PS5 will be missing this important feature at launch

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Sony has confirmed to The Verge that the PS5 will not have user-upgradable storage at launch. The means buyers will be limited to the console’s built-in 825 GB SSD, of which only 667 GB is usable. That’s rather small when compared to Xbox One Series X’s 1TB drive where 802 GB is available.

Sony is using a custom SSD for the PS5, which means that not every M.2 drive can be popped into the console. It will require drive manufacturers to create SSDs that match the PS5’s specifications. The expansion slot will be disabled at launch, and the feature “is reserved for a future update,” said Sony to The Verge.

In speaking to drive manufacturers, The Verge’s Sean Hollister said that none are currently working on PS5-compatible drives and that Sony has not begun its testing program yet. 

Sony did confirm to The Verge that external USB 3.1 drives will be usable on the PS5 at launch, but only for PS4 games, as those titles don’t require the increased speed to work. 

To get a sense of how much users will be able to cram onto that 667 GB, games like SackBoy: A Big Adventure will only be 32GB whereas Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War will be 133 GB. Highly anticipated titles like Spider-Man: Miles Morales will clock in at 50 GB with Demon’s Souls coming in at 66 GB. The Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Launch Edition, which includes Spider-Man Remastered, will be a whopping 105 GB. 

Architect Mark Cerny spoke at length about the PS5’s SSDs in a video uploaded earlier this year. In it he said, “when I gave the Wired interview last year I said that the PlayStation 5 SSD was faster than anything available on PC… M.2 drives with PCIe 4.0 are now out in the market. We're getting our in-samples and seeing 4 or 5 gigabytes a second from them.”

Cerny went on to say that by the end of 2020, drives would exist that could support up to 7GB/s, but that Sony’s drives will still require a different architecture, so it’s not just about raw speed. 

“For example the NVMe specification lays out a priority scheme for requests that the M.2 drives can use. And that scheme is pretty nice but it only has two true priority levels; our drive supports six.”

Cerny added that M.2 has no height standardization, which is problematic as thicker cards will not be able to fit in the PS5’s drive bay. So manufacturers will need to make drives that match Sony’s exact specifications.

Cerny ended his bit about SSD’s by saying, “it would be great if that happened by launch but it's likely to be a bit past it so please hold off on getting that M.2 drive until you hear from us.”

Imad Khan

Imad is currently Senior Google and Internet Culture reporter for CNET, but until recently was News Editor at Tom's Guide. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with the New York Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, Wired and Men's Health Magazine, among others. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.