An additional PS5 SSD upgrade is going to be a must-have accessory - just don't buy one at launch

An additional PS5 SSD upgrade is going to be a must-have accessory - just don't buy one at launch
(Image credit: Sony)

The PS5 SSD situation is still a little murky. Of course, we know that it will ship with a superfast 825GB SSD as standard - has anyone addressed the slightly odd capacity, by the way? - but beyond that, we know only a little. 

Some context: in the midst of his deep-dive and explaining more on the PS5 specs, Mark Cerny confirmed that the PS5 will have a custom SSD, running about 100-times faster than the PS4's storage system - though that is of a more traditional, whirring HDD setup. He went on to describe in his glorious PowerPoint presentation that the key speed on offer will be up to 5.5GB/s - dwarfing the Xbox Series X's 2.4GB/s. Nice. We also know that there will be space for another internal SSD within the console and regular USB-interfaces for external hard drives, like a lot of PS4 owners use now. The extra internal space is a big deal, as you'll be able to add extra storage, of excellent speeds that'll be plugged directly into the motherboard of the PS5 rather than relying on an external, limited-by-USB unit.

And thus, while we know that the PS5 will have space for another SSD internally, we don't know which varieties will be compatible (let alone officially licensed or 'best'); we can safely guess that there will be an official Sony SSD for said slot, but we don't know how big or how much that'll cost; and we know that the PS5 will work with external, regular USB hard drives, but we don't know the best setup for that yet. Combine this with the very known fact that the PS5 SSD will make games run better and quicker - and adding another can only be a good thing for storage too, and we arrive at an interesting proposition: The PS5 and SSD storage are a clearly match made in heaven - but how shall we make the most of it when the console arrives?

Firstly, we know that it's important to actually not buy an SSD for your upcoming PS5 right now. Straight from the horse's mouth, this was advised by Mark Cerny himself, during his hardware deep-dive: don't buy an SSD now in hope that it will work with the PS5, but rather wait until they have tested out a range of solutions so as to furnish us with the exact details that the purchase of an extra PS5 SSD needs to take into consideration. In fact, it might pay to wait until well after launch too.

Patience often pays off in tech, but if you're after one of the best PS5 SSDs that's likely to become available, the virtue of patience is further highlighted by a recent tiny snippet of insight on twitter (thanks, T3) that mooted that a top-grade Samsung SSD will be releasing - conveniently - within two months of the PS5's release. On paper, this looks to be an instant match for the console. The SSD in question is Samsung's 980 Pro SSD. This was revealed back in January at CES and has speeds in the same faster-than-your-brain territory that the PS5's SSD is supposed to have: read speeds of up to 6.5GB/s, and 5GB/s write speeds. Whatsmore, it'll be the first proper go from SSD to have a consumer unit that will support PCIe 4.0 (the latest generation of connectivity between a PC's motherboard and other components, offering huge improvements to speeds. This is important as it'll be an understandable desire to make sure that any extra internal SSD is as nippy as the PS5's own to make the most of the hardware architecture it's plugged directly into. Optimization is key for the PS5 as a whole, so why not ensure any extras are optimized too. 

Apparently the 980 Pro will go up to 1TB in capacity too which is also important as we can only assume (basically) that next-gen games will be of even larger file sizes and have even larger updates - though Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) is giving that a real go now on current-gen consoles. So one would want to buy a big capacity to ensure there is enough space, naturally.

However. And it's a big 'however'. While we have seen a  general trend of affordability in SSDs in recent months and year or two particularly, they are still the premium level of storage, and the prices can get really premium, very quickly, particularly if the latest and greatest speeds and features are found within them. This Samsung Pro is a fine example and probable manifestation of this and is likely to demand an expensive admission price. 

Personally, I'll probably do some further waiting even once the PS5 comes out to address two questions: how big are the games going to be, in reality?; and what is the extra, official PS5 SSD going to cost? Or, with the second one, at least see what any officially licensed partners might make - much like the Samsung Pro SSD.

(Image credit: Samsung)

While we await more concrete info on options, at the very least, in the first instance, we'd still recommend bagging a PS4 external hard drive now if you're looking for a way to ensure you can carry data, saves and more, over to the next-gen of consoles - maybe just a budget one. Though, having said that even the best PS4 SSD is a great place to start at this stage if you want some of the best external-but-fast storage going. However, while it might be tempting, for example, to get an external SSD and rely on the USB interface, you'd then miss out on the aforementioned optimization of having an internal SSD that is plugged straight into the very DNA (almost) of the PS5's motherboard - that benefit cannot be overlooked.

Whatever you go for, it'll be pay to be prepared, as it'll be a good idea to back up everything anyway if you're going to be doing a 'clean sweep' upgrade and maybe trading your PS4 in against a PS5 or selling it to raise funds. However, it's also going to be compatible with the PS5's 'normal' USB interface and work like an external PS5 hard drive just like on the PS4 - we're led to believe that it'll be as simple as that and the PS5 will accommodate such external storage. Simples.

It's the waiting that's slightly irksome as a PS5 SSD would be a welcome purchase to make before the console if we knew it was compatible. However, as we continue the summer of drip-fed information, we will be sure to have all the guides you need to make an astute purchase once we know more. Watch this space.

PS4 external hard drives

Rob Dwiar

Rob is the Deputy Editor of sister site, TechRadar Gaming, and has been in the games and tech industry for years. Prior to a recent stint as Gaming Editor at WePC, Rob was the Commissioning Editor for Hardware at GamesRadar+, and was on the hardware team for more than four years, since its inception in late 2018. He is also a writer on games and has had work published over the last six years or so at the likes of Eurogamer, RPS, PCGN, and more. He is also a qualified landscape and garden designer, so does that in his spare time, while he is also an expert on the virtual landscapes and environments of games and loves to write about them too, including in an upcoming book on the topic!