Best Gaming SSD 2018 – Buyer’s Guide and Reviews
These days, SSDs are basic parts of modern-day PCs and more and more people are looking for the best gaming SSD to get the maximum out of their gaming experience.
A gaming rig starts up and functions quicker with the OS and application software running off flash-memory storage, so you’ll find large games loading in seconds. Once you’re used to the experience, you won’t be returning to spinning media if you could help it.
We have checked the SSD (Solid State Drive) market and have found the best SSD for gaming in February 2018. Besides a good SSD, you also need the best graphics card for the money if you wish to get the best gaming performance and also the best gaming monitor if you wish to get the full experience.
Using flash drives as your primary storage levels up your system’s performance and lets you enjoy its applications more fully, particularly with today’s huge titles. SSDs can shorten the load times by a large fraction of a minute for large games like those of the Battlefield or WoW series.
Your GPU or CPU performance won’t increase and result in higher frame rates, but reboots and reloads will finish more quickly with fewer issues.
The table below shows all the best SSD currently available. The list is definite and is updated on a monthly basis to stay put with technological advances.
|Type||SSD||Read Speed||Write Speed|
|Best SSD for Gaming (Editor's Choice)||Samsung 850 EVO SATA III||540MB/s||520MB/s|
|Best Budget SSD||Silicon Power S55 SATA III||540MB/s||510MB/s|
|Best High-end SSD||Samsung 850 Pro SATA III||550MB/s||520MB/s|
|Top mSATA SSD||Samsung 850 EVO mSATA||540MB/s||520MB/s|
|Best M.2 SATA III SSD||Samsung 850 EVO M.2 SATA III||540MB/s||520MB/s|
|Best SSD for Workstations||Samsung 950 Pro PCIe NVMe M.2||2500MB/s||1500MB/s|
|Top PCI-e SSD||Intel 750 PCI-Express 3.0 x 4 SSD||2200MB/s||900MB/s|
With prices on popular SSD lines having come down so much, there’s no reason to defer upgrading your machine’s primary storage with a newer model. Users with older models of lower capacity who see their game libraries growing should find these upgrades worthwhile. New models now offer two to three times the capacity of models from a few years back, for a lower price.
Best Gaming SSD (Editor’s Choice)
Today’s SSDs provide the best balance of performance and cost for storage of critical software. In this guide we review the best models at various prices, to help you find one to boost your gaming system’s performance.
Samsung 850 Evo SATA III – Best Gaming SSD For The Value
The Samsung 850 Evo is the overall best SSD for gaming 2018. It has a nice balance between performance and cost so that it fits most people’s needs. Get this SSD if you are unsure which SSD to choose. This is also the best budget SSD 2018 in terms of raw quality and performance since you can get a small-size SSD of this type as well.
When we refer to ideal storage, we’re looking at solutions which offer the most value, highest actual performance, exceptional reliability, and monitoring features. A gaming SSD that’s great for regular and gaming use should ideally balance this combination, and our findings point to the Samsung 850 Evo as the best choice in this regard. This is also the best SSD for Windows 10 and the best 3.5 SSD for desktop users.
This model features many of the technologies which underlie the higher-end 850 Pro and others in the range marketed by Samsung. This is the only brand whose parent company vertically integrates every aspect of manufacturing and marketing of their SSDs, from the design of the memory controllers and embedded firmware to the fabrication and testing of the NAND packages, and to their final distribution, sales, and service. All other rivals are reliant on third-party sources for one or more stages of their products’ production and marketing.
Samsung’s advantages are found in the tighter cooperation between the various engineering and production teams. System designers and manufacturing engineers help evolve and specify the exact type of NAND employed, while the firmware developers, in turn, have access to the operating details and quirks of the hardware.
The design of the Evo employs vertically-ordered 3D flash-memory modules similar to that of the 850 Pro. Higher packaging densities are thus enabled with less pressure to develop processes to reduce sizing and increase counts of cells. This dynamic results in fewer issues which can affect performance and availability.
