The Best SSD for Gaming in 2020

Best Overall

Samsung 860 EVO 1TB  SSD

Samsung 860 EVO 1TB SSD
  • Intelligent TurboWrite technology boosts read speeds up to 550 MB/s
  • Offers sequential write speeds at up to 520 MB/s
  • Tons of new tech for a modest price tag
Premium Choice

Intel Optane SSD 905P Series

Intel Optane SSD 905P Series
  • The highest performing consumer SSD anywhere
  • Great for mixed workloads in addition to pure gaming
  • A user experience that can outmatch the demands of practically any rig
Great Value

Mushkin Source – 500GB Internal SSD

Mushkin Source – 500GB Internal SSD
  • Sequential write speeds up to 520 Mb/s
  • Uses StaticDataRefresh to ensure a higher level of data integrity
  • Incredibly lightweight and low on power usage

If you’re a serious gamer looking to buy a new machine or upgrade your existing rig, chances are you already have your eyes set on an SSD. But anyone who’s passionate about gaming can benefit from upgrading their traditional hard drive. An SSD provides better performance around the board, but it’s especially useful for the high demands of modern games.

And while we clearly endorse SSDs as the standard for gaming hard drives, that doesn’t mean they come cheap. As with any big purchase, you should do your due diligence before pulling out your wallet. We’ve helpfully identified ten of the best SSDs for gaming, but we’ve also created a comprehensive guide you can use to evaluate your needs and make the right decision.

Once you have your SSD sorted, you may want to gain an edge with the best gaming mouse for 2020.

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The Best SSD for Gaming

1. Samsung 860 EVO 1TB SSD

Samsung 860 EVO 1TB  SSD


Samsung's 860 series is regarded throughout the world as one of the best lines of SSD for gaming in the world, and while competitors have risen up to give them stiffer competition, the 860 sets a new standard for what consumers can expect. This 1TB SSD for gaming incorporates TLC, and while that's not the greatest standard around, it justifies the relatively cheap price tag. The inclusion of a new controller and Intelligent TurboWrite technology further sets the standards for the 860 EVO. All told, it's some pretty sophisticated technology for an SSD that comfortably occupies the mid-level market.

The Samsung 860 EVO isn't going to be the fastest SSD for gaming you'll find, but it's easily offers some of the best dollar for dollar value, and that inclusion of the new MJX controller lends it a higher level of compatibility with a Linux OS than you'd find from many of its peers.

Key Features
  • Intelligent TurboWrite technology boosts read speeds up to 550 MB/s
  • Offers sequential write speeds at up to 520 MB/s
  • Tons of new tech for a modest price tag
  • Suitable for both tower PCs and laptops
Capacity1 TBInterfaceSATA III 6GbpsSequential Read550 MB/sEndurance600 TBWRandom IO98,000 IOPS (read) / 90,000 IOPS (write)
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2. Intel Optane SSD 905P Series

Intel Optane SSD 905P Series


The Intel Optane isn't going to be for everyone. You could easily get a decent gaming laptop for the money you'd spend on this powerhouse of an SSD, but if you demand the fastest SSD for gaming and have some cash to spare, the Optane can scratch that itch. The fact that the Optane measures its writing levels in petabytes rather than terabytes should be the first sign that the Optane is doing something special, and that means that you should never have to worry about it hitting its endurance peak even when running the latest game on the most overpowered gaming rig.

While Intel has squeezed a significant boost in performance into this SSD beyond what their earlier models offered, they're keeping quiet about how they achieved it. A higher clocking speed would make sense, but regardless of the magic that powers this hardware, it's a beefy hard drive.

