One of the most exciting features about the PS5 is its lightning-fast SSD. With only 825GB of storage — and only around 667GB of it actually usable — it fills up quickly. An SSD means that developers can theoretically cut down on the size of games, but this only goes so far. In anticipation of Sony approving support for expanded SSD storage, we’ve created a handy guide to explain the differences between an SSD and HDD, how PS5 storage currently works, and more.
SSD vs HDD explained
Source: Sony (screenshot)
SSDs (solid-state drive) tend to be faster and smaller than HDDs (hard disc drive) because the former uses flash-memory chips and does not having moving parts. HDDs, on the other hand, take longer to read/write information because they use magnetic tape and have internal moving parts. This is also why SSDs are usually more expensive than HDDs.
According to Sony, where the PS4 could load 1GB of data in 20 seconds, the PS5 can load 2GB in 0.27 seconds (in perfect conditions). This is why when it comes to the PS5 vs PS4 Pro, the PS5 is undoubtedly the better console. Everything you see on-screen needs to be rendered, and an SSD can do this in a fraction of the time an HDD can. SSDs cut down on load times, latency, and texture pop-in. This is one of the reasons the PS5 can boast near-instantaneous loading in certain games.
The PS5’s SSD can instantly find where specific data is stored on a drive and read 5GB of this data every second. To put that into perspective, the PS4’s HDD seek time is about 2 to 50 milliseconds, and it’s bandwidth is only 50 to 100MB/s. There are 1,000 megabytes in a gigabyte, if you were wondering, making the PS4’s bandwidth 1/50th of the PS5’s at best.
PS5 SSD compatibility
Source: Sony (screenshot)
Sony hasn’t detailed which SSDs will be compatible with the PS5 yet. As seen in its teardown video, it has an M.2 interface with support for PCle 4.0. However, that doesn’t mean all M.2 SSDs will be compatible. The process of using additional SSD storage in the PS5 is more complicated than normal, so until Sony reveals which drives are compatible, you should assume none of them are.
Expanding your PS5 storage
PS5 games cannot be stored or played off of external SSDs right now, but backward compatible PS4 games can. This is a great option to free up the internal SSD space on your console.
Should I buy an SSD for PS5 right now?
No. There’s no other acceptable answer for this right now. Sony has not stated which SSDs will be fully compatible with PS5, so none are guaranteed to work. Until we get official word from Sony, you should hold off on buying an internal SSD. There’s no reason to potentially waste your money or go through the hassle of returning a product if it doesn’t work.
Using an internal SSD on PS5
Though you can’t add an internal SSD just yet, there is a spot for one that Sony built into the console. As seen in its official teardown video, players will be able to remove the bottom white panel (if the PS5 is lying horizontally) and access the slot near the fan, across from the disc drive.
Using an external drive via USB
You can technically connect an external SSD or HDD via USB to your PS5, the catch is that you can only store and play backward compatible PS4 games off of them. If you’re fine with that — or if you have a huge PS4 library that won’t fit on the internal drive — it is an option you can buy today.
To be clear: this is only for extra storage for PS4 games. They’ll still play better than on an HDD and you get 500GB of extra space. Do not use this with the intent to store or play PS5 games. It will not work at the moment.
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