Change your old HDD and run with the best SSDs for gaming in 2019.
The best SSD for gaming is more than just bulk storage. They’re fast bulk storage. Solid-state drives have largely overtaken conventional spinning platter HDDs in the gaming space by becoming more affordable, but also by offering far superior transfer speeds. Even though install sizes for games are only getting larger, you typically won’t need more than a few TBs of storage at any given time, making SSDs a clear winner for most uses.
Storage doesn’t directly impact performance the way the best gaming CPU or the best graphics card do, but if you’re experiencing load times that rival an HBO show’s intro credits, your storage may be the culprit. Any time you load a save game (or really any time a game needs to access data it has stashed in a directory somewhere), it’s going to be reliant on the transfer speeds of your drive to get that information.
SSDs are broken down into a couple of categories based on their form factor. SATA SSDs are more common and typically offer better storage per dollar. They also tend to be slower than M.2 drives. These slim and compact drives are socketed directly into your motherboard, not only making them easier to install but also granting them access to additional PCIe lanes, generally improving their transfer speeds.
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1. Samsung 860 Evo 1TB
Best gaming SSD. A balanced blend of price, performance, and reliability
Capacity: 1TB | Interface: SATA 6Gb/p/s | Sequential IO: 550/520MB/s read/write | Random IO: 98K/90K IOPS read/write
If there’s one company that tends to rule in the SSD market space, it’s Samsung. The 850 Evo was a long-time favorite and remains viable even today, but the 860 Evo line has largely displaced it. Samsung trades blows with Crucial for our top pick, depending on capacity and current prices, but both are excellent drives with proven reliability and performance.
The 1TB 860 Evo hits the sweet spot for price and performance, and the higher capacity models are also worth a look, especially as they’re relatively cheap and dropping in price as the months go by.
These are great SATA drives, and you’re unlikely to have compatibility issues here. Any PC build in the last 15 years will have a SATA port, whereas the newer Samsung 970 drives require a PC typically built within the past 3-4 years. The 860 Evo remains one of the fastest SATA drives overall, and Samsung has a well deserved reputation for reliability. It’s often on sale for less at Amazon or Newegg, so keep an eye open for discounts.
- As fast as SATA gets
- Proven Samsung reliability
- SATA bottlenecks
- Sometimes higher prices
2. Crucial P1 1TB NVMe
Great performance, price, and capacity
Capacity: 1TB | Interface: M.2 PCIe 3×4 | Sequential IO: 2000/1700MB/s read/write | Random IO: 170K/240K IOPS read/write
On paper, the Crucial P1 is the obvious choice in this roundup. With the highest advertised read/write speeds on our list, paired with a budget price point, it seems like there’s no contest. It costs less than many SATA drives.
Unfortunately, the rated speeds don’t always hold up under load or when the drive is mostly full. With the P1 filled to around half of its rated capacity, we experienced transfer speeds more closely resembling SATA SSDs. That’s due to the QLC (Quad-Level Cell) NAND, which stores 4-bits of data per cell.
Still, for gaming workloads it rivals most of the SATA drives on this list, and there’s little reason not to make this a part of your next budget build, assuming you have an NVMe slot. The Crucial P1’s low price point and compact, reliable form factor make it difficult to pass up, especially if you’re set on an NVMe drive (and have the requisite M.2 slot).
- Can be faster than SATA
- Respectable brand
- Solid power efficiency
- Reduced performance when full
- QLC results in weaker random IO
3. Intel 660p 2TB
One of the best gaming SSD on the market
Capacity: 2000GB | Interface: M.2 PCIe 3×4 | Sequential IO: 1800/1800MB/s read/write | Random IO: 220K/220K IOPS read/write
When it comes to speed, it’s tough to beat an NVMe drive’s sequential transfer rates. The Intel 660p easily beats any SATA drive for such workloads, and for gaming use it delivers consistent performance with a high storage capacity. It’s also the cheapest 2TB SSD currently available, period.
There are two drawbacks. One is that performance can drop when the drive is more than about half to two-thirds full, and random write performance can be pretty low. That’s typical of all QLC drives.
The other potential concern is that it has a lower rated endurance. The 512GB model is rated at 100TBW, while the 2TB drive has a 400TBW rating. But let’s put that into perspective. 100TBW is about 55GB of data writes each day, every day, for five years. No consumer workload is going to do that, and the 2TB drive bumps that to 220GB per day. Yeah.
Intel has a 5-year warranty, like many other manufacturers, and it’s unlikely the 660p would fail during that time. With the good speed and extremely competitive price point, the Intel 660p is a strong competitor for our best gaming SSD. Just be wary of the 512GB model, where performance starts lower and it’s much easier to fill up more than half the drive.
- High capacity
- Solid Value
- Slows down as it fills up
- Lower endurance