Sony's messy PS5 storage expansions prove Xbox Series X was right

Seagate Expansion Card
Seagate Expansion Card (Image credit: Windows Central)

I'm a big fan of the Seagate Xbox Storage Expansion Card for the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, despite the obvious elephant in the room. It's really expensive and as such it's not ever going to be an instant buy for anyone. Well, except people like me with no self-control.

When the PS5 was revealed to have a more standard plan for storage expansion, that is, PCIe 4.0 SSDs, I was immediately interested. While these can still be pricey, the $ per GB ratio is less than Microsoft's proprietary memory card and you have more choice over the brand, budget, and importantly, capacity.

Sony has finally started to pull back the curtain on this, though, and that initial excitement has turned. Microsoft's system is expensive, but its simplicity makes even the price fade into the background compared to what you're going to have to go through with a PS5. How can a first-party, closed product end up more attractive than something that uses regular PC parts?!

Upgrading the PS5 with a PCIe 4.0 SSD looks messy

Samsung 980 Pro

Source: Windows CentralThis SSD should work, but Sony won't give you any guarantees. (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

I've had a PS5 since launch day, and it's sat since then as a (much larger) companion to my Xbox Series X. I was never that worried about expanding the storage since it's mostly used for PS5 games I can't get on Xbox, but knowing it was going to require opening the console up already sends a cold shiver down the spine.

After all, these things are still impossible to get hold of. One wrong move and it's goodbye PS5. But still, how hard can it be to install a PCIe 4.0 SSD into an empty slot. I've done it hundreds of times on PCs.

But Sony has now released its official guidelines and hoo boy. On one hand, it's very thorough. But on the other, an average PS5 owner should feel no shame in being confused beyond all belief by just about everything they're reading.

Let's gloss over the fact you have to take the console apart, we always knew that. But choosing an SSD looks to be a bit of a minefield. There's a minimum speed they want you to have, which is fair, and there's extensive documentation of physically what size SSDs you need to have, how you shouldn't use a big heat sink, and that you definitely cannot use a SATA SSD.


Source: Jennifer Locke | Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Jennifer Locke | Windows Central)

Do you know what there isn't? Any list of recommended PCIe 4.0 SSDs for your average PS5 owner (or PS5 owner's parent) to just look at and go buy from. Nothing. Do you know what there is? This little nugget:

SIE cannot guarantee that all M.2 SSD devices meeting the described specifications will work with your console and assumes no responsibility for the selection, performance, or use of third-party products.

In other words, Sony isn't going to tell you what to buy and isn't going to help you if you follow its simultaneously detailed and vague instructions and it doesn't work. They're basically turning it over to their customers to jump in and figure it out with their own money. I'd laugh, but it worries me how many people are going to spend money on an SSD that either doesn't work or doesn't properly meet the spec. Games consoles are supposed to be easy. Leave this kind of crap to PC gamers to figure out.

Microsoft clearly got it right with the Xbox Series X|S

Seagate Expansion Card

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

There was a time in 2020 where I thought Sony had made the right call and Microsoft was simply going for your wallet with an expensive, poor-value external expansion card. The days of slotting memory cards into your console are not missed, and with the Seagate Xbox Storage Expansion card, you have only one choice. One capacity, one card, one price.

And you know what? It's easily the better solution.

I still wish it wasn't so expensive and I wish there was at least a 2TB version, but compared to the competition? Yikes. How easy is it to just put a memory card into the back of the console, turn said console on and just use it?

Not to mention being able to just go to a store or your favorite online retailer, click buy, weep a little at the cost, then know you have nothing else to worry about?

Xbox Series S

Source: Matt Brown | Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

I don't buy into "console wars", I have and will always strive to have all of the consoles, at least for a while. It helps you appreciate the good and bad parts of each platform. But the PS5 is the first generation of PlayStation that I'm struggling to find areas it stands above the Xbox Series X.

Microsoft has made many missteps over the years with its console hardware, but ignoring availability issues, the Series X does everything right. And when we get a Series S for downstairs, I can take this one memory card out, pop it into the other console and my kid can start playing games immediately.

I'll be upgrading the storage in my PS5, mostly just to go through the process, but it's not a user-friendly way of doing things at all. Games are getting bigger and bigger, and this debacle only cements the Xbox Series X and Series S as the better consoles to live with.

Richard Devine
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at