One of the things that we most find missing PlayStation 5 users is the ability to expand the storage of the console and it hurts when you know that SONY has made the right choice of storage format, using standard M.2 disks and not a proprietary drive like those used in the Xbox Series, and not being able to perform the expansion of the SSD capacity.
Officially, SONY has not activated in all PS5 the ability to install an NVMe SSD to expand your storage, so for the moment and until we have the launch in an official update is only for users who have a PS5 with the Beta System Software. What is that? Well, it is a future program that we can make 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 for PlayStation 5 users living in the United States, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom, Germany and France. The fact that it’s not available for Spain is something we honestly don’t understand. In any case the ability to install the NVMe SSD will be available to everyone as soon as it comes out of the beta program.
What are the specifications of the NVMe SSD for PS5?
As we already knew from the PlayStation 5 SSD expansion slot, the console supports M.2 modules of 22mm width and various lengths. So we can install M.2 2230, 2242, 2288 and 22110 drives. As you may have deduced the first two digits correspond to the width and the rest to the length.
The supported storage capacity ranges from 250 GB to 4 TB, but as for the interface only supports NVMe SSD using PCIe 4.0 or Gen 4 interface with 4 lanes and therefore we can not install on the console an NVMe SSD with a PCIe interface of a previous generation and much less one with SATA interface. So if you were thinking of reusing those M.2 modules in your PS5 then you’re out of luck, as you won’t be able to do so.
But the biggest limitation comes with the SSD cooling issue, keep in mind that the bay where the NVMe SSD is installed is on the opposite side where the huge heatsink and fan is located which is why SONY recommends that you install a storage unit with an integrated heatsink, which can be installed on either side of the M.2 module or only on one. The size of the cooling unit cannot exceed the following dimensions: 110 mm long, 25 mm wide and 11.25 mm high.
This limits the number of M.2 NVMe SSDs for PS5 that are available on the market, although different manufacturers are expected to confirm whether their drives are compatible or not.
HMB-compatible SSDs cannot be installed.
<img src=”//www.w3.org/2000/svg’ viewBox=’0 0 3 2’%3E%3C/svg%3E” data-src=”https://hardzone.es/app/uploads-hardzone.es/2020/05/Host-Memory-Buffer-e1590571346665.png” alt=”Host Memory Buffer SSD” width=”1000″ height=”558″ />
If you have an NVMe SSD that uses HMB, Host Memory Buffer, then you won’t be able to use this type of drive either, as they give much worse performance than advertised precisely because of this feature. We are actually talking about DRAM-Less SSDs that use system RAM for address decoding.
What is the situation with PS5? Simple, the flash controller is the one that performs in all cases the address decoding, but to access the NVMe SSD module that we have installed in the PS5 the flash controller accesses indirectly, which we explain in the next section of the article. All PCIe devices can access the memory of all other devices, so the PS5 flash controller accesses the address table of the NVMe SSD installed in the PS5. Since there is no such table in an SSD with Host Memory Buffer then it can’t do its job.
The other reason is that the console does not allow any external device that is not authorized to access the RAM space for security reasons.
Why are there compatibility limitations?
SONY makes use of a proprietary flash controller in their console that brings the chipset or Southbridge functions together with the capabilities of a flash controller on a single chip, which has 12 NVMe channels that are used by all the NVMe chips that are soldered to the board.
This is a different method than Microsoft uses with their Xbox where the 4 lane PCIe interface is subdivided into two interfaces of two lanes each, the first for the internal SSD and the second for expansion. Hence the lower bandwidth between the SSD and the console’s APU. On PlayStation 5, however, only the flash controller has contact with the APU. So how does the M.2 SSD we install in PlayStation 5 communicate? Well, as you can see in the diagram, the information has to pass through the flash controller of the console.
The key however is more in the communication with the SSD, where the timing of the access to the drive is fixed and therefore the access times are set in stone. A much slower SSD can cause 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 by wanting to open the possibility of installing an NVMe SSD in the PS5 has made it necessary to meet a number of characteristics.
What are the NVMe SSDs that can be installed in PS5?
Installing a PS5 NVMe SSD is despite what they say a task 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. While it is true that the process on Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X is simpler, we can not say that the PS5 requires advanced studies to do so and if you have installed an M.2 SSD in a laptop or PC the process is just as complex.
It should be noted that the list of NVMe SSDs that we can install in PS5 will grow over time, but we make a recommendation as users of the next generation consoles. If you can opt for a 1TB drive then we recommend it, 512GB is too small and 256GB is not enough. On the other hand, as PC games will require a NVMe SSD as a minimum requirement sooner rather than later, this will increase demand out of necessity and there may be a price hike that will affect PS5 as well.
Since this is still some time away and PS5 requires storage, we have come up with a list of NVMe SSDs that you can install in your PS5.
Patriot Viper VP4300 1TB
GIGABYTE AORUS 1TB NVMe Gen 4
Western Digital Black SN850 1TB
Remember that they are not all that exist and those that will be, little by little the list will grow over time and most likely SONY or manufacturers will release a list of NVMe SSDs that we can install on PS5.