The company terms its exclusive IC technology as 3D V-NAND flash and emphasizes that its designers have achieved 32-layer stacks of cells in economic production, with newer designs reaching 48-layer densities. Every layer is stacked atop others in tall assemblies, with the mass of tiny circuits interconnecting via a denser cellular fabric than was possible with earlier 2D structures.
The 850 is selling in 120GB, 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB versions, at an online price of between $70 for the 120GB version and $290 for the 1TB version, as well as $600 for a version with a huge 2-TB capacity.
It’s definitely not the most budget-ready model around but it does cost about 20% less than its high-end sibling the 850 Pro. It’s also a bit less expensive than its category rival, the SanDisk Extreme Pro, which places it nearly in the middle-range territory. But in terms of performance, it places much closer to the top end, for in practice its speedy operation can outstrip pricier SSDs in a variety of measures.
This model is a great buy for its price and performs better than most. You might be wondering how this was achieved when V-NAND production is a more complicated and bold venture compared to regular memory types. Well, Samsung’s solution was to engineer the fabrication of 3D structures with less expensive tri-level cells or TLC. As the first drive which incorporates this combination 3D/TLC flash, the Evo’s structure differs a lot from that of other manufacturers’ planar/MLC drives.
TLC normally shows much lesser performance and endurance qualities than 2-bit MLC memory. But the company’s engineers worked around this with a technology known as Turbo Write, where parts are reserved in an SLC working-cache design. With cells in this cache configuration each retaining only single binary values, the area operates more reliably than the TLC part or a regular 2-bit MLC package. Incoming data is initially written to the Evo’s SLC cache and then rapidly moved to the TLC memory whenever the drive is idling. SanDisk’s engineers have developed comparable packages known as nCache 2.0, which are mounted on their Ultra II and Extreme Pro products.
SLC sizes increase with the larger Evo versions, with 3GB configured in 250GB capacities and as much as 12GB in the 1TB model. In regular usage, SLC cache operations hardly bottleneck drive performance and the operation is hardly noticeable. But during severe streaming or test situations where the SSD has fewer chances to move and clear data, such as during tests performed by various hardware sites, the SLC limitations become more obvious.
Under extreme loads, more acute drops in performance occur in smaller capacity versions. When writes spillover directly to the TLC areas, transfer speeds in the 1TB models decrease to 520 MBps, in the 250GB version to 300 MBps, and in the 120GB version to 150 MBps. Do remember that the SLC working-cache rarely gets overloaded with continuously streaming writes at its fullest speed, and most users won’t be encountering these slowdowns every single day.
The drive’s durability is hardly impacted in its usage of TLC memory. In many cases, the firmware is optimized to reduce the quantity of transfers from SLC to TLC cells in order to diminish wear on the latter. Samsung’s specification allows for a minimum of 75TB of trouble-free writes over a five-year period for both 120GB and 250GB versions, and double that for both 500GB and 1TB drives. We believe that the Samsung 850 EVO is the best SSD for the price and the best gaming SSD for the price as well.
All this translates to an average of slightly over 40GB each and every day for the lower-capacity drives, and slightly over 80GB each and every day during that five-year interval. This is really a humongous amount of data to be written. If you’re not routinely exceeding the usage scenarios on a regular basis, you need not worry about these drives reaching their limits too soon. The Samsung 850 EVO is certainly the best gaming SSD and the best gaming SSD by the looks of it.
Samsung includes its Magician drive management application as an incentive to users. This is a very well-designed system which provides convenient reporting on SMART status, benchmarking utilities, and secure-erase modes. It even allows you to generate a boot flash drive to perform these functions independently.
The software can also configure your OS for Rapid Mode, wherein your system RAM additionally caches incoming data and then flushes it when idle, which enables write throughputs faster than 4GBps. A large part of system RAM is set aside when this option is enabled, so you’ll find it most useful if your system has much more than 12GB available. Although in actual usage, its influence on a user’s overall experience of performance tends to be less spectacular than its superior benchmark results would suggest.
One thing to note is those comparative variations in SSD performances can be somewhat insignificant. For instance, the latest PCMark test suite reports trivial differences of less than a tenth of a second between competing models. While there will always be technical winners and losers in these comparisons, in real-world use these variations are too tiny to be noticeable in regular applications. If you’re wondering: What does an SSD do for gaming? The answer to this question is a lot. It will load much, much faster and write to disk much faster.
When it comes to pricing, our reviewers had thought at first that for all its amazing performance and quality specifications, the Evo was somewhat pricey to be the obvious favorite in every application. At launch, the 250GB-capacity model cost around $140 on-line, but prices have dropped well below $100 recently and as a result, it now offers even more value. The 500 GB version is the best 500GB SSD currently out there as well. This mentioned development together with the line’s already excellent performance lets us recommend Samsung’s 850 Evo as the SSD most gamers should first consider.
Best Budget SSD
Looking for the best SSD under 100 USD? The Silicon Power S55 might just be the right choice for you then, as you can get a good 500GB for just a hundred US dollars, which makes it the best budget SSD currently out there in February 2018. Many people, however, have experienced some issues with this specific SSD, so be aware of that. If you want something with a higher quality, get the Samsung 850 EVO. Nothing beats that, seriously.
Silicon Power S55
Mechanical drives and their days will soon be numbered due to the fact that a variety of SSD models are rapidly assuming the function of main systems storage. The pricing of popular capacities is being driven down constantly, even if most models remain more costly per gigabyte than traditional spinning storage. Even with an inexpensive model, you may experience a large increase in speed over that of a regular hard drive. Silicon Power’s S55 proves that adage in its great benchmark results, as it delivers decent real-world performance without the price premiums which high-end SSDs command among enthusiasts.
While Samsung’s 850 consistently offers the fastest performance and highest endurance ratings in a consumer-oriented SSD, the S55 doesn’t lag it that much in actual measures. What is remarkable is that the 480GB version with twice the capacity, which is near twice that of the 850 Evo’s 250GB version, can be had for a little bump up in price to $100. It’s slightly lower performance will hardly be apparent in everyday usage and in all but the biggest, most load-intensive games.
The street pricing seemed a bit unbelievable given the drive’s very noteworthy qualities, so we subjected our first takes of it to repeated checks just to be sure. Be aware that this model comes in either MLC- or TLC-based versions, and although the former performs better, it does so at an increased cost. Still, the latter version was able to outpace the majority of other TLC-based models in our review benchmarks.
Again, it did so at the remarkably low price of about $0.21 per GB, which is lower than any other product in its category. In contrast, the Evo’s cost per GB reaches somewhere around $0.35. Of course, this remains ten times pricier than the $0.030 per GB you’d expect to spend on a Terabyte-capacity mechanical model. But the expense can be worth it for many, as the perceived experience of accessing data randomly off one can make it feel like it’s in a different league altogether.
Now if Samsung’s high-end models are a bit too pricey for your budget, or if you’re just searching for fast secondary storage for a reasonably-sized set of games, you’d do well to install an S55 and be done it. Just have your critical application data and save files backed-up beforehand, a step which is always wise to do before moving stuff to a new drive.
For another value-priced alternative, you could check out the SanDisk’s Ultra II SSD line. Its 480GB-capacity version is usually found a priced midway between high-end Samsung and the budget Silicon Power models. It’s decent, middle-of-the-pack performance between the two popular models tends to reflect its market position as well.
Best High-end SSD
If you are looking for the best of the best, then the Samsung 850 Pro is just the Solid State Drive that you are looking for. We believe this is the best overall solid state drive (SSD) out there in the market right now.
Samsung 850 Pro
The 850 Pro’s ratings and renown sit atop this segment of the market for a number of reasons. Likely the one most worth mentioning is that this model is currently the speediest SATA SSD that’s available to consumers. Before its lower-end sibling the Evo arrived, this model was the first consumer-oriented model champion 3D-based V-NAND flash. Although its NAND implementation is 40nm in a 32-layer vertical structure, it isn’t specified with TLC planar but rather with 2-bit MLC flash. Thus the SLC working-cache isn’t necessary, and somewhat higher SSD capacity is made available, but the use of costlier V-NAND parts results in pricier models than those of Samsung’s rivals.
This model features a 400 MHz triple-core MEX controller that’s more advanced than the dual-core MGX design of the Evo. We’ve subjected various capacities to test and found that those featuring more than a half-Terabyte of storage do perform somewhat better. They tend to offer more value as a result, although the biggest-capacity models can quickly ramp up in cost. At present, there is no consumer SSD in the market which can match, let alone outperform, this model. As it is there may never be one, for the high-end of the market is moving to even faster NVMe-based SSDs.
It’s a bit hard to justify paying so much for even this best-performing model, though. Under most of the actual conditions which gamers will face, they will find relatively small advantages in choosing a Pro over an Evo, or another budget model. For one thing, it’s priced much higher in absolute terms. We believe the difference in pricing would be best applied towards a more powerful discrete graphics card or GPU, or perhaps additional system RAM. Reapplying that savings difference might also let you afford an SSD with double the capacity of the Pro that is still blazingly fast. The 256GB version of Samsung’s Pro series is already priced higher than the 480GB version of Silicon Power’s S55 series, while former’s 512GB version is also priced more than the latter’s massive 960GB model.
Buyers putting together an extreme gaming station with the best performance and features at any price will likely find an NVMe model a better investment. The 850 Pro’s warranty does extend to a very nice ten years of coverage, its one great benefit. The 256GB model is good for a daily write average of 40GB during its ten-year coverage, or about 150 Terabytes total, which should be more than sufficient for regular use.
If some professional gear is what you’re searching for, you may consider that today’s fastest flash storage will likely be tomorrow’s low-end or obsolete equipment, whether it lasts under warranty or not. And no matter how long the coverage is, it will only extend to replacements of defective equipment and not the loss and recovery of data. You must continue to do timely backups of all critical files just the same.
Top mSATA SSD
Samsung offers an mSATA version of the Samsung 850 EVO as well, which was the best overall SATA III SSD. The Samsung 850 EVO mSATA internal SSD is currently the best mSATA SSD out there for the money as well in 2018.
Samsung 850 EVO mSATA
Best M.2 SATA III SSD
Okay, you probably get it by now. We’re not biased or anything, but the Samsung 850 EVO consistently beats other competitors in terms of performance to price ratio. The Samsung 850 EVO can also be found in an M.2 SATA III SSD format, and it is currently the best one out there as well. Some laptops and motherboards are equipped with M.2 SATA III slot(s), which this component might be useful for.
Samsung 850 EVO M.2 SATA III
Best SSD for Workstations
Laptops equipped with an M.2 PCIe 3.0 slot x 4 might want something even greater. For maximum performance, we recommend the M.2 Samsung 950 Pro PCIe 3.0 x4. This SSD offers incredible performance thanks to the NVMe standard and will do the trick for any demanding workload and environment where a sustained good performance and warranty is required.
Samsung 950 Pro PCIe NVMe M.2
Top PCI-e SSD
The best PCI-Express SSD is definitely the Intel 750, which delivers the job for highly demanding workstations and environments. This board is simply great and X79 board compatible as well.
Intel 750 PCI-Express 3.0 x 4 SSD
Among the most critical aspects in choosing between model, factors are the cost per GB of capacity. You should ask yourself, what will it be worth spending in order to maintain a large and ready selection of Steam titles available for play at any time? To answer this question, we surveyed the market to discover the best SSD models to suit the needs and desires of gamers. We then selected those with the best performance and quality and tested them to their limits with several benchmark utilities.
And it’s not just the technical side. We installed and put the drives through their paces to gain first-hand experience with how these devices work out to satisfy our computing needs over time. We reviewed only SATA SSD models in the 2.5-inch form factor, the standard internal types which the majority of enthusiasts are most aware of.
We didn’t look at more advanced flash technologies in the form of M.2 and PCI Express 3.0 devices which can perform much faster and are now becoming available. For that next-generation level of storage performance, you’ll have to look at the latest NVMe models.
Those who can afford the latest motherboards featuring M.2 slots with 4x PCIe 3.0 lanes should be looking at an NVMe drive at the highest end of the market. Although the Samsung 850 Pro’s performance remains a high point in SATA storage, the older connection technology which it represents can constrain throughput on this latest generation of consumer SSDs.
For testing, we set up a fast PC based on an Intel Core i7-6700K/Asus Z170-A board in combination with 16GB of DDR4 RAM and an NVidia GTX970 GPU, for some hardcore test gaming. All drives were attached to the onboard Intel SATA 3.0 ports with AHCI enabled and with Windows 10 installed and running on the primary system partition. A mix of synthetic and application benchmark suites was applied, including CrystalDiskMark and AS SSD as well as PCMark 8, which runs standardized sets of phased traces of common editing and gaming applications.
SATA SSD Technologies
The particular advantage of SSDs which lets them enable much speedier computing experiences is their much shorter random-access times. Their theoretically higher sustained transfer rates also contribute to their faster performance. A traditional hard drive relies on mechanical parts to stream data on and off a spinning disk, whereas with SSDs the same files are written to and read directly from electronic memory.
It’s true that current mechanical models are still remarkably fast and unbeatable on a cost per GB basis. But the 10-millisecond random-access times of even the fastest 10,000rpm storage disk is an order of magnitude below that of primary flash storage, which normally operates at rates nearer to tenths of a millisecond. SSDs, in contrast, are mechanically simple devices, fabricated from stacked arrays of flash memory integrated circuits and supervised by a control module comprised of a processor and cache. It’s the organization of the structure which is incredibly complex and demanding to design and manufacture.
NAND flash memory ICs retain binary data in non-volatile areas as variations in voltages, even when electrically powered off. Thus to alter the value of one cell by clearing then rewriting its electrical state, its voltage must be increased. Due to the linear arrangement of the cells’ layout, these changes must be performed on a per-cell basis, as whole rows need to be cleared simultaneously.
SSD Long-term Reliability
All cells are partitioned from neighboring elements in order to maintain their stores’ values until directed. Whenever each is reprogrammed, its insulating partition degrades minutely. Over time and as the reads/writes accumulate, cells start to become less reliable at retaining their stores, and this explains why all SSDs eventually reach the end of their estimated lifespans. A good gaming SSD needs a long lifespan.
During the initial introduction of the technology, this issue of constrained lifetimes when compared to that of proven mechanical drives was constantly raised. But improved materials and smarter control techniques in error-correction and wear-levelling have all evolved to ensure this is no longer a big concern. To demonstrate the merits of these advances, the PC experts at Tech Report undertook to conduct a long-endurance field test of the reliability of a number of drives.
In a unique, year-long experiment, the editors let the sample of SSDs continually cycle sustained writes of data, to the point when their controllers’ ECC firmware began reporting high unrecoverable read errors and the devices became effectively unusable as reliable storage. The remarkable thing was that except for the occasional bad sector read encountered early on in each model’s first 100 Terabytes of writes, the majority continued to write successfully into the petabyte-total range. Or even longer in one case which went well past the manufacturer’s specifications.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the most durable models reached a continuously written total of 2.5 Petabytes of data before finally wearing out. It can be said that this has put any concerns about the general reliability of SSDs to rest.
Fixed numbers of flash memory cells can be instructed to retain 1-bit, 2-bit, or 3-bit levels of data. Memory types where cells each retain a 1-bit on/off value are termed as SLC. Every element reports only one or the other state, and thus any changes are effected with dual corresponding voltage levels.
