SSDs will be an essential component in gaming in 2021. If you’re still using HDDs, you probably know that you’re a bit out of date – unfortunately, but objectively.
As long as you have at least one SSD, you’ll know the difference it makes and the leaps it can take your system towards being anything like the best gaming PC for your setup.
The fastest way to play video games has been using SSDs for a while now, and the best SSD for gaming range will come from NVMe expansion cards, SATA drives, and PCIe M.2 sticks, so there are a number of formats to choose from.
The best M.2 SSDs are now more affordable than ever before, so solid-state drives are no longer just for PC gaming elites.
They’re also faster. It is no longer necessary to search for a motherboard with an M.2 slot – there is no need to worry about compatibility with the best gaming motherboards of 2021. SSDs and HDDs are now all but redundant, as NVMe SSDs are now so affordable.
There are still Samsung SSDs at the top of the tech tree, but Crucial and ADATA all have something to offer when it comes to capacity and price, too.
Only the best gaming drives survive our PC SSD benchmarking gauntlet. Our team of experts has tested the best SATA and NVMe drives on the market. It can be easy to blow a lot of cash on flash drives, but you don’t have to empty your piggy bank for fast storage.
Top 3 Best SSDs for Gaming in 2021
#1 1TB WD BLACK SN850 – Best PCIe SSD
SSD expansion cards are not the first thing that springs to mind when considering the best SSD for gaming. WD Black AN1500 is one of the best of its type on the market, but while the speeds are utterly amazing, you do have to pay the price for the privilege.
This bad boy comes in two capacities: 1TB, which will cost you $330/£270, and 4TB, which will set you back $999/£840. The SSD is arguably the fastest SSD available for PC gamers, but it’s only worth it for true PC gamers.
Based on some benchmark tests, the AnvilPro tool gives a sequential 4MB read and write speed of 4,231 MB/s and 3,448 MB/s for the 2TB AN1500 (although it has a larger capacity). CrystalDiskMark measured sequential read and write performance at 6511 MB/s and 4412 MB/s, respectively.
The 7,000MB/s sequential read and write speeds offered by this PCIe 4.0-based NVMe drive are exceptional for a consumer SSD today.
It dramatically reduces boot time when starting your PC, and more developers are requesting SSDs in system requirements for games, making it the ideal drive for titles like Microsoft Flight Simulator that require a lot of storage.
If your motherboard does not have one, it is also available with its own RGB heatsink to minimize the possibility of thermal throttling.
#2 SAMSUNG 970 PRO 1TB – Best NVMe SSD
There was always going to be a Samsung SSD on this list. Considering the Samsung 970 EVO can post almost the same benchmarks as the 970 Pro, why should you spend more?
Generally, users don’t need a pro-level SSD, but if you’re in the market for the fastest solid-state drive, the 970 Pro is the way to go. Although it’s slower than the 970 EVO in terms of sequential read/write speeds, the 970 Pro will outlast its technically superior sibling.
Pro and EVO both have five-year warranties, but Pro has an endurance rating of 1,200TB, while the 500GB version has 300TB and the 1TB only has 600TB. For a workhorse that constantly processes large amounts of data, the 970 Pro offers locked-in reliability.
#3 Crucial MX500 – Best SATA SSD
In terms of price, the MX500 is a lot cheaper than our pick for the best budget SSD and should be your go-to if you want the best value for money.
As a result of its parent company, Micron, Crucial can offer SSDs using its high-quality memory at an affordable price. In comparison with the 860 EVO, the MX500 is significantly less expensive and offers almost the same SSD performance – unsurprising when you consider the speed limitations of the old SATA interface. Although it’s not the cheapest SSD, it is the cheapest we can recommend as a worthwhile, quality purchase.
It’s simply because they’re so cheap nowadays. Using the right cables and setup, you can have multiple SATA drives on your PC.
These drives are great for gaming and storing files, and the Crucial MX500 is the best of the bunch, so you can’t go wrong with it. Plus, its price is considerably lower than other SATA SSD models at just $50 or £40 for 250GB or around $225/£200 for a 2TB model.
In terms of benchmarking, the Crucial MX500 doesn’t ‘impress’ much compared to the other SSDs in this guide, but as explained above, that’s due to its SATA connection – everything is relative after all.
In the sequential 1MB test, it provides 561 MB/s read and 468 MB/s write – almost the same as the 4MB test with 524 MB/s and 482 MB/s respectively.
You’re probably best off choosing one of the above SSDs if you need the main SSD, but if you need a secondary drive or are building a budget system, then the Crucial MX500 is certainly one of the best of the rest.
Although the loading speeds aren’t quite the same as other HDDs (and most other SATA SSDs, for that matter), it is still far faster and better than any HDD (and most other SATA SSDs, for that matter).
Do SSDs improve speed in games?
Despite not offering a higher framerate, an SSD offers a distinct advantage over a traditional hard drive. Specifically, an SSD offers faster boot times. A game installed on an SSD will typically boot faster than a game installed on a traditional hard drive.
Which Capacity should I buy?
You don’t need a drive that is as big as your hard drive for all of the best PC games, so you don’t necessarily need a solid-state drive. An SSD with a capacity of 512GB will suffice if you’re planning on installing Windows. You can install a few games that benefit, too, with 1TB.
NVMe vs SATA SSD, which one to buy?
While SATA drives offer lower read and write speeds than NVMe-based drives, they are less expensive per GB. The SSDs are ideal for those looking for a high-capacity solid-state drive for storing their Steam libraries, or if they intend to build a budget PC. And they’re still substantially faster than regular hard drives.
In spite of this, NVMe drives are becoming more and more affordable, with the fastest 500GB NVMe SSDs costing less than $150.