Finding the best SSD or solid-state drive for your needs is important if you want the best gaming PC or laptop, or you just want a snappy productivity machine. A slow storage drive makes for a big bottleneck, forcing your processor to sit there twiddling its clock cycles, waiting for data. To speed up your reads and writes, you need a fast SSD. That's why we test dozens of drives a year and highlight the best SSDs available here.
Picking the Best SSD for You
As drives like Adata's recent Falcon M.2, Intel's 660p, and its successor the Intel 665p undercut mainstream drives on the older, slower SATA interface, this could be the beginning of the end of our old friend, Serial ATA. But companies are still doing new things with SATA, like Team Group's cavernous 15.3 TB drive. Existing SATA drives will have to continue falling in price as well, in order to at least compete on price, since they can't hope to keep up with NVMe drives on performance.
You may have heard about blazing-fast next-generation PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSDs from the likes of Gigabyte, Corsair, Patriot, and others. These drives will indeed up sequential speeds dramatically (thanks to a doubling of the PCIe bus bandwidth), making them the best SSD options for those who need the fastest speed possible. For example, the Samsung 980 PRO can read and write at 7,000 and 5,000 MBps respectively and Phison's upcoming second-gen controller promises 7,400 / 7000 MBps. But to make use of that extra speed today, you'll need either an X570 motherboard or one of the newer B550 boards to run one of these drives at their top speed.
Many of the new Intel Z490 boards also technically support PCIe 4.0. But to make use of that feature you'll have to wait for Intel to deliver its next-gen Rocket Lake CPUs to get the PCIe 4.0 speed boost. That may not happen until 2021. Also, keep in mind that in many ways, beyond the obvious bump in sequential performance, users might not see much in the way of real-world benefits from these drives.
Quick Shopping Tips
When choosing an SSD, consider the following:
- Pick a compatible interface (M.2 PCIe, SATA, Add-in Card): Look at your user manual or a database like the Crucial Memory Finder to determine what types of SSD your computer supports.
- 256GB to 512GB: Don't bother getting an SSD smaller than 256GB. For most users, 512GB provides a good balance between price and capacity. But 1TB drives are getting significantly cheaper and 2TB drives are now affordable.
- SATA is slowest: SATA isn't as fast as M.2 PCIe or a PCIe add-in card, but the majority of desktops and many laptops can take 2.5-inch SATA drives and many doing typical mainstream tasks users won't notice the difference between a good recent SATA drive and a faster PCIe model anyway.
For even more information, check out our SSD Buyer's Guide. Or if you're looking for an external SSD, you can check out our Best External Hard Drives and SSD page, or learn how to save some money by building your own external SSD. Below, you'll find our recommendations for drives with all three major interfaces, in capacities ranging from 256GB to 8TB.
Best SSDs You Can Buy Today
For those looking for the best, look no further than the Samsung 980 PRO. Samsung pairs its in-house Elpis 8nm PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe SSD controller with the company’s fastest V-NAND to unleash incredible performance.
The Samsung 980 Pro serves up to 7/5 GBps of throughput and sustains upwards of a 1 million random read/write IOPS, making it the most responsive SSD we’ve tested. The drive comes with all the features you could want from a high-end NVMe SSD, making it the perfect drive for anyone who wants the best.
Read: Samsung 980 PRO Review
With ever-so-much faster random performance, a more consistent write profile, and higher efficiency, Samsung’s 980 PRO earned the title as our top pick for a next-gen PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe, but WD’s Black SN850 makes for a top-tier runner-up. Depending on the price, you can’t go wrong with either one for your high-end gaming or workstation build.
WD’s Black SN850 paired with the company’s new 16nm WD Black G2 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe 1.4 SSD controller marks a substantial improvement in the company’s SSD architecture. WDs Black SN850 can sustain speeds of up to 7/5.3 GBps and deliver very responsive random performance enabling the SSD to go toe-to-toe with our top pick. Although, that is at the cost of high idle power consumption on our desktop test bench. Also, unlike the Samsung 980 Pro, the WD Black SN850 lacks AES 256-bit encryption.
M.2 PCIe NVMe Drives
These small, rectangular drives look like sticks of RAM, only smaller. They are usually 80mm long by 22mm wide, described as size 2280, but some may be shorter or longer, so make sure you get one that matches your slot. You can get M.2 drives that support SATA, but most modern desktops and laptops with M.2 slots support the faster PCIe NVMe standard.
