Best SSD for gaming in 2022

If you're building a new gaming PC you'll want to equip it with the best SSD for gaming, so here are our top picks from Crucial, Sabrent, Samsung, and WD

Best SSD for gaming: The WD Black SN850 solid state drive rests in a motherboard's M.2 slot

Finding the best SSD for gaming can come with a degree of confusion, given how quickly solid state drives have evolved over the past several years. The familiar 2.5-inch SATA drive is still a viable option in today’s gaming PC market, but you’ll want to opt for newer, faster NVMe storage solutions for the best possible performance.

Following the release of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles, more PC games developers recommend you install their games on the best SSD for gaming. In fact, as Microsoft’s DirectStorage API becomes more widely used in the best PC games, we may see solid state drives become an outright requirement.

However, before you rush to add the best SSD for gaming on this list to your shopping basket, it’s important to understand what your system supports in terms of slots and technology. Make sure to check what your motherboard is capable of before splashing out on an expensive PCIe 4.0 drive that your rig may not be able to make the most out of.

Here are your options for the best SSD for gaming:

  • WD Black SN850
  • Samsung 970 EVO Plus
  • Samsung 870 EVO
  • Crucial P5 Plus
  • WD Blue SN550
  • Crucial MX500
  • XPG SPECTRIX S40G
  • SK Hynix Gold P31
  • SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD
The best SSD for gaming is the WD Black SN850Check Prices

WD Black SN850

The best SSD for gaming is the WD Black SN850.

The WD Black SN850 is the fastest SSD you can buy, making full use of its PCIe 4.0 interface with lightning-fast read and write speeds of 7,000MB/s and 5,300MB/s, respectively. This level of performance not only improves loading times in games, but you should notice your gaming PC boots faster and more quickly handles general tasks.

If you’re worried about potential thermal throttling impacting the WD Black SN850, you can pick it up with an optional heatsink for peace of mind. Better still, the heatsink comes with a splash of RGB too so it can look cool while staying cool.

What we like
Tick The fastest PCIe 4.0 gaming SSD
Tick Optional RGB heatsink

WD Black SN850 specs
Capacity 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
Controller WD G2
Flash memory TLC
Interface PCIe 4.0 x4
Sequential read 7,000MB/s
Sequential write 5,300MB/s
Form factor M.2 Type-2280
The best PCIe 3.0 SSD is the Samsung 970 EVO PlusCheck Prices

Samsung 970 EVO Plus

The best PCIe 3.0 SSD is the Samsung 970 EVO Plus.

The Samsung 970 EVO Plus is the perfect fit for anyone looking to upgrade their ageing SATA hard drives or SSDs with something a bit nippier. The South Korean tech giant’s storage components have remained among the most desireable in the market for years now, and it’s not hard to see why with the 970 EVO Plus.

Using a PCIe 3.0 interface, the Samsung 970 EVO Plus delivers sequential read and write speeds that will transform any sluggish gaming PC into a nippy machine. The SSD can be further enhanced through the use of Samsung Magician software, making it easy to get the most out of your new drive.

What we like
Tick Fast PCIe 3.0 speeds
Tick Robust Samsung Magician software

Samsung 970 EVO Plus specs
Capacity 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
Controller Samsung Phoenix
Flash memory TLC
Interface PCIe 3.0 x4
Sequential read 3,500MB/s
Sequential write 3,300MB/s
Form factor M.2 Type-2280

Read the PCGamesN Samsung 970 EVO Plus review for our full verdict and score.

The best SATA SSD is the Samsung 870 EVOCheck Prices

Samsung 870 EVO

The best SATA SSD is the Samsung 870 EVO.

NVMe SSDs will undoubtedly replace their SATA bretheren, but there’s still plenty of value to be had in drives that use the ageing interface like the Samsung 870 EVO. While its sequential read and write speeds may seem paltry in the face of PCIe storage, it’s still plenty fast for most games and is undeniably faster than any hard drive.

If you prioritise capacity over speed, then opting for the Samsung 870 EVO could be a smart play. You can pick it up in sizes that go all the way up to 4TB, meaning you won’t have to worry about rehoming your Steam library and it costs much less than any M.2 SSD with the same amount of space.

