2230, 2242, 2260, 2280 and 22110.
- So that's a length of 30, 42, 60, 80 or 110mm.
- And a width of 22mm (the 25mm SSDs are not supported).
- Be PCIe Gen4 x4 M.2 NVMe SSD.
- Having a read speed in excess of 5500MB/s isn't required but is recommended.
- Have a heatsink built in or be capable of having a heatsink added.
- Be 250GB to 4TB in capacity.
- Total size, including heatsink, can't be more than 110mm (L) x 25mm (W) x 11.25mm (H).
- Note: The heatsink cannot extend more than 8mm above the card, or more than 2.45mm below the card.
In regard to the heatsink, Sony pointed out that you should not attach an additional heatsink to an NVMe M.2 SSD that already has one. Plus, it had the following to say:
Using an M.2 SSD with your PS5 console requires effective heat dissipation with a cooling structure, such as a heatsink. You can attach one to your M.2 SSD yourself, either in a single-sided format, or double-sided format.
List of PS5 compatible NVMe M.2 SSD PCIe drives
Sony won't officially sign-off on any hard drive being compatible, but it has noted that several SSD drives on the market meet their requirements. These are the PS5-ready NVMe M.2 PCIe SSD drives. Note that some may need heatsink additions or replacements to work.
|Product||Size (GB)||Heatsink?||Read Speed (MB/s)||Write Speed (MB/s)||Price AUD||Where to Buy|
|Adata XPG S70 Blade||1000||Yes||7400||6400||$319||Buy at Amazon|
|Adata XPG S70 Blade||2000||Yes||7400||6400||$495||Buy at eBay|
|Corsair MP600 Pro||1000||Swap out for smaller||7000||5500||$395||Buy at eBay|
|Corsair MP600 Pro||2000||Swap out for smaller||7000||6550||$699||Buy at eBay|
|Crucial P5 Plus||500||No||6600||4000||$169||Buy at Amazon|
|Crucial P5 Plus||1000||No||6600||5000||$279||Buy at Amazon|
|Crucial P5 Plus||2000||No||6600||5000||$549||Buy at Amazon|
|Gigabyte AORUS Gen4 7000s||1000||Yes||7000||5500||$339||Buy at Amazon|
|Gigabyte AORUS Gen4 7000s||2000||Yes||7000||6850||$599||Buy at Amazon|
|MSI SPATIUM M480||1000||Yes||7000||5500||$378||Buy at eBay|
|MSI SPATIUM M480||2000||Yes||7000||6800||$699||Buy at eBay|
|Patriot Viper VP4300||1000||Yes||7400||5500||$359||Buy at eBay|
|Patriot Viper VP4300||2000||Yes||7400||6800||$669||Buy at Amazon|
|Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus||1000||Sold Separately||7000||5300||$269||Buy at Amazon|
|Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus||2000||Sold Separately||7100||6600||$549||Buy at Amazon|
|Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus||4000||Sold Separately||7100||6600||$1,199||Buy at Amazon|
|Samsung 980 Pro||250||No||6400||5000||$125||Buy at Amazon|
|Samsung 980 Pro||500||No||6900||5000||$187||Buy at Amazon|
|Samsung 980 Pro||1000||No||7000||5000||$299||Buy at Amazon|
|Samsung 980 Pro||2000||No||7000||5100||$589||Buy at Amazon|
|Seagate FireCuda 530||500||Yes||7300||6900||$199||Buy at Amazon|
|Seagate FireCuda 530||1000||Yes||7300||6900||$349||Buy at Amazon|
|Seagate FireCuda 530||2000||Yes||7300||6900||$729||Buy at Amazon|
|Seagate FireCuda 530||4000||Yes||7300||6900||$1,429||Buy at Amazon|
|T-FORCE CARDEA A440 Pro Special Series M.2 SSD||4000||Yes||7400||7000||US$899||Out October|
|WD SN850||500||Yes||7000||4100||$239||Buy at Amazon|
|WD SN850||1000||Yes||7000||5300||$349||Buy at Amazon|
|WD SN850||2000||Yes||7000||5100||$749||Buy at Amazon|
Step by step guide to installing PS5 NVMe M.2 SSD expansion
The good news is, when the firmware update does land and third-party hard drive manufacturers have their products certified, expanding the PS5 storage is simple. It looks complicated, but it's within the skills of all of you. The best way to learn how to do it is to watch the video at the top of this page where I walk you through the process. But for those who like to read:
- The PlayStation 5's white cover can be removed with ease. The system Sony has come up with works a treat and if you, like me, are worried you'll break it in the process, don't be. In the video above, I show you exactly where to put your fingers and with a little bit of pressure, the white exterior pops up and slides off.
- Once the cover is off, the hard drive expansion bay is easily accessible. All you need is a small screwdriver. Start by removing the cover plate.
- You'll see a little screw on the left side of the bay with a spacer underneath it. This should sit under the very end of your card once it is plugged in. So, measure your SSD card and if need be, move the spacer to the correct screw hole for your card. But don't screw it in just yet.
- In the empty bay, look for the little slot at one end. The business end of your NVMe M.2 PCIe SSD slots into it. Get down low so you can see right into it and firmly insert the card at as reduced an angle as you can. It should feel like it clicks in.
- Once the SSD expansion card is in place, take the screw from step 3 and use it to fix the SSD down against the spacer.
- Now return the expansion bay cover and screw it back down into place.
