Finding the best SSD or solid-state drive for your needs is important if your 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 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.
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. But to make use of that extra speed today, you’ll need either a 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 fir 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.
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 2TB.
The Best Solid-State Drives You Can Buy Today
Adata’s XPG SX8200 Pro is the best 1TB class SSD for the money. With high-performance that rivals Samsung’s 970 EVO Plus and PRO SSDs, it is a Pro class drive through and through. It boasts best-in-class power efficiency with very respectable endurance and has a price that won’t break the bank. Not only that, but Adata also includes a DIY black, metal heat spreader to make your XPG SX8200 Pro even “cooler” when you install it.
SK hynix’s Gold P31 touts market dominance 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 can hit the market at a very low cost. 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 up their laptop storage to not only 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 I want to say that the Adata is the better buy for desktops and the SK hynix for laptops, the much stronger write performance and ultra-high efficiency from the SK hynix Gold P31 make it the better choice for many users.
But with a limited capacity and speeds that don’t quite match our Adata’s competing drive, we’re leaving the SX8200 pro in place as our favorite M.2 drive overall. Laptop users who don’t need more than a terabyte of storage and prioritize battery life, however, should definitely put the new SK hynix Gold P31 at the top of their drive list.
Read: SK hynix Gold P31 Review
When looking for the best SSD, and we mean the absolute best and money is no object, look no further than to Intel’s Optane SSD 905P. This SSD features Intel’s latest 3D XPoint memory, it breaks free from many of the drawbacks of NAND 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 exhausts. Need the best? Don’t look at the rest, get the Intel Optane SSD 905P.
M.2 PCIe NVMe Drives
These small, rectangular drives look like sticks of RAM, only smaller. They are usually 80mm long by 22mm wide, which is 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.
Offering up some incredible performance with the Phison E16 powering it, the Rocket NVMe 4.0 is a rocket for sure. Capable of delivering up to 5.0/4.4 GBps read/write in sequential transfers and peaking at almost 600,000/550,000 IOPS read/write, it is one of the fastest SSDs you can buy. It’s so fast, it even outperforms Samsung’s 970 EVO Plus and 970 Pro in various real-world and application testing, while being quite efficient.
With class-leading endurance ratings, Sabrent’s Rocket NVMe 4.0 isn’t going to wear out on you any time soon, either. Constantly moving around large video files or running various virtual machines, or even into benchmarking your hardware to death, the Rocket NVMe 4.0 will keep on going. Our main complaint against it is that you must register your SSD with Sabrent to receive the longer 5-year warranty, but that’s not exactly a huge hassle.
TLC NAND based SSDs have flooded the market and have gotten even better than ever. But, even so, the performance of MLC NAND is just a step above. Want the best performing 1TB class M.2 NVMe SSD along with some of the best endurance in the market? Packed with Samsung’s 64L MLC V-NAND, the 970 PRO is an absolute beast that is capable of delivering consistent performance of up to 3.5/2.7GBps read/write. This performance does come at a cost, however, typically twice as much as competing products.
Read: Samsung 970 Pro Review
Silicon Power’s P34A80 features a familiar pairing of Phison’s E12 NVMe controller with Toshiba’s BiCS3 64L TLC NAND flash. Its performance won’t break any records, but it’s still very fast. And at just $0.11 per gigabyte (for the 1TB model we tested), paired with a 5-year warranty, this TLC drive is easy to recommend over similarly priced QLC competition. Its rated endurance isn’t as high as competing drives, and it’s not pretty, but this drive screams value without compromising performance.
Team Group’s T-Force Cardea Zero Z340 SSD isn’t much more expensive than most entry-level M.2 SSDs, but with the latest mainstream hardware powering it, 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 to those or a good option for those planning their next PC. It’s a responsive SSD that not only offers up multi-gigabyte performance, it is rated for some killer write endurance over its five-year warranty period. Plus, it comes with a slick graphene and copper label to handle the workloads without overheating, even without airflow in our testing. And, if you do want to use a heatsink with your M.2, the label won’t prevent it like the heatsinks on some SSDs out there like Patriot’s Viper series.
In our testing we found the performance out of the Phison E12S and Micron 96L combo worked out fairly well. Notably, the drive delivers faster performance than the older hardware powering Seagate FireCuda 510, and is more efficient, too. But it isn’t the best of the best.
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.
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 is 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 performance of the 970 EVO, plus some 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.
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 also a quality SSD that comes backed by thousands of validation tests. With a 5-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, when you hammer it with heavy writes, its slowest performance will still remain acceptable. In our testing [of the 1TB model], it even manages to respond faster to applications and most consumer workloads than the WD Black SN750, including loading up your favorite games.
Read: WD Blue SN550 Review
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 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. And, 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/
You can get a SATA drive in the M.2 form factor, but most SATA drives are 2.5-inch models, which makes 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 going. Their 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 performance from SATA, 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 utilizes Samsung’s 64L MLC V-NAND, which helps to 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 that have 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, which usually makes them the fastest drives around.
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 the one of the fastest performing SSDs out. 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. As well, its power consumption is much higher than any competitor.