Best SSD for gaming 2018

What is the best SSD for gaming? We’ve tested the best solid state drives around today to help you find the right SSD

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The best SSD for gaming can transform your PC experience, getting you into the game faster than any old spinning platter and, more importantly, faster than your gaming buddies. It will also make your general computer use a slicker, more instantaneous experience too.

And solid state drives are no longer just the preserve of the PC gaming elite – even the best SSDs are now more affordable than they’ve ever been. And faster too… way, way faster. The top of the tech tree is still dominated by Samsung SSDs, but Crucial, SanDisk, Intel, and HyperX have all still got something to add to the storage conversation too, whether it’s about capacity or price.

Our SSD benchmarking gauntlet is ruthless, and only the best gaming drives make it through the tests alive. We’ve beasted the top SATA and NVMe drives around to find the best SSDs around. It is, however, easy to spend more than you need to on the priciest of NAND Flash drives, but you don’t necessarily need to break open your piggy bank for seriously speedy storage anymore.

There are though so many different SSD technologies, interfaces, form factors, and protocols that picking the best solid state drive for your PC can be tricky. So we’ve selected the top drives around right now to help find the best SSD for you.

The best SSDs are:

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Best SSD for gaming Samsung 970 EVO

Winner: Best SSD for gaming

Samsung 970 EVO 500GB

Approx. $148 | £123

Vital stats

The next evolution of Samsung's NVMe drives sees more speed and greater endurance. The perfect package, right?

  • ControllerSamsung Phoenix
  • MemorySamsung 3-bit MLC
  • SocketM.2 (NVMe)
  • Capacity250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB

Pros
Tick Great performance
Tick Five year warranty
Tick Improved endurance

Cons
Cross A little hotter than the 960 EVO

The latest PCIe-based Samsung SSD, the 970 EVO, is the evolution of the Korean giant’s excellent 960 EVO drive, and improves on both the performance and endurance of the previous best SSD. It’s not vastly faster, but considering the old drive was one of the quickest around that’s still a pretty impressive feat.

Samsung is offering a full 5 year warranty on the EVO range, a testament to how strong it feels the latest batch of 3-bit MLC (TLC) memory is. Which is great news for us gamers, because this super-quick, surprisingly affordable NVMe SSD is great for gaming. And the really good news is that Samsung isn’t charging any more for this latest SSD, in fact it’s actually cheaper than you’ll find the ever-so-slightly cooler 960 EVO for at the moment.

Read our full Samsung 970 EVO review.

Best SSD for gaming runner up Intel SSD 600p

Runner-up: Best SSD for gaming

Intel SSD 600p 512GB

Approx. $156 | £104

Vital stats

Speed, affordable, and a great stepping stone between the slower SATA drives and the pricey big-boy NVMe SSDs.

  • ControllerSilicon Motion SM2260
  • MemoryIntel 3D TLC
  • SocketM.2 (NVMe)
  • Capacity128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB

Pros
Tick NVMe performance
Tick Affordable alternative to SATA
Tick Five year warranty

Cons
Cross Slow read/write speeds for PCIe

Intel’s SSD 600p is a rather un-Intel kind of drive. Where they usually aim to produce high-spec, high-price and high-performance parts the SSD 600p is taking aim at the more mainstream market. It’s kitted out with a cheaper controller and stacked TLC memory to make it one of the most affordable PCIe drives around today.

It may not be the fastest, but it’s got equivalently-priced SATA drives licked and with far greater technological longevity too. The Intel 600p is a great little entry-level NVMe SSD.

Read our full Intel SSD 600p 512GB review.

Best SSD for gaming runner-up Samsung 860 EVO

Runner-up: Best SSD for gaming

Samsung 860 EVO 500GB

Approx. $83 | £79

Vital stats

SATA drives might not have the pace of their NVMe cousins, but the 860 EVOs are quick and affordable.