Key Features
  • The highest performing consumer SSD anywhere
  • Great for mixed workloads in addition to pure gaming
  • A user experience that can outmatch the demands of practically any rig
  • Incredibly reliable storage performance
Capacity960 GBInterfacePCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMeSequential Read2,600 MB/sEndurance17.52 PBWRandom IO575,000 / 550,000 IOPS
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3. Mushkin Source – 500GB Internal SSD

Mushkin Source – 500GB Internal SSD


Looking for a reliable, cheap SSD for gaming? : may not be a household name, but the Texas-based company specializes largely in making hardware for gamers, and their Source model is a sensible 500gb SSD for gaming that can be picked up for well under $100. It sports an incredibly lightweight design that makes it a great choice for gaming laptops, and that also greatly reduces its energy usage footprint, allowing you to keep on playing without worrying about your tower overheating or your laptop's battery rapidly expiring.

And despite that price tag, it's a reasonably powerful SSD. Its read and write speeds can hold their own compared to just about any 512GB SSD, and it currently sets the benchmark against what other DRAMless models can do. It's a lean, lightweight, and low-priced SSD model that won't feel like a cheap consolation prize for a more expensive SATI drive.

Key Features
  • Sequential write speeds up to 520 Mb/s
  • Uses StaticDataRefresh to ensure a higher level of data integrity
  • Incredibly lightweight and low on power usage
  • Compatible with all operating systems and consoles
Capacity500 GBInterfaceSATA-III 6Gb/sSequential Read560 Mb/sEndurance400 TBWRandom IO75,000 / 81,000 IOPS
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4. Samsung 860 PRO V-NAND 1TB SSD

Samsung 860 PRO V-NAND 1TB SSD


A comparative glance between Samsung's 860 PRO and the 860 EVO may leave less knowledgeable customers with a sense of befuddlement. Despite costing approximately double the price, the specs between these two SSDs seem largely comparable. And that's because they are. The 860 is a renowned model, and Samsung understands that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. That means that you can expect the same solid performance you'd get from the EVO along with very modest increases in reading and writing speeds.

The only real noticeable difference between the EVO and the PRO is that the latter comes with MLC-NAND Flash. That can account for the better reading and writing, but it also makes for a higher level of durability and a significantly longer life span. The difference might be negligible to casual consumers, but the wear and tear that comes with regular gaming makes the difference noticeable.

Key Features
  • Algorithm-based controller handles complex multitasking with ease
  • Incredibly strong endurance due to the MLC-NAND Flash
  • Consistent workloads regardless of the pressure put on it
  • Compatible with a wide variety of different host systems
Capacity1 TBInterfaceSATA III 6 Gb/sSequential Read560 Mb/sEndurance1200 TBWRandom IO100,000 / 90,000 IOPS
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5. Crucial MX500 1TB Internal SSD

Crucial MX500 1TB  Internal SSD


While SATA drives offer a higher level of compatibility than other interface formats and generally cost less to produce, those advantages come at one major cost: a ceiling on theoretical transfer speeds. But the MX500 pushes those speeds about as far as it can go without charging customers a ransom for that privilege. The read and write speeds push modestly over the standard, and while that might mean much of a difference in terms of raw numbers, it can mean a lot more when you're sitting though your favorite game's loading screen.

The ability to transfer large files quickly is also exceptional, coming easily within the ballpark of the 860 PRO. Just keep in mind that there are some significantly larger endurance limitations on the MX500 than on its heftier Samsung contemporary. In other words, it can't compete with the biggest contenders, but it's a solid budget SSD for gaming.

Key Features
  • Pushes the performance boundaries of an SATA SSD
  • Preserves work via its Integrated Power Loss Immunity tech
  • Utilizes Micron 3D NAND technology
  • Comes with a five year limited warranty from Crucial
Capacity1 TBInterfaceSATA 6 Gb/sSequential Read560 Mb/sEndurance360 TBWRandom IO95,000 / 90,000 IOPS
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6. WD BLACK SN750 500GB NVMe Gaming SSD

WD BLACK SN750 500GB NVMe Gaming SSD


Year in and year out, Western Digital's SN750 doesn't change much. But the fortunate fact is that it doesn't need to. This latest version sports the same exceptional hardware profile as its forebears with the only truly notable change coming in the form of some additional features.

