There are few things more frustrating that installing that new game you’ve been dying to play, only to spend a disproportionate amount of your time watching it load because you’re relying on old hard disk drives. There’s an easy way to avoid those strenuous wait times, and that’s to make sure you’ve got a reliable solid-state drive (SSD) under the hood of your gaming PC.
Before you purchase any of these SSDs, make sure your computer can actually support them — both in terms of compatibility and physical room in your PC case. The last thing you want is to drop some money on a M.2 NVMe SSD, only to learn that your motherboard doesn’t support them.
This article has been updated since its original publication.
Budget SSDs (Up to $100)
2.5-inch SATA SSDs are somewhat on the outs, considering that these days you don’t have to spend that much more to get their M.2 equivalent. However, the Crucial MX500 SSD is great option if you’re shopping on a budget. If you’re just after a little bit of extra storage for your gaming PC and don’t want to go too crazy with spending, you can pick up the 250GB MX500 for an absolute bargain. Even if you don’t need one that bad, it’s a very justifiable price.
It’s a SSD that is both consistent and reliable when it comes to performance. Upgrading to the 500GB, or even the 1TB capacity version of this Crucial SSD isn’t a bad idea, either. With the latter, you’ll be paying roughly around the same amount for the 500GB M.2 drives on this list.
If you’re upgrading or building a mid-level gaming rig, I’d suggest looking at Western Digital’s Black SN750. This WD Black SSD stands toe-to-toe with some of the more high-end M.2 drives when it comes to transfer speeds, but with the added bonus of a cheaper price. The 250GB drive is a good choice for having a dedicated OS drive.
Mid-Range SSDs ($100-200)
Samsung’s 860 EVO is an inexpensive SATA SSD that offers one of the strongest sequential reading and writing rates of any SATA drive. It doesn’t hurt to have more than one SSD installed in your computer so having this as an extra drive isn’t a bad idea, especially if you’ve got a large collection of games with big install sizes.
Adata’s XPG SX8200 Pro was designed to work under pressure, so it’s not a bad option if you spend your time playing system demanding games. Where it really shines is its speed. This SSD can sequentially read up to 3,500MB/s and sequential write up to 3,000MB/s. That’s a fantastic rate of performance, especially when you factor in the very affordable price tag.
With 3.5GB/2.5GB read and write speeds, Samsung’s 970 EVO Plus can handle any game that you want to throw at it. If you’re looking for a SSD with low latency and enhanced bandwidth, that will help you reach some high-end performances with your games, then this is the one you want.
Bumping this up to be the version with 1TB storage isn’t a bad idea if you’re after a good install drive or scratch drive. You should definitely consider upgrading the storage space if you have a few Modern Warfare-sized games installed at any given time.
For The Big Spender ($200+)
If you’re after top of the line performance, Samsung’s 970 PRO really swings for the fences. While its reading/writing rates aren’t as strong as the 970 EVO Plus, the 970 makes up for this with its endurance. It’s a reliable SSD that can hold its own while running some of the more system demanding games. If you also do a fair share of video editing or graphic design work, this thing will make sure you aren’t stuck with long load times.
It’s on the more expensive end of the SSD spectrum, but a solid investment nonetheless. If you can’t justify going that big, maybe drop the storage size down to the 512GB version.
If you want to go big with your SSD but still want value for your money, the Sabrent Rocket Q might be what you want. You’ll get some solid performance when it comes to gaming, and it’s not a bad option if you spend a lot of time editing videos. The 2TB of storage should be more than enough to meet your needs, even if you feel it necessary to have a lot of big install games on your drive at any one time.
Even though you’ll be dropping a few hundred dollars to pick this up, you’ll still be spending less than you would on the equivalent SSD for most competitors.