  • ControllerSamsung MJX
  • MemorySamsung 3-bit MLC
  • SocketSATA (AHCI)
  • Capacity250GB, 500GB, 1, 2, & 4TB

Pros
Tick One of the fastest SATA drives
Tick Great endurance
Tick Five year warranty

Cons
Cross Not much faster than the 850 EVO

The latest Samsung SATA SSD shows the current thinking from the storage kingpin is that even if you can’t massively boost performance you can beef up the endurance and warranty levels thanks to mature NAND memory tech.

The 860 EVO’s 3-bit MLC is at the stage where Samsung can offer a full 5 year warranty on this SATA SSD. It’s also one of the fastest SATA drives on the market, but not much more so than the old 850 EVO. The only concern is Crucial’s latest drive…

Read our full Samsung 860 EVO review.

Best SSD for gaming runner-up Crucial MX500

Runner-up: Best SSD for gaming

Crucial MX500 500GB

Approx. $85 | £74

Vital stats

It's not all about Samsung in the SSD world, Crucial are big players and the MX500 is an excellent-value SSD.

  • ControllerSilicon Motion SM2258
  • MemoryMicron TLC
  • SocketSATA (AHCI)
  • Capacity250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB

Pros
Tick Competitive price
Tick Top read/write performance
Tick Good endurance

Cons
Cross Warranty falls short of competitors

Samsung might rule the roost at the top of the solid state tech tree, but Crucial is able to give it a bit of a headache at the more affordable SATA SSD level.

Because of its Micron parent company, Crucial is able to offer SSDs using its own high-quality memory for a great price. The MX500 seriously undercuts the competing 860 EVO, and is able to offer almost identical SSD performance – that’s not surprising given the speed limit imposed by the old SATA interface. The only reason the 860 EVO gets the nod is because of that improved endurance – the MX500 still only has a 3 year warranty to give you peace of mind.

Read our full Crucial MX500 review.

Best high-end SSD for gaming Samsung 970 Pro 1TB

Winner: Best high-end SSD

Samsung 970 Pro 1TB

Approx. $392 £351

Vital stats

The EVO might be the go-to SSD for most people, but if you need a serious drive then the Pro is where it's at.

  • ControllerSamsung Phoenix
  • MemorySamsung 2-bit MLC
  • SocketM.2 (NVMe)
  • Capacity512GB, 1TB

Pros
Tick Continuous speed under load
Tick Best-in-class read/write performance
Tick Impressive endurance

Cons
Cross Often little need for Pro performance

If the Samsung 970 EVO is able to post almost the same synthetic benchmarks as the 970 Pro why should you spend the extra cash? For most users there’s little need for a pro-level SSD, but if you want the absolute fastest solid state drive around then the 970 Pro is the one to go for.

The Pro and EVO both have identical 5 year warranties, although the Pro has an endurance rating of 1,200TB, while the 1TB EVO has 600TB and the 500GB version only 300TB. If you’re running a serious workhorse of a machine, one that’s churning through large amounts of data continuously, you’re going to want to opt for the locked-in reliability of the 970 Pro.

Best high-end SSD runner-up Intel Optane 905P

Runner-up: Best high-end SSD

Intel Optane SSD 905P 480GB

Approx. $552 | £618

Vital stats

That's a lot of money for a 480GB SSD, but its advanced 3D XPoint memory means it will last longer.

  • ControllerIntel proprietary
  • MemoryIntel/Micron 3D XPoint
  • SocketU.2 with M.2 adapter (NVMe)
  • Capacity480GB, 960GB, 1.5TB

Pros
Tick 3D XPoint memory
Tick Quickest random 4k read/write
Tick Unbeatable endurance

Cons
Cross Expensive

The Intel Optane SSD 905P features the latest iteration of the 3D XPoint memory, a new kind of NAND flash that delivers genuine high-end sequential performance. It’s not quite up at the same level as the Samsung NVMe SSDs, but that’s not the last word in SSD-land.

The Optane SSD’s 3D XPoint memory also delivers hands-down the quickest random 4k read/write performance we’ve ever seen in a consumer drive. But it’s the level of endurance the drive offers which is totally unprecedented. Where most drives’ lifespans are measured in terabytes the Optane SSD 905P is measured in petabytes, 8.76 of them. The 970 Pro, by contrast has an endurance rating of 1.2PB.

