The best SSD for gaming is going to become a vital part of your PC with the next-gen consoles set to make it a minimum requirement for high-end gaming performance. But we’ve had solid state drives on PC for years, so we’re prepared. Previously you’d find this list stuffed with SATA-based drives from top-to-bottom, with potentially only one or two PCIe SSDs lurking at the high-priced extreme end. It’s now becoming increasingly hard to recommend the old school 2.5-inch SSDs with the new consoles incoming, but not only from a straight performance point of view.
In terms of pricing there really isn’t a great deal between the best NVMe SSDs and their SATA-based equivalents. When the cheapest 2.5-inch 1TB SATA SSD is only $24 less than the same capacity in a PCIe-based drive, and is four times slower, why would you consider going for the older technology?
Well, because of your motherboard. Some older boards don’t allow booting from a PCIe SSD, even if there is a dedicated M.2 socket built into it, and even if they do you’re only likely to have a couple of space for a couple of them at best. That means even if you’ve got an NVMe SSD as your boot drive on one of the best gaming motherboards a SATA-based option might be the best SSD for extending your speedy storage capacity.
Things are moving quickly too. Most of the best SSDs for gaming are based on the PCIe 3.0 interface, but we’re starting to see more PCIe 4.0 drives sliding into the market. Corsair is an early pace setter, but Samsung is set to launch its 980-series SSDs this year. Where SATA’s theoretical performance limit is 600MB/s, and PCIe 3.0 is 4,000MB/s, PCIe 4.0 SSDs double that to a maximum of 8,000MB/s. The current top speed of available Gen4 drives is around 5,000MB/s but that’s still quicker than a PCIe 3.0 SSD.
Our pick of the best SSDs includes both 1TB and 500GB drives because smaller capacity SSDs, though cheaper, do lose performance too. And, with games such as Red Dead Redemption 2, Destiny 2, and Modern Warfare taking up well over 150GB each, you need a lot of storage space these days to avoid a whole lot of inventory management.
Best SSD for gaming
1. Addlink S70 512GB
Capacity: 512GB | Controller: Phison PS5012-E12 | Memory: Toshiba 3D TLC | Interface : M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 | Seq. read: 3,400MB/s | Seq. write: 3,000MB/s
Top-end PCIe 3.0 performance
Addlink came out of nowhere to instantly drive down the prices of every competing NVMe-based SSD, and seems to have been the catalyst for bringing nigh-on price parity across the PCIe and SATA SSD ecosystem. Addlink who? So yeah, it may not be a particularly recognised name in storage, but given the fact that the S70 is still using a completely recognisable Phison SSD memory controller and Toshiba’s 3D TLC memory, there’s not a lot that can go wrong.
With the sticker off, the Addlink drive is almost identical to the pricier Seagate Firecuda and performs practically the same as the WD Black SN750, which subsequently had to drastically drop its price to compete. At this 512GB level the Addlink S70 is arguably the best SSD to build your system around, and the 1TB version performs even better… and we’ve seen that as low as $120 before too.
We’ve no concerns around reliability either, despite the relatively unknown name, having used both the 512GB and 1TB variants regularly as part of our test rigs without fault. When SATA drives are costing the same, and Samsung SSDs cost more but don’t really deliver much extra performance, then the Addlink S70 is our pick of the bunch.
2. WD Black SN750 1TB
Capacity : 1TB | Controller: Western Digital | Memory: SanDisk/Toshiba 3D TLC | Interface: M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 | Seq. read: 3,430MB/s | Seq. write: 3,000MB/s
Serious SSD performance
Western Digital’s entry into the SSD market was a long while coming, especially at the speedy end of the market, but the WD Black SN750 was arguably worth the wait. It nails solid state performance on par with the best consumer Samsung EVO SSDs and severely undercuts them on price.
The combination of in-house memory controller and Toshiba memory (also essentially in-house after the acquisition of the SanDisk/Toshiba memory division) means what we’ve got here is a drive that can match Samsung in its build methodology too. And that all means WD can be very aggressive on how much it charges people for the privilege of having a speedy PCIe SSD in their gaming PC.
There is a more expensive version on offer with a heatspreader attached to it, but so long as you don’t bury your drive in an M.2 slot beneath your GPU you should be golden, and the SN750 will maintain peak performance without burning out sans extra SSD cooling.
3. Samsung 970 EVO 500GB
The PCIe 3.0 performance option.
Capacity: 500GB | Controller: Samsung Phoenix | Memory: Samsung 3-bit MLC | Interface: M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 | Seq. read: 3,400MB/s | Seq. write: 2,300MB/s
Samsung SSD technology
Outstanding real-world performance
The more recent Samsung 970 EVO Plus bumped up the write performance of its best-selling consumer NVMe SSD, and was essentially released at the same price as its forebear. But since the last-gen version has dropped in price the extra pace of the Plus model doesn’t really feel worth the extra cash.
Both drives are still using the same Samsung Phoenix controller, which means in real-world usage they are able to outperform the competition. If you want peak PCIe 3.0 performance then the Samsung drives are hard to beat, but you do have to pay for that extra little speed hike. Compared with the the 512GB Addlink the Samsung is that little bit quicker in real-world testing, but does cost another $20.
