In this explainer, we’ll cover everything from internal to external drives, the differences between HDD and SSD, and shed some light on what an NVMe SSD is. Crucially, you’ll know exactly how to manage your PS5 storage so you can make space for all your favorite titles and spend your money on the right storage solutions.
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PS5 storage: how much do you get?
The PS5 is equipped with an 825GB NVMe SSD, which provides super-fast load times and promises to have a transformative impact on how next-gen games will perform in the future. As this is the drive that comes installed in the PS5, it’s often referred to as the “internal” drive and cannot be removed by the user (as far as we can tell at least).
The PS5 only has 667.2GB of usable memory to play with – a large chunk of storage is reserved for system files and the PlayStation’s operating system – and with the majority of new PS5 games weighing in at 50GB, space will be at a premium.
What is an NVMe SSD?
First of all, it’s important to establish what an NVMe SSD is, as that’s what’s found inside the PS5. An NVMe SSD (Non-Volatile Memory Express) is a superior storage solution compared to standard hard drives and SSDs (solid state drives). NVMe SSDs use PCIe sockets for data transfer, which means they can send up to 25x more data than the slower SATA equivalent (which is what the hard drives in the PS4 and PS4 Pro use).
NVMe drives also communicate directly with a system’s CPU, and the end result is blazing fast performance that currently can’t be matched by any other storage solution. PS5 relies on this new storage format to create a next-generational leap in performance, so it’s paramount that you understand the difference between the three types of drives.
Is an NVMe SSD the same as an SSD?
No, and it’s an easy mistake to make – particularly as Sony regularly refers to its storage as just “SSD”. Regular SSDs rely on SATA, which is a far slower way of transferring data within a system. An SSD is still much faster than a regular mechanical hard drive (and less prone to failure due to the lack of moving parts), but its speeds pale in comparison to an NVMe SSD.
How to expand PS5 storage
The PS5’s storage can be expanded in three distinct ways: by installing a Sony-certified NVMe SSD (Sony’s official PS5 teardown video shows exactly where an extra drive will fit), or by adding an external HDD or SSD attached via USB.
Sony has yet to confirm which off-the-shelf NVMe SSDs will work with PS5, but has stated that you won't be able to expand the PS5's memory via the SSD slot as it's currently disabled. Sony has said it will activate the SSD bay in a "future update" via a firmware update, but for now, you're at the mercy of the console's internal memory.
We know that the PS5’s internal drive uses a PCIe Gen 4 M.2 NVMe SSD, capable of 5.5 GB/s bandwidth. Any drive will need to match or beat these specifications, then, but until Sony confirms exactly which drives will work on PS5, we won't know for sure.
Any games that are installed to either the internal or additional NVMe SSD that you can install will benefit from the full power of the PS5, particularly when it comes to load speeds. The problem is that NVMe SSDs aren’t cheap, so be prepared to part with a large chunk of change if you want to expand the PS5’s storage capacity.
The next solution to free up space from the PS5’s main drive (or additional NVMe SSD you install) is to plug in a regular external HDD or SSD. As both these storage solutions sit outside of the console, they’re often referred to as “external” drives.
Both these drives can be used to store and play PS4 games, however, they won’t benefit from the advantages of being stored directly onto the PS5’s NVMe drive. After a recent PS5 system update, you can now store PS5 games on an external hard drive or SSD, but you'll need to transfer them to the internal drive if you'd like to play them.
PS5 storage at a glance
Looking for all the information you need at a glance? Check out the table below for a clear guide of how PS5 storage works.
|Can you play PS5 games from it?||Can you play PS4 games from it?||Can you play PS5/PS4 games from it?||Can you store PS5 games?|
|PS5 internal NVMe||Yes||Yes (they will benefit from faster load times)||Yes||Yes|
|External HDD (USB 3.1)||No||Yes||No, only PS4 games||Yes|
|External SSD (USB 3.1)||No||Yes (they will benefit from faster load times)||No, only PS4 games||Yes|