It has been almost a year now since Sony released the PS5 and one of the biggest selling points about the next-gen console was M.2 storage expansion. That wasn't available at launch, but after months in beta, it will be part of a system software update releasing tomorrow.
While the system launched with the SSD bay, it didn't operate when the system launched. In July, it was made available to beta testers, and now Sony is ready to release it to the masses.
While Sony was conjuring up the update, companies like TeamGroup and Seagate released new M.2 drives that are designed to meet and exceed the potential of the PS5’s storage upgrade capability. For a bigger list of compatible SSDs for the PS5, you can look at our Best SSDs 2021 list, which includes M.2 drives that are compatible with the PS5 and even meet similar specifications to the PS5-focused drives with a noticeable price difference.
The PS5 will support PCIe Gen 4 drives between 250GB and 4TB in size. In order to take advantage of the storage expansion capabilities that the PS5 brings to the table, you need to make sure your M.2 drive fits in the console. The PS5 supports M.2 sizes from 2230 up to 22110, but most drives you’ll be looking to install will be within the 2280 footprint. The company also highly recommends including a heatsink on the SSD, and Sony's slot allows for up to 11.25 mm in thickness.
You can see Sony's full requirements for PS5 SSDs here.
Expanding the storage on the PS5 via M.2 installation allows your games to load much quicker, as Sony recommends SSDs with read speeds of 5,500 MBps at the slowest, but it can keep up with the fastest of SSDs that read up to 7,400 MBps, which is what TeamGroup’s T-Force Cardea A440 Pro is capable of. Interestingly, Sony is advising that not all games may be playable "with the exact same performance provided by the PS5 console’s internal Ultra-High Speed SSD, even where the M.2 SSD device’s sequential read speed is faster than 5500MB/s.”
The September software is about more than the SSD. The update brings UX enhancements that allow you to customize the Control Center and more easily message friends directly from the Game Base. If you are a PlayStation Now subscriber, you can adjust the streaming resolution on certain games from 720p to 1080p. Amongst other features, the update also adds support for 3D audio for TVs with built-in speakers, which had previously been limited to headsets.
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Myles Goldman is a freelance writer for Tom's Hardware US. He reviews keyboards and cases.