Best SSD for gaming 2018 | PCGamesN

Best SSD for gaming 2018

Best SSD for gaming

What is the best SSD for gaming? We’ve tested the best solid state drives around today, from the top SATA to the best NVMe SSDs, to help you find the one that’s right for you.

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.

Picking the best gaming motherboard will give you the best performance from your solid state drive.

Our SSD benchmarking gauntlet is ruthless, and only the best gaming drives make it through the tests alive. And it's easy to spend more than you need to on the very best NAND Flash drive around, but you don't necessarily need to break open your piggy bank for seriously speedy storage. 

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:

 

Check out the best SSDs deals at Amazon US and Amazon UK.

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Best SSD for gaming - Samsung 970 EVO

Samsung 970 EVO 500GB

Winner: Best SSD for gaming

Controller: Samsung Phoenix | Memory: Samsung 3-bit MLC | Socket: M.2 (NVMe)

Approx. $196 / £170

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.

But the fact Samsung is offering a full 5 year warranty on the EVO range is testament to how strong it feels the latest batch of 3-bit MLC (TLC) memory is. Traditionally it's been seen as the poor relation, offering slower throughput and shorter lifespans, but Samsung is backing the endurance of its second-tier NAND storage.

Which is great news for us gamers, because this super-quick, surprisingly affordable NVMe SSD is great for gaming. It does get a little hotter than its progenitor, but not really enough to worry us. 

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 960 EVO for at the moment.

Read our full Samsung 970 EVO review.

 

Best SSD for gaming runner-up - Intel SSD 600p

Intel SSD 600p 512GB

Runner-up: Best SSD for gaming

Controller: Silicon Motion SM2260 | Memory: Intel 3D TLC | Socket: M.2 PCIe

Approx. $249 / £200

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. A great little entry-level NVMe SSD.

Read our full Intel SSD 600p 512GB review.

 

 

Best SSD for gaming runner-up - Samsung 860 EVO

Samsung 860 EVO 500GB

Runner-up: Best SSD for gaming

Controller: Samsung MJX | Memory: Samsung 3-bit MLC | Socket: SATA (AHCI)

Approx. $146 / £108

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. Its 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 SSD

Crucial MX500 500GB

Runner-up: Best SSD for gaming

Controller: SiliconMotion SM2258 | Memory: Micron TLC | Socket: SATA (AHCI)

Approx. $110 / £100

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.

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Best high-end SSD - Samsung 970 Pro

 

Samsung 970 Pro 1TB

Winner: Best high-end SSD

Controller: Samsung Phoenix | Memory: Samsung 2-bit MLC | Socket: M.2 (NVMe)

Approx. $593 / £430

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. Sure, the EVO is nearly as quick in synthetic testing, but it uses some tricks to get there while the more powerful MLC memory in the Pro is pacey in its raw state without any extra software magic.

But where its professional-level specs really come into their own might not be seen until a few years down the line. The difference is getting slimmer now, but while they have identical 5 year warranties, 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.

For most PC gamers the high-end Samsung SSD is going to be overkill for their needs right now, but if you absolutely have to be in the game a good few seconds earlier than your opponents or team mates and hang the expense then the 960 Pro is the drive for you.

 

 

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

SanDisk Extreme Pro 480GB

Runner-up: Best high-end SSD

Controller: Marvell 9187 | Memory: SanDisk MLC | Socket: SATA (AHCI)

Approx. $229

This might seem a little bit leftfield 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. Ever noticed how your system slows to a crawl when Steam's downloading stuff onto your boot drive? Not if you're running an Extreme Pro. And it’s not a bad price for such a reliable SSD either.

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Best cheap SSD - Samsung 860 EVO

Samsung 860 EVO 250GB

Winner: Best cheap SSD

Controller: Samsung MJX | Memory: Samsung 3-bit MLC | Socket: SATA (AHCI)

Approx. $79 / £65

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. Samsung really does cater for all budgets, up and down the specs list which makes its 860 EVO easily the best budget SSD.

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. That means it’s still a nicely responsive SSD when it comes to general use, even if it is a little slower shunting larger files around.

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. With that limited capacity you are going to have to do a bit more storage management than you might with a 500GB SSD or a large HDD, for example, but the trade-off against a painfully slow mechanical hard drive with a heap of space is absolutely worth it.

 

 

Best budget SSD runner-up - Kingston HyperX Savage 240GB

HyperX Savage 240GB

Runner-up: Best cheap SSD

Controller: Phison S10 | Memory: Toshiba MLC | Socket: SATA (AHCI)

Approx. $128 / £99

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.

GOTW
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0V3RKILL avatarjadaar avatarBreakLegosaurus avatarpanbient avatarJp0wNs avatar
BreakLegosaurus Avatar
190
1 Year ago

Best SSD for gaming if you don't have one, is just to have one, anything is an upgrade if you don't have an SSD, no need to waste your money on a super expensive one unless that's your goal.

2
0V3RKILL Avatar
298
1 Year ago

All my SSD, USB flashdrives, SD cards including the micro SD cards are Adata. Fastest thing I've ever tried and I ain't changing for anything.

1
jadaar Avatar
13
1 Year ago

Best SSD, right now? None! RAM is too expensive (or some such excuse). I pity anyone forced to buy in this market.

1
panbient Avatar
269
9 Months ago

So I'm a gamer on a budget. A friend recently gave me an old SSD (120gb Sandisk Extreme from like 2012). I still need to find a mount before I can install it into my antiquated PC.

In this case is it better to make it an OS drive or to install the 2 or 3 games I play the most? Are there any other concerns (heat / power consumption etc.) when installing a SSD into what is essentially a DirectX 10 machine?

1
Jp0wNs Avatar
6
8 Months ago

I own a 512 GB 950 Pro and a 1 TB 850 EVO. For a gamer get the 850 evo in either m.2 or sata interface. There is practically no perceivable difference between the much faster NVMe drives when it comes to loading your games. In fact I just threw a Western Digital 500 GB Blue M.2 in another system and yet again with games can't tell the difference. Simply buying a good brand ssd and the most affordable prices is the best way to go especially if you are moving from platter drives for OS and software. Personally, NVMe is a wast for gamers unless you get a really good deal then why not.

1