The durability and throughput of this type of organization are very high, but much of the flash memory area is required to provide that capacity. These drive types have therefore found their niche in enterprise and workstation systems where these properties are essential to productivity.
The type of 2-bit flash memory known as MLC is the most commonly employed technology in consumer SSD models. The cells each retain dual values represented by 4 states of binaries 00, 01, 10, and 11, thus changes are similarly affected with four corresponding voltage levels. A comparable area of flash memory can, therefore, be provisioned with twice the capacity of an SLC package, allowing it to offer twice the value in comparison.
The last type of 3-bit or TLC flash memory extends each cell to hold 3 values, represented by 8 states of binaries 000, 001, 010, 011, 100, 101, 110, and 111, and so changes are similarly affected with eight corresponding voltage levels. But with Tri-level densities come decreases in speed and durability due to the stressful application of broad voltage variances for various reasons. The cell values in effect need to be continually read more precisely and with more write measures applied to ensure reliability.
The resulting wear from these additional operations acts to lessen the total amount of available cyclic writes and thus the entire package’s lifespan. The reason this method is used is that its operation can extract the maximum write capacities out of given amounts of flash memory. This allows TLC models to be marketed at lower prices per GB, so long as the rate of degradation in quality can be lessened.
And this area is where manufacturers have improved their basket of tricky techniques to ease these negative influences on TLC flash memory cells. The continued fall in SSD pricing across the board shows they’ve achieved a lot of progress. More and more TLC-based SSD models are showing up even in the low-end market segments, for reliability has kept up with performance well enough to convince consumers to accept the viability of this technology.
Data Transfer Speed
Every story or take about SSDs usually features an attention-grabbing number or two of their ultra-fast write speeds. We read about sequential writes of huge files averaging around 500-600MBps for SATA drives and even more for PCIe 3.x types. There’s no denying that these are remarkable results, but users should note that these figures normally describe performances under the best conditions the device can be put through.
These would report repeated sequential reads and writes of a huge file which blocks are optimally arranged for fast linear access, where caches and other speed-enhancing methods can be fully exploited. Actual application software normally handles all kinds of file sizes throughout the day. And there are times when programs defer processing inputs before further instructions arrive.
With a mechanical drive, this would involve the read/write mechanisms moving in discrete steps between multitudes of exact positions over the disc’s spinning surface, leading to successive lags in the fetching of data scattered all over. An SSD without moving parts is far more suited by nature to this type of random-access operation and the actual improvements in total performance are mainly in its electronic design.
Thus you won’t fully experience the best performance an SSD is capable of unless you’re doing a long series of system backups or copies of large media files between drives. A really big multi-gigabyte video will really move along quickly, but not necessarily a massive collection of JPG or MP3 files or lots of saved HTML page elements all running in the thousands, never mind the contents of a steamapps folder. These tasks can involve many chunks distributed throughout your storage partitions and directories, which in practice will take much longer to copy or move around than large monolithic files.
As an added consideration, certain SSD models process compressed files with less efficiency than normal types. This was a big issue with Sandforce’s earlier controllers which were found on the first generations of flash storage devices. The quicker transfer rates involved with uncompressed formats were the figures usually presented by the marketers whenever speeds varied between file types. These numbers are more satisfying to remember, but if you’re a serious enthusiast you’re not going to default to this set of nicer results when evaluating a device’s performance in full.
IOPS or input/output operation per second usually describes the performances of SSDs and is normally found in their specs, but the measure’s relationship to actual usage is not so straightforward. It’s most useful in describing the number of distinct file-handling instructions that can be managed at any given time. It does nothing, however, to value the differences, as all are treated equally. But users know that manipulating a small 1KB configuration document is a different thing from moving 64KB clusters of a multi-gigabyte video.
