Sony's PS5 SSD storage expansions suck, but only for now
After months of waiting for information, we finally have some news on PS5 storage capacity upgrades with an internal SSD. While Sony added the ability to use external hard drives for cold storage a few months ago, players were still limited to roughly 667GB of SSD space to run PS5 games. With many larger titles now averaging 50GB or above before patches, that space fills up quickly.
Now, while it's not widely available yet, Sony has published the steps necessary for PS5 beta testers to upgrade their storage with a compatible M.2 drive. Well, kind of.
There's a whole host of disclaimers, including the eyebrow-raising statement that just because an SSD meets the recommended speed and size requirements, there's no guarantee it'll work. Even if a drive works, if you install some of the best PS5 games to it, they might see degraded performance compared to being stored on the PS5's internal ultra-fast SSD. At the end of the day, Sony's PS5 SSD storage expansions suck, but that should only be for now.
Right off the bat, it's a little concerning that Sony can't even give a small early list of SSD models that are guaranteed to work. As things stand, there's only one SSD, the Seagate FireCuda 530 NVMe, that is advertised by the manufacturer — but importantly, not Sony — as fully compatible with the PS5. While this feature is in beta testing right now, there's clearly a long road ahead before there'll even be a small list of drives that can be purchased with peace of mind. What will or won't work is a litany of confusion.
Users also have to open up the internal storage bay themselves to screw in the drive. This isn't too much of a hassle except you'll want to add a heatsink to your drive if it didn't come with one already installed. With a heatsink attached, the drive might not fit anymore. These small problems add up in annoyance, especially dealing with something as expensive as an NVMe SSD.
With that in mind, I do think things will even out and this process will improve. Make no mistake, this teething process is going to suck. It's also important to get these problems worked out right now, as Sony Worldwide Studios is hard at work on an upcoming slate of major titles. I'm already deleting games the moment I finish them, so with titles like Horizon Forbidden West and the next God of War incoming over the next year or so, more space will be needed. This is the time to iron out the wrinkles.
It's also worth noting that historically, Sony has been overly cautious in promising anything regarding PlayStation features. This is the same company that spoke hesitantly of the "top 100" PS4 games working well on the PS5 through backward compatibility. Come the holiday console release, only 10 games didn't work from across the PS4's entire library. It's not a one-to-one situation but odds are that Sony has opted for a "better safe than sorry" approach in approving drives, at least for now.
Sony's route for providing expanded internal storage is also aided by its more open approach. Instead of partnering exclusively with just one brand, Sony is theoretically allowing support for any drive from any company, as long as it meets the correct standards and passes testing. Only one card is sure to work for now but there are others that will almost certainly follow suit.
Having multiple third-party vendors means that prices could come down much faster than a proprietary option. There's also just the nature of the option itself: If you don't want to break your bank, you can opt for a smaller 500GB drive. If, however, you want all the storage possible, you can drop nearly a thousand dollars on a 4TB drive and not have to worry about space ever again.
Certainly it's an interesting juxtaposition with the Xbox Storage Expansion Card, which offers a simple plug-and-play 1TB card. It's easy to use but there are no other options. This could change in the future but for now, users are limited to a one-time expansion, something that will show limitations in the coming year if more models aren't made available.
Navigating what can and can't be used with your PS5 is going to require a fair bit of research, something that is more than fair to feel irritable about, especially with the lack of information and numerous disclaimers It should get better though, with the positive angles to this approach coming into their own as time goes on.
Speed and performance
It's early days for testing SSDs that'll work with the PS5 but in theory, the WD Black 1TB SN850 NVMe is a solid choice, meeting the speed and physical size requirements, with some options for different amounts of storage.
Easy to stock up
PlayStation gift cards are an easy way to grab currency for games, add-ons, themes, and more on the PlayStation Store. They also come in a wide variety of denominations and you can stock up for PS5 games.
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Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on PlayStation on Android Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert