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Best SSD for gaming: the top gaming SSD in 2020

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 will not only improve your gaming experience, but also your entire desktop user experience. Installing a good gaming SSD alongside one of the best gaming CPUs and best graphics cards turns everyday tasks into a responsive and snappy pleasure, especially when you install Windows onto one. And if you’ve set them to be installed on your SSD, your CS:GO and Valorant maps should have significantly improved load times over a slow SSD or HDD.

And solid-state drives are no longer just the preserve of the PC gaming elite – even the best M.2 SSDs are now more affordable than they’ve ever been.  And faster, too. The SSD vs. HDD war is pretty much over, at this point: NVMe SSDs are now so affordable that HDDs have become all but redundant. The top of the tech tree is still dominated by Samsung SSDs, but Crucial and Intel have all still got something to add to the storage conversation too, whether it’s about capacity or price. And for price to performance, a lesser-known Addlink SSD comes in strong.

Our PC SSD benchmarking gauntlet is ruthless, and only the best gaming drives make it through the tests alive. We’ve tested the top SATA and NVMe drives around to find the best SSDs available. It can be easy to spend a phat wad of cash on NAND Flash drives, but you don’t necessarily need to break open your piggy bank for seriously speedy storage anymore.

Here are the best SSDs for gaming:

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Addlink S70 1TB

The best SSD for gaming is the Addlink S70 1TB.

For the same price as the 500GB Samsung 970 EVO Plus – our previous pick as the best SSD – you can get a drive that’s twice the size, with a 5 year warranty, and performs as near as makes no difference. You might question us recommending an M.2 SSD from a company you’ve probably never heard of, but the provenance of the SSD parts can’t be questioned.

These aren’t some bargain basement bits Addlink has picked for its S70 drive, we’re talking some of the latest 64-layer 3D TLC NAND from Toshiba, SK Hynix cache, and the excellent Phison PS5012-E12 memory controller looking after it all. Somehow Addlink has undercut the competition and us PC gamers are the winners.

What we like
Tick Half the price of the competition
Tick Excellent components
Tick Super quick

Addlink S70 1TB specs
Controller Phison PS5012-E12
Memory Toshiba 64-layer 30 TLC
Socket M.2 (NVMe)
Capacity 256GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
Seq. read/write 3,400MBps/3,000MBps
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$149.99
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Read the PCGamesN Addlink S70 1TB SSD review for our full verdict and score.

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Samsung 970 Pro 1TB

The best NVMe SSD is the Samsung 970 Pro 1TB.

At least one Samsung SSD was always going to make it onto this list. The question is: if the Samsung 970 EVO is able to post almost the same 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. It’s got slightly lower maximum sequential read/write speeds than the 970 EVO, but the 970 Pro will outlast its technically snappier sibling.

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.

What we like
Tick Continuous speed under load
Tick Best-in-class read/write performance
Tick Impressive endurance

Samsung 970 Pro 1TB specs
Controller Samsung Phoenix
Memory Samsung 2-bit MLC
Socket M.2 (NVMe)
Capacity 512GB, 1TB
Seq. read/write 3,500MBps/2,700MBps
Product Image 1
$399.99
$286.30
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Addlink S70 512GB

The best budget SSD is the Addlink S70 512GB.

Addlink has come out of nowhere to dominate our best SSD for gaming list, and now we’ve had a chance to test out the freakishly affordable 512GB version of the S70 it has to go down as the best cheap SSD too.

It uses the same Toshiba 3D TLC NAND and Phison PS5012-E12 memory controller as the 1TB version, but the version we’ve got is sporting Nanya DRAM cache as opposed to the SK Hynix memory the 1TB drive uses. It’s also on a slightly different PCB, but it still comes with excellent performance, and thanks to its full x4 PCIe connection it easily beats the competition.

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

Addlink S70 512GB specs
Controller Phison PS5012-E12
Memory Toshiba 64-layer 3D TLC
Socket M.2 (NVMe)
Capacity 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
Seq. read/write 3,400MBps/2,000MBps
Product Image 1
$76.99
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Crucial MX500 500GB

The cheapest SSD is the Crucial MX500 500GB.

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

The MX500 is a fair amount cheaper than our pick for the best budget SSD, and should be your go-to if you’re wanting the cheapest quality SSD possible. 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. It’s not strictly the cheapest SSD, but it’s the cheapest one that 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 500GB specs
Controller SiliconMotion SM2258
Memory Micron 64-layer 3D TLC
Socket SATA (AHCI)
Capacity 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
Seq. read/write 560MBps/510MBps
Product Image 1
$69.95
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Read the PCGamesN Crucial MX500 review for our full verdict and score.