And while those features aren't going to revolutionize the philosophy behind SSD design, they're nothing to sneeze at either. Most worthy to the attention of gamers is the newly renovated software dashboard which now includes a dedicated gaming mode that allows you to disable low power modes and significantly boost your gameplay performance. Then there's the inclusion of Acronis True Image Download, which allows you to easily clone your old hard drive onto your new SSD. But these are ultimately just nice flourishes on a sturdy solid state drive that's built with the demands of gamers squarely in mind.

Key Features
  • Software suite with specific options for gamers
  • Exceptional levels of power efficiency
  • Reliable performance across the board
  • Can be upgraded with an optional heatsink
Capacity500 GBInterfacePCIe Gen3 8 Gb/sSequential Read3470 Mb/sEndurance300 TBWRandom IO420,000 / 380,000 IOPS
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Another TLC SATA drive, Western Digital's Blue performs suitably above its class, and it manages to do so at a reasonable price. This is a compact option and a good SSD for gaming PC in the same ballpark as the Samsung 860 EVO. And its respectable endurance level of 100 TBW per 250 GB should ensure a good decade of performance out of this SSD for most gamers. The Blue also offers some of the best write speeds of any drive within its class, and it manages to maintain its consistency at heavier loads than the EVO is capable of.

The Blue isn't especially flashy or stylish. It doesn't come with cool lighting or a wide variety of features. But what it does offer is speed and performance that bridges the gap with more powerful MLC models, and it manages to offer all of that at a reasonable price.

Key Features
  • Competes comfortable with any SSD in its price range
  • Offers an industry-leading means time to failure
  • Free software supports easy cloning, backup, and drive monitoring
  • Backed by a five year limited warranty from Western Digital
Capacity1 TBInterfaceSATA III 6GbpsSequential Read560 MB/sEndurance400 TBWRandom IO100,000 IOPS / 80,000 IOPS
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8. Samsung 970 1TB PRO Series

Samsung 970 1TB PRO Series


Samsung's 970 PRO Series is more than just a good SSD for a gaming PC. It's one of the best available anywhere. This is a stunning powerhouse of a solid state drive with a price tag to match. And despite that formidable price, this is a drive that actually offers great pound for pound value. That it costs so much is just an indication of what a dramatic amount of value it manages to pack underneath its hood. That includes not just some of the highest read and write speeds in the industry but also an endurance level that's over 50% faster than its most agile predecessor.

As one might expect from such a powerful SSD, energy usage is bound to be an issue here. Fortunately, Samsung has taken serious preventative measures. A Dynamic Thermal Guard provides smart monitoring and remediation to dramatically reduce performance drops related to overheating.

Key Features
  • Low latency and exceptional bandwidth optimized for gamers
  • Great cooling system reduces the threat of overheating and minimizes performance issues
  • Samsung Drive software platform provides robust management options
  • Supported by a five year warranty from Samsung
Capacity1 TBInterfacePCIe Gen 3.0 x 4Sequential Read3500 MB/sEndurance1000 TBWRandom IO500,000 IOPS / 500,000 IOPS
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9. HP SSD S700 Pro Solid State Drive

HP SSD S700 Pro  Solid State Drive


HP may be one of the biggest and most well known tech manufacturers in the world, but they've largely kept clear of the SSD ring. It's a little surprising then that the S700 Pro comes with such a reliable level of performance. There can be no doubt that the S700 is designed to occupy the budget end of the SATA SDD market, but the pricing on this SSD is frankly absurd without sacrificing too much quality in the process.

It's also incredibly dependable, with a great build quality and very strong error correction capabilities. After all, Hewlett-Packard may not be known for their hard drives, but they are known for the meticulousness of their manufacturing. That's reflected in the all metal body that makes up the S700 Pro's frame but also in the meticulous testing and certification standards that happen in HP Laboratories.

