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Best SSDs

Best SSDs

As CPU performance hits new and unforeseen heights, processors increasingly spend time waiting on data from hard drives. This is what makes storage today's most glaring bottleneck, and overcoming it requires an SSD. At the end of the day, the real-world differences between SSDs in a desktop environment aren't altogether large. The most noticeable performance increase occurs when you go from a hard disk to just about any solid-state drive.

However, there are measurable attributes separating one SSD from another. But you'll need to approach a purchasing decision as the sum of many parts. Within individual apps, you'll hardly notice the difference between most SATA 3Gb/s and faster SATA 6Gb/s drives. It's the more taxing workloads that make a faster device worth owning.


It's been several months since we last updated this article, and the industry has changed in many ways since then. We've seen some nice NAND flash innovations, lithography shrinks and the first new memory technology introduced in over a decade. Meanwhile, retail products have changed as well. SATA SSDs introduced at Computex are finally tricking out, while Samsung's SM951-NVMe is available as well. Samsung's retail NVMe solution, the 950 Pro, has entered the pre-sale stage with deliver dates not too far out.

We have a change in our best picks today, with the Intel SSD 750 1.2TB taking the top spot for performance PCIe — an honor that has just as much to do with capacity as it does performance. The Samsung 950 Pro 256GB slips into the value PCIe SSD pick with impressive performance at a sub-$200 price point.

It's difficult to believe that our SATA value and performance picks have held for so long, yet each month we try to find a better product of equal or higher customer value, and we keep coming up short. The Samsung 850 EVO fluctuates in price week after week. It seems like once a month gets in around 5,000 drives and undercuts every other merchant. But within a week, the drives are sold out, and prices shoot back up.

While the Mushkin Reactor 1TB is still a great value at $330, if you get lucky enough to find an 850 EVO 1TB for the same price or less, scoop it up since the Samsung offers superior latency, software and warranty.

The SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD is still our top performance pick for SATA SSDs. Time has been really good to this drive, and the prices continue to decline even though it offers the best heavy workload performance of any SATA SSD. The Samsung 850 Pro is a close second, but we're still bullish on the SanDisk. We're not too sure how much longer this drive will be available, as Western Digital just purchased SanDisk and the A19 flash will get replaced by new, unproven 15nm soon.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are big shopping days in America, but it also marks the annual price reduction for solid-state drives. For the last three years, prices went down right around this time and never recovered. Don't jump on the first hot deal unless it's exactly what you want. From now until CES in January, companies will blow out drives at very low prices to make way for new models coming at the start of the year.

And remember, nothing says I love you more than a new NVMe SSD.

SSD Best Picks

MORE: How We Test HDDs And SSDs
MORE: All Storage Content

About Our Recommendations

  • We only recommend SSDs we've actually tested.
  • There are several criteria we use to rank SSDs. We try to evenly weigh performance per dollar at each capacity tier and recommend what we believe to the best drive based on our own experiences and information garnered from other sources.
  • The list is based on U.S. prices from online retailers. In other countries or at retail stores, your mileage will most certainly vary.
  • These are new SSD prices. No used or open-box offers are in the list.
  • Our picks should be valid throughout the month of publication, but SSD pricing is especially competitive, and a $15 difference can be the reason why one SSD makes the list, while another does not.
  • Prices and availability change on a daily basis, but the embedded green links provide real-time pricing

SATA Drives

256GB SATA Recommendations

512GB SATA Recommendations

1TB SATA Recommendations

PCIe Drives

MORE: How We Test HDDs And SSDs
MORE: All Storage Content

Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware, covering Storage. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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Display all 16 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    adamovera , November 8, 2015 10:43 AM
    Archived comments are found here:
  • 1 Hide
    Jeffs0418 , November 8, 2015 2:35 PM
    Did Samsung lower the warranty on the EVO from 5 to 3 years or is that a major typo?
  • 1 Hide
    ErikVinoya , November 8, 2015 5:25 PM
    I'm wondering how the 850 EVO beat the BX100 in the budget 256GB section when it is a whole lot cheaper. Thoughts anyone?