- Then place the white outer shell back onto your PS5. You simply need to line up the plastic connection points to the holes and slide it down to hear it click back into place. Again though, the above video will tell you all you need to know.
- Then begin downloading some more games. PlayStation Plus is a good place to start, and it's 25% off at the time of writing. Overall, the process is much quicker and simpler than many had anticipated.
How much does it cost to buy an internal SSD for PS5?
Assuming that the WD Black SN850 is compatible as an internal SSD storage expansion option for PS5, we can get a gauge on how much it will cost. The SN850 comes in 3 sizes: 500GB, 1TB and 2TB. You can expect to pay $225, $419 and $839 respectively in Australia.
The FireCuda 530 with heatsink gives us another indication. You're looking at 500GB ($239), 1TB ($399), 2TB ($819) or 4TB ($1,499).
Pros and cons of using a portable SSD for PS5 storage
With an expansion to the internal SSD not an option, you can look to a portable SSD as your next best option. It's chalk and cheese when comparing it to the speed of the internal PCIe Gen 4 M.2 NVMe SSD card. Portable SSDs have a read speed of around 500MB/s ranging up to around 1GB/s at the top end. It's well short of the 5.5GB/s speed of the internal HD, which is why portable drives can't deliver the true PS5 experience.
It means that playing a game off a portable SSD (or HDD for that matter) won't give you fast loads, the full gamut of visual and audio experiences, or even expansive worlds, at high resolutions and framerates. Although an external SSD drive will do all the above a lot better than an HDD. The latter's read speeds are considerably slower again.
To make matters worse, at launch you could only store PS4 games on an external SSD. And only if you hadn't upgraded them to PS5 versions. However, that has since changed.
In April 2021, Sony released a firmware update that allowed for PS5 games (as well as screenshots and video captures) to be saved on external SSD drives. You still cannot play the games from the external SSD, but they can be stored there.
This is obviously the biggest con of using an external SSD with the PS5: You can't play games stored there. However, there are some positives. You can move files from your main internal NVMe SSD to the external SSD when they are not being played then move them back to the internal NVMe SSD when you need them. This is a far better outcome than deleting and redownloading. The other pro is the price – external SSDs are a lot easier to come by and a lot cheaper.
How much does it cost to buy a portable SSD?
Again, the price here varies greatly. Factors that can influence price include:
- The size of the hard drive
- The reputation of the manufacturer
- Any cosmetic enhancements (like LED lights)
- Security features
- Read speed
- Output options
- Case durability
- Any thermo/cooling options
For a 1TB portable SSD, expect to find solid options in the $150 to $250 range.
What are the best external SSDs for PS5?
When we look specifically at getting a portable SSD hard drive for the PS5 we want to focus in on read and write speeds. This will define how long a game takes to load and how well it runs, as well as how long it takes to store that content to begin with. As it's just storing your games and staying inside, you don't have to worry about security features and waterproofing too much. However, games are big, so size is important. Plus, as it will likely be highly visible sitting in your lounge-room, you may want to it be discrete or eye-catching depending on your style.
Here are some of the best external SSDs for PS5 in 2021
As its name suggests, this PS5 SSD is built specifically for gaming in the PS5 era. It uses USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports to allow for 2GB/s read speeds. There's a variety of sizes with 500GB, 1TB, 2TB and 4TB models, but it does get pricey at the top end. It's small and robust, with a nice military look that disappears into the shadows under your TV. Give it some space though as it can run a little hot. Buy from Amazon.
If you're looking for something a bit flashier, the Samsung T7 Portable SSD comes in a couple of colour options. Known for their reliability and for their small footprint, the Samsung drives are the most popular in the market. You can expect read and write speeds of 1GB/s. It comes in 3 sizes: 500GB, 1TB and 2TB. Buy from Amazon.
For something a bit more portable, consider the SanDisk Extreme Portable. As well as being robustly built with 2-metre shock protection and waterproof, it even has a hole in its design so you can clip it onto bags or key-rings. It matches the speeds of the Samsung T7 with 1GB/s read and write transfer rates and comes in a small 250GB size as well as 500GB, 1TB and 2TB. Buy from Amazon.
Using an external HDD for PS5 storage
The final option, and most cost-effective, is to use a portable HDD. These function much like an external SSD, but are a lot slower. The read speed can be anywhere between 50MB/s and 160MB/s, which is a long way off what is desired. It'll work, but if you can stretch to a portable SSD, that would be ideal.
How much does it cost to buy a portable HDD?
Many of the same factors you're looking at with a portable SSD will impact the price of a portable HDD. For a 1TB option, expect to pay between $50 and $80, making it the cheapest way to expand your PS5 storage.
Type-A vs Type-C external hard drives
The PS5 comes with both Type-A and Type-C USB ports, and so do external HDD and portable SSD solutions. Type-C is the more recent and faster option, offering transfer speeds up to 10GB/s. However, a USB 3.0 Type-A cable can still deliver 5GB/s, which is well beyond the speeds the hard drives themselves can handle. It doesn't matter which one you use for PS5 storage.
The main advantage of going with Type-C in this instance is that the cable isn't as fiddly and it's more future-proof.
Again, Sony has made a design decision that puts an asterisk on choosing Type-C. The only Type-C port on the PS5 is dead centre in the middle of the front. Argh! It means that if you select this option, you can't discretely hide your portable hard drive at the back of the machine where no one can see it.
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