Switching to a solid-state drive is the better upgrade you can create for your personal computer. These wondrous devices obliterate long boot times, increase how fast your programs and games load, and generally makes your personal computer feel fast. However, not all solid-state drives are manufactured equal. The very best SSDs offer solid performance at affordable prices-or, if price is no object, face-meltingly fast read and write speeds.
Many SSDs can be found in a 2.5-inch form factor and talk to PCs via the same SATA ports employed by traditional hard disks. But from the bleeding-edge of NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) drives, you’ll find tiny “gumstick” SSDs that easily fit into M.2 connections on modern motherboards, SSDs that take a seat on a PCIe adapter and slot into your motherboard such as a graphics card or sound card, futuristic 3D Xpoint drives, and more. Picking an ideal SSD isn’t as simple since it used to be.
That’s where this guide will come in. We’ve tested numerous drives for the best SSDs for just about any use case. Let’s have a look at PCWorld’s top picks, and dive into what things to look for within an SSD. Quick note: This roundup only covers internal solid-state drives. Have a look at PCWorld’s guide to the very best external drives if you’re buying a lightweight storage solution.
Updated October 9 to include several new drives to your reviews section, crowned the SK Hynix Gold S31 as the very best budget SSD, the SK Hynix Gold P31 as the very best NVMe SSD, and the Samsung 980 Pro as your best option inside our newly created PCIe 4.0 SSD section.
Latest SSD news
Absolutely massive SSDs are suddenly exploding in popularity. In recent weeks, we’ve reviewed the 4TB OWC Aura P12, as the Sabrent Rocket Q and Samsung 870 QVO bump that up to 8 terabytes. Ludicrous. You pay up for all that space, however now you don’t have to sacrifice HDD-class convenience of scrumptious SSD speeds.
DirectStorage-the backbone of the Xbox Series X’s ultra-fast storage technology-is arriving at Windows in 2021, letting your GPU talk right to your NVMe SSD to accelerate storage performance. Here’s how Microsoft and Nvidia intend to kill game-loading times on PCs.
Best SSD for many people
Samsung’s mainstream EVO group of SSDs has sat atop our recommended list since 2014, and the existing Samsung 860 EVO continues to be a great option for folks who would like a rock-solid mixture of speed, price, compatibility, and the reliability of Samsung’s 5-year warrantee and exceptional Magician management software. But also for the 1st time in recent memory, the king has been knocked off its thrown, and by a newcomer that isn’t really new whatsoever.
Most persons will be better off purchasing the SK Hynix Gold S31. It’s not only among the most effective SATA SSDs we’ve ever tested, however the price is right too. At $44 for a 250GB drive, $57 for a 500GB drive, or $105 for 1TB, the Gold S31 costs significantly less than Samsung’s line, which charges $75 for a 500GB model. “When all was said and done in those real-world 48GB copies, the Gold S31 proved the speediest drive we’ve ever tested for sustained read and write operations,” our review proclaimed. Enough said.
Well, maybe not. Let’s talk somewhat about the brand itself, since SK Hynix isn’t specifically a household name. Even though, it’s among the greatest semiconductor manufacturers on earth. The business has been developing NAND and controller technology because the get-go, even though it’s been the SSD manufacturer for numerous large computer vendors, it generally hasn’t taken a location for itself on the shelves. Now it has, and the email address details are sterling.
If you want larger capacities, though, still turn to the Samsung 860 EVO, which comes in 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB models aswell, albeit at steeper premiums. The Samsung 870 QVO is another strong contender, with capacities which range from 1TB completely to an impressive 8TB, but we’ll discuss that within the next section.
Best budget SSD
The very best budget SSD can be the best SSD for many people, as the SK Hynix Gold S31 discussed previously gives fantastic performance at extremely affordable prices. In the event that you aren’t enthusiastic about that drive for reasons uknown, though, you have significantly more options.
