Best SSD For Gaming

Last Updated on by Nicholas Frost

Do you like playing as an outlaw in a faithful recreation of the Wild West in Red Dead Redemption II? Perhaps you’d like to take a crack at web-slinging around the skyscrapers of New York as your friendly neighborhood web crawler. Or maybe you’re like me who can’t wait to immerse myself in the most hotly anticipated games. How does the futuristic world of Cyberpunk 2077 sound to you? Are you intrigued as I am about Hideo Kojima’s latest creation, the post-apocalyptic Death Stranding?

When looking back at the history of video games development, it’s mind-blowing how far they’ve come since the days of Pong, Space Invaders, or even Donkey Kong. You must have seen images from that era of those giant pixels on the screen mesmerizing the earliest generation of gamers.

Game developers have always been trying to outdo each other to come up with the next release that would tick all the right checkboxes. Mainly those that satisfy the most discriminating gamers and their appetite for more realism and for the next great gaming experience.

A similar evolution is happening with computer hardware that makes it possible to develop the next generation of games. New technologies are being introduced to replace the old. Such is the case with the HDD or Hard Disk Drive. While today’s video games are getting better, they’re also getting a lot bigger. The old hard drive just can’t keep up anymore. Thankfully its heir apparent has just arrived in time to save the day.

If you want the smoothest performance possible on your computer running the latest and most demanding games, then you will need to replace your HDD with the best SSD for gaming. If you’re still unsure about SSDs but want to know more about them, then we’ve collected some valuable information that may help you decide which one is the best for you.

What’s an SSD?

SSD stands for Solid State Drive. But before I get into that, allow me first to explain in simple terms the essential role an HDD plays as the primary storage device in a personal computer system.

RAM or Random Access Memory is the system memory where data can be stored temporarily and can be processed instantly by the Central Processing Unit or CPU. Think of the CPU as the brains of your PC, a laptop, or a console. Every time you try to run an application like a game, the computer reads the instructions and data installed in the HDD for that game.

Whatever necessary data is loaded into the system RAM. Once data is in memory, the CPU can do its job so you can start playing. However, after you’re done playing and you turn off your computer, all that data stored in the RAM will be lost.

That’s why a more robust form of data storage like an HDD plays a vital role in your PC. It keeps all the installed data intact even when the computer is turned off. It’s where the Operating System like Windows is located along with other applications you’ve installed, and that includes all the games you’re playing.

In principle, an SSD does the same job that an HDD does, only a lot better. That is made possible with the more advanced and practical technology behind it. It’s now considered by many as the worthy successor to the HDD not only in gaming, but for general computing needs too, and it’s not hard to understand why.

Why are the best SSDs in gaming so fast?

The secret to how an SDD can outperform even the fastest HDDs lies in its simple yet elegant architecture and how it goes about reading and writing data more efficiently. You see, unlike an HDD, an SDD has no mechanical or moving parts that can slow it down, get damaged, or worn out.

With a hard drive, the data is stored on constantly spinning magnetic disks with moving heads pinpointing the exact spot on those disks where they can read or write data. This will bottleneck most systems, especially the latest and fastest computer setups. Data retrieval on those expensive rigs can only go as fast as the now sluggish HDD would allow.

On the other hand, you can liken an SSD to a bigger flash memory card, but faster and one that’s able to store a ton more data, almost matching HDD capacities. In fact, SSDs use non-volatile NAND flash memory, which is similar to how USB flash drives work. Non-volatile memory means that they can retain the stored information even if the electric power is off.

Without it relying on any moving mechanical parts, information is stored in these NAND blocks. The SSD’s flash controller can communicate with the computer and tell it the exact location of the data it needs. This is the fastest form of data storage and retrieval yet.

With best SSDs for gaming, we’re talking about seeking times as fast as 0.08 milliseconds as opposed to an average of 9 milliseconds on current hard drives. That’s a massive performance gap! Once anybody has gotten a taste of what SSDs can do, a hard drive would look a turtle in retrospect. The best gaming SDDs have become the superior choice for gamers.

