Best M.2 SSD for PS5 in 2023: Top Storage for Your Console
We tested the best M.2 solid-state drives for the PlayStation 5. Here are our top picks to improve your storage and enhance your PS5 gaming experience.
Updated Nov. 3, 2023 11:58 a.m. PT
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Joseph KaminskiSenior Associate Technology Editor / Reviews
When not juggling the dual demands of parenthood and playing basketball, Joseph is a life-long Manhattanite who can be found testing the latest tech in the CNET Labs and developing new benchmarks and testing methodologies.
Dan AckermanEditorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications.
"Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
ExpertiseI've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever.Credentials
Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
The hunt for a PlayStation 5 gaming console is way easier than it was when the system first launched. You can find Sony's epic video game console in stock at places like Amazon, Best Buy and Sony. Now, with so many awesome games to choose from, the console's 1-terabyte solid-state drive can quickly fill up with all that video game goodness. For this reason, you'll probably be looking for some extra storage for your PS5. An aftermarket SSD may be the solution you're looking for. Keeping your storage and budget needs in mind, we've put together a list of the best M.2 SSDs for the PlayStation 5 below.
Sony unlocked the PS5's extra internal storage drive in 2021, a year after the console launched. This means you can dig into that extra space to level up up your console's storage capacity. All you need to do is grab the best M.2 SSD to bulk up your storage and speed to get the most out of your gaming experience. Whether you're intending to keep a collection of useful saves or install new games, there are plenty of M.2 SSD Playstation 5 storage options to give you that extra storage boost.
It can be a challenge to find a superfast M.2 drive, specifically one with an integrated heatsink. That's an essential component for your operating environment, if you want to stave off 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.
The Samsung 990 Pro with Heatsink showcases cutting-edge advancements in exclusive NAND memory (which reduces erase and write times and requires less chip area per cell), controller and software tech. The SSD is tailored for PC and console gamers and creators searching for storage solutions with exceptional performance, power efficiency and thermal management.
The price listed is for the 2TB drive. It also offers 1TB for $90.
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.
The big 4TB Seagate FireCuda 530 includes a built-in heatsink, which is a requirement for an internal PS5 drive. There are 1TB, 2TB and 4TB models.
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.
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 heat sink, for $20.
Just slot the slim M.2 drive in the slot, then screw the new cover panel over it and you're all set. We've tested the drive and added its transfer time scores to the chart below.
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.
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.)
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.
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We update this list regularly, and below are answers to some of the most common PS5 M.2 SSD questions.
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.