PS5 system beta finally adds M.2 SSD support, but there's a lot you need to know

At long last, it seems Sony is finally ready to roll out support for the PlayStation 5's M.2 expansion slot. Since launch, the slot has been disabled, as Sony wanted to ensure compatibility with drives before activating it through a software update. Now support for expansion M.2 drives is rolling out as part of a new beta – the PlayStation 5's first system software beta, for that matter – with plans to enable the expansion M.2 slot for all consoles in a future software update.

Sony previously launched system software beta signups in June, and some of those who signed up will be selected to take this beta for a spin. The Verge reports that the beta is beginning to roll out today to select users in the US, Canada, Japan, UK, Germany, and France, and that the beta offers other features besides M.2 support, including 3D audio via built-in TV speakers and a revamped Control Center interface.

For most, the added M.2 support will be the main draw of this beta, as the PlayStation 5's onboard SSD has a rather paltry 667GB of free space for storing games. In a post to the PlayStation support site, Sony explains which M.2 SSDs will work with PlayStation 5 and details the 12-step process for installing one. The PS5 supports PCIe Gen x4 NVMe SSDs that can hit a sequential read speed of 5,500MB/s or faster. Supported capacities range from 250GB to 4TB, though any compatible 4TB M.2 SSD you find is likely to be far more expensive than the PS5 itself.

Sony also makes it clear that you'll need some kind of cooling structure for your M.2 SSD, whether that's a heatsink or a heat transfer sheet. The total height of an SSD with a cooling structure can't exceed 11.25mm. If you're planning on installing this system software beta and popping a new M.2 SSD in your PS5, you should give that support article a read from start to finish to ensure that the SSD you pick not only meets Sony's requirements but that it's installed correctly as well.

According to The Verge, this system software beta also adds new features for the Friends tab in Game Base, implements changes that should make it easier to tell the difference between the PS4 and PS5 versions of the same game, and launches a new trophy tracker in the Control Center. It sounds like a meaty update even aside from the M.2 SSD support, so we'll keep an eye out for details on when it'll be shipping out to all PS5 owners.