New PlayStation 5 system software rolling out in beta today finally unlocks the long-promised ability to expand the system’s 667GB of usable internal storage, using M.2 SSDs that fit certain technical and physical requirements.
As listed on a new PlayStation support page, the new system software supports 22 mm-wide M.2 drives using the PCIe Gen 4 standard. Single- or double-sided drives with storage sizes ranging from 250GB to 4TB should work with the console.
Sony recommends that any PS5 expansion drive have a sequential read speed of at least 5500MB/s but warns that even then, “not all games are necessarily playable with the exact same performance provided by the PS5 console’s internal Ultra-High Speed SSD.” The company also recommends a heatsink (either built in or attached by the user) to aid with heat dissipation but warns that the heatsink should only rise 8 mm “above the board” to help ensure the entire housing can fit in the PS5’s 11.25 mm-high compartment.
Even with all these constraints, Sony warns that it “cannot guarantee that all M.2 SSD devices meeting the described specifications will work with your console and assumes no responsibility for the selection, performance, or use of third-party products.”
What is available?
Some SSD-makers are already starting to certify their M.2 offerings as PS5-compatible out of the box. “Seagate’s new FireCuda 530 meets Sony’s specs on performance and dimension requirements for PS5, and with no additional parts needed, the FireCuda 530 with a built-in heatsink is the qualified drop-in expansion solution for the console,” a Seagate spokesperson told Ars via email.
The PS5 still supports external storage through generic USB hard drives, but PS5 games stored on that “cold storage” have to be transferred back to the limited internal memory (or now, an M.2 expansion drive) before they can be played. Backward-compatible PS4 titles can be played directly from external USB storage.
Sony’s support for generic third-party M.2 drives here is in contrast to Microsoft, which uses a proprietary expansion-card format for additional storage on the Xbox Series X/S. A 1TB expansion card on Xbox retails for $220, comparable to the $200 to $250 that SSD-makers currently charge for M.2 drives that meet Sony’s PS5 standards.
PS5 owners in the US, Canada, Japan, UK, Germany, and France who want to try out the new storage expansion now can apply for the PS5 System Software beta program. Otherwise, players will have to wait for the system update to roll out to all users in the coming months, lining up with earlier reports of a summer launch for the feature.
The new beta system update also includes multiple user interface improvements and support for 3D audio TV speakers.
Listing image by Seagate