Don't rush to add an M.2 SSD to your PS5

Yesterday, Sony launched its very first PS5 system software beta. It's a big one, too, as it enables the PS5's M.2 expansion slot that has sat dormant since the console released late last year. For now, M.2 support for the PlayStation 5 is only in beta, and while anyone with a PS5 can register to receive beta software, it's probably best to hold off on adding an M.2 SSD to your console.

For starters, Sony's guide on how to add an M.2 SSD to a PS5 mostly puts the onus on users when it comes to finding compatible drives. Instead of giving us a list of tested and certified M.2 SSDs, Sony simply says that the PS5 needs a PCIe Gen4 x4 M.2 NVMe SSD with a sequential read speed of at least 5,500MB/s or better. There's also a lot of recommended specifications related to size and the heatsink on the drive, but then later on in that same section, Sony says this (emphasis theirs):

You should carefully review drive specifications prior to purchase and contact the vendor or manufacturer if you need further information. SIE cannot guarantee that all M.2 SSD devices meeting the described specifications will work with your console and assumes no responsibility for the selection, performance or use of third-party products.

That doesn't inspire a lot of confidence when it comes to selecting a drive based on the specifications Sony has provided. It would have been far better for Sony to work with manufacturers to test and certify M.2 SSDs and give us a list of specific drives that will work well with the PS5. Instead, we'll have to wait for manufacturers to confirm which of their drives work with the console (something that's already happening), or – even better – for users to test drives on their own and report back to the community on which ones work and which ones don't.

That's bound to happen eventually, but it's a process that takes time. So unless you're really hurting for space on your PS5 at the moment, it's probably best to wait for the PS5 community to figure out which are the best M.2 SSDs for the console and use that advice to make a more informed purchasing decision.

Then there's also the fact that M.2 SSDs that can reach or exceed the sequential read speeds Sony recommends haven't been around that long. As a result, they can be pretty expensive. You can find a 1TB M.2 SSD that meets Sony's specifications for around $200, which isn't terrible, but given the size of modern games, I would much rather wait as long as I could to see if the price of 2TB M.2 SSDs comes down in the future.

As it stands, 2TB SSDs that meet Sony's recommended specifications will cost around $400 in most cases, which is as much as the PS5 Digital Edition itself costs. Of course, that price is likely to go down in the future because that's just the nature of storage in general, but right now, it's a very tough (and expensive) pill to swallow.

Unfortunately, time is not exactly on the side of the PS5 user here. The SSD that ships with the console has just 667GB of free storage space, which can fill up quickly depending on the games you play. Managing your library by constantly deleting and re-downloading games can be a pain too, so some users may just be tempted to go with what they can afford as soon as possible. However, if you can wait, I think you should because the high-speed M.2 SSD landscape will only improve as time goes on, and patient gamers may reap the benefits of that.