Given that traditional multi-level cell (MLC) and triple-level cell (TLC) solid-state drives are plummeting in cost, manufacturers have rolled out new-look quad-level cell (QLC) drives that push SSD prices even lower. The brand new technology lets drive makers stuff SSDs with hard drive-like degrees of capacity while simultaneously coming near the juicy SSD speeds of course you like so much-most of that time period. The first round of QLC drives, like the still-superb Samsung 860 QVO, saw its write speeds plunge to hard drive-like levels when you transfer a large number of gigabytes of data at once.
The Addlink S22 QLC SSD doesn’t have problems with the same fate. While traditional TLC SSDs (just like the types mentioned inside our “best SSDs for many people” section) still maintain a speed edge versus QLC drives, the Addlink S22 is no slouch, and it’s dirt-cheap for an SSD, at only $59 for 512GB or $99 for 1TB. Ludicrous-though it’s worth noting that SK Hynix’s Gold S31 now applies to a comparable low rate.
If you don’t anticipate moving around massive levels of data simultaneously and need more space, the Samsung 870 QVO-Samsung’s second-generation QLC offering-is an excellent option. It’s actually a wee bit faster than Addlink’s SSD. But it’s also more costly, at $110 for 1TB, $205 for 2TB, $450 for 4TB, or $900 for 8TB (oof) on Amazon. Lower capacities aren’t offered. The older Samsung 860 QVO remains an excellent option too, however the newer 870 QVO bests it atlanta divorce attorneys way.
But imagine if you’ve got a more recent motherboard that supports the faster, newfangled NVMe M.2 drives? Continue reading!
Best NVMe SSD
If performance is paramount, the Samsung 970 Pro or Seagate FireCuda 510 will be the most effective NVMe SSDs you can buy-but most of the people can purchase the SK Hynix Gold P31. Yes, SK Hynix is on a roll, dominating our budget, NVMe, and best overall SSD categories.
The Gold P31 may be the first NVMe SSD to feature 128-bit TLC NAND, and it pushes SK Hynix’s drive beyond other options, designed to use 96 NAND layers. The model we tested absolutely aced our CrystalDiskMark 6 and AS SSD synthetic benchmarks, practically hitting the blistering 3.5GBps read and write speeds claimed in the news release. It also held its against SSDs that cost a lot more inside our real-world 48GB and 450GB file transfer tests. “The SK Hynix Gold P31 performs such as a top-tier drive, but it’s priced just slightly greater than bargain drives,” we stated, and well, that says everything. You may get a 500GB model for $75 or a 1TB model for $135 on Amazon.
THE KEY P5 is another great, affordable NVMe SSD that performs on par with much costlier options, and may likely be our top pick if the SK Hynix Gold P31 didn’t exist. The Gold P31 is both slightly faster and slightly cheaper, however, so choose that first. Crucial’s drive is a killer alternative though.
You will discover compelling options for slightly less overall if you’re on a budget, though. The Western Digital Blue SN550 NVMe SSD isn’t the flashiest NVMe drive, neither is it quite as fast as the alternatives mentioned previously. Nonetheless it costs far, much less. Despite its entry-level price-$45 for 250GB, $65 for 500GB, or $130 for 1TB-the WD Blue SN550 runs circles around other bargain NVMe drives and falls within spitting distance of the performance of these higher-priced enthusiast options. It’s from a known, established brand with an excellent background for reliability, too, and includes a longer-than-average five year guarantee.
If you want simply a wee little more performance, the Addlink S70 NVMe SSD is another stellar option, earning our Editors’ Choice award. We slightly prefer its performance to the WD drive’s, but Addlink’s SSDs now cost a lot more than its rival’s after acquiring price increases, and the WD Blue SN550’s performance is plenty of for everyday computer users. Addlink isn’t as well-known as WD, but offers a 5-year warrantee on its drive.
The PNY XLR8 CS 3030 is another great option, offering fast performance at an excellent price. It gets bogged down during especially long writes, however, though it ought to be excellent for everyday use.
