Games are getting pretty huge these days. And not just in popularity, we mean their actual size on disk. My copy of Far Cry 6, for example is a massive 104 gigabytes. Then, I need another 105GB for Read Dead Redemption 2, Destiny 2 wants 90 and Cyber Punk 2077 is content to occupy just 57 gigabytes. With most new consoles equipped with only 1 terabyte of storage, there’s not much room for more than 7 or 8 games and a few bits and bobs.
With the Xbox Series X and S consoles, you can buy a specialised external memory module that plugs into the back that will do the trick. However, with the Playstation 5, it’s a bit more complicated. While you can connect an external hard drive to copy games to and from Sony’s internal M.2 type storage, these are not fast enough to actually run games from. (You can run some PS4 games from an external drive, however, but not native PS5 games).
To expand your internal storage, you’ll need specialised M.2 memory that’s fast enough to handle the latest generation of games. Not all M.2 memory will work either. Enter the world of PNY, a leading supplier of flash memory cards since 1985. We tested out its 2 terabyte XLR8 CS3140 model ($499) and matching heatsink ($30) to see how they performed.
Ultra fast storage
First off, the XLR8 CS3140 is a M.2 NVMe Gen 4×4 solid state drive. PNY has designed it to tick all of the PS5’s memory requirements. For those with PCs, the XLR8 CS3140 supports the NVMe Gen 4.0 protocol so it can work on them too, with sequential speeds rated up to 7,500MB/s Read and 6,850MB/s Write. (A NVMe PCIe Gen 4×4 host device is required to attain these speeds.)
There’s also a matching heatsink cover, which is used to draw heat away from the SSD and transfer it towards the PS5’s outer case. This is called the ‘XLR8 PS5 SSD Cover with Integrated Heatsink’.
Oh, did we mention that you’ll need to open up your PS5 to upgrade your storage? Yes, that’s right, there are no external plug-in slot like the XBox, so prepare to use a screwdriver.
XLR8 CS3140 M.2 SSD features:
- M.2 NVMe Gen 4×4 Solid State Drive
- Designed for gamers
- Comes in 1, 2 and 4 terabytes
- 13 times faster than SATA based SSDs
- Transfer speed up to 7,500 MB/s
- Faster boot-up and quicker application launch
- Low power consumption, cool and quiet operation
- Backed by a 5-year warranty
- Price: $289 (1TB), $499 (2TB), $TBA (4TB)
Installing the XLR8 CS3140 isn’t too difficult, and takes about 10 minutes. The first trick is to figure out how to remove the PS5’s case without breaking anything. You’ll need to get the right angle and pop it off. Once inside, there is a dedicated space for memory expansion by the way of a M.2 memory slot. This is covered by a metal blanking plate, with one screw to remove.
The next part is to install the XLR8 drive by inserting it into the connector socket at one end of the slot. Hopefully you’ll feel a ‘click’ as this slides into place. The last step is to add the PNY heatsink cover on top of the drive but you’ll need to apply the thermal-conduction pad first by peeling off its plastic film. Then, it will stick on top of the memory and fill up the entire space where the blanking plate was. Since there’s no room for the cover plate, you just use the supplied, longer screw to fix everything in place. Then put the PS5’s outer cover back on, boot up and you’re good to go. No additional software or updates are needed for your PS5, assuming that you are running the latest software.
With it all installed, you can then go to your PS5’s storage menu and copy games to and from your PNY XLR8 drive. This is labelled ‘M.2 SSD Storage’, and you’ll also see ‘Console Storage’ and ‘USB Extended Storage’ as copy destinations. There’s also an Installation Location selector so you can set the M.2 SSD (XLR8) as your default destination when new games are installed.
In order to be worth the money, the PNY XLR8 must be at least as fast as the Sony’s own internal M.2 SSD. Otherwise, games won’t open as quickly, you won’t be able to load in new parts of gaming worlds without stuttering, etc. Thankfully, it was quite difficult to discern any major difference between games running from the PS5’s original memory versus the PNY’s SSD. We tried booting up a number of games on both drives such as Returnal, Marvel’s Spider-Man and Skyrim. We found them to be about 1 second faster to load on the PNY’s M.2 SSD.
In terms of copying from drive to drive, the story wasn’t quite as straightforward. Copying to the PNY M.2 SSD was very fast. Transferring to Sony’s internal SSD was considerably slower. For example, Returnal, which is 58.8GB, transferred from internal storage to the PNY’s M.2 in just 44 seconds. However, copying it back to the Sony drive storage took much, much longer at 4 minutes and 27 seconds. This was similar to other transfers between drives with Marvel’s Spider-Man and Skyrim. See the table below for a summary:
|Game||Size||Transfer to Sony||Transfer to PNY||Boot up Sony||Boot up PNY|
|Returnal (Native PS5)||58.8GB||4m 27s||44 sec||22 sec||21 sec|
|Skyrim (PS5 version)||15.6GB||1m 10s||12 sec||10 sec||10 sec|
|Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4)||67GB||5m 12s||45 sec||32 sec||31 sec|
With a quoted sequential read speed of 7,500MB/s and write speed up to 6,850MB/s, the PNY M.2 SSD is very fast, particularly so compared to the 5,500MB/s read and write speeds of Sony’s SSD. This could be why transfers to the Sony SSD took longer, however, one would think that its write speed would throttle the transfers to the faster PNY drive.
Keeping cool, looking good
SSD memory will perform its best when kept cool, and the PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD cover with integrated heatsink is designed to do just that. It has 45 internal cooling fins inside, which have a black anodised surface to dissipate heat. The fins rest on a 6mm aluminium block and beneath this is a conductive thermal pad. PNY claims that the heat dissipation is more than 40 percent, which in turn prevents the SSD from reaching a throttling threshold that would add lag to your games. This all sounds good, and hey, the cover looks pretty cool with its black and sliver stripes. We certainly didn’t experience any overheating issues during the month of testing where all of our PS5 games were running from our 2TB test unit.
You can buy the PS5 SSD Cover with Integrated Heatsink separately, however, it’s recommended to be used with the XLR8 CS3140 SSD.
If you need to expand your PS5’s storage, then the XLR8 is a fast, reliable option. You should 100% include the PNY PS5 SSD Cover with integrated heatsink to optimise performance and extend the life of the SSD. Performance as at least as good as Sony’s internal drive, if not better, so you won’t be left wanting in terms of quick boots, in game performance or game transfers.
PLY XLR8 CS3140 M.2 NVMe Gen 4 SSD
A high-performance memory upgrade for your PlayStation 5 that also features a cool-looking and heatsink for optimum performance.
Very fast 7,500MB/sec read performance, faster than PS5’s SSD
Built for PS5s so it ticks all the compatibility boxes
Well designed heatsink, with quality materials for keeping cool
Can be used on PCs too
5 year warranty (on SSD and Heatsink)
SSD and heatsink are separate kits and should be sold in a pack