Adata’s XPG SX8200 Pro was the best value SSD in its class for quite a while, but Adata’s XPG Gammix S50 Lite has rightfully taken its place as one of the best value SSDs on the market. It isn’t quite as fast as some of its PCIe Gen4 competitors, but it does put a smackdown on many of the best PCIe Gen3 SSDs available and comes packed with features, too. Plus, it keeps cool with a stylish brushed aluminum heatsink and boasts better endurance ratings than Samsung’s 980 PRO.
SK hynix’s Gold P31 touts market leadership as the first retail SSD product to launch with 128L NAND flash. With SK hynix’s newest NAND reaching incredible bit density, the Gold P31 hits the market at very low pricing. Listed at just $75 and $135 for the 500GB and 1TB models, respectively, the Gold P31 is a fantastic value that will make you think twice about spending that extra $25-$50 on the Samsung 970 EVO Plus.
SK hynix’s Gold P31 is very well suited for those looking to increase their laptop storage not only to gain capacity but to gain battery life, too. While Adata’s SX8200 Pro performs well against the Gold P31 in benchmarking, the SK hynix is much more power-efficient, which will lead to longer off-the-charger sessions. But, while the Adata is the better buy for desktops and the SK hynix is best for laptops, the Gold P31's much stronger write performance and ultra-high efficiency make it the better well-rounded choice for many users.
Laptop users who don’t need more than a terabyte of storage and prioritize battery life should definitely put the new SK hynix Gold P31 at the top of their drive list.
Read: SK hynix Gold P31 Review
We're quite impressed with the Samsung 970 EVO Plus. Like the WD Black SN750, Samsung’s drive carries over the same controller as its predecessor. But instead of refreshing it with the same flash, Samsung decided to switch things up a bit with its new 9x-layer flash. Just as the flash is stacked to new heights, performance hits new highs, too. The resulting drive is exactly what its name says: a big Plus.
As the first widely-available retail SSD to hit the market with Samsung's latest 9x-layer flash, the Samsung 970 EVO Plus delivers the same performance as the 970 EVO, plus more. The drive consistently proved that it has some of the strongest write performance on the market and can handle tough workloads. It even beat out Samsung’s own 970 PRO in a few tests, which is quite the feat considering the PRO slots in as Samsung's workhorse for workstation-class applications.
Team Group’s T-Force Cardea Zero Z340 SSD isn’t much more expensive than most entry-level M.2 SSDs. Still, with the latest mainstream hardware under the hood, it’s a good choice for gamers looking to stretch their budget a bit for something more consistent and reliable.
The drive offers a good bang-for-your-buck upgrade or a good option for those planning their next PC. It’s a responsive SSD that not only offers up multi-gigabyte performance; it's rated for killer write endurance over its five-year warranty period. Plus, it comes with a slick graphene and copper label to handle heavy workloads without overheating, even without airflow in our test system. If you want to use a heatsink with your M.2, the label won’t prevent it like the heatsinks on some SSDs, like Patriot’s Viper series.
In our testing, we found that the combination of the Phison E12S controller and Micron 96L flash performed fairly well. Notably, the drive delivers faster performance than the older hardware powering the Seagate FireCuda 510 and is more efficient, too. But it isn’t the best of the best.
When we first took a look at the Viper VPR100, we were a bit concerned about its performance. Not only was it rated lower than most Phison E12-based SSDs, but the company states it will perform slower under various RGB settings. But, when we ran it through its paces with various lighting settings, the drive displayed no such issue with our ASRock X570 Taichi testbed. In fact, it even outperformed the MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro at times with the default lighting enabled, beating its rated specs.
The integrated heatshield not only adds quite a bit to the aesthetics of the Viper VPR100, but it also keeps the SSD cool under any workload. The LED’s didn’t add any significant heat output, either. So, no matter what your style is, you won’t have to sweat over your choice. If you're building an all-RGB rig or just a new gaming system that you want to also add a bit of color to, the Viper VPR100 will definitely light things up.
Sabrent’s 8TB Rocket Q slots in as the industry’s highest-capacity M.2 NVMe SSD. The pint-sized monster is obviously best suited for the data hoarder on the go, but at $1,500, it’ll set you back about as much as a decent gaming laptop. The drive doesn't just push capacity to the highest we've seen with a slim M.2 SSD; it also impresses with great performance and efficiency, thanks to the new Phison E12S controller and 96-Layer QLC flash.
QLC flash does have its downfalls, like lower endurance and slower write performance after the SLC write cache gets filled up during large file transfers, but the Phison E12S controller helps push the Rocket Q to the fastest performance we've seen from a QLC drive.