Key Features
  • Comparatively high levels of performance with low energy drain
  • Incredibly rugged and exceedingly lightweight
  • Meticulously field tested and certified at HP Laboratories
  • Offered at an exceptionally low price
Capacity512 GBInterfaceSATA III 6GbpsSequential Read570 MB/sEndurance310 TBWRandom IO90,000 IOPS / 95,000 IOPS
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10. GIGABYTE UD PRO 512GB Internal SSD



Gigabyte is another company not known for their solid state drives, and coincidentally, their entry into the market is comparably priced to HP's S700 Pro. And while there's a bit of inconsistency in the quality of this drive, it still performs well over the standards of an HDD, and the price it's offered at is hard to beat.

The Phison S10 SATA used in this model is a bit older, but it's still one of the best controllers in the business, and it's been paired with a BICS3 3D TLC NAND. The result is a quality SSD that's sure to be reliable if nothing else. That same level of consideration goes into the entire product, which universally makes use of quality components. And while the UD Pro doesn't manage to hit the benchmarks of many of its contemporaries, there aren't a lot of SSDs that retail for this price.

Key Features
  • One of the most affordable SSDs around
  • Makes use of quality components across the board
  • Includes one of the most reliable controllers around
  • Guaranteed to work well with other Gigabyte hardware
Capacity512 GBInterfaceSATA III 6GbpsSequential Read530 MB/sEndurance100 TBWRandom IO80,000 IOPS / 75,000 IOPS
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Compare the Models

PictureModelCapacityInterfaceSequential ReadEnduranceRandom IO
Samsung 860 EVO+ Samsung 860 EVO 1 TB SATA III 6Gbps 550 MB/s 600 TBW 98,000 IOPS (read) / 90,000 IOPS (write)
Intel Optane SSD+ Intel Optane SSD 960 GB PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 2,600 MB/s 17.52 PBW 575,000 / 550,000 IOPS
Mushkin Source –+ Mushkin Source – 500 GB SATA-III 6Gb/s 560 Mb/s 400 TBW 75,000 / 81,000 IOPS
Samsung 860 PRO+ Samsung 860 PRO 1 TB SATA III 6 Gb/s 560 Mb/s 1200 TBW 100,000 / 90,000 IOPS
Crucial MX500 1TB+ Crucial MX500 1TB 1 TB SATA 6 Gb/s 560 Mb/s 360 TBW 95,000 / 90,000 IOPS
WD BLACK SN750+ WD BLACK SN750 500 GB PCIe Gen3 8 Gb/s 3470 Mb/s 300 TBW 420,000 / 380,000 IOPS
WD Blue 3D+ WD Blue 3D 1 TB SATA III 6Gbps 560 MB/s 400 TBW 100,000 IOPS / 80,000 IOPS
Samsung 970 1TB+ Samsung 970 1TB 1 TB PCIe Gen 3.0 x 4 3500 MB/s 1000 TBW 500,000 IOPS / 500,000 IOPS
HP SSD S700+ HP SSD S700 512 GB SATA III 6Gbps 570 MB/s 310 TBW 90,000 IOPS / 95,000 IOPS

Best SSD for Gaming Buyer’s Guide

So you’ve decided you’re interested in improving your gaming experience with an SSD. That’s a step in the right direction, but finding the right choice is about more than just picking the most expensive option. It needs to be tailored to your specific needs and the components already in your computer. Below we’ll outline all the details you need to know as you shop for the best SSD for gaming.


We’ve outlined the best SSD for gaming models above, and we’ve made sure that each comes with a detailed list of the most important specs. But if looking over those numbers makes you glaze over, that’s not at all out of the ordinary. For the most part, larger numbers are better on specs, but if your computer doesn’t have the juice to get the most out of those specifications, those powerful numbers won’t do you much good. Here’s what you need to know about the most relevant specs.