How can SSDs improve my overall gaming experience?

Many large triple-A titles are notorious for taking their sweet time and wasting yours when loading their data before you can resume playing again. This can happen at the start even before the main menu screen, or when you try to load a saved game, or when you’ve reached a new level. You don’t want to sit in front of your screen, just staring at it and doing nothing for several minutes!

Having one of the best SSDs for gaming enables your computer to start your game sooner, cutting the lull in the action from what used to take forever to just a few seconds. You’ll begin to appreciate how these loading screens, whether for new levels or from loading saves, are shortened dramatically.

Many times you would experience some irritating lag or framerate dips when a game tries to retrieve additional data from an HDD. Sometimes that data from these modern games is just too large so that it takes a while longer for the mechanical drive to copy it to the system or graphics card memory, causing lag. It can get pretty frustrating when you end up missing easy targets, or worse, getting your head blown off in-game while it’s lagging!

This also happens frequently in still popular old games like Skyrim or GTA V, especially when they’re heavily modded. You’ll suddenly find the game stuttering when walking into dense and more detailed areas. It can be jarring, and it takes you out of your suspension of disbelief, simply because the game needs to load more texture data from that clunky HDD to complete drawing the environment or some NPCs.

With an SDD, most of these performance issues caused by your slow hard drive are reduced if not totally eliminated. You get to enjoy the game even more because less of your precious time is wasted. You experience more fluid gameplay quality out of that quick data transfer capability that only the best SSDs for gaming have.

What other benefits can you get out of SSDs?

Aside from the speed advantage, the best gaming SSDs come in slimmer and more compact sizes than an HDD. Generally, they need less power to operate, generate less heat, and are not as noisy as the mechanical hard drives. That makes them ideal to use not only in PCs but in gaming laptops and even consoles too. They take up less room in an already confined space, and they run cooler and quieter at the same time!

With the kind of significant read-write performance boost you can get, you don’t need an expensive and powerful machine to enjoy all the benefits that the best gaming SSDs in the market have to offer.

Which type of SSD form factor and Flash Memory are best for me?

Two form factors are popular for gaming purposes using two types of interfaces on the motherboard.

The most common uses the SATA interface, which is the same one used by an HDD and has NAND type flash memory and controller. These sort of mimicked the 2.5 inch HDD form factor when they were first introduced.

The other uses the relatively new M.2 Standard form factor and connects through the PCIe interface. These M.2 types are usually smaller than the SATA SSDs and can use either NAND or NVMe flash memory and controller. The fastest SSD uses M.2 Standard with NVMe type flash memory and controller.

With all this in mind, you can now make a proper choice of the right form factor and flash memory that suits you. But firstly, you have to consider your budget.

If you are willing to pay a premium for the best SSD gaming performance, then you’ll want to get an NVMe SSD. This is a no-compromise selection, and you would need to buy an M.2 ready motherboard for it to work. This is meant for gamers with money to burn and are looking to build a new gaming rig. Yeah, NVMe SDDs are more expensive, but they are the ultimate option.

For those on a tighter budget, NAND memory is the way to go. The SATA SSD is the more commonly used one with NAND. The M.2 SSD with NAND doesn’t have any performance gain over the SATA SSD, but it has the smaller M.2 form factor. Some gamers like the smaller size, I guess.

Most gamers who opt for cheaper NAND choose SATA SSD instead because they can run on most modern motherboards. So if you’re looking to upgrade your current pc, a SATA SDD is slower than an NVMe one, but it’s no slouch either and would be the cheapest option. Just be sure that your motherboard has SATA III for the best results.

What size SSD do I need?

Most of the popular SSD manufacturers these days offer capacities ranging from 250 GB and upwards of 1 terabyte. Things can get a lot tighter faster than you think, so getting something that’s smaller than 250 GB may not be worth your while. 250 GB should be the absolute minimum, and even then, I think you’re bound to do a bit of juggling with which applications and games you can squeeze in there.

