Many of you must already be familiar with what an SSD is and if you have a PC that is about half a decade or so old, then there are high chances that you may at least have had experience with a Gen 3 PCIe SSD.
The newer consoles, including PS5, however, were released when the PCIe 4.0 had just started to make its mark into the market replacing the PCIe 3.0 interface.
As such, for the next generation of consoles released in 2020, it only made sense to have a PCIe 4.0 or a Gen 4 SSDs installed.
However, for those of us who already have older Gen 3 SSD sticks lying around that would beg the question “can you use Gen 3 SSD on PS5?”. Unfortunately, the answer to that question is a no. PS5 is strict with its requirements and it can ONLY support Gen 4 SSDs or newer.
If all this jargon sounds too confusing to you, I will clarify it all for you in the text below:
Generation of SSD is Defined by The PCIe Protocol Version
For starters, note that the generation of the NVMe SSDs i.e Gen 3, Gen 4 etc. is defined by the version of the PCIe protocol being used by the system (PS5).
PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) is a protocol that is used by PCs and gaming consoles for transferring data between CPUs, motherboard and various other components including GPU and SSD.
Now the PCIe protocol is an ever-evolving protocol such that with every new version of the PCIe, the transfer speed of the protocol doubles! This has HUGE implications on the connected devices including on the SSDs.
Gen 3 vs Gen 4 SSDs
Given the nature of PCIe protocol, Gen 4/PCIe 4.0 SSDs are about TWICE as fast as the Gen 3/PCIe 3.0 SSDs. Take the Gen 3 Samsung 970 pro vs the Gen 4 Samsung 980 Pro SSDs as an example.
The former has a theoretical max read and write speeds of 3000-3500MB/s, the latter has theoretical speeds of about 6000-7000 MB/s!
Gen 4 SSDs are thus stupendously fast as compared to previous generation of SSDs.
This is because NVMe SSDs utilize four PCIe lanes. The lane speed differs from generation to generation such that a PCIe 3.0 lane has a speed of about 1 GB/s. The same conforming to PCIe 4.0 has speed of about 2 GB/s (without taking the overheads into considerations)
The following table explains the PCIe version and the corresponding lane / slot speeds.
Clarifying SSD Jargon
There are many different terms surrounding SSDs. The following should explain in brief:
- NVME / PCIe SSDs are the same thing. NVMe SSD, PCIe SSD, Gen 4.0 PCIe SSD, Gen 4 NVMe SSD all mean the same thing.
- Sometimes an NVMe SSD is written in terms of how many PCIe LANES it connects to i.e NVME PCIe 4.0×4 SSD or PCIe Gen4x4 (meaning it connects to 4 PCIe lanes) – nothing to ponder too much about if you are a console player
- M.2 refers to the form factor. M.2 is the stick-like form factor. M.2 SSDs go into the, well, M.2 slot which PS5 has two of – one of which is already occupied.
Two Types of SSDs
When talking generally, there are two types of SSDs: SATA SSDs and NVME PCIe SSDs. SATA SSDS are inferior and you do not need to worry about these for consoles.
So Can You Use Gen 3 SSD on PS5?
With the introduction to SSDs and their generation out of the way, let’s get back to the question in hand. So unfortunately, you CANNOT use a Gen 3 SSD on a PS5.
If you do install an old Gen 3 SSD on your PS5, it will simply NOT boot and you will see the following message.
“use an M.2 SSD that meets these requirements:
- PCIe Gen4 or Later”
So, while future generations of the SSDs such as the Gen 5 SSDs (Which are already around the corner) will be supported on PS5, the older generations are NOT supported.
Not All Gen 4 SSDs are Created Equally
While Gen 4 SSDs can theoretically support upwards of 7000 MB/s transfer speeds, not ALL Gen 4 SSDs are created the same.
In other words, some are expensive and have a higher performance whereas others are cheaper and have a lower transfer rate.
Take Corsair MP600 Pro LPX Gen 4/PCIe 4.0 SSD. This has a sequential read and write speeds of 7,100MB/s and 5,800MB/s respectively. Samsung 980 Pro, on the other hand, has a lower speed of 7,000 MB/s and 5,000 MB/s respectively.
Understanding the SSD Requirement for PS5
If you want to understand the full details of what SSD requirements for PS5 pertain to, let us discuss all the official specs.
PCI-Express Gen4x4 supported M.2 NVMe SSD (Key M)
We talked about this earlier. PS5 supports the PCIe NVMe SSDs corresponding to version 4.0/Gen 4.
PS5 DOES NOT support SATA SSDs. SATA and NVMe PCIe SSDs with M.2 form factor look more or less the same. The difference lies in the KEY. (more on this below).
Take the Samsung Evo 860 and Samsung 980 Pro as shown above. Both SSDs have the M.2 FORM FACTOR. However, the Samsung 860 belongs to the unsupported SATA interface. The Samsung 980 will be supported by the PS5.
This is quite straightforward. PS5 supports NVMe SSDs with 250GB – 4 TB rated storage.
According to the official requirements:
2230, 2242, 2260, 2280, 22110
These numbers define the dimensions of the M.2 NVMe SSD sticks.
The first two numbers define the width in millimeters whereas the rest define the length in millimeters such that: 2230 sticks have a width of 22mm and length of 30mm, 22110 sticks have width of 22mm and length of 110 mm so on and so forth.
Size Including Heat-Dissipation Mechanism
PS5 encourages you to install heat sinks on new SSDs.
This specification is related to the sticks sizes we talk about above, however, it adds the important Thickness attribute of 11.25mm. It tells you how much space you have above and below the board for installing a heatsink.
In other words, a heat sink should not be taller than 8.0 mm above the board.
Sequential Read Speed
Sequential read speed is one of the most common metrics to define the speed of a storage drive.
PS5 recommends getting a Gen 4 SSD with a minimum Sequential read speed of 5500 MB/s, Majority of the Gen 4 SSDs should have no issue in even surpassing this metric.
M.2 slots can belong to different socket types defined by their number and the Key
- Socket 1: used for installing WIFI and Bluetooth cards
- Socket 2: Used for Global Navigation Satellite System
- Socket 3: used for installing SSD storage drives – the one PS5 naturally has.
The Key defines the notches at the end of the connectors on your SSD stick.
Basically, NVMe SSDs have the ‘M” Key whereas SATA SSDs have the “B+M” Key. The former has a notch only on the left side; whereas, the latter has notches on both sides.
PS5 naturally supports M Key only since it corresponds to NVMe SSDs.
While I encourage you to read and understand all the SSD specs and jargon yourself, the short answer to the question “can you use Gen 3 SSD on PS5” is a no. PS5 only supports Gen 4 SSDs or newer.