That’s not a huge issue at this half-terabyte level, but when the 1TB version comes in at dangerously close to $200 it does make the higher capacity 970 EVO drives a bit more of a difficult recommendation. The 500GB 970 EVO is still a great drive, smartly specced, well-made, and with a more competitive price.
4. Crucial MX500 1TB
A great secondary storage drive.
Capacity: 1TB | Controller: Silicon Motion SM2258 | Memory: Micron TLC | Interface: SATA 6Gb/s | Seq. read: 560MB/s | Seq. write: 510MB/s
One of the fastest SATA drives
Competitive price per GB
It seems strange that the Crucial MX500 is the only SATA drive left on our list of the best SSDs for gaming, but when the price delta between PCIe and SATA is so small it’s difficult to make any argument for the far slower technology. But, as I said at the beginning, because of the hard limit on the number of M.2 slots on your motherboard there is still a place for SATA SSDs as secondary storage.
And the Crucial MX500 is one of the best. With SATA’s maximum theoretical bandwidth limit of 600MB/s it’s about as quick as you’ll get and Crucial’s drives have long been among the best-value options available too. This is the most affordable 1TB SATA drive you can pick up, and would make a great second home for your Steam and Epic libraries.
It will happily function as a boot drive on systems with no M.2 sockets, or at least no bootable M.2 sockets anyways, but you will be missing out on the zippy response of your operating system running on the SSD-specific NVMe protocol.
5. Crucial P1 1TB NVMe
QLC performance, low price, and high capacity
Capacity: 1TB | Controller: Silicon Motion SM2263 | Memory : Micron 3D QLC | Interface: M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 | Seq. read: 2,000MB/s | Seq. write: 1,700MB/s
Faster than SATA
Solid power efficiency
The Crucial P1 is absolutely the cheapest 1TB NVMe SSD you can squeeze into your PC, but that low cost comes at… a cost. Crucial is able to get the price down so low because it’s using quad-level cell (QLC) memory, which is arguably the worst NAND available to SSDs. It allows for greater density at a lower price, but the trade-off is the overall performance and the endurance. You’d still have to fill and refill the drive many, many times over to get close to hitting the lower endurance limits of the P1, but it doesn’t inspire as much confidence as a more long-lived SSD memory tech.
The speed, however, is the sticking point, especially as when the drive gets full you will find it can drop dangerously close to the performance of a standard SATA-based SSD. Before that level, however, the Crucial P1 is able to comfortably outpace the older technology even if it can’t match the speeds of either WD, Addlink, or Samsung’s NVMe drives.
If you have a spare M.2 socket on your motherboard, and already have your boot drive running at genuine NVMe speeds, then the capacity and the generally higher-than-SATA speeds makes the P1 a great second drive.
6. Corsair Force MP600 1TB
The best PCIe 4.0 SSD right now.
Capacity: 1TB | Controller: Phison PS5016-E16 | Memory: Toshiba TLC | Interface: M.2 PCIe 4.0 x4 | Seq. read: 4,950MB/s | Seq write: 4,250MB/s
PCIe 4.0 speeds
The Crucial Force MP600 is the high-performance entry on our list, delivering sequential read and write speeds far in excess of what the rest of the best SSDs can offer. That’s because of the PCIe 4.0 interface and that fact that it has a theoretical bandwidth limit that’d double what the PCIe 3.0 interface has.
The MP600 doesn’t get close to that level, however, as it’s using an early PCIe 4.0 Phison controller, which is likely to get outmuscled later this year when Samsung releases its own next-gen controller in the 980-series drives. That, coupled with the fact that the speedy connection is only available on AMD’s X570 motherboards when paired with a Ryzen 3000 CPU, makes PCIe 4.0 SSDs just a little niche. Though the B550 chipset is coming soon, bringing it into the mainstream.
But if you want the absolute peak SSD performance to go with your high-end AMD Ryzen processor, then the Corsair Force MP600 is a great option. And at $200 for the 1TB version it’s not that much more expensive than a similar capacity PCIe 3.0 drive.
How we test SSDs
SSDs make your whole system faster and more pleasant to use. But they matter for gaming, too. A fast-loading SSD can cut dozens of seconds off the load times of big games like Red Dead Redemption 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, or MMOs like Final Fantasy XIV. An SSD won’t usually affect framerates like your GPU or CPU, but it will make installing, booting, dying, and reloading in games a faster, smoother process.
When shopping for a good SSD for gaming, one of the most important factors is the price per gigabyte. How much will you have to spend to keep a robust library of Steam games installed, ready to be played at a moment’s notice? With many new games surpassing the 50GB and even 150GB mark, this becomes even more critical.
To find the best gaming SSDs, we researched the SSD market, picked out the strongest contenders, and put them through their paces with a variety of benchmarking tools. We also put in the research to know what makes a great SSD great, beyond the numbers—technical stuff like types of flash memory and controllers.
PCIe 4.0 SSDs now supported by 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen CPUs and X570 motherboards. Sure, they’re mighty for bandwidth, but when it’s crunch-time in-game, there’s not a vast amount more it can deliver than a PCIe 3.0 drive.