One of the most frustrating things that early owners experienced with the PS5 was the locked SSD expansion feature. Fortunately, after almost a year, Sony released the PS5 SSD update software to make the expansion slot available for use. The thing is, using your PS5’s expansion slot is not as straightforward as the likes of Nintendo Switch and Xbox Series X where you just plop a card in and go.
But the main benefit with the PS5 expansion slot is that you can put whatever SSD you want, as long as it’s accepted by Sony’s requirements for the PS5. It has to read and write data fast enough and it has to have a heatsink.
I know a ton of people are asking why you need a heatsink, but we’ll get into that later. These are the things that PC gamers deal with, not console gamers, so I understand if you’re confused about which PS5 SSD to buy, or what features to look for. Fear not, I’ll guide you through the selection process and answer some questions about what makes the best PS5 expansion SSD.
Best SSDs for a PS5 Upgrade
I’ll give it to you straight: The price of your upgrade will depend on whether you get an SSD with a built-in heatsink, or buy a bare SSD and a heatsink separately. In most cases, the built-in heatsink versions end up costing more than what you’d spend to buy the two parts separately.
Each of these SSDs has a storage capacity ranging from 250GB to 2TB. I generally don’t recommend anything less than 500GB since limited storage won’t last you very long with the PS5. The sweet spot, in my opinion, is 1TB so when I talk about the pricing, I’m referring to the 1TB versions.
Best Overall Pick: WD_Black SN850
If you’re looking for the perfect SSD for your PS5, I think the WD_Black SN850 is the best option for you. It’s one of the fastest ones available right now with a read speed of 7GB/s and a write speed of 5.3GB/s. The minimum read speed requirement that Sony put up for the PS5 is 5GB/s, so yes, this SSD performs way above that requirement.
The most tempting decision you’ll ever face with this SSD might be to get the heatsinked version just because of its looks. But my recommendation is to get the non-heatsink version since it comes at a lower price than the matching Samsung 980 Pro variant.
The SN850 is branded as “Irrationally fast” but man, the heatsink variant is also irrationally expensive at over $200. And you won’t be able to see the SSD’s great looks once you install it in the PS5 anyways. If you’re a Call of Duty fan, there’s a Call of Duty edition that also comes with in-game points and content.
If you’re still having second thoughts about the WD_Black SN850 as your PS5 expansion SSD. Well, this is PS5 lead architect Mark Cerny’s recommendation.
Of course, the main con with the SN850 is going to be the price if you want the heatsinked version. But honestly, if you get the bare variant and get the heatsink separately there’s no reason not to get this SSD, especially with Mark Cerny’s recommendation.
Most Reliable: Samsung 980 Pro
If you have a bit of experience with PCs and if you’re familiar with SSDs, you’ve probably seen the Samsung 980 Pro or another Samsung option in other best SSD lists. I mean, what’s not to like?
It has blazingly fast Gen 4 speeds with up to 7GB/s read speed and 5GB/s write speed, so it safely passed Sony’s speed requirement. Also, it has made-in-house DRAM and NANDs, and with Samsung’s reputation with SSDs, you know you can trust this one to last for a long time.
Of course, the Samsung 980 Pro is a pricey option, especially if you get the built-in heatsink version. Luckily though, there are integrated temperature controls even on the bare 980 Pro. The smart thermal control software and the thermal pad stuck on the back of the SSD itself both help spread the heat evenly.
The integrated thermal solutions on the bare 980 Pro combined with a cheap heatsink will probably be enough to prevent overheating and it might just save you $20-$50 compared to buying the built-in heatsink version.
Even if you opt for the bare version, this is one of the most expensive SSDs on the market. You’re paying for Samsung’s reliability here so the price may be worth it. However, this is also not the fastest SSD on this list. It’s fast enough to meet PS5 speed requirements but there are faster options.
Fastest Speeds: Seagate FireCuda 530
If you want the fastest SSD possible, then look no further than the Seagate FireCuda 530. It has a sequential read speed of 7GB/s and a sequential write speed of 6.9GB/s, so it’s way past the minimum requirements for the PS5. Not only that, but it’s also faster than the PS5’s built-in SSD in some cases, so loading some games might be faster with the FireCuda 530.
Now, these high speeds will come with high prices which are generally around high to mid $200s.
Would I recommend this with the heatsink? In this case, yes. Out of all the SSDs on this list, this one has the closest price gap between the heatsinked and non-heatsinked versions. Plus, the heatsink design is sleeker than those clunky-looking ones that look similar to aftermarket ones.
I think the price is the biggest con with this SSD. If you can get over that, well, there’s no other reason not to get it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I Really Need a PS5 SSD With a Heatsink?
Some people tested the difference that an SSD with a heatsink makes compared to the same SSD without the heatsink. The most common finding is that there are minimal to no improvements in terms of read and write speeds.
Here’s the catch, some of these SSDs are hitting read and write speeds of up to 7000mb/s and that’s no joke at all. The risk of overheating is there, it’s just rare since high-speed read and write times usually happen in short bursts rather than over extended periods. Overheating is more likely to happen while you’re transferring a lot of games or really anything that would run your SSD for prolonged periods.
The advantage of a built-in heatsink is that you already know it’s compatible with the SSD you’re using. A separate heatsink will do the job nicely and it’ll save you some money, but when you buy separately, you will have to make sure the two pieces are compatible with each other.
To save you that trouble, this separate heatsink is compatible with all of the SSDs on this list:
Whatever you do, just don’t skip out on heatsinks. If you’re dropping hundreds of dollars on an SSD, you don’t want it to overheat and break the moment you start transferring your games to it.
How Do I Install an SSD in My PS5?
The upgrade procedure provided by Sony is a bit confusing, so here’s a short video with clearer instructions of how to install the SSD:
What Happens if You Use an Unsupported SSD?
If you use a Gen 3 or lower SSD and it doesn’t meet all of the specifications, you’ll get this screen:
Some people have tried Gen 4 drives that aren’t rated for 5.5GB/s and still managed to pass the speed test, though, so your results may vary.
Can I Use a Bigger Heatsink?
In the installation guide, Sony includes the accepted dimensions for heatsinks. If yours is bigger than those dimensions, you might not be able to put the slot cover back on.
But what does that mean for your PS5? Does leaving the cover off make things worse or better?
A test by Tom’s Hardware in search of the best cooling scenario found that the coolest temperatures recorded were with SSDs that had a heatsink and left the cover off. That begs the question: Why is Sony insisting on putting the slot cover back on?
There you have it, folks! What do you think? Does a PS5 SSD upgrade seem easier now? Do you think Sony should’ve made the upgrade process easier like the Xbox Series X’s SSD? Or do you like having the freedom to choose your SSD? Let us know in the comments. But for now, if you want to upgrade your PS5 with these sick SSDs (and support us at the same time) you can click the affiliate links on each item. Thank you for reading!