One of the things that PlayStation 5 users find to be missing the most is the ability to expand the storage of the console and it hurts when you know that SONY has made the choice of storage format well, by using standard M.2 discs and not a proprietary drive such as those used in the Xbox Series, and not being able to perform the SSD capacity expansion.
Officially, SONY has not activated in all PS5 the ability to install an NVMe SSD to expand its storage, so for now and until we have the release in an official update it is only for users who have a PS5 with the Beta System Software. What is that about? Well, it is a future program that we can do as beta testers of a future update of the console, which is still to be polished and is not stable.
Unfortunately the beta program is not available for Spanish-speaking countries, as it is only available to PlayStation 5 users living in the United States, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom, Germany, and France. The fact that it is not available for Spain is something that we honestly do not understand. In any case the ability to install the NVMe SSD will be available to everyone as soon as the beta program exits.
What specifications do the NVMe SSDs for PS5 have to have?
As we already knew seeing the expansion slot for the PlayStation 5 SSD, the console supports M.2 modules of 22 mm wide and several measures long. Therefore we can install units of the M.2 type 2230, 2242, 2288 and 22110. How you will have deduced the first two digits correspond to the width and the rest to the length.
The supported storage capacity ranges from 250GB to 4TB, but as for the interface it only supports NVMe SSDs that use the PCIe 4.0 or Gen 4 interface with 4 lines and therefore we cannot install in the console an NVMe SSD with a PCIe interface from a previous generation, much less one with a SATA interface. So if you were thinking of reusing those M.2 modules on your PS5 then you are out of luck, as you won’t be able to do it.
But the biggest limitation comes with the issue of SSD cooling, it must be borne in mind that the bay where the NVMe SSD is installed is on the opposite side where the huge heatsink and the fan are located, which is why SONY recommends that you install a storage drive with an integrated heat sink, which can be installed on either side of the M.2 module or just one. The size of the refrigeration unit cannot exceed the following measurements: 110mm long, 25mm wide and 11.25mm high.
All this limits the number of M.2 SSD NVMe units for PS5 that are available in the market, although it is expected that different manufacturers will confirm whether their units are compatible or not.
Cannot install HMB compatible SSDs
If you have an NVMe SSD that uses HMB, Host Memory Buffer, then you will not be able to use this type of unit either, since they give a much worse performance than advertised precisely for this feature. We are actually talking about DRAM-Less SSDs that use the system RAM for address decoding.
What is the status of PS5? Simple, the flash controller is the one that performs the address decoding in all cases, but to access the NVMe SSD module that we have installed in the PS5 the flash controller accesses it indirectly, which we explain in the next section of the article. All PCIe devices can access the memory of other devices, so the PS5 flash controller accesses the address table of the NVMe SSD that has been installed in the PS5. As that table does not exist in an SSD with Host Memory Buffer then it cannot do its job.
The other reason is that the console does not allow any unauthorized external device to access the RAM space for security reasons.
Why are there compatibility limitations?
SONY makes use of a proprietary flash controller in its console that brings together the functions of a chipset or Southbridge along with the capabilities of a flash controller on the same chip, which has 12 NVMe channels that are used by all NVMe chips that are soldered to the plate.
This is a different method than Microsoft uses with its Xbox where the 4-line PCIe interface is subdivided into two interfaces of two lines each, the first for the internal SSD and the second for expansion. Hence the lower bandwidth between the SSD and the console APU. On the other hand, on PlayStation 5 only the flash controller has contact with the APU. So how does the M.2 SSD that we install on PlayStation 5 communicate? Well, as seen in the diagram, the information has to go through the flash controller of the console.
The key however is rather in the communication with the SSD, where the timing of the access to the unit is fixed and therefore the access times are fixed and marked with fire. A much slower SSD can give data access problems and if we think about it, in the case of Xbox they have decided to cancel that problem by making a single module, SONY, wanting to open the possibility of installing an NVMe SSD on the PS5 has done that a series of characteristics must be met.
What are the NVMe SSDs that can be installed on PS5?
Installing a PS5 NVMe SSD is despite what they say a chore no more complicated than doing it on a laptop and therefore it is a relatively simple task, which is done from the internal socket of the console. It is true that the process in Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X is simpler, we cannot say that the PS5 requires advanced studies to do it and if you have installed an M.2 SSD in a laptop or a PC the process is just as complex
It has to be taken into account that the list of NVMe SSDs that we can install on PS5 will grow over time, but we make a recommendation as users of the new generation consoles. If you can opt for a 1 TB unit then we recommend it, the 512 GB ones are too fair and the 256 GB ones are insufficient. On the other hand, since PC games will ask for an NVMe SSD as a minimum requirement sooner rather than later, this will increase the demand out of necessity and there may be a price hike that affects PS5 as well.
Since there is still time for this phenomenon and PS5 requires storage yes or yes, we have thought of a list of NVMe SSDs that you can install on your PS5.
Patriot Viper VP4300 1TB
GIGABYTE AORUS NVMe Gen 4 1TB
Western Digital Black SN850 1TB
Remember that there are not all that exist and there will be, little by little the list will grow over time and it is most likely that SONY or the manufacturers will draw up a list of the NVMe SSDs that we can install on PS5.