Also, take in mind that triple-A titles get bigger and bigger each year, and all of them would require some amount of unused space left on your drive. You might need more legroom and invest in a 500 GB drive. Depending on how you will use your PC, I think it’s wise to consider how much space you used on your old HDD, as it’s likely you would need roughly the same amount or even more. As long it’s within your budget, I highly recommend that you buy an SSD with a capacity that’s as high as you can afford.

SSDs are still more expensive compared to HDDs, but they are getting more affordable every year as flash memory becomes cheaper. Now they’re no longer beyond the reach of most gamers. Their capacity is also getting bigger for their price.

What other features that I should look out for?

When it comes to selecting the features you like in a gaming SSD, it will all come down to personal preference and how much money you’re willing to spend.

  • Random Read-Write speed. This is a measurement of how fast an SSD can read and write small files. Usually, the manufacturer shows the speed rating. This is important for massive games with installation folders that contain thousands of files. Sometimes it is not shown in the product specs sheet, so don’t bother reading their page if they don’t have it. It’s up to you to compare them and choose the best one you can afford.
  • Sequential Read-Write speed. Another thing to consider is the sequential speed at which it can read and write large files. This is more for bulk data transfers. Again make the necessary comparisons for you to determine which one would offer more bang for your buck.
  • Durability. Measured in IOPS or Input/Output Operations Per Second. One weakness with flash technology is that SSDs tend to have shorter lifespans than hard drives, but they’re continuously being improved in this department. How hard they’re used also plays a factor. Single-Level Cells have the best durability because of their lower power requirements. The drawback is their price. Multi-level Cells are cheaper, while Tri-Levels have the shortest lifespan.

If you can, try to find out if they have some sort of heat protection system to safeguard data integrity and prolong the flash memory’s lifespan. That would be hardware that‘s built into the SDD itself, which is better. There could also be a heatsink that absorbs and dissipates the heat and helps to cool down the SDD.

There’s also the Mean Time Between Failures or MTBF rating, which gives a good idea of their reliability and durability. Look for manufacturers that offer longer warranties, preferably 5 yearsThat shows how confident they are that their SSD will last that long. All of the SSDs reviewed here are backed up by a 5-year limited warranty.

  • Security. The best SDDs also offer some form of built-in hardware data-encryption to safeguard your files from unwanted access, especially by criminals.
  • Maintenance Software. Learn if they have some sort of software utility to help you monitor the SSD’s health and its performance. Some even allow you to tweak the drive for optimum gaming results.

Now that you’re armed with the necessary knowledge to make a wise choice, you have to check out this list we’ve made of the 10 best SSDs for gaming in 2019.

Best Solid State Drives for Gaming of 2019

Adata XPG SX8200 Pro

  • $191.09
  • NVMe M.2
  • 960GB
  • Sequential read-write speed 3,200 and 1,700 MB/s
  • Random read-write speed 390,000 IOPS
  • 5-year Warranty

It has a very respectable performance for an NVME SSD at a very reasonable price. It’s equipped with a heat sink to help keep the temperature down. You can check out how the drive is doing through its own monitoring app.

Having NVMe, it’s faster than all the other SATA SSDs with similar 1 terabyte capacity but only slightly more expensive. You will breeze through those loading screens! If you’re shopping for a 1 terabyte SSD, then I would highly recommend you pick this one for that affordable NVMe performance that’s no slouch compared to the more expensive models in its class.

There’s also the large capacity making this an affordable package not just for gaming, but for other data transfer intensive applications as well. The one caveat is that you’ll need an M.2 motherboard to run this bad boy. It’s too bad if that put’s it out of your reach. But if you can manage it somehow, I don’t think you’ll have any regrets. This is definitely one tempting deal that’s hard to pass up!