In the event that you don’t mind spending up for faster, Samsung 970 Pro-level performance, the Adata XPG SX8200 Pro and Kingston KC2500 also run with the big dogs, but at less expensive prices. “Although it didn’t reach the most notable step of the podium in virtually any one test, the KC2500 was always within easy hailing distance of the first choice,” we said inside our overview of the Kingston drive. “It’s offered by a comparable price as your competition and should be near the top of your short list when you’re searching for a high-performance NVMe SSD.”
And today, you can finally get blistering NVMe speeds without sacrificing capacity because of a new variety of supersized SSDs, though you’ll pay up for the privilege. The OWC Aura 12 gives average NVMe performance (read: faster than most) paired with a huge 4TB of performance for $929. The exceptional Sabrent Rocket Q amps everything up with top-notch performance and a crazy 8TB capacity, but it’ll cost you a cool $1,500. The bleeding-edge isn’t cheap.
Best PCIe 4.0 SSD
Most NVMe SSDs utilize the standard PCIe 3.0 interface, but even more quickly PCIe 4.0 drives exist now-at least on systems that support the bleeding-edge technology. Currently, only AMD’s Ryzen 3000 processors support PCIe 4.0, and even then only once they’re inserted in a X570 or B550 motherboard. If you meet that criteria, though, PCIe 4.0 SSDs leave even the most effective PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSDs in the dust.
Corsair, Gigabyte, and Sabrent rolled out the first PCIe 4.0 SSDs available, with all offering similar performance from 1TB models at around $200. Well known PCIe 4.0 drive costs slightly more, though.
We’ve only recently added a PCIe 4.0 test bench to your setup, however the champion thus far may be the Samsung 980 Pro. The drive exceeded Samsung’s claimed 7GBps read and 5GBps write speeds inside our testing. To operate a vehicle home precisely how ludicrous that’s, the SK Hynix Gold P31-our favorite standard NVMe drive-wowed us with write speeds half as fast. Samsung’s drive also blazed through our real-world file transfer tests, though it could occasionally slow down somewhat if you throw an enormous amount of data at it, as we learned inside our 450GB transfer test. Most persons won’t stress their SSD this hard, though.
All that performance comes at reduced, though. You’ll pay $90 for 250GB, $150 for 500GB, or $230 for 1TB of capacity.
“The Samsung 980 Pro is a wonderful NVMe SSD-the most effective we’ve ever tested using the PCIe 4.0 bus,” we said. “If you’re lucky or smart enough to possess a late-gen Ryzen system, it’s the main one you want.” Avoid this drive if you lack PCIe 4.0 capabilities, though. “With PCIe 3.0, you’re unlikely to note the difference between your 980 Pro and drives costing half as much, which there are now a number of.”
Fastest 3D Xpoint SSD
If performance is paramount and price is no object, nevertheless, you don’t have something with PCIe 4.0 capabilities, Intel’s Optane SSD 905P is the greatest SSD you can purchase, full stop-though the 8TB Sabrent Rocket Q NVMe SSD discussed above is a solid contender if you want big capacities and big-time performance.
Intel’s Optane drive doesn’t use traditional NAND technology like other SSDs; instead, it’s built around the futuristic 3D Xpoint technology produced by Micron and Intel. Hit that link if you need a tech deep-dive, however in practical terms, the Optane SSD 900P absolutely plows through our storage benchmarks and posesses ridiculous 8,750TBW (terabytes written) rating, when compared to roughly 200TBW proposed by many NAND SSDs. If that is true, this blazing-fast drive is actually immortal-and it looks damned good, too.
But you purchase the privilege of bleeding edge performance. Intel’s Optane SSD 905P costs $600 for a 480GB version and $1,250 for a 1.5TB model, with several additional possibilities in both U.2 and PCI-E add-in-card form factors. That’s substantially more costly than even NVMe SSDs-and like those, the benefits associated with Intel’s SSD will be most clear to persons who move huge amounts of data around regularly. And the Optane SSD 900P actually uses the NVMe protocol to talk to your personal computer, so you’ll have to meet some additional standards in order to boot from it-which we’ll cover more comprehensive within the next section.