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Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB

The best 500GB SSD is the Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB.

Here’s another Samsung SSD for you. The new Samsung 970 EVO Plus isn’t a new generation of SSD, but it is the drive which likely marks the last PCIe 3.0 version before we all move onto the higher-spec PCIe 4.0 drives introduced with AMD’s 3rd Gen Ryzen in the summer. Thanks to the drastic drop in memory pricing – a trend which looks set to continue – the new 970 EVO Plus has launched at almost half the price of the 970 EVO when it arrived less than a year ago.

So you have an SSD which is generally faster, especially in the write performance enabled by that enhanced Phoenix controller, and one that is at least the same price as the drive that it is replacing. That’s how you do iterative hardware updates, people.

What we like
Tick Same price as 970 EVO
Tick Higher performance
Tick Improved endurance

Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB specs
Controller Samsung Phoenix
Memory Samsung 3-bit MLC
Socket M.2 (NVMe)
Capacity 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
Seq. read/write 3,500MBps/3,300MBps
Product Image 1
$129.99
$101.09
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Read the PCGamesN Samsung 970 EVO Plus review for our full verdict and score.

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Samsung 860 EVO 500GB

The best SATA SSD is the Samsung 860 EVO 500GB.

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. And while SATA SSDs don’t hold up against an M.2 SSD using NVMe technology, they’re a heck of a lot cheaper.

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. And while Crucial’s MX500 is cheaper, the 860 EVO has almost double the endurance.

What we like
Tick One of the fastest SATA drives
Tick Fantastic endurance
Tick Five year warranty

Samsung 860 EVO 500GB specs
Controller Samsung MJX
Memory Samsung 3-bit MLC
Socket SATA (AHCI)
Capacity 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB
Seq. read/write 550MBps/520MBps
Product Image 1
$109.99
$64.76
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Read the PCGamesN Samsung 860 EVO review for our full verdict and score.

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Intel Optane SSD 905P 480GB

The fastest SSD is the Intel Optane SSD 905P 480GB.

The Intel Optane SSD 905P really is too expensive nowadays to make this venerable list. But we wanted to give it an honourable mention for at least trying something different – and delivering serious performance. This drive 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 M.2 SSDs when it comes to sequential read/write speed, but that’s not the last word in SSD land. The Optane SSD’s 3D XPoint memory delivers the quickest random 4k read/write performance we’ve ever seen in a consumer drive, and on top of this, the level of endurance the drive offers 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.

What we like
Tick 3D XPoint memory
Tick Quickest random 4k read/write
Tick Unbeatable endurance

Intel Optane SSD 905P 480GB specs
Controller Intel proprietary
Memory Intel/Micron 3D XPoint
Socket U.2 with M.2 adapter (NVMe)
Capacity 480GB, 960GB, 1.5TB
Seq. read/write 2,600MBps/2,200MBps
Product Image 1
$580.99
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Read the PCGamesN Intel Optane SSD 905P review for our full verdict and score.

Are PCIe 4.0 SSDs important for gaming?

Here’s our take on whether next-gen PCIe 4.0 game load times are important for gaming. PCGamesN also has a full article discussing whether PCIe 4.0 SSDs are better for gaming.

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SSD buying guide

There’s 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 – pretty massive drives are available for affordable prices now. Hell, you can even buy the fastest 500GB NVMe SSDs for less than $150.

Samsung has been the undisputed king of solid-state storage for a long time – 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 comes close to being our SSD pick ever since it launched.

But Addlink, a little-known brand when compared to Samsung, has seemingly come out of nowhere to steal the throne. With both its 1TB and 512GB versions of the S70, you’re getting quality components almost capable of keeping up with the speedy Samsung drives, all for a stupidly small cost.

Micron also has 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.

In ‘weird and wonderful’ land, Intel is also making great strides with its 3D XPoint memory. But although it delivers unprecedented 4k random performance, it is still mighty expensive… a potential ‘future tech’ then. As is QLC memory, which offers both value and capacity, and could spell the end for spinning platters in our PCs once the tech matures.

SSD price list

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$149.99
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Product Image 2
$399.99
$286.30
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Product Image 3
$76.99
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Product Image 4
$69.95
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Product Image 5
$129.99
$101.09
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Product Image 6
$109.99
$64.76
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Product Image 7
$580.99
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