The 9 Best SSDs for Gaming in 2021

If you're a serious gamer, you'll want to pick up one of these SSDs

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The Rundown
"This iteration of Western Digital SSDs is six times faster than previous models."
Best SATA SSD:
Crucial MX500 at Amazon
"Crucial’s MX500 offers one of the best overall prices while delivering maximum performance on minimal power."
Best for Speed:
Samsung 960 PRO at Amazon
"Besides its read speed, this gaming SSD writes at 2,100MB per second and includes Samsung’s Magician software."
Best Transfer Speeds:
Samsung 960 EVO at Amazon
"The NVMe M.2 SSD will power you through your load screens for graphic- and memory-heavy games with a whopping 3,200MB per second read speed."
"Storage veterans at Seagate have brought their experience to the gaming scene with their line of FireCuda products."
"The WD Black D50 Game Dock can provide a much-needed storage boost without sacrificing performance."
"The best dollar to GB value out of any SSD we've featured."
"The WD Black AN1500 is very clearly marketing itself to gamers, RGB lighting included."
Best Heat Sink:
Corsair MP600 SSD at Amazon
"This M.2 SSD has exceptional read/write speeds, capable of reaching up to 4,900 MB/s."


If you're running out of space for all of those Modern Warfare updates, then you could definitely benefit from one of our best SSDs for gaming. Besides giving your desktop a little extra breathing room, these diminutive drives can seriously cut down on load times for games and speed up file transfers. If you're in the market for bleeding-edge performance, SSD is the way to be.

SSDs generally come in two flavors, SATA SSDs and M.2 SSDs which vary wildly in terms of performance, cost, and compatibility. When shopping for additional storage, it's typically a question of cost per GB, in which case, SATA SSDs will almost always prove to be the clear winner. These pocket-sized drives are a solid compromise between performance and cost, providing better transfer speeds than traditional "spinning-platter" hard drives, without being exorbitantly expensive.

On the other side of the coin, we have M.2 SSDs. No larger than a stick of gum, these drives generally cost more than their traditional counterparts but provide far better performance. Another solid perk of M.2 SSDs is that they're far easier to install provided your motherboard has a free M.2 slot, eliminating the need for cables. Whereas SATA SSDs need bo a data transfer and power cable which can make matters difficult when trying to keep your case tidy.

If you need a little help figuring out which end goes where make sure to read our guide to how to install an SSD in your computer before taking a look at our top picks for SSDs for gaming.

Best M.2 SSD: Western Digital Black SN750 1TB NVMe SSD

What We Like
  • Good performance

  • Excellent per-gigabyte value

  • Good thermals

What We Don't Like
  • Firmware could use some optimization

  • High cost is mostly attributed to the added heatsink

The Western Digital Black SN750 solid-state drive is ideal for gamers looking to build a serious rig or update their current build to keep up with data demand. This iteration of Western Digital SSDs is six times faster than previous models. This SSD can read data at up to 3470MB per second, providing gamers with the competitive edge that they need. It features 64-layer 3D NAND programming to utilize more of the drive’s storage space than ever before.

The SN750 uses Western Digital’s exclusive SSD dashboard desktop application, with a dedicated gaming mode for ultimate control over performance and data transfer. This SSD has a sleek and minimalist design that goes well with almost any gaming rig build, including those with addressable or non-addressable RGB components. A compatible heatsink is available for enhanced cooling and heat dissipation to prevent malfunction due to high temperatures and keep you in the game, worry-free. This SSD also comes with a five-year limited warranty, so you can rest assured that your drive is covered for common defects.

Capacity: 1TB | Interface: NVMe | Transfer Speeds: 3,470MBps Read / 3,000MBps Write | Form Factor: M.2

Best SATA SSD: Crucial MX500 1TB SSD

Crucial MX500 1TB
What We Like
  • Excellent value for space

  • Amazing performance

  • Tons of different capacity options

What We Don't Like
  • Relatively low endurance rating

When we’re talking about the best overall SSD for gaming, we want to hit on a perfect combination of price point, speed, performance and reliability. And the Crucial MX500 does just that. From 500GB to 2TB, Crucial’s MX500 offers one of the best overall prices while delivering maximum performance on minimal power.

