Looking for a massive upgrade to your computer storage? We probably don’t have to tell you about the lightning-fast speeds that solid state drives provide: The best SSD options are now bigger, more affordable, and more compatible than ever, which makes this a good time to buy.
If you’re looking for a storage option that also comes with a significant speed boost, we have the top options in several different price ranges for you to consider.
Note on hard drive capacity: Some companies quote capacity after overhead, and others before. This leads to uneven rounding practices, and explains why you see some drives at 256GB and some at 250GB. Even then, it’s rare for a drive to have exactly its stated capacity, though variance is generally less than 10GB.
Samsung 860 Pro 256GB ($141)
This 2.5-inch SSD gets a lot of attention as a broadly excellent upgrade choice for a variety of needs. Samsung has plenty of experience creating solid state drives, and the 860 Pro is one of the best SSD products yet, combining both simplicity and quality performance.
The interface for this drive is SATA 6Gb/s, with a sequential read speed of 540 megabytes per second and a write speed of 520 MB/s. Our review found it to be one of the quickest SATA drives available.
Like most of the SSDs on our list, the 860 Pro comes in several different size options ranging from 256GB to 4TB of storage, with costs varying accordingly. We picked the 256GB version for a couple reasons. It’s a good size for an all-purpose SSD designed for the general user, and it provides a widely-shared base storage number to help you compare it with other models.
The Samsung 860 Pro starts at $130 for the 256GB model, and goes up from there depending on the amount of storage you’re looking for. It’s not the cheapest SSD out there, but it offers the best balance of performance and price, and it comes with a five-year warranty. Chances are this thing will outlast most of the other components in your PC.
Western Digital Blue 1TB SSD ($299)
This is another great SSD model that gets frequent recommendations for upgraders and has our full support. Note that we picked the 1TB for more robust storage options, but there are three different sizes available depending on your needs. It’s available in SATA or M.2 configurations, and two smaller sizes — 256GB and 512GB.
The Western Digital Blue 1TB SATA version offers sequential read speeds up to 488 MB/s and write speeds up to 520 MB/s. It’s not exactly the fastest drive on the market, but it’s quick enough to keep up with most users, especially for such a killer price.
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Samsung 960 Pro 512GB ($300)
If you need more space than a few hundred GBs and are interested in a high-quality, forward-looking SSD, we highly recommend the 960 Pro 512GB from Samsung. Some of the specs are indeed similar to the 860 Pro model, including 3D V-NAND, but the differences are stark. The 960 gets sequential read speeds up to 2,700 megabytes per second and write speeds up to 1,900 MB/s, making it one of the best SSD options in terms of speed.
Why such a big difference between the two models? This is the first M.2 PCI Express-only model on our list. Replacing SATA with this newer interface allows for a bundle of new tricks, including better performance for certain types of data and greater compatibility with cutting edge protocols designed to increase efficiency. Of course, you should make sure that your computer can handle M.2 PCI Express attachments before jumping on the 960 Pro. Support will be dependent on your motherboard.
Intel 750 Series 1.2TB ($795+)
While we mentioned PCI Express, we haven’t yet talked about NVMe, or Non-Volatile Memory Express. It’s a very similar connection standard that uses the same physical interface, but also adds additional features specifically for storage purposes. The Intel 750 SSD shows off the advantages of this approach with its flexible installation options and high speeds.
This is obviously going to make the drive extra fast — in ideal scenarios, it can exceed transfer speeds of two gigabytes per second — but the high-end SSD has other advantages, too. One of the most interesting is the choice between add-in card and 2.5-inch form factors, which allow you to pick a design that fits your upgrade plans and current drive standards. The lightning speeds and compatibility of the card put it on the top of our list, but you’ll have to pay at least $1,000 for the 1TB model. Just make sure you really want it!
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Updated 1-23-18 to add Samsung 860 Pro and 960 Pro.
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