Whether you were lucky enough to get a PlayStation 5 this holiday season or have owned the console since its debut last year, you’ve no doubt hit a brick wall in your system’s storage space. While the PS5’s built-in solid-state drive (SSD) offers speeds of up to 5.5 gigabytes per second (versus the PS4’s 1 GB in 20 seconds), the 825-GB size feels like a step back. That capacity fills up fast, as I learned myself when I was unable to update my games due to storage limits even though I had downloaded just seven titles. Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War alone took up nearly 250 GB.
While you can run through the motions of uninstalling and reinstalling games to circumvent the limited space, that’s a time-consuming hassle. Plus, even if you store them on an external hard drive, you can’t play them from one. Ultimately you need a SSD to expand your PS5 library. With Cyber Week deals running, now’s the time to buy. And once you’ve got one, you can install it yourself fairly easily. Here’s how.
What You Need
First and foremost, you’ll need a PlayStation 5, obviously, which is doable using these tips I used to snag one amid the high demand. Next you’ll need a compatible M2 SSD to store and then play PS5 games directly from the card, which external USB hard drives do not allow. If you have graphics-intensive games in your rotation, the SSD is worth the splurge.
An M2 NVMe SSD with a PCI-Express Gen 4 (Key M) interface is essential. Not just any M2 will do. It must be sized 2,230, 2,242, 2,260, 2,280, or 22,110. The PS5 accepts cards ranging from 250 GB up to 4 TB, and up to 11.25mm thick. On the official PlayStation website, Sony recommends that the SSD offers sequential read speeds of 5,500 MB/s or greater. If your SSD doesn’t include a heatsink, you’ll need to follow the installation instructions included with a separately purchased heatsink such as this one from Amazon. The models I recommend above all include built-in heatsinks to streamline things.
Last but not least, you’ll need a Phillips head screwdriver.
Hold down the PlayStation button in the center of your controller to open your PS5’s power menu and select the option labelled “Turn Off PS5” for a full shutdown. You must make sure your PS5 is not in rest mode or on before unplugging it (which you’ll need to do to work on it), as this can corrupt your files or cause damage to your SSD or console. Once it’s fully off, unplug your system and place it on a well-lit table workspace.
Take the PS5 and lay it flat with the logo side down toward the table. If you have the disc version of the PS5, that means your disc drive should be toward the side farther from the table.
Touch a grounded metal object such as radiator to remove any static electricity from your body. This is an easy step to miss, but if you don’t, y0u can send a charge through highly conductive components, potentially damaging your drive or console.
Grab the bottom of the base and, using your other hand on the opposite corner, pull the plastic white base cover up and away. It takes some force, but the side will pop off and toward the direction of your pull.
With the PS5 internals exposed, you can see the M2 SSD slot, indicated by the stick-of-gum shape and silver cover. Using a Phillips head screwdriver, spin off the single screw keeping this in place, being careful not to strip the threading.
Pop open the SSD slot, and unbox your SSD with heat sink. I opted for the 4-TB FireCuda 530 because it offers the highest capacity and speed performance, meaning I won’t need to hop back under the hood to update it going forward.
Click the gold connection of your SSD into the matching input notch in the console, with a firm push to ensure the drive is seated properly. You should hear a reaffirming click.
Now use the screw and washer in the expansion slot behind the drive to secure your SSD in place via the screw opening on the back of the drive.
Reinstall the silver SSD expansion cover, and snap the PS5 backing plate on the way you took it off, this time pushing it in and downward. With an audible snap telling you the job is done, you can return your PS5 to the TV by plugging in the HDMI and power cables.
Once your PS5 powers on, you will need to format the SSD. Thankfully, the option to do so appears at startup, so simply hit the “Format M2 drive” button. Wait for the process to initialize, wrapping up in about two minutes. You will now see your drive’s speeds. Hit okay, and the console will send you back to the main menu. From here, you can navigate over to your settings, then select the storage option.
Confirm that your internal storage is now joined by M2 SSD Storage. Scroll down to the “Installation Location” option to set this new drive as the download location for your PS5 games, allowing you to play games at speeds of those on the internal drive.
Congratulations you now have more room to store games and media. While the Xbox Series X offers a much easier plug-and-play SSD expansion card, the proprietary memory is more expensive per gigabyte and limits your drive choice. Enjoy your new storage and put it to good use.