Choose an SSD for your PS5 without breaking the bank
Available for a few weeks now, the PS5 software update may have gone unnoticed if you are not really invested in the video game space. However, the possibility has been given to PS5 players to add an SSD inside the console via a dedicated slot, to increase its storage capacity. Not every SSD was created equal though, so let's run through some of the details that are important to note for your upgrade.
SSD for PS5: a useful but necessary addition
Almost a year ago, the video game world was holding its breath. The new generation of consoles arrived on our markets and with it, the promise of sublimated aesthetics, Ultra HD resolutions in 120 frames per second, and even the distant promise of 8K. The PS5 has delivered super fast loading times alongside these features, thanks to the help of a custom SSD. For this, the Japanese manufacturer has relied on a homemade NVMe SSD, 4th generation solution, capable of reading more than 6500mb of data per second. Whilst this may seem like old news for PC gaming enthusiasts, this marks a new chapter in console hardware
Whether it's Spider-Man: Miles Morales or Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, the results speak for themselves. From the moment you turn on your console to the moment you start your game, only a handful of seconds elapse. Gone are the days when we could go and get a drink or snack whilst the game loads.
The future looks bright, however, the internal SSD of the PS5 has 'only' 825 GB of storage, more than 100 GB of which is already dedicated to the operating system of the console. With a final capacity of around 700 GB, modern-day games have no issue filling that space fast. Luckily, Sony has provided an option to owners that allows them to expand this in a way that meets performance targets and gives the same experience as the internal SSD, provided you follow their recommendations on which drive you should choose.
Very important information: your console must be disconnected from the mains power when performing this upgrade, as well as being up to date with the latest system software which will enable the extended storage feature on your console.
Which SSD exactly?
What follows is essential if you plan to add an SSD to your PS5. Indeed, as one might expect, not all models are compatible with the console.
Whilst we typically see a range of SSDs available from the big manufacturers such as Seagate / Sabrent / Western Digital / Crucial etc, we must focus on an M.2 NVMe PCI-Express Gen4 compatible drive. A latest-generation SSD, meeting very high reading and writing speed criteria.
|Interface||PCI-Express Gen4x4 compatible M.2 NVMe SSD (Key M)|
|Storage||250 GB - 4 TB|
|Supported formats||2230, 2242, 2260, 2280, 22110|
|Dimensions with heat sink|
Width: up to 25 mm
Length: 30/40/60/80/110 mm
Thickness: up to 11.25mm (up to 8mm above the board, up to 2.45mm below the board)
|Sequential read speed||Speed ??of at least 5,500MB / s recommended|
|Socket type||Socket 3 (M key)|
As you can see in the image above, the model that you can install in your console must not only meet recent certain criteria but also be equipped with a heatsink with strict size requirements. You can find all the information on the specific characteristics required on the official PlayStation website.
Three choices are then available to you:
- The easy way.
Acquire an SSD recommended by Sony AND which already has a heat sink included, the size of which meets the standards of the slot included in the PS5.
- The DIY way.
Buy an SSD recommended by Sony but which does not have a heatsink. You will therefore need to get one separately and install it yourself. Rest assured, it's very easy.
- The rebel way.
Try your luck with an SSD that does not meet all the requirements outlaid by Sony, and with a reduced heatsink. If it works, you could save some money. But be careful, it must still, at a minimum, be PCI-Express Gen 4. Some YouTubers have tried to add a 3rd GEN SSD and it does not work.
Pay attention to the size of the heatsink
Before you jump into this purchase, remember that the main trick to saving money is to buy a model that does not have a heat sink. Most of the time, SSD + heatsink packs are more expensive than buying them separately.
In addition, be aware that some SSDs come with heatsinks too large to fit into the small compartment of the PS5. It will therefore be necessary either to replace it or to add it, taking the risk of not closing the dedicated space. And that would be a shame, especially with regard to a possible overheating problem that could break the warranty on your console.
Thus, here are 4 heatsinks which correspond, in terms of their sizes, to what is expected by Sony:
- The Be quiet! MC1 (which we recommend)
- The ELUTENG M.2 2280
- The Jonsbo M.2 2280
- The ICY BOX IB-M2HS-1001
To carry out our tests, we obtained the first three cited:
In addition to these three heatsinks, we bought three M.2 NVMe 4th GEN SSDs:
- The Samsung 980 Pro 500 Go
- The PNY XLR8 CS3040 500 GB
- The Seagate FireCuda 520 500 GB
On paper, only the Samsung 980 Pro offers a write speed equal to or greater than 6500MB /s (it is even listed 7000MB /s), a speed similar to that of the internal SSD of the PS5. The PNY XLR8 and the FireCuda 520 are not officially recommended by Sony but nevertheless, meet the recommendations posted on various sites (PCI 4.0 / write speed greater than 5000MB /s). Note also that the FireCuda 530, the top range, is indeed recommended but is, logically, more expensive.
How to install an SSD on the PS5?
Step 1: open the console
Opening the shell of the Playstation 5 may seem difficult the first time. To do this, just take the console, flat, and remove the part that does not have the PS5 logo. On a standard Playstation (not digital), it is also the shell where the disc player is located.
Take the console with the different connectors (HDMI, electrical, ethernet…) at your waist, lift the lower right part with your hand, and slowly slide the shell to the left. Voila! (No need to force).
Step 2: Access the slot for the SSD
The slot integrated into the console to add an SSD will thus be available. To open this hatch, all you need is a Phillips screwdriver.
After removing the small screw, be very careful not to lose it! Put it aside and look at what you have access to instead:
Since SSDs can be different lengths, you will find different holes that can accommodate the screw and bracket which are already included in the last slot of the slot. Unscrew these two pieces, take them out, and once again, be very careful not to lose them.
