As expected, Sony is gradually opening up access to the PS5's empty M.2 expansion slot. Starting today, a new system software update gives beta users in the US, Canada and parts of Europe the ability to boost local storage with select SSD drives. But, the process isn't as straightforward as previous reports suggested.
We already knew the required read speeds would be 5,500MB/s or higher, which limits you to PCIe Gen4 SSDs. Of course, there are plenty of drives that can manage that: The Samsung 980 Pro, Western Digital SN850, Corsair Force MP600, Seagate Firecuda 530, Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus, to name a few.
To make things more complicated, Sony says that you'll also need to take into account the PS5's cooling mechanism. That means you can either attach a heatsink to your SSD, either in a single- or double-sided format, or purchase a compatible SSD with the cooling structure built-in. But, even then, it needs to be the right-sized heatsink that matches the required dimensions. The total size including the cooling structure needs to be smaller than 110mm (L) x 25mm (W) x 11.25mm (H) or, in inches, smaller than 4.33in (L) x 0.984 in (W) x 0.442in (H).
Basically, you can forget just popping the cover and slotting in just any Gen 4 SSD. For instance, the Corsair Force MP600 has a heatsink which is too high to fit (though you can purchase it without one and use your own thermal solution). Whereas the WD Black SN850 heatsink should be fine.
Beyond the M.2 SSD support, the PS5 beta software also includes additional software and improvements. Among them is 3D audio support for built-in TV speakers that can boost sound by measuring the acoustics of a room using the DualSense controller. You can switch it on or off from the sound menu in the console's system settings. What's more there are a bunch of control customization options in the Control Centre. Here, the Game Base will also let you message friends and parties and see how many friends are online.
While PS4 and PS5 games will also be labeled accordingly and appear separately in the home screen and game library. The update also packs a trophy tracker for quick access to up to five trophies per game via the Control Center, the option to pick between 720p and 1080p on PlayStation Now and the ability to enable automatic video clips in challenges for high scores. The software update is also rolling out in Japan, UK, Germany, and France.