Capacity is an easy metric to understand. It details how much space is available in your hard drive to hold files, folders, and applications. So how much do you need? That’s going to largely depend on your demands, but gamers will absolutely want more storage space than more average PC owners. Let’s look at these demands in a little more detail.

Windows 10 requires a bare minimum of 16 gigabyte of storage to run, but the need to support updates means you need a generous amount of wiggle room in how much space that takes up. That’s not a huge factor in the space offered by any decent SSD, but it’s still notable, if only to compare it to the demands of gamers. Modern AAA games can be huge, and they’re likely only going to balloon in size.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey requires 46 GB of storage available. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 weighs in even heavier, with a minimum of 55 GB free space required but 112 recommended. As games increasingly move towards multiplayer modes and incorporate more persistent service models, you’ll have to make sure there’s enough space to handle updates over the course of a game’s life. Games with MMO elements like The Division 2 can easily take up a terabyte of space without even accounting for DLC.

Entry level SSDs start at 250 GB, but we’ve focused exclusively on 500 GB and 1 TB drives for our models. For most players, one of these options should be suitable. A 500 GB drive can comfortably hold a few AAA games, but in either case, you’ll likely have to swap out the games saved to your drive occasionally. Ultimately, how much space you’ll need will come down to your play styles. If you have a Steam list mostly populated by indie titles or you focus on one or two titles at a time, a 500 GB drive should comfortably suit you. If you’re committed to playing all the latest hits, you may want to opt for a 1 TB drive or higher.

You can always check your existing hard drive to see how much space your games take up. Just be sure that you adjust for the future so you don’t have to worry about running out of space as games get bigger and more bloated with post-release patches and updates. And while we’ve put our attention at mid-range 500 GB and 1 TB models, most of the lines we’ve featured offer heftier capacities for a little more money.


In its most basic form, the interface of an SSD simply refers to the cables that connect your solid state drive to your computer’s motherboard. The interface serves the important purpose of essentially ensuring that the computer’s central nervous system is connected to its long term and short term memory, but you should weigh your options carefully before deciding on the interface to use. There are two options currently on the market: SATA and PCIe, and each comes with its own distinct strengths and weaknesses.

SATA is short for Serial ATA, and it’s been around for a good long while. First introduced in 2003, the legacy of SATA brings with it some meaningful advantages. The most obvious is how prevalent it is. SATA ports are incredibly versatile, and any PC motherboard made in the last decade is nearly certain to be compatible with a SATA SSD. Whether you’re looking to make use of an external SSD for gaming or remove your internal drive, both new and aging machines should cover what you need. And while SSDs that utilize a SATA port provide slower reading and writing speeds than their PCIe counterparts across the board, that isn’t always a big issue. SATA drives are also easily generally cheaper than PCIe devices, and they tend to use less battery life.

PCIe, or PCI Express, isn’t exactly the new kid on the block. The format has been around since 2002, and most computers incorporated at least one PCIe slot for their motherboard within the next few years. But PCIe is a little more all purpose than SATA. Its primary use is connecting motherboards to graphics cards, but it’s also used for ethernet, Wi-Fi, and other purposes. That means that, depending on the year and model of your computer, a free PCIe slot simply might not be available. But if it is, a PCIe enabled SDD could be exactly what you’re looking for. While you’ll pay more for a PCIe SSD, you’ll also get significantly better performance.

How much better? SATA III (which all of our SATA-grade SSDs support) offers a theoretical transfer speed of 6 GB/s, or 750 MB/s. But due to practical limitations, this ceiling is closer to 600 MB/s. PCIe, by contrast, can offer speeds of up to 985 MB/s per lane available. With models like the Intel Optane boasting four separate lanes, that’s a dramatic boost in performance. Also keep in mind that the port demands for a PCIe ensures that they aren’t going to be an option for gaming laptops at all.

