Best external SSD for gaming in 2023: top portable drives

The best external SSD for gaming is far more convenient than its internal NVMe or SATA alternative, allowing you to swap between devices in seconds.

Samsung showcases its many portable external SSDs next to each other

The best external SSD for gaming is a relatively inexpensive way to expand storage and speed up your game’s loading times but without the hassle of rummaging around the insides of your gaming PC. Simply plug one into a free USB port, install your game, and play to your heart’s content.

Portable SSDs don’t have to be a bland box either, with Adata leaning into a distinct RGB-lit honeycomb effect and Sandisk making a dust- and water-resistant NVMe drive that fits into the palm of your hand. You can even do it yourself if you own a spare internal NVMe thanks to an enclosure from Asus turning your existing drive into a portable storage device.

Portable and external options do come with some caveats, of course, such as slower speeds. They’re a marked improvement over hard drives, but you’ll want to grab the best SSD for gaming if you’re all about performance and take a trip to our guide on how to install an SSD to make sure it sits correctly.

So why buy an external SSD? The advantage of a portable SSD is that you can swap it between devices without any fuss. With so many prices to choose from and read speeds ranging from 540MB/s all the way up to 2,800MB/s, we’ve rounded up a selection of drives for every usage and budget so you can choose the best external SSD for you.

Find the best external SSD for gaming in 2023:

  • Best external SSD for gaming – Adata SE900G
  • Best portable SSD – Sandisk Extreme Portable
  • Fastest external SSD – Samsung X5
  • Best NVMe enclosure – Asus ROG Strix Arion
  • Best cheap external SSD – Samsung T5
  • Best SSD for Xbox Series X – Seagate Storage Expansion Card
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1. Adata SE900G

The best external SSD for gaming is the Adata SE900G.


Adata SE900G Specs
Drive NVMe
Connection USB Type-C / Type-A
Capacity 512GB / 1TB / 2TB
Sequential read speed 2,000MB/s
Sequential write speed 2,000MB/s

Adata’s NVMe-based model is one of the fastest external drives we’ve seen, with both the sequential read and write speeds coming in at 2,000MB/s. It connects via a USB Type-C cable, although Adata includes a Type-A adapter in the box to better cater to more devices. We’d recommend the 1TB capacity model, although it’s also available as a 512GB or 2TB drive.

The RGB lighting covering the top of the drive is a flashy touch, making it look at home with the best gaming keyboard and best gaming mouse.

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2. SanDisk Extreme Portable

The best portable SSD is the Sandisk Extreme Portable.

Sandisk Extreme Portable Specs
Drive NVMe
Connection USB Type-C / Type-A
Capacity 500GB / 1TB / 2TB / 4TB
Sequential read speed 1,050MB/s
Sequential write speed 1,000MB/s

Despite its diminutive size of 2.07 x 3.97 inches, the Sandisk Extreme Portable still packs a punch. Thanks to the NVMe drive under the hood, it’s capable of swift sequential read and write speeds of 1,050MB/s and 1,000MB/s respectively.

It can also take a beating with two-meter drop protection, and IP55 water and dust resistance, making it the perfect travel companion for the best gaming laptop – not that we recommend chucking it around.

It connects via USB Type-C, although there’s a Type-A adaptor included too. You can pick the drive up in capacities ranging from 500GB up to a whopping 4TB. It truly is portable, and is designed with a hole in the corner so that you can clip it onto your keys or a bag.

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3. Samsung X5

The fastest external SSD is the Samsung X5.

Samsung X5 Specs
Drive NVMe
Connection Thunderbolt 3
Capacity 500GB / 1TB / 2TB
Sequential read speed 2,800MB/s
Sequential write speed 2,300MB/s

The Samsung X5 is one of the fastest on the market when it comes to outright speed, but it has a premium price tag attached and some compatibility considerations with a Thunderbolt 3 connection. If your wallet and computer can support it, this drive is capable of sequential read and write speeds of 2,800MB/s and 2,300 MB/s respectively, loading your games and transferring your files in the blink of an eye.

The X5 is still surprisingly small at 4.7 x 2.4 inches, and the good-looking glossy casing is also designed to withstand drops of up to two meters.

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4. Asus ROG Strix Arion

The best NVMe enclosure is the Asus ROG Strix Arion.

Asus ROG Strix Arion Specs
Drive NVMe
Connection USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
Capacity N/A
Sequential read speed N/A
Sequential write speed N/A

If you’ve already got a spare internal NVMe drive, the Arion can convert into an external SSD that looks a treat compared to other enclosures. The USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 connection transfers up to 10Gb/s, letting it take full advantage of even the fastest NVMe models.

The aluminum casing also has some adjustable RGB lighting for extra flair, while thermal pads inside help to keep temperatures low to avoid thermal throttling.

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5. Samsung T5

The best cheap external SSD is the Samsung T5.

Samsung T5 Specs
Drive SATA
Connection USB Type-C / Type-A
Capacity 500GB / 1TB / 2TB
Sequential read speed 540MB/s
Sequential write speed 515MB/s

The Samsung T5 uses SATA technology over the zippier NVMe form factor, but this helps to keep the price per GB low. In fact, it’s the best budget external SSD that’s almost five times faster than an external hard drive, rated at 540MB/s sequential read and 515MB/s sequential write speeds.

The all-metal body gives it a solid feel and helps it withstand drops of two meters. And, if security is at the front of your mind, you can use Samsung’s software to lock the drive with a password.

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6. Seagate Storage Expansion Card

The best SSD for Xbox consoles is the Seagate Storage Expansion Card.

Seagate Storage Expansion Card Specs
Drive NVMe
Connection Xbox expansion slot
Capacity 1TB / 2TB
Sequential read speed N/A
Sequential write speed N/A

The Xbox Series X / S won’t allow you to install and play current generation games on any random external SSD, instead making use of the expansion slot on the rear of the console. Seagate’s NVMe is currently the only model that fits into Microsoft’s proprietary port and offers read and write speeds identical to the console’s internal NVMe solid-state drive.

There’s no USB connection, however, so this is solely an external SSD for the latest Xbox consoles rather than one for your PC.

Best external SSD: Jsaux M.2 Steam Deck dock with cover open

7. Jsaux M.2 Steam Deck dock

The best external Steam Deck SSD is the Jsaux M.2 SSD Steam Deck dock.

Seagate Storage Expansion Card Specs
Drive NVMe
Connection USB-C
Capacity 1TB / 2TB
Sequential read speed 3,300MB/s
Sequential write speed 2,600MB/s

Valve’s handheld has a solid-state drive dwelling within, but the Jsaux M.2 SSD Steam Deck dock will save you from upgrading the handheld’s innards. Rather than using a separate exclosure, the docking station features its own slot stowed away under a back cover, meaning you’ll have less cover when playing in desktop mode.

Opting for the M.2 Steam Deck dock over an internal SSD upgrade means you’ll be able to add up to 2TB of external storage, and you can either choose your own drive or pick up one of Jsaux’s bundles. The setup makes for a great way to swap games between your desktop setup and the handheld’s storage, which in turn will save you from constantly deleting things to make room.

If you’re keen to learn more about the docking station’s other capabilities, we’d suggest checking out of Jsaux M.2 Steam Deck dock review. You’ll also find a variety of different add-ons within our best Steam Deck accessories list, including alternative ways to expand the handheld’s storage.