The Crucial MX500 is built with a next-generation Micron 3D NAND, making it run cooler and quieter without using too much power for your everyday gaming computing use. It pushes a read speed of up to 560MB per second — this means if you’re streaming Counter-Strike: Global Offensive online with 4K HD video and high-quality audio, you’ll have no worry of a hiccup. The MX500’s write speed pushes to about 510MB per second, so you can quickly drag and drop huge files and store them in a flash. It comes with a five-year limited warranty and is compatible with both Mac and PC.

Capacity: 1TB | Interface: SATA | Transfer Speeds: 560MBps Read / 510MBps Write | Form Factor: 2.5" SSD

Best for Speed: Samsung 960 PRO NVMe M.2 512GB SSD

What We Like
  • Blazing fast speed

  • Available up to 2TB

  • Significant improvement over previous gen SSDs

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

  • Warranty could be better

The Samsung 960 PRO is like a fast pass at Disney World, with a lighting fast read speed of up to 3,500MB per second. Wait, now, slow down, the Samsung 960 PRO is an M.2 SSD, so you’ll want to first make sure that your motherboard is compatible with it in order for it to run. Besides its read speed, this gaming SSD writes at 2,100MB per second and includes Samsung’s Magician software that delivers both in sustainable management and automatic firmware updates to keep it fresh and ready. Its lifespan reliability will last you about 1.5 million hours, and if that’s not enough time, you’ll be covered by its five-year limited warranty. It comes in 512GB, 1TB and 2TB models.

Capacity: 512GB | Interface: NVMe | Transfer Speeds: 3,500MBps Read / 2,100MBps Write | Form Factor: M.2

Best Transfer Speeds: Samsung 960 EVO 500GB SSD

What We Like
  • Excellent value for performance

  • A true generational leap in performance

What We Don't Like
  • Not available in 2TB model

  • Warranty is a bit lackluster

Though not as fast as our top pick, the Samsung 960 EVO earns the spot of the best runner-up for speed when it comes to gaming SSDs because it has a more affordable price point. The NVMe M.2 SSD will power you through your load screens for graphic- and memory-heavy games with a whopping 3,200MB per second read speed.

With a sequential write speed of 1,800MB per second, the 960 EVO will store an 18GB video game in roughly 10 seconds flat. It also features a Dynamic Thermal Guard that automatically adjusts its temperature during heavy use in order to prevent your system from overheating. The Samsung 960 EVO comes with a three-year limited warranty and in 500GB, 1TB or 2TB models.

Capacity: 500GB | Interface: NVMe | Transfer Speeds: 3,200MBps Read / 1,800MBps Write | Form Factor: M.2

Best External SSD: Seagate FireCuda Gaming SSD

What We Like
  • Clean design

  • Helpful software

  • LED lighting is cool

What We Don't Like
  • A little expensive

  • Fast, but could be faster

Storage veterans at Seagate have brought their experience to the gaming scene with their line of FireCuda products. Until recently these products were restricted to internal drives, but have recently expanded to external options as well with the Seagate FireCuda Gaming SSD. This handy drive is a simple and cost-effective way to expand storage for both laptop and desktop users.

External drives are nothing new, but where the FireCuda sets itself apart is its speed, this drive is capable of reaching transfer speeds up to 2000 MB/s, making it exceptionally fast for an external drive, close approaching the performance you would see in a typical M.2 SSD. Available in both 1TB and 2TB options the Seagate FireCuda Gaming SSD is a versatile and affordable external storage option for anyone that needs whip-smart transfer speeds.

Capacity: 500GB | Interface: USB-C | Transfer Speeds: 2,000MBps Read / 2,000MBps Write | Form Factor: External SSD

Runner-Up, Best External SSD: Western Digital WD Black D50 Game Dock

WD D50 Game Dock
What We Like
  • Doubles as a USB-C dock

  • Easy to set up and use

  • Excellent transfer speeds for an external drive

What We Don't Like
  • Very expensive

  • Bulky

While the price is certainly much higher than what you'd typically pay for an external SSD, the WD Black D50 Game Dock can provide a much-needed storage boost without sacrificing performance. Boasting transfer speeds of up to 3000 MB/s the D50 can easily keep pace with most M.2 SSDs without the need for an M.2 slot. The D50 also serves as an ad-hoc USB-C hub, providing your laptop with an additional pair of USB-C and USB-A ports as well as a DisplayPort and Gigabit Ethernet connection.

This added utility is handy and does help to justify the higher than average price stage, but the D50 is still a bit expensive for our taste. However, this robust and versatile external SSD remains a straightforward solution for laptop gamers who are looking to expand their storage capacity.

Capacity: 1TB | Interface: USB-C | Transfer Speeds: 3,000MBps Read / 2,500MBps Write | Form Factor: External SSD

Best Budget: Crucial P1 - 1TB

What We Like
  • Excellent value

  • Good software management

What We Don't Like
  • No heat sink

  • Speed is lower than average

The Crucial P1 may not have the most impressive specs on our list, but it does have the best dollar to GB value out of any SSD we've featured. The 2,000 MB/s write speeds aren't going to set any speed records, but it does come in a 2TB variant that costs less than some SSDs that are half the size.

This SSD lags behind a lot of other M.2 SSDs but is still a drastic improvement over conventional hard drives, making this a perfect investment for anyone looking to upgrade from more conventional storage, expand their existing storage, or just want the simplicity that comes with an M.2 SSD without having to spend a fortune.

Capacity: 1TB | Interface: NVMe | Transfer Speeds: 2,100MBps Read / 1,700MBps Write | Form Factor: M.2

Best Add-in Card: Western Digital WD Black AN1500

WD AN1500
What We Like
  • Remarkable speed

  • Excellent thermals

  • Good software management suite

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Needs a PCI-E 4.0 motherboard to get the full effect

The Western Digital Black AN1500 follows in the footsteps of Intel's Optane AIB SSDs, but just a little more practical in terms of affordability and function. While the Intel Optane was geared mostly towards creative applications, the WD Black AN1500 is very clearly marketing itself to gamers, RGB lighting included. While the aesthetics of this drive certainly count for something, with its rugged military design setting itself apart from other SSDs.

AIB (Add-In Board) SSDs are capable of transfer speeds much higher than the current M.2 standard and are only going to become more common as 4th gen PCI-E motherboards become more prevalent. The drawback here is that AIB SSDs are going to cost substantially more per GB.

Capacity: 1TB | Interface: NVMe | Transfer Speeds: 6,500MBps Read / 4,100MBps Write | Form Factor: Add-in PCIe SSD

Best Heat Sink: Corsair MP600 SSD

What We Like
  • Excellent speed

  • Good warranty

  • Solid management software

What We Don't Like
  • Only reaches its potential with PCI-E 4.0

The gaming experts at corsair have managed to develop a solid gaming SSD with the MP600. This M.2 SSD has exceptional read/write speeds, capable of reaching up to 4,900 MB/s. While optional, the MP600 comes packaged with a heatsink that can be slotted onto the top of the SSD to help keep package temps under control if your case tends to run a bit hot.

Capacity: 1TB | Interface: NVMe | Transfer Speeds: 4,950MBps Read / 4,250MBps Write | Form Factor: M.2

Final Verdict

If you're looking for a cost-effective way to expand the internal storage of your desktop, the Crucial MX500 is an inexpensive way to improve storage and performance. However, if you have a little more cash and a spare M.2 slot, the WD Black SN750 is a better choice.

About Our Trusted Experts

Alice Newcome-Beill has been the associate commerce editor for Lifewire since December 2019. Her work has appeared on PCMag, PC Gamer, and GamesRadar. In her spare time, she enjoys building computers, emulating old software in DOSBox, and cycling.

FAQ

What are the benefits of an SSD?

SSDs have vastly superior transfer speeds when compared to conventional HDDs which have a wide variety of benefits. Installing your OS on an SSD can result in much faster boot times, and installing games on an SSD can seriously cut down on load times. Overall, SSDs are generally a better option all around unless you're seriously strapped for cash. 


What's the difference between SATA and M.2 SSDs?

These 2 different flavors of SSD refer to their form factor as well as how they interface with your computer. M.2 SSDs are currently the most popular choice due to their superior performance and ease of installation. No larger than a stick of gum, these SSDs simply slot into a free M.2 port on your motherboard without the need for cables. However, they do tend to be more expensive. 


SATA SSDs are less expensive but need to be connected to both your motherboard and power supply in order to operate. Besides needing to be tethered with cables, SATA SSDs also need to be placed in a drive cage or other mounting solution inside your case, making them slightly more difficult to install.


How many SSDs can my motherboard support?

This is entirely dependent on the amount of M.2 or SATA ports your motherboard supports. Most ATX motherboards can handle up to 2 M.2 and 6 SATA SSDs although it's very unlikely you'll ever use them all.



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