The search for the best SSD for gaming to replace your hard drive comes 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 latest 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:
- Best SSD for gaming – WD Black SN850X
- Best PCIe 3.0 SSD – Samsung 980
- Best SATA SSD – Samsung 870 EVO
- Best cheap PCIe 4.0 SSD – Crucial P5 Plus
- Best cheap PCIe 3.0 SSD – WD Blue SN570
- Best cheap SATA SSD – Crucial MX500
- Best RGB SSD – Gigabyte Aorus RGB M.2 NVMe SSD
- Best M.2 SSD for laptops – SK Hynix Platnium P41
- Best external SSD – SanDisk Extreme Portable
Best SSD for gaming
The best SSD for gaming is the WD Black SN850X.
Expect to pay $159.99-$699.99 USD / £153.99-£701.99 GBP.
The WD Black SN850X is the fastest SSD you can buy, making full use of its PCIe 4.0 interface with lightning-fast sequential read and write speeds of 7,300MB/s and 6,600MB/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. You’ll always get the most out of the drive while playing games too, thanks to its Game Mode 2.0 toggle in the included software.
If you’re worried about potential thermal throttling impacting the WD Black SN850X, 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.
- The fastest PCIe 4.0 gaming SSD
- Optional RGB heatsink
- Software ensures maxmimum performance with Game Mode 2.0
- Great performance comes at a great cost
- Can run a touch hot without a heatsink
Best PCIe 3.0 SSD
The best PCIe 3.0 SSD is the Samsung 980.
Expect to pay $52.99-$139.99 USD / £44.99-£93.99 GBP.
The Samsung 980 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.
Using a PCIe 3.0 interface, the Samsung 980 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.
- Fast PCIe 3.0 speeds
- Robust Samsung Magician software
- Outperformed by PCIe 4.0 drives
- No DRAM
Best SATA SSD
The best SATA SSD is the Samsung 870 EVO.
Expect to pay $59.99-$499.99 USD / £37.99-£428.99 GBP.
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.
- Still plenty fast for PC games
- High capacity options
- Slightly lofty price tag
- Much slower compared to NVMe drives
Best cheap PCIe 4.0 SSD
The best cheap PCIe 4.0 SSD is the Crucial P5 Plus.
Expect to pay $84.99-$249.99 USD / £87.99-£257.99 GBP.
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.
- Super snappy read/write speeds
- Great endurance rating
- Five-year warranty
- Not the fastest drive in its class
- Could be more power efficient
Best cheap PCIe 3.0 SSD
The best cheap PCIe 3.0 SSD is the WD Blue SN570.
Expect to pay $53.99-$239.99 USD / £37.99-£170.99 GBP.
WD is here to show that you can, in fact, have it all, as the Blue SN570 NVMe SSD boasts up to 2TB of storage, a solid 900TBW 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 gaming PC on a budget.
- Full x4 PCIe 3 interface
- Stunning price to performance value
- 900TBW endurance
- No DRAM
- Plain looking
|WD Blue SN570 specs|
|Capacity||250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB|
|Interface||PCIe 3.0 x4|
|Sequential read||Up to 3,500MB/s|
|Sequential write||Up to 3,500MB/s|
|Form factor||M.2 Type-2280|
Best cheap SATA SSD
The best cheap SATA SSD is the Crucial MX500.
Expect to pay $49.99-$349.99 USD / £89.99 -£578.99 GBP.
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.
- Competitive price
- Top read/write performance for SATA
- Good endurance
- Lower capacities are slower
|Crucial MX500 specs|
|Capacity||250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB|
|Sequential read||Up to 560MB/s|
|Sequential write||Up to 510MB/s|
Read the PCGamesN Crucial MX500 review for our full verdict and score.
Best RGB SSD
The best RGB SSD is the Gigabyte Aorus RGB M.2 NVMe SSD.
If you don’t want to hide your M.2 drive under a shroud, however, the Gigabyte Aorus RGB M.2 NVMe SSD is the latest PC component to be RGB’d, with its strikingly bright and customisable heatsink.
- Best looking SSD with RGB
- Five-year warranty
- Not as fast as it is pretty
- Tops out at 512GB
Best M.2 SSD for laptops
The best M.2 SSD for laptops is the SK Hynix Platinum P41.
Even the best gaming laptop benefits from more storage, and the SK Hynix Platinum P41 SSD is perfect for increasing your on-the-go storage without compromising on spec. Featuring an in-house Aries controller, this drive is capable of read speeds up to 7,000MB/s, meaning it’ll run rings around SATA SSDs and many NVMe options.
In spite of its impressive speeds, the Platnium P41 features an equally impressive 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.
- Compact form factor
- Five-year warranty
- Extraordinary 1,200TBW rating
- No heatsink
Best external SSD for gaming
The best external SSD for gaming 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.
- Robust casing
- Faster than SATA
- Compact design
- Cable is pretty short
|SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD V2 specs|
|Capacity||500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB|
|Interface||USB 3.2 Gen 2|