SSDs are becoming increasingly important, especially for gaming. The PlayStation 5 will allow users to add an additional SSD down the line, and Windows 11 supports Direct Storage, allowing you the same speedy loading times as the Xbox Series X with a supported drive. Meanwhile, PCs offer cutting-edge performance using PCIexpress 4.0.
Whether you want to upgrade your internal drive or need an external storage solution, a solid-state drive (SSD) will deliver fast and reliable read and write speeds. These storage devices use flash memory to store your data, making them faster than traditional mechanical hard drives. Not all drives are built equally, however. For the fastest transfers, you'll need one of the best SSDs -- and we've tested the dozens to create a definitive list of what you should be buying today.
Samsung 980 Pro 500GB
- Excellent all-around features
- PCIe 4.0 support
- Good value
- Storage tops out at 1TB
Samsung’s SSDs have led the pack for years, and the 980 Pro is no different. Boasting sequential read speeds of up to 7,000 MBps and sequential write speeds of up to 5,000 MBps, the 980 Pro is an SSD that takes full advantage of PCIe 4.0. It’s still compatible with PCIe 3.0, but the drive enjoys twice the data transfer rate on PCIe 4.0.
Cutting-edge speed usually means limited storage, and that’s true of the 980 Pro. Manufacturers have been pushing capacities higher on PCIe 3.0 SSDs — the 970 Evo Plus goes up to 2TB, while the WD Black SN750 goes up to 4TB. The 980 Pro, on the other hand, tops out at 1TB, making it an ideal SSD to use as a boot drive (or a cache location, if you edit videos frequently).
Because of that, we’re recommending the 500GB model of the 980 Pro, which clocks in just shy of $150. The 1TB is a better value overall, however, at around $230.
Samsung 970 Evo Plus 500GB
- Incredible performance
- PCIe and NVMe support
- Made to last through 600TB of written data
For superior performance and reliability, Samsung’s 970 Evo Plus line is one of the best around. Our tests found that the SSD offers read and write speeds upwards of 2,500 MBps, with the ability to keep functioning with up to 600TB written on the drive. It’s a great upgrade for anyone who needs extra professional storage or a big speed boost for their current computer.
It also supports both PCI Express (PCIe) and NVMe technologies. PCI Express offers greatly improved speeds and versatility compared to older SATA-based SSDs — an important feature to watch for when buying solid-state drives for newer computers. NVMe is a similar protocol that offers the most advanced ways to transfer storage data between the SSD and the computer. Together, PCIe and NVMe make the best combination for high-performance drives, and the Samsung 970 EVO Plus is an excellent example.
Crucial MX500 SATA 2TB
- 2TB of storage
- AES 256 bit encryption
- Comparatively slower
While SATA connections aren’t as fast as the newer PCIe interfaces, the related drives can be significantly cheaper. If you need a lot of storage but don’t want to sacrifice SSD benefits, this Crucial drive offers an amazing 2TB of storage at an incredibly affordable price.
Sequential read and writes are very good for a SATA model at 560 MBps and 510 MBps, respectively. This model includes protection against power loss problems as well as AES 256 bit encryption for security.
You won’t get the best specs in the world with the Crucial MX500 SATA, but it sure can hold a lot without breaking your budget.
Intel Optane SSD 905P 480GB
- Up to 2.6GBps read speeds
- Durable design
- Designed for frequent, professional use
If you want speed, Intel’s Optane drives are right for you. This nearly-500GB model showcases the best the company has to offer, equipped with an NVMe PCI 3.0 x4 connection.
This drive is designed to easily dissipate heat and optimized for workstations, make it a great upgrade for a professional computer you are using for a lot of work projects, including serious design and development work. But if you want to put a high-powered SSD in your gaming rig instead, we won’t tell anyone. It’s made with the expectation of up to 10DWPD (drive writes per day), with sequential read speeds up to 2.6GBps and write speeds up to 2.2GBps (we told you it was fast).
The high cost of the Intel Optane SSD 905Pmight be off-putting at first appearance. But that price tag is a good sign for enthusiastic computer builders who want the best possible parts to blow away their colleagues.
Western Digital Black SN750 250GB
- Customization and monitoring options
- Only gen-3 PCIe
While this SSD is unassuming, its gamer-friendly features include random read speeds as fast as 412.5 MBps and maximum transfer speeds of 3,100 MBps—all for a budget-friendly price. These impressive features aren’t the only things that this SSD has to offer, though.
The Western Digital Black SN750 250GBNVMe Gaming SSD boasts a Black Dashboard option that lets users adjust their settings, customize their setup, and review their performance whenever they want to. If you’re concerned with curtail lag time during long gaming sessions, you can customize your system to enable low power mode and gaming mode at the same time. You don’t need to worry about the system overheating thanks to its protective heatsink.
Corsair Force MP600 1TB
- Read speeds up to 4,950 MBps
- Affordable for 1TB
- PCIe 4.0
- The built-in heatsink may not work on all rigs
The Corsair Force MP600 boasts the latest in SSD technology. It comes equipped with a PCIe 4.0 controller, allowing you to achieve very fast read and write speeds on a supported motherboard. The drive can reach sequential read speeds of up to 4,950 MBps and sequential write speeds of up to 4,250 MBps. All of that speed, and the MP600 still delivers 1TB of storage for under $200.
It’s important to make sure your motherboard is compatible, though, not only because of the PCIe 4.0 interface but also the aluminum heatsink that’s built into the drive. For reliability, the Corsair Force MP600 is guaranteed for up to 1,800TB of written data, so you’ll be able to completely fill the drive at least 1,800 times before it dies out.
Western Digital Black AN1500 1TB
- Dual SSD card for RAID 0 support
- Great for upgrading a PCIe 3.0 interface
- RAID 0 configuration means extra speed
- A unique SSD that won't work for everyone
The Western Digital Black AN1500 is an interesting drive. It’s an add-in PCIe card that actually comes with two Western Digital Black SSDs on board. Instead of accessing them individually, Western Digital has the drives set up in RAID 0. This configuration allows the drive to “stripe” data across two disks, splitting the workload between drives to reach higher speeds.
That’s important, as the Western Digital Black AN1500 uses a PCIe 3.0 interface. If you have an older machine, the AN1500 is a great drive to increase your performance beyond most other SSDs without investing in a new rig. The drive can reach sequential read speeds of up to 6,500 MBps and sequential write speeds of up to 4,100 MBps, bypassing even the fastest PCIe 3.0 SSDs.
Seagate Storage Expansion Card for Xbox
- Best way to upgrade Xbox Series S/X storage
- Supports Xbox features like direct storage and quick resume
- No installation required
- Xbox only
You can’t install the Seagate Storage Expansion Card inside your PC, but you can in your Xbox. It’s the best SSD for the Xbox Series X and Series S, giving you an additional terabyte of the same ultra-fast storage inside the console. The drive makes upgrading easier than ever, too. All you need to do is slot it in the back of your console like a memory card.
The Seagate Storage Expansion Card enables a slew of Xbox features, including faster loading times than external hard drives, Direct Storage in supported games, and Quick Resume, which allows you to seamlessly switch between games without losing your progress. It’s not quite as fast as the internal storage, but it gets very close.
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