The conventional agreement is for manufacturers to present the QD32 4KB block-size metric, or the IOPS measured with thirty-two 4KB read/write instructions in the queue. But actual application programs won’t always be issuing so many 4KB commands at all times, and the ongoing pipeline will normally feature a chaotic mix of different-sized read/write blocks as well as non-active sequences during idle periods. With highly randomized operations such as during OS start-ups, when many files from various driver and application subsystems are being queued for processing, this specification will be critical. Otherwise, various factors come into play at various times and for different mixes of file types.
A lot of work is being done to determine the IOPS profiles of simulated file and web servers and others. Gamers will see individual differences in the pattern of SSD operation for each game, as they all differ in the types of texture sets, program frameworks, and file structures loaded. The 4K QD32 convention is a good measure in general. But you should consider it as more of a measure of SSD operational capacity when heavily burdened, than as an all-in-one benchmark for comparing general performances between models
When we gathered several of the most common and economical SSDs, 256GB models at that time featured the optimum mix of performance and value. But capacities in a 512GB range are nowadays catching up since the latest Windows OS and a good Steam library can already fill up a smaller drive. New models are always coming to market, and so we’ve included the latest ones as time passed.
But emphasizing only one or very few tests won’t be enough, so our team put each SSD through a varied series of benchmark runs. Beyond niche measures or large file transfers, there’s surprisingly little variation in the test results between top- and bottom-performing models. While a particularly intensive application or game title may undergo a lengthier installation and load, most will offer more or less the same speedy experience in light-to-moderate usage. It’s for this reason that we advise gamers to first consider those models which offer the lowest cost-per-GB.
Meanwhile, at the higher end of the market, SATA’s limitations are proving to be the constraining factor in overall performance. It’s great that the big brands are now bringing out more advanced PCI Express models, such as Intel’s 750 module and the new M.2-type SSDs. The performances of value-price SSDs are already bumping against the upper limits of SATA connections, though, even as price points drop.
During this evaluation, we’ve had the opportunity to add newer models over time. Even though Samsung’s 850 Evo and Pro models and Silicon Power’s S55 remain our current picks in most cases, there a number of newer entrants which are also worthy of a look. We list them here:
The Corsair Neutron has been around for a while. Although it is solid and speedy enough its prices have remained relatively high, especially when compared to that of Samsung’s Evo against which it is outmatched.
The Crucial BX100 was a fine value-priced model that has been superseded by the BX200, which isn’t as quick. Their MX-200 and -300 series do perform much faster but are also pricier. The TLC-based MX300 offers various capacity sizes at an average cost of about 25 cents/GB, and if that continues to drop it will be a real contender for the Evo.
The venerable Intel 730 has been superseded by the more advanced and much faster PCIe-based models in the 750 series. It makes sense to bypass the 730 as it no longer represents good value-for-money. And Samsung’s and Crucial’s latest SATA models feature faster write speeds.
The elderly Kingston V300 hasn’t offered competitive write performance in some time, even with drops in its pricing. It is being replaced anyway by the newer UV400-series models, which feature a fast mix of TLC NAND ICs and SLC cache that can outperform a lot of other TLC-based models.
Not long ago OCZ was bailed out of its financing troubles by its Japanese flash-memory supplier. Toshiba still sells SSDs such as the Trion 100 under OCZ’s brand-name, with newer Trion 150 models designed under Toshiba’s management starting to supplant the former. The 150 offers value features in its combination of TLC NAND teamed up with Phison’s S10 controller.
Although Phison’s earlier designs had been panned, the new model has proved to be quite acceptable when matched with MLC flash memory, as the combination’s features can approach that of the best SATA models. OCZ’s noteworthy Vector 180 has performance that can nearly rival that of Samsung’s Evo. But the latter’s extra 20GB of capacity plus slightly speedier features which still gives it the advantage.
There was a time when Plextor’s SSDs were going strong among consumers before the firm decided to refocus their design and marketing efforts on enterprises. The M6 Pro is capable enough, but its problem is that other comparably fast models are available with twice the storage capacity at slightly lower cost.
