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Best M.2 SSD for Expanding PS5 Storage

After Sony unlocked the extra M.2 SSD slot inside the PlayStation 5, we started testing the top drives.

If you've managed to get your hands on an elusive PlayStation 5, you'll be eager to burn through tons of hit next-gen titles. However, the PS5's 1TB storage drive can fill up quickly -- and no one wants to have to pick and choose which games they have the space for. 

Fortunately, you won't have to. Sony unlocked the PS5's extra internal storage drive slot in the summer of 2021. This option wasn't available when the PS5 launched in fall 2020, but now you can access that extra space to beef up your console's current storage capacity. Just grab the best M.2 SSD for your gaming needs and you can experience all the benefits of that extra storage boost.

Before the mass availability of solid-state drives and before the beta, you could still add an external drive for PS4 games, but only play PS4 games from it. You could store PS5 games on a portable SSD, but you couldn't play them. 

Read more: PS5 Review: Exclusive Games Power Sony's Console

However, it can be hard to find a superfast M.2 drive, especially one with a built-in heatsink. That's an essential feature to prevent overheating. So if your solid-state drive doesn't have one, you'll have to add it manually. We've made some suggestions below to help with that process.

We've tested several drives, including the 4TB Seagate FireCuda 530, which we installed in this how-to feature, and you can find those transfer time results below. 

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8:56
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Samsung's high-end M.2 drive was a logical first choice for a lot of PS5 modders... but the original version didn't include a built-in heatsink, which is required for operation. Sure, you could buy a separate one and attach it, but that's a few extra steps.

Conveniently, this excellent Samsung 980 Pro SSD is now available with a heatsink, which makes it an all-in-one package. There are two current configurations, a 1TB model and a 2TB model, with the price roughly doubling for the larger model. 

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Dan Ackerman/CNET

I recently got my hands on a big 4TB Seagate FireCuda 530, which includes a built-in heatsink, a requirement for an internal PS5 drive. The 1TB version lists for $250, though can sometimes be found for less, while the 4TB version is upward of $900. Note that due to its popularity, this particular Seagate FireCuda drive has frequently been out of stock, so grab one when you can. 

After I installed and set up the drive, I tried transferring a few games from the default drive to my new SSD. Call of Duty, which is nearly 200GB, transferred in about 2 minutes, 30 seconds. Returnal, around 50GB, transferred in about 40 seconds. 

$885 at Amazon
You're receiving price alerts for Seagate FireCuda 530 (Heatsink, 4TB)
Scott Stein

Corsair recently announced this PS5-compatible M.2 drive. This particular SSD comes with a heat sync. We're currently testing the 2TB version and will update this soon with more details from our hands-on testing. A 1TB drive lists for $135, while the 2TB is $240.

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Normally I'd stick with M.2 drives with built-in heat sinks, so make the entire upgrade process easier. But I'll make an exception for this PNY XLR8 drive, because PNY also makes a separate PS5 SSD cover panel, complete with built-in head sink. 

Just slot the slim M.2 drive in the slot, then screw the new cover panel over it and you're all set. The 1TB drive is around $120 right now, and the cover is an extra $18. We've tested the drive and added its transfer time scores to the chart below. 

$117 at Amazon
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PNY m2 cover for PS5

This is the PNY heat sink and cover combo, which makes it easy to install an M.2 drive that doesn't have its own heat sink. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

The drives above have all been tested, and you'll see there's not a lot of difference in performance between them. The most notable thing is that writing to the M.2 drive is a lot faster than writing back to the internal PS5 drive. 

PS5 M.2 file transfer time (in min:sec)


Console to M.2 M.2 to Console
FFVII (81GB)

Seagate FireCuda 530 (4TB) 1:05 6:00
Samsung 980 Pro (1TB) 1:08 5:56
Corsair MP600 Pro LPX (2TB) 1:04 5:54
PNY XLR8 CS3140 (1TB) 1:16 6:11



Spider-Man: Miles Morales (39GB)

Seagate FireCuda 530 0:33 2:57
Samsung 980 Pro 0:31 2:53
Corsair MP600 Pro LPX 0:33 2:54
PNY XLR8 CS3140 (1TB) 0:40 2:53

Below are some additional drives and accessories that we have not tested yet, but should all work fine. 


Amazon

Besides the Samsung and Seagate versions, this Western Digital drive is probably the most popular M.2 choice for the PS5. It also includes the needed heatsink built in, which I frankly recommend as a much easier way to get your console storage upgraded. 

The WD Black comes in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB sizes, although I can't see going through all the effort required to open the PS5 and install these for a mere 500GB of extra space, especially with some games getting close to 100GB in size. 1TB seems like the best bang for your buck, as the 2TB drive costs more than the PS5 itself. 

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Samsung

This is the original Samsung 980 Pro 1TB drive that needs a separate heatsink. If you've got one and can attach it, it's a less expensive option and easy to find. In fact, the price on this model has even dropped by a few dollars. 

The advantage of adding an M.2 internal drive to your PS5 is that you can both store and play PS5-native games from it. Regular external hard drives can store PS5 games, but not play them. (Both store and play PS4 games.)

Amazon

If you're going down the add-your-own-heatsink route, this is one of the most popular parts for PS5 owners. Gamers have reported that it's a perfect fit for the PS5's M.2 slot, especially when paired with the Samsung 980 SSD. 

To attach a heatsink like this, you usually need some thermal tape to connect the heatsink to the drive. In this case, there's an included thermal pad that sticks the two parts together. That's important because without the right kind of thermal management, the M.2 drive could get too hot in the tightly constricted PS5 internal drive slot. 

FAQs

We update this list regularly, and below are answers to some of the most common PS5 M.2 SSD questions.

How do I remove the PS5 cover?

Both the front and rear panels of the PS5 are removable. To remove the bottom cover and expose the M.2 drive slot, Sony recommends positioning the console so the PS logo is facing up and the power button is facing away from you. Grip the bottom left corner of the cover and pull slightly up and to the right so the cover lists away. You can see the PS5 cover removal process in action here

Does my M.2 drive need a heat sink?

Yes. Sony requires a heat sink (basically a chunk of metal) to dissipate heat and prevent the drive from overheating. Some M.2 drives include a built-in heat sink, others need to attach manually via tape or adhesive. 

What games will run from a PS5 M.2 drive?

Unlike an external drive connected via USB-C, an internal M.2 drive can both store and run PS5 and PS4/PS Plus games. An external drive can store both, but only play PS4/older games. 

How we test PS5 M.2 drives

To test these M.2 SSD drives for the very specific purpose of storing and playing PS5 games, our primary concern is data transfer speed. All the drives compatible with the PS5 will play and load games seamlessly. The only time you're likely to notice the drive in action is when transferring full games either to or from it. 

To test the speed of these drives, we downloaded specific games onto the PS5 internal drive, then transferred those games to the newly installed M.2 drive. Then we transferred the same games back to the internal SSD. The games we use for this test are Final Fantasy VII Remake, at 81GB; and Spider-Man: Miles Morales, at 39GB. We used a stopwatch to time the transfers and listed each result in the chart above.