One of the interesting features of the Sony PlayStation 5 is its M.2 slot, which accommodates a second internal solid-state drive to complement the game console’s standard SSD. But not just any SSD—you need a hard drive that meets Sony’s standards for interface, thickness, speed, and more.
Fortunately, many of today’s PCI Express 4.0 NVMe SSDs qualify as PS5 compatible, even some that aren’t expressly marketed as such. Installing a secondary stick may take a little effort, but it will allow you to keep a much larger library of games. Here’s what you need to know.
How Much Storage Can I Add to My PS5?
The PlayStation 5’s internal SSD has a capacity of 825GB, of which 667GB is free. In general, you should be able to fit nine or 10 AAA games on the drive—current titles require an average of 50GB to 60GB of storage, though some are much larger. For example, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War takes the franchise’s trend toward inflated file sizes to new highs by filling nearly 220GB, so available space may run out quicker than you think. Fortunately, the PS5 supports secondary drives with capacities ranging from 250GB to 4TB.
In selecting the drives featured in this collection, the main requirement is that they meet Sony .s requirements official criteria (listed above) for use with the PS5. Most but not all of our picks are marketed by their manufacturers as PS5 friendly. One that didn’t, the Samsung SSD 980 Pro, launched before the PS5 was available, but it easily meets Sony’s compatibility specs.
On the other hand, there are a number of M.2 solid-state drives—some touted as compatible with the PS5—that don’t meet one requirement: data transfer rates or rated throughput of less than the recommended 5,500 MBps. However, these are the only specs that allow Sony to have some wiggle room.
An example is the ADATA XPG Atom 50, whose sequential read speed is 5,000 MBps. Also note, that as an SSD without DRAM, the Atom 50 controller does not have the dynamic random access memory cache found on most drives, instead using a small amount of your computer’s system memory (host memory buffer, HMB for short) as cache. The PlayStation 5 doesn’t support HMB, a fact that could potentially reduce the drive’s performance. Therefore, while the Atom 50 will work on the PS5, the ADATA XPG drive we chose for this round was the faster DRAM-equipped S70 Blade.
PS5 Drive Size: How Tall and Long is the PS5 SSD?
For obvious reasons, the physical height of an SSD is an important factor in determining its PS5 compatibility. The “height” in this case is the thickness. Sony recommends that every SSD for PS5 has a heat dissipation device, heatsink or heat spreader, which will add up to a large amount. But it can only be so big and still fit.
Importantly, for one, it markets its P5 Plus SSD as compatible with the PS5, even though the drive ships without a heatsink; company selling compatible add-ons which should match the console with the free space.
The secondary drive must fit in the PlayStation’s M.2 bay, allowing for a total thickness of 11.5mm (up to 8mm from the top of the board and up to 2.5mm from the bottom). This eliminates most drives with non-removable finned heatsinks, but some manufacturers develop compact heatsinks and thin heat spreaders for use in confined spaces. We particularly like the slim, non-removable heatsink that comes with the WD Black SN850.
For drive lengths, the PS5 supports drives from 30mm to 110mm in length. In fact, all of our choices (and indeed most consumer M.2 SSDs) are Type-2280, or 80mm long.
Upgrade: How to Install an SSD on Your PS5
Installing a second SSD on your PlayStation 5 (see our how-to guide) is not difficult. The only tools you will need are a small (#1) Philips screwdriver and tweezers.
Your first step is to run a system update. Then turn off the console’s power, add a heatsink or spreader to the SSD if it’s not already installed, and remove the PS5’s side panel. (It can be done without tools, but may require a bit of muscle and maintenance.)
Next, remove the expansion slot cover and M.2 screws, install the new SSD in the expansion slot, insert the spacers as shown, and screw the drive into place. Then you close the PS5 backup, format the new drive, and you’re good to go.
Whether you managed to buy a PS5 for close to $499.99 or paid a fortune for it, there are plenty of fast and affordable M.2 PCI Express 4.0 solid-state drives that can fit in its secondary slot. And if you’re one of those very patient souls still waiting for the PS5 to drop in price, there will be more compatible SSDs to choose from when you finally get your hands on your console.
So Which PS5 SSD Upgrade Should You Buy?
Our main measure, all the same on the specs front, is to look at the cost per gigabyte for each drive you look at, using their current selling price. SSD prices tend to go up and down, and it’s often possible to score a larger capacity than you might think if you shop around. A little math can make it easier to compare the relative values of two drives of different capacities if you look at the cost per gigabyte.
Here we’ve highlighted some of our favorite solid-state drives that are compatible with the PlayStation 5. Since your console has an open M.2 slot, we recommend that you make good use of it. While SSD prices (unlike many other types of PC components) are pretty cheap here in early 2022, it’s smart to future-proof your PS5 by getting the highest capacity drive you can afford and loading it up with your favorite games. Happy frags!