Samsung is the big name in the market. As the only vertically-integrated NAND manufacturer and controller/firmware designer, they can be more flexible than most rivals at rolling out higher-performing technologies while lowering prices. Their exclusive V-NAND ICs have enabled their 850 Evo and 850 Pro lines of SSDs to be shortlisted among our picks.
SanDisk also fabricates its own NAND and integrates its own controller modules, which gives it a leg up in the competitive flash storage market which it originally pioneered. It’s also among the very few brands to offer SATA SSD performance to rival that of the 850 Pro, in the form of its Extreme Pro model. Sandisk’s best doesn’t outmatch its high-end SATA rival in all benchmarks, but with its lower pricing, it’s more highly competitive just the same. It’s been some years since this top model had come out, so speculation is rife that they’ll bring out an ultra fast PCIe 3.0 NVMe model before too long.
In the meantime, budget-conscious gamers will find the Sandisk Ultra II a great value alternative as well as a reasonable upgrade from Silicon Power’s S55. Its models normally cost $25 more, but these are also somewhat speedier owing to its MLC-based NAND design.
The previously mentioned Silicon Power S55 is among our latest inclusions in this guide. Their current TLC designs offer the lowest cost per Gigabyte for their performance level, at around $ 0.20 cents. The performance and reliability of these inexpensive SSDs have been quite satisfying. These have therefore replaced Sandisk’s Ultra II models as our value-priced recommendations. There are faster MLC-based S55s, but as they are priced too close to the even speedier Samsung Evos, it makes sense to go with the latter.
Transcend tails this list in alphabetical but not in performance, with their comparatively new SSD370S-series models. Their engineers stayed with the combination of MLC-based NAND and Silicon Motion’s 2246EN controllers, resulting in remarkably high performances almost as good as that of the 850 Pro and the Evo. Their 512GB model, like that of the 850 Pro-series, already offers the level of capacity which we heartily recommend for a full-on gaming rig. It would be especially enticing if only the prices were to lower a bit.
Ending and future developments
We really advise enthusiasts to install no less than 240 Gigabytes of SSD primary storage to host their boot OS and essential application software. If you’ve got the extra money, a second budget-friendly model with at least 480GB of space should serve to hold and run all your favorite Steam titles.
The Samsung 850 Evo is our top pick for the majority of gamers as it offers the most reasonable combination of speed and capacity for the price. Silicon Power’s S55 remains our value pick. It may not be the speediest SATA SSD, but it remains the least costly per gigabyte and is worth considering by buyers on a budget. The 850 Pro remains the speediest SATA-based SSD available. Although budget-priced TLC modules are becoming more common, these are generally not as high-performing as the 850 Evo or most MLC drives.
Buyers looking into even speedier if pricier storage would be advised to get one of the new NVMe drives. Looking forward, it’s becoming clear that conventional SSDs are becoming constrained by early-generation SATA specifications. These theoretically offer throughputs of as high as 6Gbps, but in practice, transfer speeds top out at 550 MBps due to structural bottlenecks.
Advanced SSDs are now using PCI Express channels, and Gen 3 designs deliver almost 990 MBps across each lane with x4 cards enabling as much as 4 Gbps in total throughput. However, these PCIe models are very pricey and are mainly available as PCIe cards or else as small M.2 modules. Most can only be installed on late-generation Z97, X99, and Z170 systems which support NVMe. The good news is that many laptop designs are utilizing M.2 flash-memory storage in order to save space, and the standard will continue to develop for some time. We also included the best SSDS for these types, including the best mSATA SSD, best M.2 SATA III SSD, best SSD for workstations and the best PCI-Express 3.0 x4 expansion card SSD.
A decade from now we may be seeing solid-state technologies which performance would make current hardware seem quaint. For the moment, a SATA III SSD still delivers the best value in high-performance storage. We hope you liked our list of the best SSD out there for gaming right now in 2018 and let us know which SSD you think is the best gaming SSD today?