Sequential Read

When you’re looking at the sequential read speed for a solid state drive with a SATA interface, you aren’t going to notice much difference from one model to another. All SATA III drives are pushing as hard as they can against that 600 Mb/s ceiling, and the result are drives that are usually within ten or maybe 20 Mb/s of one another. Will this produce a noticeable difference for the average gamer? Most likely not.

If you’re looking at a PCIe solid state drive, you can expect a more expansive gap between sequential read speeds. Even if a PCIe offers just a single lane, you can expect it to be pushing sequential read speeds that are nearly double what you’d find in a comparable SATA III SSD for a gaming desktop. The PCIe drives that appear in our list all offer sequential read speeds in the mid-2000s or 3000s. But in practical terms, the difference a gamer will notice between a PCIe SSD and a SATA III drive are somewhat negligible. The sort of speeds you’ll get out of a PCIe device are designed more for the needs of enterprise level businesses. It’s a nice perk but hardly a necessity for almost any gamer.

That’s not to say that sequential read speed isn’t important. When your hard drive is reading sequentially, that means it’s pulling everything from the same place. Most commonly that means a concrete form of media like a video or music file. With games, it’s a little more complicated. Since there are more variables involved in how a gaming experience plays out, the amount of sequential data that needs to be processed and the amount of random data that needs to be processed can vary significantly. The more linear a game is, on average, the more important that sequential read speed is going to be.

In other words, if you have the money for an SSD that supports sequential read speeds in the thousands, go for it. You might see a difference in your loading speeds for both your games and your operating system, and you’ll be future proofing your machine. But the difference between an HDD and even the slowest SSD are sizable, while the difference between PCIe performance and SATA performance for this metric offer a greater case of diminishing returns in terms of benefits for a regular consumer.


Many SSDs come with a five or ten year warranty from the manufacturer, and while you can fall back on these as a comfortable means of security for your drive’s life span, actually determining how long it will last you is a bit more complicated. That’s because when they’re trying to determine the potential life of a hard drive, the manufacturer uses something called TBW or terabytes written. Since they don’t incorporate the moving parts that cause more conventional hard drives to wear down, the one major factor in degradation for a solid state drive is the wear from data being written and rewritten.

If a single terabyte written seems like a lot to you, that’s because it is. SSDs are sturdy pieces of machinery that can put in a lot of work before they’re ready to retire, and even a solid state drive with a rating of 400 TBW should last you a good decade. Some on our list offer as much as 1000 TBW. It’s also worth noting that the endurance rating established for each model is a minimum rather than a maximum. Your SSD should be able to easily clear that benchmark before starting to suffer any sort of major degradation, but you may want to more carefully analyze your SSD once it passes that level. There are a number of different software platforms that can help you with that.

TBW scales to the size of a hard drive as well. A 500 GB SSD will offer double the TBW of a 256 GB SSD, while a 1 TB SSD will offer quadruple that. If you decide on a model that’s smaller or larger than the one we list, you can easily scale the endurance accordingly. And in addition to TBW, many manufacturers put other provisions in place that can help significantly extend the lifespan of an SSD. These include overprovisioning, firmware, and advanced error correction techniques, all of which make use of different techniques to improve the efficiency of your computer’s storage management.

Regardless of these complications, you shouldn’t have to fret too much over the TBW numbers for a given model. It can provide a good indication of how sturdy the drive is, but any of the options on our list should provide you with dependable performance for years to come.

Random IO

An SSD’s sequential read speed is a great number to plaster on the side of a drive’s box, and it can be a great barometer when looking at the general performance of a drive, but it’s not going to tell you the whole story by a long shot. That’s because it assumes speeds under ideal conditions. If you want to know how well an SSD is going to perform out in the wild, you want to look at the Random IO, a metric which determines how fast data that’s non-contiguous can be transferred.

Random IO is measured in IOPS, or internal operations per second, rather than in megabytes per second. There’s a reason for that. Since the sort of data random IO is transferring could be anywhere on the machine, it’s ineffective to measure how many MB is transferred in a second. So when will your SSD be making use of random IO rather than sequential reading? Quite often. It’s estimated that sequential reading constitutes about half the file transfers for a solid state drive.