    EDIT: Bah... just checked prices in Amazon, and they're 2 bucks parts... If that's the difference in price, then definitely I'd go for the EVO
  • 2 Hide
    fastcountach , November 8, 2015 5:38 PM
    why am i seeing 3 different prices for the EVO 850 in the 3 parts of the article. 150, 84 and 110, all from Amazon
  • 0 Hide
    CRamseyer , November 8, 2015 8:53 PM
    I'll find out why it now states a 3-year warranty. The 850 EVO has a 5-year warranty.
  • 0 Hide
    psycher1 , November 8, 2015 9:03 PM
    ^ya this amazon price thingo is wacked. It's buggy on every one of the 'best of' articles.
  • 0 Hide
    Bartendalot , November 8, 2015 9:11 PM
    When is the successor to the Intel 750 due? Next year should be a big year for storage with octane and XPoint.
  • 0 Hide
    Brian_R170 , November 8, 2015 10:13 PM
    It's too bad the PCIe budget buy is still double the price of a performance SATA SSD. Hopefully, we'll see a flood of NVMe product announcements at CES.

    Not holding by breath for 3D XPoint in a consumer PC product any time soon.
  • 0 Hide
    wkwilley2 , November 9, 2015 4:30 AM
    why am i seeing 3 different prices for the EVO 850 in the 3 parts of the article. 150, 84 and 110, all from Amazon

    Something is definitely wrong there. I can personally vouch for the Sandisk Extreme SSD's in terms of performance, I have a unit that is about 2 years old now and it's still going strong. Although, The Samsung 850 EVO now has better R/W Specs than my Sandisk did back in the day.
  • 0 Hide
    WrightWayBiz , November 9, 2015 8:09 AM
    i'm a bit agitated they left off the Intel SSD 750 (NVME) in the 400gb size for $399

    I think this would be a great middle ground NVME intro, especially if you have a newer Mobo that would support the card.
  • 0 Hide
    TbsToy , November 9, 2015 12:40 PM
    Don't be agitated by the 400GB 750 thing, (yeah we love ours too):) . The Intel 750 is like JBL speakers. The people who know what the best is know what is up!
  • 0 Hide
    tjfertterer , November 9, 2015 8:26 PM
    Newegg just had the Samsung 850 EVO on sale plus a promotion code to make them $74.99 each. Can't beat that deal so I picked up two of them for a RAID 1 for my new server build.
  • 0 Hide
    CRamseyer , November 12, 2015 1:37 PM
    The Intel SSD 750 400GB is a stellar product but I think the Samsung 950 Pro 512GB is a better value. As more products come to market we'll expand the PCIe section into capacity sizes like the SATA drives.
  • 0 Hide
    ipwitan , November 13, 2015 7:54 AM
    I wish someone would quantify a real world speed comparison. There is a youtube video that shows the difference between a 5400, 7200, and ssd drive. I would like to add in a gen3x4 ssd for comparison. The video also had some control problems, so I would much rather see the excellent staff of TomsHardware perform the comparison. In any event, the other test showed start time, load time of an application, and shutdown time.

    For what its worth, it would be cool to add in the hybrid drives and somehow do a comparison of a real world experience with say a 256 ssd and a 1 tb hardrive using something like Samsung Magic. I cannot tell what it actually does and how much improvement it is making.

  • 0 Hide
    CRamseyer , November 13, 2015 11:50 PM
    In the SSD reviews we give some results in time to competition. I'm not a big fan of traditional time to desktop and time for shutdown tests because your DLL files play a very large role. When you first build a computer the startup and shutdown time is very fast. Over time, with more software installed the boot time takes longer.

    I do have a controlled test environment I could use to run those tests in. I use a notebook to perform the battery life test so it wouldn't be a big deal to add a controlled time to desktop test. Is that something you guys really want to see? When I ran the test in the past the results were almost always within a second of each other as long as the system configuration is optimized.

  • 0 Hide
    Ewitte , November 17, 2015 6:38 PM
    We have two local stores that sometimes get some good prices. I got a 250gb evo for about $90 and I've seen the 256GB 950 pro for $179. The 512GB keeps going out of stock.