Samsung 970 Evo Plus

  • $220.00
  • NVMe M.2
  • 1024GB
  • Sequential read-write speed 3,500 MB/s and 3,300 MB/s
  • Random read-write speed 600,000 IOPS and 550,000 IOPS
  • 5-year warranty

This is Samsung’s fastest SSD and a more affordable alternative to Intel’s Optane SSD 905P with similar specs. It’s targeted at gamers looking for the best performance but at a reasonable price for its class. It also shares Samsung’s V-NAND technology for faster read-write capability.

They have something called Dynamic Thermal Guard that helps prevent overheating for superior endurance and data integrity. It boasts of an impressive mean time between failures of 1.5 million hours. There’s also a built-in AES data encryption to guard against hackers. For advanced drive tweaking, monitoring, and maintenance, Samsung’s Magician utility is included.

Backed by a 5-year warranty, gamers can be assured of consistent and sustained high-quality performance for many years.

Crucial MX500

  • Price: $107.50
  • SATA III
  • 2TB
  • Sequential read-write speed 560 MB/s and 510 MB/s
  • Random read-write speed 95,000 IOPS and 90,000 IOPS
  • 5-year warranty

Boosted by Micron 3D NAND flash technology, it has almost identical performance to a 1 terabyte Samsung 860 Pro but at a much lower price point. What makes it stand out is its massive 2 TB capacity!

It also has an Integrated Power Loss Immunity that protects your precious data from unexpected power outages. For added security, there’s built-in data encryption to protect you from hackers and thieves.

Crucial are known for their reliability, and gamers can rest assured they would enjoy an impressive performance that would last. For the price, features, and quality, it seems to be one of the best options in its class and should be among the top of your SATA SSD list.

Samsung 860 PRO

  • Price: $271
  • SATA III
  • 1TB
  • Sequential read-write speed 560 MB/s and 530 MB/s
  • Random read-write speed 100,000 IOPS and 90,000 IOPS
  • 5-year warranty

One of the fastest 2.5-inch SATA SSDs, the 860 Pro features Samsung’s original V-NAND technology, for superior read-write performance and durability. It has low power needs and runs cool, making it one of the most long-lasting SATA SSDs offering superior endurance. It is backed by a 5-year warranty. It also comes with an intuitively designed Samsung Magician program that is excellent for monitoring and managing the SSD.

It is on the pricey side for a SATA but is a good choice for gamers who are willing to shell out more for the wide capacity selection that would perform well for a long time under heavy workloads. I recommend this to those who want to stick to their current motherboards, but only if they have SATA III. Otherwise, they could go for the Samsung 970 Evo Plus, which is an NVMe SSD that’s a little cheaper, although needing an M.2 equipped motherboard.

Intel Optane SSD 905P (1TB)

  • $1,129.99
  • NVMe M.2
  • 960GB
  • Sequential read-write speed 2,500 and 2,000 MB/s
  • Random read-write speed 575,000 and 550,000 IOPS
  • 5-year warranty

Although it’s an expensive 1 terabyte NVMe drive, you can tell its build quality is excellent. Intel built it around their Optane™ technology, and the performance is above par in its class. It’s one of the fastest among the high-end SSDs out there.

It’s the leader of the NVMe pack in endurance with its 1,600,000 hours of fault-free reliability that is nothing to scoff at either. Even if it has high power demands, it can take care of the most demanding workloads with ease.

This is for gamers who don’t want any compromises in the quality of their rigs. They can be assured of its reliable operation, and it’s backed by a 5-year warranty.

WD Blue 3D NAND SSD

  • Price: $114
  • M.2 NAND, SATA III
  • 1TB
  • Sequential read-write speed 560 MB/s and 530 MB/s
  • Random read-write speed 95,000 IOPS and 84,000 IOPS
  • 5-year warranty

This no-frills SSD from Western Digital is available in 2.5 inch SATA and M.2 form factors. The M.2 version also uses 3D NAND flash memory. If your motherboard already has SATA III, I’d recommend that you pick the SATA version of the WD Blue. It saves you the hassle and expense of acquiring an M.2 motherboard without any performance benefit as both versions use 3D NAND.