Read: Sabrent Rocket Q Review
With a single-sided form factor, the Blue drive is also compact and slim for any M.2 2280 application. And, with a low average and well-regulated maximum power consumption, the WD Blue SN550 will pair nicely with an external NVMe adaptor, too, if you’re looking for something on the go. The SN550 delivers a responsive experience and is a quality SSD backed by thousands of validation tests. With a five-year warranty and plenty of endurance, the Blue SN550 is well worth considering – even if low cost isn't your main priority.
WD’s Blue SN550 is one of the most consistent-performing low-cost NVMe SSDs available. Even though it has a small SLC write cache, its slowest performance will still remain acceptable when you hammer it with heavy writes. In our testing of the 1TB model, it even responds faster to applications and most consumer workloads than the WD Black SN750, including loading up your favorite games.
Read: WD Blue SN550 Review
You can get a SATA drive in the M.2 form factor, but most SATA drives are 2.5-inch models, which allows them to drop into the same bays that hold laptop hard drives. SATA drives are the cheapest and still the most popular.
When it comes to SATA, Samsung’s got the best drives on the market. The company's 860 EVO drives take the win in almost every benchmark we have thrown at them and pricing is usually very competitive. The 860 EVOs don’t offer as much endurance as the PRO models, but they come in capacities up to 4TB just the same. If you are looking for a new SATA SSD to hold your games library or just about anything, you can’t go wrong with this mainstream leader.
Read: Samsung 860 EVO Review
If you don’t want to dish out big bucks on something in the NVMe flavor but still want strong SATA performance, the MX500 is a great choice. As an alternative to the Samsung 860 EVO, it offers similar performance and has a strong history of reliability. Usually priced to sell, the MX500 is a top value at any capacity you need.
Read: Crucial MX500 Review
Restrained by the SATA interface, but still need the absolute highest endurance and performance you can get? As the pinnacle of SATA performance inside and out, Samsung’s 860 PRO is the SSD to buy.
Like the Samsung 970 PRO, the 860 PRO uses Samsung’s 64L MLC V-NAND, which helps propel it to the top of the charts in our rounds of benchmarking and makes for some incredible endurance figures. You can get capacities up to 4TB, and endurance figures can be as high as 4,800 TBW. But with prices that are triple that of your typical mainstream SATA SSD, the 860 PRO is mainly for businesses with deep pockets.
Read: Samsung 860 Pro Review
Add-in Card SSDs
These drives are add-on cards, just like graphics cards or sound cards, so they only work with desktops with a spare PCIe 3.0 x4, x8, or x16 slot. However, because they are larger than other form factors, they have room for more chips and better cooling, making them the fastest drives around.
When looking for the best SSD, and we mean the absolute best and money is no object, look no further than Intel’s Optane SSD 905P. Because this SSD features Intel’s latest 3D XPoint memory, it breaks free from many of NAND's drawbacks and offers the best responsiveness out of any storage device we have tested to date. And, those needing a plethora of endurance will find the 905P to be a device sent from the gods. With its endurance rating of over 17 petabytes at the 960GB capacity or over 27PBW at the 1.5TB capacity, you’ll be sure to upgrade it years before it ever wears out. Need the best? Don’t look at the rest; get the Intel Optane SSD 905P.
WD’s Black AN1500 is a unique NVMe SSD that combines two of the company’s SN730 NVMe SSDs and pairs them into a RAID 0 with an enterprise-grade RAID controller. The drive delivers the speed of the PCIe Gen4 interface to systems that only support PCIe Gen3.
The drive delivers up to 6.4/4.1 GBps in sequential read/write performance, providing PCIe Gen4-like performance over its PCIe 3.0 X8 interface - but for systems that don’t support PCIe Gen4. However, while the drive offers up incredible performance, it consumes a lot of power and is rather pricey. Fortunately, endurance ratings don’t restrict its warranty coverage, and there is, of course, that well-implemented RGB lighting.
Read: WD Black AN1500 Review
There aren’t many options for AICs in the consumer market as the M.2 form factor has become so popular. At a capacity of 480GB and a nearly absurd price of about $1/GB, the Intel Optane SSD 900P is your top-performing option. Powered by a custom Intel NVMe controller and their 3D XPoint memory, the 900P is one of the fastest performing SSDs on the market. Unlike the 905P, it comes in an AIC form factor at the 480GB capacity, not just U.2. But while its random performance is better than anything else we’ve seen before, its sequential performance is rather underwhelming when compared to some of the fastest NAND-based SSDs. Its power consumption is also much higher than any competitor.