Sony's big bet on open source PS5 M.2 PCIe4 SSDs is paying off against the XBox Series X expansion card
Though there is a laundry list of differences between the Sony PS5 and Microsoft XBox Series X, their distinctive approach to external storage is particularly interesting. Sony made an early but riskier decision to utilize M.2 2280 PCIe4 x4 NVMe SSDs for additional storage even though such drives weren't yet widely available at the time of launch. In contrast, Microsoft decided to create its own proprietary external drive and interface in the same manner as the old memory cards for PS1 or PS2 consoles.
The pros and cons of each decision were immediately felt by customers at the launch of the two consoles. Early adopters of the PS5 had to wait months before compatible PCIe4 x4 SSDs were widely available while XBox owners had a much easier time finding the expansion card in stores or online. Fast forward to 2022, however, and Sony's gamble is paying off.
Now that PCIe4 x4 drives are commonplace, their prices have fallen significantly to be much cheaper than Microsoft's proprietary solution. A search on Amazon for "PS5 SSD" would bring up a 1 TB Samsung 980 Pro for $140 USD while a 1 TB XBox expansion card currently retails for $185. For PS5 owners, Sony's long game plan means cheaper storage with lots of manufacturers to choose from whereas XBox owners are still stuck with the same single proprietary option. The XBox expansion card had the supply and price advantage early on, but this has flipped in Sony's favor for the rest of the console generation.