Best SSD for gaming in 2023 – for value, performance, console gaming
In the world of gaming, the need for speed isn’t confined to the digital race tracks. Smooth gameplay, faster loading times, and a seamless experience are all driven by the heart of your gaming rig – the storage device. This article focuses on the best SSD for gaming, an integral component that can remarkably impact your overall gaming experience.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a casual gamer, equipping your gaming PC with top-tier solid-state drives is essential for an immersive and lag-free gaming session.
Products at a Glance
Features and considerations
When exploring the vast selection of SSDs on the market, there are a few key considerations to bear in mind. The type of SSD, be it SATA, NVMe, or M.2, can impact the speed and performance of your games.
Besides, factors such as storage capacity, read/write speeds, endurance or TBW (Terabytes Written), and form factor play a crucial role in determining how well an SSD meets your gaming needs. Remember, the aim is not just faster booting, but also quicker game load times, efficient multitasking, and a more stable system overall.
Another key aspect to consider is the interface and compatibility with your system. While SATA SSDs offer good value for money and are compatible with most desktops and laptops, NVMe and M.2 SSDs provide considerably faster performance, albeit requiring specific motherboard support.
Best SSD for gaming in 2023 – for value, performance, console gaming
- Top-notch read and write speeds
- High capacity storage
- Ideal for both gaming and professional use
- Pricey for budget-oriented users.
If we’re talking about the peak performance of NVMe SSDs, the WD Black SN850X surely stands atop the list. This SSD uses the standard M.2 2280 form factor and offers a PCIe Gen 4 interface, offering an incredibly speedy 7,000 MB/s read and 5,300 MB/s write speeds. Equipped with a large capacity of up to 2TB, it also has enough space to store a variety of games and other large files.
As an enthusiastic gamer or power user who thrives on speed, you’ll find the WD Black SN850X to be a gem. With its extraordinary speed, your game loads in a snap, and in-game transitions happen smoothly and without delay. Add to this the high storage capacity and you’re all set to load it up with high-profile AAA game titles and media files.
The WD Black SN850X, with its high performance and capacity, isn’t just a gaming powerhouse. It’s also a fantastic choice for creative professionals who require quick access to large files.
- With heatsink
- 7,450 MB/s transfer rates
- 50% more power efficient over predecessor
- Only up to 2TB capacity
Samsung has proven to deliver some of the very best SSDs on the market for both PC players and console gamers alike. The Samsung 870 EVO and 970 EVO are testaments to the firm’s craft, but its 990 Pro is just the pinnacle of PC gaming performance in terms of SSD potential.
Get rid of your hard drive, because the Samsung 990 Pro is all you need. It sports an included heatsink in tandem with a 7,450 MB/s transfer rate and a 50% boost over its younger brother, the 980 Pro. It leverages a PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 2.0 interface and an M.2 2280 form factor.
One of the only major downsides to the 990 Pro is its disappointing 4K random performance. It’s not a huge deal breaker, but something that definitely should be said. There’s also the rather high price point of around $200 for the 2TB option, but it seems it’s come down a lot and is currently going for $160 at select retailers.
That’s the highest it can go, so if 2TB is not enough for you, you may want to find an alternative across this list of the best SSDs for gaming.
- Excellent overall performance
- Consistent high speed across all versions
- Competitive price among direct competitors
- May run slightly hot
- Unspectacular 4K performance
The SK Hynix Platinum P41 is a high-performing SSD that turns heads. Its specifications reveal it’s no lightweight contender: it’s an M.2 SSD with a PCIe 4.0 interface, and it offers exceptional sequential read and write speeds of up to 7,000MB/s and 6,500MB/s respectively.
If you’re a performance-focused gamer or professional seeking an SSD that delivers top-tier speed, the Platinum P41 is your ticket. One of its distinguishing factors is the consistency of its high performance across all storage capacities, meaning you get to enjoy the fastest write speeds even with the 1TB version.