That said, how much you’ll need random IO during your gaming experiences will depend somewhat on the sort of games you play. Random IO is especially important in larger and more open world games where the density of information available means that any information your computer needs to pull from it could be scattered all over the disk drive. And the need for nimble random IO becomes doubly important when you start taking procedural generation into account. Even modest looking indies like Dwarf Fortress and No Man’s Land can be sluggish with slower random IO because of the sheer bulk of information they need to compile. It’s also a common problem for more modern 4×4 games like Civilization and the Endless series.

While we’ve made sure to record both the random reading and writing speeds for each model, it’s the former that’s going to be significantly more important for gamers. Reading determines how fast the drive can draw its stored information and deliver it properly to the motherboard. In practical terms, it cuts down on loading times and can also show some boosts in performance.

Writing speed on the other hand, will be significantly less of a deal breaker to gamers, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely inconsequential.It can significantly cut down the amount of time it takes to download and install games on your SSD, and it has a big part to play in the rare instance where you’re running a game directly from a disk.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need an SSD for Gaming?

The question of SSD or HDD for gaming is one that’s already been litigated in the minds of most dedicated gamers. There can be little doubt that a solid state drive is simply a better piece of machinery than a more traditional hard drive. You may legitimately ask yourself whether you should be looking at a SATA or a PCIe drive, but recent and significant price drops in solid state drives have ensured that they’re almost always going to be a preferable option to traditional hard drives.

There are a number of advantages here, but the most obvious one is speed. That said, what exactly a hard drive accomplishes for gamers is sometimes an issue of misunderstanding. Your hard drive isn’t going to deliver higher frame rates for your gaming experience. If you want butter smooth graphical processing without choppiness, you need to be looking at your CPU and GPU. But a good drive can cut down significantly on the load times of your game, both when you’re booting up and when you’re in the game world. Outside of gaming, a good SSD can improve the performance of your machine when multitasking in a pretty significant way.

All told, a solid state drive beats a hard drive across practically every available metric. The fact that an SSD doesn’t require any moving parts means it’s less likely to break down and that it also puts off no vibrations and no sound. The power draw on an SSD is generally a third to a half of what you’d find on a comparable hard drive, and that offers both a 30+ minute energy boost and reduces the risk of overheating.

But the most important distinctions are in terms of raw performance. Even the slowest SSD on the market will improve on the reading and writing speed of an HDD by at least 300%, and they generally tend to last significantly longer as well. And while an SSD can cost seven times as much as an HDD with comparable storage space, cheap and reliable SSDs can still be had for well under a hundred dollars.

Can I Use an SSD as an External Drive?

If you don’t want to dig into your computer’s guts to replace your existing hard drive, you’re looking for a supplementary bit of storage space, or you simply like the portability of an external drive, you can absolutely get those effects with an SSD. Just keep in mind that it will require a little extra effort, and it comes with some disadvantages.

First of all, you’re going to need to get an enclosure for the device. Single enclosures are pretty cheap, but you’ll want to make sure your enclosure matches the size of your SSD. If you really want to make the most of your options for the future, you may consider investing in a multi-bay enclosure. That said, there are a few advantages to using an SSD as an external device. The fact that they don’t have moving parts means that they’re much more resilient, so you don’t have to worry about them getting damaged as you carry them with you, and SSDs are generally much, much smaller than comparably sized traditional hard drives.

In terms of weaknesses, there are a couple big ones here. The first is that since your drive will be external, it won’t be an especially practical choice for running your OS. Second is the fact that your external drive will need to connect to your computer through a USB cable. USB is naturally going to offer slower transfer speeds than a traditional SATA cable. While you can minimize that degradation by using a USB 3.0 cord, even those only offer transfer rates of 5 Gbps as opposed to the 6 Gbps ceiling promised by SATA.