Read our full Intel Optane SSD 905P review.

Best high-end SSD runner-up - SanDisk Extreme Pro 480GB

Runner-up: Best high-end SSD

SanDisk Extreme Pro 480GB

Approx. $230

Vital stats

Sure, this is just a SATA drive, but if you need a drive that will just keep going and going, this is it.

  • ControllerMarvell 9187
  • MemorySanDisk MLC
  • SocketSATA (AHCI)
  • Capacity240GB, 480GB, 960GB

Pros
Tick Consistent
Tick Great performance
Tick High reliability

Cons
Cross A little long in the tooth

This might seem a little bit left-field as a ‘high-end’ recommendation, but despite its relative age the SanDisk Extreme Pro is one of the mightiest SATA-based SSDs you’ll find.

It’s got decent levels of general storage performance, sitting a little lower than Samsung’s 850 Pro, but it’s hands down the most consistent SATA drive around. Even when you’re seriously hammering the drive with as much data as you can it will still keep on trucking at the same speed, making it the best SATA drive for heavy workloads. And it’s not a bad price for such a reliable SSD either.

Best cheap SSD - Samsung 860 EVO

Winner: Best cheap SSD

Samsung 860 EVO 250GB

Approx. $58 | £54

Vital stats

The 250GB capacity is about as small as you want to go for a boot drive, but the 860 EVO is just about the best.

  • ControllerSamsung MJX
  • MemorySamsung 3-bit MLC
  • SocketSATA (AHCI)
  • Capacity250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB

Pros
Tick Fantastic price/performance
Tick Great 4k random read/write speeds
Tick Responsive

Cons
Cross Limited capacity

Because the entirety of its SSDs are made in-house – from memory to cache to software to controller – Samsung is able to be incredibly aggressive on price. And that in turn means its lower-capacity drives are among the cheapest, as well as the fastest, solid state drives around.

The 250GB EVO can’t quite match up to the speeds of its larger-capacity siblings, sitting below the 500MB/s mark for reads and below 400MB/s on the writes, but it still remains strong when it comes to the 4k random read/write performance of the drive. The 250GB mark is probably around as small as you want to get for a SSD designed to hold your OS and the games you’re playing the most right now.

Best cheap SSD runner-up - HyperX Savage 240GB

Runner-up: Best cheap SSD

HyperX Savage 240GB

Approx. $133 £110

Vital stats

A great-valuable SSD, that still manages to deliver some decent SATA-level performance too.

  • ControllerPhison S10
  • MemoryToshiba MLC
  • SocketSATA (AHCI)
  • Capacity240GB, 480GB, 960GB

Pros
Tick Great value
Tick Impressive sequential 4K performance
Tick Competitive price

Cons
Cross Controller over-zealous with provisioning

The HyperX Savage is a great-value drive at this end of the market too, with a just-over-$100 price tag delivering impressive performance in both sequential and 4k random testing.

Because of the over-provisioning of the Phison controller you are losing a little more storage space from the base spec 256GB NAND memory inside, but what’s 10GB between Samsung and Kingston SSD friends? A couple of indie classics on your Steam account probably.

Install an SSD

There has never been a better time to make the move to an SSD for your main rig. We’re getting to the stage where it no longer has to be a tiny drive that can only fit the barest of OS essentials either, genuinely capacious drives are available for decent money now.

Hell, you can even buy the fastest 500GB NVMe SSDs for less than $150 now, which is why Samsung is simply the undisputed kings of solid state storage. It’s been at the game long enough to know how to match a quality own-brand controller with its own-brand NAND flash memory, and make it for an affordable price. That’s why the 970 EVO is our SSD pick, and has been since launch.

But Micron also have something to say. Like Samsung it can mix its own memory with refined memory controllers, and ship complete drives for a great price. They don’t quite have the Samsung performance, but they’re not far off.

Intel is also making great strides with its 3DXPoint memory, though it delivers unprecedented 4k random performance, it is still mighty expensive… a potential future tech then. As is QLC memory, which could offer both value and capacity, and could spell the end for having an spinning platters in our PCs. But those drives are a little while off yet.