Whether you want to upgrade your internal drive or need an external storage solution, a solid-state drive (SSD) will deliver fast and reliable read and write speeds. These storage devices use flash memory to store your data, making them faster than traditional mechanical hard drives. They’re typically more resistant to shocks and wear and tear, too.
You’ll find a wide range of SSDs available on the market, including built-in storage products and external storage options. Whether you want to boost your computer’s performance for gaming or simply want to replace an outdated drive, these SSDs are worth considering, starting with the all-around great pick, Samsung’s 970 EVO Plus.
Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB
For superior performance and reliability, Samsung’s 970 Evo Plus line is one of the best around. Our tests found that the SSD offers read and write speeds upwards of 2,500 MB/s, with the ability to keep functioning with up to 600 terabytes written on the drive. It’s a great upgrade for anyone who needs extra professional storage or a big speed boost for their current computer.
It also supports both PCI Express (PCIe) and NVMe technologies. PCI Express offers greatly improved speeds and versatility compared to older SATA-based SSDs — an important feature to watch for when buying solid-state drives for newer computers. NVMe is a similar protocol that offers the most advanced ways to transfer storage data between the SSD and the computer. Together, PCIe and NVMe make the best combination for high-performance drives, and this Evo Plus is an excellent example.
Samsung 860 Pro 256GB
This 2.5-inch SSD is a broadly excellent upgrade choice for a variety of needs. The interface for this drive is the slower SATA 3 (6Gbps), with a sequential read speed of 540Mbps and a write speed of 520Mbps. Our review found it to be one of the quickest SATA drives available.
Like most of the SSDs on our list, the 860 Pro comes in several different size options ranging from 256GB to 4TB of storage, with costs varying accordingly. We picked the 256GB version for a couple of reasons: It’s a good size for an all-purpose SSD designed for the general user, and it provides a widely-shared base storage number to help you compare it with other models.
The Samsung 860 Pro starts below $100 for the 256GB model and goes up from there depending on the amount of storage you need. It’s not the cheapest SSD available, but it offers the best balance of performance and price, and it comes with a five-year warranty. Chances are this thing will outlast most of the other components in your PC.
While SATA connections aren’t as fast as the newer PCIe interfaces, the related drives can be significantly cheaper. If you need a lot of storage but don’t want to sacrifice SSD benefits, this Crucial drive offers an amazing 2TB of storage at an incredibly affordable price.
Sequential read and writes are very good for a SATA model at 560 MB/s and 510 MB/s, respectively. This model includes protection against power loss problems as well as AES 256 bit encryption for security.
You won’t get the best specs in the world with this drive, but it sure can hold a lot without breaking your budget.
If you want speed, Intel’s Optane drives are right for you. This nearly-1TB model showcases the best the company has to offer, equipped with the latest NVMe PCI 3.0 x4 connection.
This drive is available in two different designs: One with LED lights and one with a built-in heatsink. Both are very speedy, with sequential read speeds up to 2,600 MB/s and write speeds up to 2,200 MB/s. Both include all the tricks Intel can conjure to reduce latency and keep speeds stable even with high demand. It also has a 10 DWPD score, meaning it can overwrite 9.6TB of data each day for the extent of its warranty (10 x 960GB).
All of this comes with a price, of course, which puts this Optane model in a higher echelon primarily reserved for very serious computer builders who want the best — and maybe want to show off a little bit too.
Western Digital Black SN750 250GB NVMe Gaming SSD
With transfer speeds up to 3,100 MB/s and random read speeds of 412.5 MB/s, gamer-friendly features, and a very reasonable price, this SSD is a great upgrade for your gaming rig, no matter how humble it may be.
In addition to excellent speeds, this SSD’s “Black Dashboard” allows you to manipulate settings and review performance. For example, you can enable the Gaming Mode setting to disable the system sleep mode and improve performance. The attached heatsink will also do its part to make sure your system stays cool even when going fast.