Step 3: add a heat sink to its SSD
As explained previously, SSDs do not necessarily come with a heat sink when purchased. So you have to get one on your side and add the heatsink manually. The three models we bought offered different alternatives:
The BeQuiet! MC1:
This is the most classic heatsink and is straightforward to install. It comes with the screws, screwdriver, support, and thermal pastes necessary. To install it, simply remove the stickers on the top and then place the thermal pastes on each side of the SSD, being careful to line up with the length of your SSD.
Subsequently, add the SSD into the dedicated support, then screw everything down so that it is well secured. Once done, you just have to position it in the dedicated slot of your PS5.
Before going any further, know that we strongly recommend the purchase of this very complete and qualitative model. It seems to us to be the best choice to cool the selected SSD.
The ELUTENG 2280:
The particularity of this model is that it comes with two options in regards to installation:
- A classic install, like the MC1, with a support allowing you to add the SSD and screw it inside (note that an element was missing when our hardware arrived, preventing us from trying this option)
- An install via two dedicated rubber bands which bond the SSD to the heatsink and correctly dissipate the heat
The classic ELUTENG 2280 holder being slightly too big to fit into the PS5 holder, we decided to use the model with elastic bands, which is perfectly suited in terms of size.
To do this, all you have to do is peel off a thermal paste provided, then stick it on the small black ELUTENG support:
After removing the plastic from the second side of the thermal paste, stick it all to your SSD:
All that remains is to add the elastics which allow the heatsink to function correctly, even in the event of significant overheating:
All you have to do is add the SSD in the dedicated compartment of the PS5, screw everything in and start your console.
The Jonsbo M.2 2280:
This model from China had something attractive: its price. For less than £6, it corresponded to the dimensions necessary to be able to enter the SSD slot of the PS5.
Delivered with support and two thermal pastes, this model is ultimately the least ergonomic and not very secure. First observation: apart from thermal pastes, it is not possible to secure the SSD using screws for example.
It is thus necessary to peel the plastic of a thermal paste then to add it to the first part (red) of the support:
Logically, it is expected to do the same with the lower part (black) but we do not recommend it, because it will be very complicated (not to say impossible) to clip the two parts into each other afterwards. The size of the SSD selected for the test (the PNY XLR8) being standard, it is unlikely to succeed with another model.
The main concern is that stability takes a hit, and there is a small gap left between the bracket and your vacant SSD, which may allow for some (very slight) movement afterward. However, we were able to install the SSD in the dedicated slot and we must admit that this should not cause any problems once installed:
Step 4: Format SSD and Check Compatibility
After adding your SSD and its heatsink in the dedicated compartment of your PS5, all you have to do is restart the console. As soon as your SSD is installed in the slot and you have carefully closed everything, you are ready to go. Reconnect your various cables and turn on your console.
Once the message appears, just click on “Format M.2 SSD” and wait a few moments.
Let's see what results the three models we tested give:
FireCuda 520 + ELUTENG 2280 - Final cost: around £90
The FireCuda 520 performs very well after our test. The reading speed displayed by the console is 5637 MB /s, more than enough to run your PS4 and PS5 games in good conditions.
After a quick tour in “Settings”, then “Storage”, we realize that the SSD has been added as a location on the PS5 and that it is therefore now possible to add games, applications and saves directly on it.
PNY XLR8 CS3040 + Jonsbo M.2 2280 - Final cost: around £70
First point to present, the PNY XLR8 comes with a heat sink. The latter is nevertheless too large for the slot of the PS5 and it is therefore not possible to close the small SSD opening lid. But, it is quite possible to close the shell and therefore start the console after installing it. Still, installing an SSD equipped with a heatsink that does not comply with the measures imposed by Sony is not recommended!
The PNY XLR8 is detected without problem by the PS5. After formatting, it displays a read speed of 5636 MB / s, almost similar to the FireCuda 520.
Samsung 980 Pro + BeQuiet! MC1 - Final cost: around £102
The Samsung 980 Pro is certainly the most expensive of the three models tested, but also the one that is supposed to offer the best performance.
This is officially the case after installation since we realize that the read speed displayed after formatting is almost 6500 MB /s, a figure similar to that of the internal SSD of the Playstation 5.
It is, therefore, the one that is the most recommended, but also the one that is the most expensive.
To note, we tested SSDs by installing eFootball 2022 on them. No problem in terms of loading times, very fast, but we also tested gameplay. The few bugs observed are inherent to the game itself. In conclusion, we can confirm that the models are completely compatible and recommendable.
Obviously, this guide serves primarily as a guide, but we can only recommend that you look at other articles and tutorials on the subject before making a final decision.
Tips to save on your SSD for PS5
The first point that is important to stress is that we should not take Sony's recommendations at face value. Obviously, some technical specifications are mandatory (PCI GEN4 in particular) and the final size of your SSD x Heatsink duo will have a major role to play, but it is also possible to save some money by analyzing this market, and making some smart choices.
The most striking example concerns the FireCuda 520, which is not part of the list of SSDs whose qualities are praised, but which is ultimately completely compatible.
If its elder, the FireCuda 530, has obtained the favors of several YouTubers and specialized sites, we realize that there is money to be saved.
What we can advise you is especially to add one or more SSDs to your shopping lists on several sites and to watch for possible price reductions.
Finally, and we cannot conclude this guide without giving you this advice: create alerts on hotukdeals, and keep an eye over Black Friday.
Wait until Black Friday or Sales if you have the opportunity to save on the final price of the SSD. It wouldn't be surprising if the 1TB models go under £150 easily, letting you rest easy and add multiple games to your console. Finally, and we cannot repeat it enough: add your own heat sink to save on the final price. Best of luck on your upgrade, and we hope you enjoy the extra storage!