TL;DR – These are the Best SSDs:
1. Samsung 860 EVO
Samsung 860 Evo
The Samsung 860 EVO is the best SSD you can buy as it offers solid transfer speeds and reliability at an affordable price. It’s the perfect example of how cheap solid-state storage has become over the years as the 1TB version costs just $150. Better yet, the Samsung 860 EVO offers nearly the fastest transfer speeds (up to 550MB/s reads and 520MB/s writes) possible on a SATA III interface.
2. Crucial MX500
Best Budget SSD
Crucial gives you a lot of bang for the buck with the MX500. Don’t be fooled by other inexpensive drives with slightly faster transfer speeds – in real-world testing, the MX500 consistently outperforms other drives that cost considerably more. The Crucial MX500 is also well regarded in the SSD world as being one of the most reliable storage drives you can buy.
3. WD Black SN750
Best Gaming SSD
WD Black SN750
Introduced at the start of the year, the WD Black SN750 is still one of the best-performing NVMe SSDs and was partially responsible for all the cheap, super-fast storage we have today. See whereas you can get an 1TB WD Black SN750 for just $250, the 1TB Samsung 970 Evo launched eight months earlier for $450.
Aside from being one of the first truly affordable NVMe SSDs, the WD Black SN750 delivers some of the fastest data transfer speeds on par with Samsung’s flagship solid-state drives, the 970 Pro.
4. Adata XPG SX8200 Pro
Best SSD Boot Drive
Adata XPG SX8200 Pro
Capacity: 512GB ● Interface: M.2 2280 PCIe 3.0 x 4 ● Sequential read: 3,500MB/s ● Sequential write: 3,000MB/s ● NAND type: 2nd Gen. 64-layer 3D TLC
Although the Adata XPG SX8200 Pro is an NVMe SSD, it’s nearly as affordable as a bargain SATA drive. Seriously, a 512GB Adata XPG SX6000Pro cost just a few dollars more than a 500GB Samsung 860 EVO at around ~$72.
As if saving all that dough wasn’t great already, you’ll also be able to enjoy up to 3,500MB/s sequential read and 3,000MB/s sequential write speeds. It’s nearly as fast as the best drives on the market but at a much lower price.
5. Samsung 970 Evo Plus
Best NVMe SSD
Samsung 970 Evo Plus
While the WD Black SN750 has earned the title of the best gaming SSD, Samsung has retained the crown for the best NVMe SSD with the Samsung 970 Evo Plus. You won’t find another storage drive faster than this and that’s even including the company’s own flagship Samsung 970 Pro. Beyond gaming, this drive is perfect for tasks that demand an uninterrupted stream of data like 4K video editing, working with the highest-resolution RAW images, and real-time 3D rendering.
6. Corsair Force Series MP510
Best M.2 SSD
Corsair Force Series MP510
Remember when I said that the WD Black SN750 was partially responsible for driving down the cost of NVMe SSDs? Well, the Corsair Force Series MP510 another equally affordable NVMe SSD option. Just look at this 2TB drive that costs only $319. Getting the same storage capacity with a Samsung 970 Evo would cost significantly more. This huge Corsair NVMe drive also offers screaming fast speeds – albeit, not the fastest – up to 3,480MB/s sequential reads and 2,700MB/s sequential write speeds.
7. Gigabyte Aorus NVMe Gen4 SSD
Best PCIe 4.0 SSD
Gigabyte Aorus NVMe Gen4 SSD
Thanks to AMD Ryzen 3rd Generation processors and X570 motherboards, PCIe 4.0 is finally here and it has made even faster NVMe SSDs possible. The Gigabyte Aorus NVMe Gen4 SSD is one of the total three PCIe 4.0 SSDs on the market and it offers the fastest speeds with 5,000MB/s sequential reads and 4,400MB/s sequential writes. This blisteringly fast SSD also comes equipped with its own heatsink and is priced at a surprisingly affordable $260 for a drive with 1TB in capacity.
8. Intel Optane 905P
Best PCIe 3.0 SSD
Intel Optane 905P
This is the best performing SSD going right now, and it’s even got the glowing blue LED lights to prove it. Intel’s Optane line uses super low-latency ‘3D XPoint memory’ that’s in an entirely different solar system when compared to NAND flash. Think of it as storage that operates more like DRAM, though – not quite as fast as – and that’s 3D XPoint. If you’re thinking, ‘That sounds expensive,’ it is! The 960GB module you see above costs about $1,300, so this is for those with deep pockets only.
9. Samsung 860 QVO
Best SATA SSD
Samsung 860 QVO
Samsung surprised us a bit when it introduced a third-line of mainstream SSDs, but this one is particularly catered to those on a budget and looking for globs of storage space. With prices starting at around $100 for a 1TB drive and capacities up to 4TB for roughly $550, this a great option for users looking to completely move off of hard drives.
10. Samsung X5 Portable SSD
Best External SSD
Samsung X5 Portable SSD
The best SSDs aren’t just the ones that go in your PC anymore, there is also a growing segment of portable drives that offer just as much speed and performance. Meet the Samsung X5 Portable SSD, it’s essentially a portable NVMe drive that connects over Thunderbolt 3 to give you 2,800MB/s sequential read and 2,300MB/s sequential write speeds. This is the perfect solution for giving content creation and gaming laptops an extra jolt of external storage that operates almost as quickly their internal SSD.
What to Look in for an SSD?
Below I break down the various form factors and types of connectors most solid-state drives use.
Before you buy, you need to know what kind of SSD you want. Newer motherboards have sockets for M.2 drives, which are long, flat sticks of storage that lie flat against the motherboard. If you don’t have that in your system, you can buy a 2.5-inch drive that uses power and data cables just like an HDD.
Now things get a bit more varied once we start talking about connectors. For starters, M.2 drives might utilize a PCI Express- or Serial ATA (SATA)-based interface. The former delivers incredibly high transfer speeds up to 4,000MB/s, meanwhile, SATA is limited to a maximum 600MB/s speed. 2.5-inch drives are the other form of solid-state storage you’ll find and they mostly utilize a SATA connection.
The next major thing you should know about is ‘NVMe’ and it stands for the Non-Volatile Memory Express technology. That’s a mouthful, but it’s basically a communications standard, which allows SSDs connected over PCI Express to operate more like fast memory than storage.
M.2 drives aren’t the only type of drives that can tap into this wickedly fast PCIe NVMe connection. For example, there are solid-state drives like the Intel Optane 905P that connect directly into the PCIe slot on motherboards. Alternatively, you may also find some 2.5-inch drives that utilize a U.2 connection and operate just as fast as the best NVMe SSDs, though, these are becoming increasingly rare.
That’s everything you need to know about SSDs for now and there has never been a better time to ever buy one. The SSD market is so vibrant right now with manufacturers topping each other with increasingly faster and cheaper SSDs
Whereas $500 used to buy you a 128GB or 120GB SSD with, at best, 500MB/s transfer speeds, you can now buy a 4TB Samsung 860 QVO for roughly the same amount of money and kiss hard drives goodbye forever. Alternatively, cheap and fast SSDs like the WD Blue SN500 and Adata XPG SX6000Pro allow anyone building a new PC to use an NVMe SSD as their main drive
Kevin Lee is IGN’s Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam