Are you looking to give your system load times a boost or get more storage space for the latest games? If so, our guide to the best gaming SSD is the place to be. Here you’ll find our pick of the best solid-state drives for various prices, from budget models to high-end options, ensuring there’s something for everyone.
We answer the question what is an SSD and explain how we test SSD speed at the bottom of this page.
When it comes to modern internal drives, SATA SSDs are no longer meaningfully cheaper than M.2 SSDs. Both demand similar prices for the same capacities, with the only remaining advantage of 2.5″ SATA SSDs being that they can stretch to 8TB sizes whereas M.2 drives are limited to 4TB. Therefore, we’ve moved on from recommending any SATA SSDs for normal PC builds. Hard drives are still worth getting for cheap large storage where speed isn’t a concern.
We recommend a minimum capacity of at least 1TB for your main drive, as even a basic Windows installation can take up nearly 20GB and many modern games can use well over 100GB. You can get 1TB M.2 NVMe SSDs for under $100 now.
Here are the best SSDs in 2023:
- Solidigm P44 Pro – the best PCIe 4.0 SSD for gaming
- WD Black SN850X – the best PCIe 4.0 SSD
- Sabrent Rocket NVME 4.0 – the best value PCIe 4.0 SSD
- Samsung 980 – the best PCIe 3.0 SSD for gaming
- WD Blue SN550 – the best budget M.2 SSD
1. Solidigm P44 Pro
The best SSD for gaming is the Solidigm P44 Pro.
The simple fact is that the Solidigm P44 Pro is the fastest SSD we’ve tested when it comes to game load times. Other drives offer faster peak performance in some benchmarks but for most home users it’s game load speed that is the most demanding test of an SSD. Here, the Solidigm shines. It’s also priced keenly so you’re not paying a premium for that gaming speed. Read our full Solidigm P44 Pro review.
- Excellent sequential speeds
- Competitive price
- Great game load performance
- Not as cheap as similar PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSDs
- Other SSDs have higher endurance ratings
- Heatsink required to prevent throttling
Solidigm P44 Pro specs:
|Controller||SK Hynix Aries|
|Endurance rating||750TBW (1TB), 1,200TBW (2TB)|
Price: Expect to pay $220 (£210) for 2TB, $130 (£115) for 1TB, and $80 (£85) for 512GB
2. WD Black SN850X
The best PCIe 4.0 SSD is the WD Black SN850X.
Although it’s not the absolute fastest PCIe 4.0 drive we’ve tested, the WD Black SN850X game load times are fantastic and its price is equally keen. Its snazzy heatsink works well but costs extra, so we’d recommend going with the non-heatsink version and using your motherboard’s M.2 heatsink if it has one. Read the full WD Black SN850X review.
- Excellent speeds
- Competitively priced
- 4TB model available
- Sequential speeds aren’t chart-topping
- Cheaper SSDs won’t feel much slower
- Toasty peak temperatures with stock heatsink
WD Black SN850X specs:
|Endurance rating||750TBW (1TB), 1,200TBW (2TB)|
Price: Expect to pay $115 (£100) for 1TB
3. Sabrent Rocket NVME 4.0
The best value PCIe 4.0 SSD is the Sabrent Rocket NVME 4.0.
The Solildigm P44 Pro might have the Sabrent Rocket NVME 4.0 beaten for game load speed, but otherwise the Sabrent is the faster drive. This makes the Rocket NVME 4.0 the best drive for consistent all-round SSD performance. Pricing is also competitive and you even get a free copy of the excellent Acronis True Image for easily formatting and moving around your data. Find out more in our full Sabrent Rocket NVME 4.0 review.
- Reasonable price
- Fast sequential transfers
- Good software
- No heatsink
- Can get toasty without extra cooling
- Competition looks better
Sabrent Rocket NVMe 4.0 specs:
|Endurance rating||1,800TBW (2TB)|
Price: Expect to pay $190 (£185) for 2TB, $90 (£87) for 1TB
4. Samsung 980
The best PCIe 3.0 SSD for gaming is the Samsung 980.
Although an older drive – and one that didn’t fare that well in our original review thanks to its high price – the Samsung 980 is now a great value PCIe 3.0 SSD that still has ample performance for most users’ needs. With recent price drops making it now an excellent value option and many users having little need to step up from a PCIe 3.0 drive to a hotter-running PCIe 4.0 drive, it’s a good way to save some money on your system build. If you need a drive that’s designed for hardcore gaming, and don’t mind spending more, check out the Samsung 980 Pro. Read more in our full Samsung 980 review.
- No need for a heatsink in most cases
- Good warranty and endurance
- As fast as pricier SSDs in some tests
- Similarly-priced PCIe 4.0 SSDs are faster
- Average 4K random read and write performance
- No 2TB option
Samsung 980 specs:
|Endurance rating||600TBW (1TB)|
Price: Expect to pay $69 (£63) for 1TB
5. WD Blue SN550
The best budget SSD is the WD Blue SN550.
A basic, budget SSD, the WD Blue SN550 can’t claim record-breaking read and write speeds or stellar write endurance writings. However, what it does offer is adequate performance to make your system feel snappy in use and keep game-load times low without breaking the bank. It’s among the cheapest M.2 SSDs around and still has enough performance for most systems. Read our WD Blue SN550 review.
- $55 for 1TB
- Good read speed for the cash
- No heatsink required
- Much faster SSDs cost just £30 more
- No DRAM cache
- Tiny SLC cache
WD Blue SN550 specs:
|Capacities||250GB, 500GB, 1TB|
|Max sequential read/write speed||Up to 2,400MB/s / 1,950MB/s (1TB)|
|Max random read/write speed||Up to 410K/405K IOPs (1TB)|
|Endurance rating||Up to 600TBW (1TB)|
Price: Expect to pay $100 (£117) for 2TB, $55 (£55) for 1TB
What is an SSD?
An SSD or solid-state drive, is a type of long-term storage for computers. That makes it different from RAM or memory, which doesn’t store data once a computer is turned off. The other main type of long-term computer storage is the hard drive.
SSDs and hard drives differ by how they store data. SSDs use silicon chips like those used to create CPUs and GPUs whereas hard disk drives (HDDs) use spinning platters of a magnetic material over which a read/write head moves, to read/write a spiral of data on the disk’s surface.
SSDs are much more resistant to physical shocks than HDDs and they can access data far faster too. Hard drives generally max out at 500MB/s (megabytes per second) read and write speeds with access times (how quickly an individual piece of data can be found) of 5-10ms. Modern SSDs can read/write at 7,000MB/s and have access times of 50-100µs – 100x faster than a hard drive. However, hard drives are much cheaper per unit of storage, with 4TB hard drives costing $70 and 4TB SSDs costing around $200.
We strongly recommend using an SSD as your main system drive so that Windows boot and game load times are as fast as possible. Hard drives are good for storing lots of less frequently-accessed data, such as old photos and videos.
How we test SSDs
We’ve been testing SSDs ever since they first arrived on the scene so know how to push them to their limits and find out what matters when it comes to SSD performance. We run a battery of tests using CrystalDiskMark and AS-SSD and carry out thermal tests to check for throttling.
We test a variety of read-and-write scenarios, including sequential and random tests, and we also measure the IOPS in AS-SSD. Stability and write endurance isn’t a meaningful concern for modern SSDs so we concentrate on performance in our tests.
Found the right SSD for your gaming PC? Why not check out our best graphics card and best CPU for gaming guides to complete your setup?