Despite being a powerhouse, the Platinum P41 isn’t without its small quirks. It might run a tad hot, and its 4K performance may not be the most spectacular. Additionally, while its price is competitive among its direct rivals, you might find better value elsewhere if budget is a prime concern.
- Attractive, not overly bulky heatsink
- PS5 compatibility
- Excellent performance at a competitive price.
- No accompanying software
- Faces tough competition in its price range
The Silicon Power XS70 2TB SSD is a strong contender in the realm of gaming SSDs, ready to mix it up with the market’s top players. Its specifications include a Phison PS5018-E18 controller and a Micron 176L TLC NAND flash. With its M.2 PCIe 4.0 x4 interface, you can expect sequential read speeds up to 7,300MB/s and sequential write speeds up to 6,800MB/s.
If you’re a passionate gamer, particularly a PS5 owner, this SSD will be music to your ears. Silicon Power designed the XS70 with PS5 compatibility in mind, resulting in an attractive and not overly bulky heatsink that would easily blend into your gaming setup.
However, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns for the XS70. The lack of accompanying software might be a minor letdown for some users. Plus, there’s some stiff competition in this price range.
How we picked the best gaming SSD
Selecting the best SSDs for gaming is no small task, considering the sea of upgrades available. We start by sifting through countless user reviews, expert opinions, and hardware manufacturer specs.
The SSDs are then evaluated based on their performance, speed, durability, capacity, and monetary value. We also consider the brand’s reputation for reliable products and good customer service.
We pay special attention to real-world performance tests, as these give us a more accurate understanding of how the SSDs will perform during intense gaming sessions. Compatibility with a wide range of systems is another factor we look into to ensure that our recommendations suit various setups.
Find the best gaming SSD for your needs
Before I installed my first SSD, I had everything – my Windows OS, drivers, games, files, movies, you name it – installed on a 7200RPM, 1TB mass storage drive. My PC took ages to boot up, and once I had finally logged in, sometimes it would take a while before it was truly responsive.
Here’s the thing: Once I installed my SSD, the difference was night and day. I transferred my Windows OS, drivers, and my favorite games to my SSD, and voila! My PC was much faster.
Oh and if you’re wondering what the best SSD brand is, you can’t go wrong with Western Digital or Samsung, although Adata– the only other brand we included on this list– is pretty good too.
SSDs on a Budget
Sure, they’re a bit pricier than traditional mechanical drives, but they’re also a lot faster, which makes them the best storage option for a gaming PC, in my opinion. From a price-to-performance standpoint, they’re well worth the money even if you are only getting a smaller one.
If you can’t afford a top SSD, then that’s fine; most people can’t. Instead, a lot of folks buy two drives: a mechanical hard drive with one or two terabytes of storage space and an SSD. Since SSDs cost more $/GB, buying a 1TB or 2TB SSD isn’t always an option. Instead, store all of your applications, movies, music, and other files on your mechanical mass storage drive.
How Much Space Do You Need?
I wouldn’t recommend buying an SSD for a gaming PC that’s any smaller than 500GB. Since the drive with Windows installed is your C: drive, you’ll end up having to install more files than you think on that drive. Some programs must be installed on your C: drive.
Also, keep in mind that if you install Steam on your C: drive, you have to install all of your games on that drive as well.
I can get by with my 240GB SSD, but only with a few games installed on it at a time. This isn’t an issue for me because I play a few games these days. But if you like to have all of your games installed and ready to go at a moment’s notice, you’ll need a larger SSD.
500GB should be plenty, and most people won’t need any more than 1TB of storage on their SSD. Anything more than that is probably overkill, especially for a budget or mid-tier gaming PC.
Why are SSDs Faster than HDDs?
Mechanical disc drives (HDDs) read data from a disc. The disc spins inside the drive at an incredibly fast speed. 5400 RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) for older HDDs and 7200 RPM for newer ones. A mechanical arm has to move around to read and write information on the disc.
You may think these drives are spinning pretty darn fast– and they are– but speed is relative. Enter SSDs, aka Solid State Drives.
So, what makes an SSD different? Well, as the name implies, SSDs don’t have any moving parts– they’re solid. Rather than storing information on a disc, SSDs store information in microchips. SSDs use flash storage. You can think of SSDs as oversized flash drives.
As such, SSDs are more expensive per GB of storage than HDDs. Nevertheless, their prices have been dropping over the years, making them more affordable than ever.
SSD Types: SATA and M.2 Drives (and NVME, too)
Storage technology has come a long way since its humble beginnings. Believe it or not, a 4-megabyte storage drive was the size of nearly two refrigerators back in the 1950s.
Mechanical hard drives were all the rage when they first came out, able to store hundreds and eventually several thousand gigabytes on one drive. Nowadays, a 2.5-inch SSD can store several terabytes of information on a device only slightly larger than a credit card.
Mechanical hard drives and traditional SSDs connect to the motherboard via a SATA (Serial-ATA) cable. Over the years there have been different versions of SATA.
- SATA 1 launched in January 2003 and could transfer around 150 MB/s.
- SATA 2 was released in April of 2004 and could transfer up to 300 MB/s, double that of the first-generation SATA cables.
- SATA 3 came along in July of 2008 and has remained the standard SATA cable since. It is commonly referred to as SATA 6 Gbit/s, but don’t let it confuse you. 6 Gigabytes translates to 600 MB/s, not 6 gigabytes per second. There’s a huge difference.
Though impressive, even 2.5-inch SATA 3 SSDs have a bottleneck. The SATA cable and connectors themselves can only transfer around 550-600 MB per second.
Even though every new SATA generation effectively doubled transfer speed, SATA 3 (6 Gbit/s) (6 Gbit/s) is the limit for Serial ATA transfer speeds. 600 MB/s may seem fast – and it is – but flash storage is evolving so quickly, a new solution had to be created in order to keep up.
Enter SATA Express in 2013… except it was kind of cumbersome and was never largely adopted.
Enter M.2 solid state drives. The newest M.2 drives connect to your motherboard via a PCI Express 3.0 (x4) slot, which is the newest – and the fastest – PCI connector on the market.
A word of advice: Not all M.2 drives were created equal. Some may only be compatible with the PCI Express 2.0 standard, which will significantly reduce your expected performance boost. When you’re buying an M.2 drive, make sure it is compatible with a PCI Express 3.0 slot.
Moreover, be sure to purchase an M.2 drive that adheres to the new NVME standard for interacting with the rest of the system.
What SSD speed is best for gaming?
The faster your SSD, the quicker your games will load, and the smoother your gaming experience will be. As a general rule, SSDs with a speed range of 3,500 to 7,000 MB/s provide excellent performance for gaming. So, when choosing an SSD for gaming, remember – the faster, the better!
Is 512GB SSD enough for gaming?
If you’re the type of gamer who plays a couple of games at a time and then uninstalls them, a 512GB SSD should suffice. However, if you’re a hardcore gamer with a penchant for AAA titles that take up a lot of space, or you like to keep a wide variety of games installed at once, you might find that 512GB fills up pretty quickly. In that case, it might be worth investing in an SSD with a larger capacity – say, 1TB or more.
So there you have it, a comprehensive rundown of the best SSDs for gaming. As we’ve discovered, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to choosing the ideal SSD. It’s all about striking a balance between your performance needs, budget, and the specific requirements of your gaming setup.
From the blazingly fast WD Black SN850X to the well-rounded and affordable Silicon Power US70, from the high-performance SK Hynix Platinum P41 to the PS5-ready Silicon Power XS70 2TB SSD, each of these SSDs shines in its own unique way. Remember, the key to gaming bliss lies in understanding your gaming needs and matching them to the right SSD.
While all might be exceptional options for gamers and content creators alike, the WD Black SN850X is by far the best SSD for gaming on the market. Though it might be a bit pricey, it serves a delicate balance of read and write speeds in tandem with both gaming and professional use cases, allowing it a versatility not yet matched by alternative options in the ecosystem.