Tick Still plenty fast for PC games
Tick High capacity options

Samsung 870 Evo specs
Capacity 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB
Controller Samsung MKX
Flash memory TLC
Interface SATA
Sequential read 560MB/s
Sequential write 530MB/s
Form factor 2.5-inch
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cRUCIAL p5 pLUS

The best cheap PCIe 4.0 SSD is the Crucial P5 Plus.

PCIe 4.0 SSDs don’t have to cost a fortune, and Crucial’s P5 Plus proves you can pick up a drive with respectable performance without having to stretch your budget.

Not only does the Crucial P5 Plus boast read speeds up to 6,600MB/s but its two million hour mean time to failure (MTTF) rating means it’s reliable to boot. Of course, it also comes with a five-year warranty, just in case its impressive endurance rating isn’t enough to incite confidence.

What we like
Tick Super snappy read/write speeds
Tick Great endurance rating
Tick Five-year warranty

Crucial P5 Plus specs
Capacity 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
Controller Crucial
Flash memory TLC
Interface PCIe 4.0 x4
Sequential read 6,600MB/s
Sequential write 5,000MB/s
Form factor M.2 Type-2280
Check Prices

WD Blue SN550

The best cheap PCIe 3.0 SSD is the WD Blue SN550

WD is here to show that you can, in fact, have it all, as the Blue SN550 NVMe SSD boasts up to 2TB of storage, a solid 600TBW endurance, and respectable read and write speeds for one the lowest prices you’ll find. Of course, it’s not the fastest drive out there, but it’s hands down the best you can get under $100 without sacrificing capacity, speed, or both. That makes it the perfect option for the best cheap gaming PC build.

Through clever engineering, it runs cooler than most at 59°C because the SanDisk 96L TLC NAND flash package has been moved further away from the controller, giving room for each component to flex their muscles without breaking a sweat.

What we like
Tick Full x4 PCIe 3 interface
Tick Stunning price/performance
Tick 600TBW endurance

WD Blue SN550 specs
Capacity 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
Controller WD
Flash memory TLC
Interface PCIe 3.0 x4
Sequential read 2,400MB/s
Sequential write 1,950MB/s
Form factor M.2 Type-2280

Read the PCGamesN WD Blue SN550 review for our full verdict and score.

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Crucial MX500

The best cheap SATA SSD is the Crucial MX500

The MX500 should be your go-to if you’re wanting the cheapest SSD possible, without compromising too much on quality. 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 its competition and while it’s not strictly the cheapest SSD on the market, it’s the most budget-friendly we can recommend as a worthwhile, quality purchase.

What we like
Tick Competitive price
Tick Top read/write performance for SATA
Tick Good endurance

Crucial MX500 specs
Capacity 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB
Controller Silicon Motion SM2258
Flash memory TLC
Interface SATA
Sequential read 560MB/s
Sequential write 510MB/s
Form factor 2.5-inch

Read the PCGamesN Crucial MX500 review for our full verdict and score.

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XPG SPECTRIX S40G

The best RGB SSD is the XPG Spectrix S40G.

SSDs usually aren’t the flashiest of components, often taking a back seat to RGB-clad items like graphics cards, the best CPU coolers, and the best gaming RAM. If you don’t want want to hide your M.2 drive under a shroud, however, the XPG SPECTRIX S40G is the latest PC component to be RGB’d, with its strikingly bright and customisable heatsink.

Underneath the albeit pointless bling, you’re still getting superb speeds that mirror our top pick, AES-256-bit encryption to keep your data secure, and a five-year warranty, all at a competitive price.

What we like
Tick Best looking SSD with RGB
Tick Five-year warranty
Tick 640TBW endurance

XPG SPECTRIX S40G specs
Capacity 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB
Controller Realtek RTS5762
Flash memory TLC
Interface PCIe 3.0 x4
Sequential read 3,500MB/s
Sequential write 3,000MB/s
Form factor M.2 Type-2280
Check Prices

SK Hynix Gold P31

The best M.2 SSD for laptops is the SK Hynix Gold P31.

