PlayStation 5 storage is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Imagine living in a house without any closets, or driving a car without a trunk. Technically, you could do it, but you’ll be making life so much harder. A PS5 with an empty expansion slot has recently become a massive inconvenience. A year ago, you could get away with just 660GB of usable space as long as you were willing to uninstall games as soon as you were done playing them. With Horizon Forbidden West, Destiny 2: The Witch Queen, Elden Ring, and plenty more on the way, now is the time to upgrade your PS5’s storage.

Unfortunately, finding the right storage solution isn’t as simple as buying a PlayStation branded memory card and plugging it in. The PS5 is compatible with a wide-range of NVMe SSDs that meet certain qualifications. It can be difficult to determine which drives will work, especially if you’re not familiar with the NVMe format. Lucky for you, I’ve tested the performance and compatibility of several SSDs in the PS5, including the new WD Black SN850 - a NVMe game drive with heatsink that works great in the console.

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The SN850 NVMe SSD is a M.2 2280 PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSD with a built-in heatsink that meets the exact specifications for the PlayStation 5, but can also work with compatible motherboards as well. In fact, its features may be better geared towards PC builds than the PS5. Western Digital quotes read speeds of up to 7000MB/s, which is a bit of overkill for the PS5 which seems to cap out at 5555MB/s. Additionally, the SN850 has a customizable RGB light that you’ll never see once it's installed in the PlayStation. It may seem like slight overkill, but those features don’t seem to factor significantly into the price. The SN850 is a great PS5 upgrade even if you can’t take advantage of everything it has to offer.

Using the SN850 is relatively straightforward. You don’t need special tools or technical expertise to install an SSD in the PS5, but you’ll definitely need to follow a tutorial to avoid damaging your console. Sony has a great walkthrough video on its YouTube page that is highly recommended due to its graphics and animations. WD_Black’s video tutorial is also good, but the camera angle makes it slightly difficult to understand how to correctly install the M.2 drive, which is notoriously finicky.

Once installed, the PS5 will recommend the drive right away and prompt you to format it. Afterwards, you can navigate to your storage settings and relocate all of your games and saved data onto the drive. I was able to transfer 16 games, or about 615GBs, in just over eight minutes. Unlike traditional hard drives, the NVMe SSD provides the full storage space as advertised. If you buy the 2TB drive, you’ll have a full 2TB to work with. Freeing up your internal storage will improve load times and allow you to keep more games installed. It’s a little thing that makes a huge difference. Now I can jump between games without feeling pressure to finish one before starting the next.

My main criticism of the SN850 is how poorly Western Digital has communicated its functionality to potential PS5 customers. Unless you read the compatibility specifications on Sony’s website and match it up with the SN850, there’s no way to know that it will work. There’s no mention of PS5 on the box or in the included materials - under “compatibility” it just says “for desktop PC”. Even when you buy the drive from Western Digital’s website, you need to make sure you select the option that includes heatsink, and the only indication that the drive is compatible with the PS5 is found buried down in the features descriptions.

Other SSDs are ahead of Western Digital on this front. Corsair M.2 says PS5 compatible right on the box and includes a QR code that directs to the video tutorial. With WD_Black, you have to go well out of your way to find out whether the SN850 even works. It’s a great drive that’s been fast and reliable, but I find it unlikely many will find it when other brands clearly advertise PS5 compatibility.

There’s a few things in life you never cheap out on. Always buy the nicest toilet paper in the store, don’t be afraid to spend a little extra for quality bed sheets, and for the love of God, never buy no-name storage devices off of Wish. The SN850 is the kind of sturdy, reliable drive that you can trust to keep your games and files safe. The build quality of the SSD and the heatsink, and the read, write, and data transfer speeds speak for themselves. Hardware can fail, but I’m as confident in the SN850 as you could possibly be after using it to download and play PS5 games for several weeks. Before you agonize for the umpteenth time about which games to uninstall to make room for Elden Ring, grab the SN850 off of Amazon or Western Digital’s website. Life’s too short to spend time managing storage, especially when every game takes 500 hours to beat these days.

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