Sony will allow PlayStation 5’s to finally use their M.2 slots by the summer. The new updates will also unlock support for higher fan speeds, which probably isn’t great news to everyone who likes the current noise profile on the Xbox Series S|X or PlayStation 5, but it may be necessary given what we’ve heard about the current power consumption on both consoles.
The storage announcement is straightforward: Sony will finally allow players to expand past the default storage capacity in their systems, provided you buy a PCIe 4.0 drive that meets system requirements. These drives have never been named or announced, however, and the base PS5 is more capacity-constrained than the Xbox Series X. After setup, you have ~667GB to use on the PlayStation 5 right now, and about 800GB on the Xbox Series X. This gives the Xbox Series X 1-3 additional games worth of capacity unless you’re specifically focused on older or smaller games. PS5 owners can alleviate some of this by storing PS4 games on external media.
Xbox Series S|X owners have the option to expand the internal storage by up to 1TB for $219 while PlayStation 5 owners may be able to beat that deal in the long term by using a qualifying PCIe 4.0 drive. Over time, storage costs for the PlayStation 5 should be cheaper than Xbox, based on the fact that the latter uses expansion cards manufactured by Seagate while Sony will (hypothetically) be open to a range of manufacturers and products over time.
The cooling fan adjustment is interesting, though we have no further detail on it. A report from the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) states that the PS5 uses just 80-105W during last-generation game testing, but 180-200W while playing Astro’s Playroom. Data from Cnet confirms similar numbers, with a 2x – 4x increase in power consumption on next-generation platforms when higher-end games are being played.
Some of these numbers are going to depend on frame rate. Older games that are still locked to 30fps when played on new platforms will use less power because of improvements to underlying efficiency. It would actually be interesting to see somebody dust off an original Xbox or OG Xbox 360 and compare power consumption when playing titles on that platform versus in emulated mode on the Xbox Series S|X, just to see the power consumption figures.
Sony has talked about releasing fan profiles on a game-by-game basis before, so it could be that the company is going to leverage some of that tuning in its next major release. It’s also possible that these settings adjustments are based on data that’s come back in from the millions of PlayStation systems being deployed across the world.
Incidentally, I took a look around for any update on the late-November story about VRAM possibly overheating on the PlayStation 5 due to the fact that one VRAM IC isn’t apparently cooled by the case design. While the initial news made a splash in late November, there’ve been no public updates or reports of further problems since.