The performance is quite impressive in its class for a very affordable price. Backed by a 5-year warranty, there’s little doubt that it will endure the most demanding games you throw at it for some time. This is a terrific upgrade to replace your old HDD.

WD Black SN750 NVMe

  • Price: $175
  • NVMe
  • 1TB
  • Sequential read-write speed 3,470 MB/s and 3,000 MB/s
  • Random read-write speed 515,000 IOPS and 560,000 IOPS
  • 5-year warranty

There is a Black Dashboard utility program that allows you to closely monitor and tweak the SSD’s performance with things like a Gaming Mode for optimum setup while you’re playing and a low power mode when you’re not. An optional heatsink helps keep things frosty under heavy load. With its very affordable price, it is looking like one of the best NVMe solutions that can give gamers like you a competitive edge.

Again you will need to upgrade to an M.2 motherboard, so that’s some additional cost to consider. However, I think it’s very worth the massive performance gain that you will enjoy for many years to come. It is also backed up by Western Union’s 5-year warranty.

SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD

  • Price: $114
  • M.2 NVMe
  • 1TB
  • Sequential read-write speed 3,400 MB/s and 2900 MB/s
  • Random read-write speed 500,000 IOPS and 400,000 IOPS
  • 5-year warranty

The Extreme Pro is designed for low power requirements for lower heat and better endurance under the most demanding workloads. Featuring a multi-tiered caching algorithm called nCache 3.0 for good read-write speed. The Sandisk SSD Dashboard utility helps monitor its condition and performance.

A 5-year limited warranty comes standard with it. It has very good data-handling, and the price makes it a terrific bargain for a large capacity NVMe option. As with all NVMe SSDs, be ready to spend some extra cash for an M.2 motherboard.

HP S700 Pro

  • Price: $103.00
  • SATA III
  • 1TB
  • Sequential read-write speed 570 MB/s and 525 MB/s
  • Random read-write speed 90,000 IOPS and 95,000 IOPS
  • 5-year warranty

The HP S700 Pro uses a new 3D NAND technology with an algorithm that evens out the wear to extend the life of the SSD while maintaining optimal performance. This feature-packed product has one of the most impressive endurance ratings of up to 2 million hours without errors. It also has a smart cooling system that’s called Adaptive Thermal Protection. It features protection against hacking with built-in encryption and a guard against data corruption. This is to ensure that all your work and information remain secure.

HP claims that it consumes 90% less power than an ordinary HDD. That’s something to think about. The speed is impressive for a SATA SDD, but what sets it apart is its endurance that’s backed up by HP 5-year warranty. That will surely give you some peace of mind. I believe it has one of the best values for money among the SATA upgrade options.

Silicon Power P34A80 (1TB)

  • Price: $114.00
  • M.2 NVMe
  • 1TB
  • Sequential read-write speed 3,400 MB/s and 3,000 MB/s
  • Random read-write speed 500,000 IOPS and 600,000 IOPS
  • 5-year warranty

The P34A80 has a very slim M.2 form factor. This is Silicon Power’s flagship NVMe SSD, and it puts out some of the more impressive data-handling numbers that can be seen in its class. The performance of his cheap NVMe SSD is very much suited for the most demanding tasks, including gaming. Dual RAID pairing is supported for added data storage efficiency, but you’ll need another SSD to make this work.

Low power consumption is a bonus, as well as the top-tier endurance rating of 2 million fault-free hours. It also comes backed by a 5-year warranty. This is also another one of those NVMe bargains that don’t compromise performance and deserves a serious look from any gamer!

Conclusion

The market for gaming SSDs is flooded right now with different manufacturers claiming to have the next best thing. Choosing the best SSD for gaming can be a daunting task, indeed. Just keep in mind that this is a very competitive industry and that prices will continue to drop as new and better products enter the mainstream. It’s great news to consumers, especially to us average gamers. We can finally reap the benefits brought by these new technologies that only a few years ago were beyond our means.

But you can’t be too careful doing some research, and I hope I was able to save you some headache from trying to find that great value and performance sweet spot that’s right for you.

 

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