Can I use an SSD for Console Gaming?

If there’s one common complaint that PC gamers levy against the advantages of console gaming, it’s that consoles like the Playstation 4 and XBox One don’t allow the level of customization that a PC rig does. If there’s a second, it’s that they’re destined to underperform. While these instances might be true, being a console gamer doesn’t mean having to be squeezed out from the possibility of using an SSD.

An SSD can dramatically improve the load times of your favorite console games, and Microsoft and Sony have both been surprisingly open about letting gamers upgrade their hard drives. It’s a refreshing change of pace from earlier cycles where manufacturers sometimes tried to force gamers to make use of expensive proprietary options. Whether you own an XBox One or a Playstation 4, you can upgrade your storage with any 2.5″ external SSD on the market. Just keep in mind that the drive will need to be at least 256 MB in size, and it will need to be contained in an enclosure with USB 3.0 connectivity.

In terms of directly connecting your hard drive enclosure, all you need to do is connect it using one of the USB slots on your console. From there, you’ll just need to format your SSD for the console and begin transferring your games over. While both Sony and Microsoft use different processes for formatting, they’re easily accessed, and you’ll be provided with step by step instructions.

Can I Use Both an SSD and HDD Together?

There are a lot of reasons why you might consider doing a dual configuration with both an HDD and a SSD. Maybe you want to get a solid state drive but can’t justify spending one that covers all of your storage needs, or maybe you’d rather opt for a smaller version of a PCIe SDD than a larger SATA alternative. Or maybe you just have an extra HDD laying around and you don’t want to let it go to waste. As long as your motherboard has the ports, you can connect both types of drives into your computer without any real compatibility issues.

The only thing you’ll want to consider here is how you want to prioritize your data. It goes without saying that any data that gets accessed from your traditional hard drive won’t experience the boosted loading speeds that data from your SSD does. If you’re looking to put together a fierce gaming rig, you’ll want to make sure that your SSD is dedicated to storing your most resource heavy games. But you’ll also likely want to make it your primary boot disk. Running your OS on an SSD can improve your machines’ general performance across the board. That will allow your HDD to serve in a sensible background role as a mass storage mule.

Do I Need to Take Software Into Consideration?

Many of the SSDs on our list come with free and proprietary software that makes it easy to manage and tweak your drive’s performance. But while you can be assured that software from the manufacturer is guaranteed to work well with your hardware, it doesn’t need to be a make or break point when considering what SSD you want. There are a number of free or cheap software platforms that can replace or even complement these proprietary platforms.

A lack of space tends to be one of the biggest issues with SSDs, but there’s fortunately a decent amount of software solutions that allow you to maximize your storage limitations. Free services like CCleaner are great for tidying up unnecessary clutter, while speed boosters like SSD Boost Manager allow you to link two separate hard drives and automate the process of transferring over software when needed. It’s a sensible solution if your SSD won’t fit all the games you want, and it’s almost a necessity if you plan on using an HDD as a backup drive for your machine. Then there’s optimization programs like SSD Life and Tweak-SSD that provide deeper configurations and let you accurately track the lifespan of your SSD.

Will software be a necessity for everyone? Probably not, but you don’t need to fret over whether or not the SSD you buy comes with a software platform from the manufacturer.

Final Thoughts

An SSD isn’t the most important piece of hardware for a gaming rig, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve some consideration. Any SSD is going to provide you with a satisfying boost in performance over an HDD, and recent price drops have made a SATI option more affordable than ever before. Just keep in mind that the right SSD is one that meets your specific needs and is balanced against the other hardware components in your machine.

An SSD that has far too much space than you’ll ever need or runs at speeds that your CPU can’t keep up with is almost as bad as one that underperforms, so take your circumstances into careful consideration. And if you’re looking at building your own gaming rig, be sure to check out our guides to the best gaming CPUs and the best gaming processors for the year.

You may also like our article on the best gaming desks.