Even the best gaming laptops benefit from more storage, and SK Hynix’s Gold P31 SSD is perfect for increasing your on-the-go storage without compromising on spec. Featuring an in-house Cephius controller and Hyper-write technology, this drive is capable of read speeds up to 3,500MB/s, meaning it’ll run rings around SATA SSDs and other budget NVMe options.

In spite of its impressive speeds, the Gold P31 features a 172.2Mbps-per-watt power efficiency rating, something that helps maintain peak performance within a toasty laptop environment. Naturally, this also means it’ll be kinder to your portable powerhouse’s battery, which could help you spend less time gaming next to a power outlet.

What we like
Tick Compact form factor
Tick Five-year warranty
Tick Extraordinary 1,200TBW rating

SK Hynix Gold P31 specs
Capacity 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
Controller SK Hynix Cepheus
Flash memory TLC
Interface PCIe 3.0 x4
Sequential read 3,500MB/s
Sequential write 3,200MB/s
Form factor M.2 Type-2280
The best external SSD is the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSDCheck Prices

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD

The best external SSD is the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD.

The other SSDs on this list will live inside the your rig, but if you’re wise, you’ll also keep backup external storage on standby. SanDisk’s Extreme Portable SSD boasts an IP55 water and dust resistance rating, making it a hardy home for your PC gaming collection and precious files.

It’s worth noting that the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD uses USB 3.2 gen, which allows it to offer read and write speeds faster than SATA. However, don’t worry if you don’t have a built-in USB-C port in your machine as it comes with a USB-A adapter.

What we like
Tick Robust casing
Tick Faster than SATA
Tick Compact design

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD V2 specs
Capacity 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB
Interface USB 3.2 Gen 2
Sequential read 1,050MB/s
Sequential write 1,000MB/s
Form factor Portable

Samsung SSD installed on motherboard

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING AN SSD?

Solid state drives are inherently faster than traditional mechanical drives, mostly due to the fact they feature no moving parts. So, by replacing your old hard drive with even the cheapest SSD, you can expect fast boot times, speedy file transfer rates, and even enhanced gaming performance. That said, installing a shiny new storage drive won’t magically make your gaming PC faster, especially if you’re still rocking old components.

SATA VS NVME SSDS

SATA drives have been around for a while longer, and while they offer lower read and write speeds than you’ll find on an NVMe-based drive, the price per GB is much lower. This makes them the perfect choice if you want a high-capacity solid-state drive for storing your Steam library, or if you’re going for a budget PC build. Plus, the speeds are still significantly better than a conventional hard drive

NVMe drives are getting more and more affordable, however, with even the fastest 500GB NVMe SSDs available for less than $150.

Are PCIe 4.0 SSDs worth it over PCIe 3.0?

PCIe 3.0 SSDs are still pretty serviceable today, but newer 4.0 options double the standard’s speeds. Featuring lightning-fast data transfer speeds, PCIe 4.0 storage options pair well with new game releases that rely on speed load times. In other words, if you’re looking to future-proof your rig, PCIe 4.0 is the way to go.

WD Black Add-in card SSD on blue backdrop

What is an add-in card SSD?

Add-in card SSDs look a little bit like graphics cards, and they connect to your PC’s via PCIe. While they use the same standard as M.2, PCIe options boast compatibility over M.2, as you won’t need a motherboard with a newer socket type to upgrade from SATA.

Can you put a PCIe 4.0 SSD in a 3.0 slot?

PCIe 4.0 is both backwards compatible and forwards compatible, meaning you can use a PCIe 3.0 drive with the newer format and vice versa. It’s worth noting in both instances, your performance will be constricted by the 3.0 standard’s limitations.

WHICH CAPACITY SHOULD I GO FOR?

Not all of the best PC games benefit from being installed on a solid-state drive, so you don’t necessarily need a drive as big as your hard drive. If you just want an SSD to install Windows onto, then a 512GB capacity is sufficient. 1TB is enough for installing a few games that benefit, too, although you can go even higher.

How to find the best SSD deals

SSD can cost a pretty penny, there are plenty of discounts to be had throughout the year. Naturally, older SATA options will cost a lot less than their M.2 counterparts, but that doesn’t mean you can’t grab a bargain on blisteringly fast storage.

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