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We finally know how to fix the worst thing about the PS5

Published Oct 8th, 2020 3:12PM EDT
PS5 Storage Upgrade
Image: Sony

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  • Sony dismantled the PS5, revealing several key secrets about the new video game console.
  • The company revealed the M.2 storage bay that will take PCIe 4.0 drives without revealing the requirements for storage upgrades.
  • The PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition both ship with just 825GB of storage, which might not be enough for gamers looking to install several games at once.

One of the best things about the PS5 also happens to be one of the worst things about the next-generation video game console. Sony created a custom internal SSD that’s more than twice as fast as the Xbox Series X SSD, which is incredible. PS5 games will have to be installed on storage that can support those high transfer speeds, whether it’s the internal SSD or expandable storage. But the downside of Sony’s SSD innovation is that it only comes in an unusual size that isn’t very large. Rather than going for a traditional capacity for consoles, like 1TB, Sony had to go with 825GB. That might be enough for some gamers, but PS5 games will require plenty of storage. The more titles you install, the faster that 825GB SSD fills up, especially considering that less than 700GB will be available to the user.

When Sony revealed those SSD innovations and predicaments in mid-March, it told gamers that the console will support traditional SSD and HDDs for PS4 games. Also, the console will support M.2 SSDs that can match the speed of the new internal drive. The company also made it clear that gamers will have two things to figure out before buying expandable storage. First, M.2 drives come in various sizes. Second, the SSDs need to support certain speeds. Sony did not reveal specs for storage expansion at the time, saying it would share more details this fall. We still don’t have those SSD specs, but at least Sony finally told us how you’ll go about fixing the storage problem.

Sony tore down the PlayStation 5 on video, showing several innovations in the process. Among them is the SSD bay. To get to it, you’ll have to remove the side panel that contains the Blu-ray drive.

PS5 Teardown
PS5 teardown shows the SSD expansion bay next to the fan. Image source: Sony

The SSD bay sits at the top, right next to the fan. A metal lid protects the opening, and you’ll need a screwdriver to unscrew it.

From the looks of the video, there might be enough space inside the PS5 to house some of the newest M.2 PCIe 4.0 drives, like the Samsung 980 PRO SSD that was first shown at CES 2020 before being released a few weeks ago.

To access the PS5 SSD expansion bay, you’ll have to remove the metal lid. Image source: Sony

It’s not just the length of the M.2 modules that matters, but also the thickness of the drives. Some SSDs come with cooling solutions of their own, which might add extra thickness to the drive itself. Because Sony hasn’t yet shared the actual specs requirements for M.2 SSD upgrades, we have no idea which actual drives will be compatible with the PS5 SSD upgrade bay.

There’s a variety of PCIe 4.0 drives available for purchase right now, but it’s still a good idea to wait for Sony to list actual modules that meet both the physical size and speed requirements. The 1TB Sabrent Rocket retails for $199.98 on Amazon right now. You’ll have to pay double for 2TB of storage. The drive can reach read and write speeds of up to 5GB/s and 4.4GB/s, respectively, which might be good enough for the PS5. But the speeds are still shy of the internal drive.

Samsung PRO 980 SSD
Samsung’s new PRO 980 SSD supports PCIe 4.0 speeds suitable for PS5 games.

The 1TB Samsung 980 Pro is more expensive at $229, but the drive reaches speeds of 7GB/s and 5GB/s, which might meet Sony’s requirements. The storage bay will also take slower M.2 drives, of course. But those SSDs will feature much lower speeds so they’ll only support PS4 titles. But the good news is that PCIe 3.0 drives will be more affordable.

Comparatively, Microsoft devised a much easier upgrade solution for the internal storage, developing a custom external storage solution that runs at the same speed as the internal SSD. Games optimized for the Series X will also have to be able to run on the internal storage or the expansion card.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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