The best SSDs for gaming are still seeing discounted prices, but we're not sure for how long. The top-performing storage solutions have been going cheap for over a year now, but with a new generation right around the corner, that could finally change. The very first Gen 5 SSD has hit the shelves in Japan, and this could go one of two ways. Either, manufacturers relish the chance to sell things as "new" and bring prices back up, or, the Gen 4 drives we love so much will stay at more accessible prices.
Gen 5 PCIe SSDs can reach some sickeningly fast speeds, but while we wait for them to arrive in the international markets, what puts the current best SSDs for gaming way ahead of HDDs and SATAs? Without getting too technical, M.2 PCIe SSDs offer much faster read and write speeds - with some offering well over 7,000 MB/s - as they don't rely on the traditional spinning discs of HDDs. Thanks to the extremely efficient motherboard interface of Gen 4.0 NVMe SSDs, a higher rate of input/output operations per second (IOPS) is possible.
These SSDs are also smaller than SATAs, which means they fit neatly into place - and now act as some of the best PS5 SSDs too. SATAs and Gen 3.0 NVMes are still good-value options to go for in 2023, especially if you're looking for larger capacities, although keep in mind Gen 4 is cheaper than it arguably should be. For reference, even some of the HDDs on our best external hard drive list would be lucky to clock 200 MB/s.
There are plenty of big manufacturers that have Gen 5 SSDs in the works for this year. At least for now, though, the best SSDs for gaming are a lot more affordable than they were this time last year. We'd recommend making the most of it with one of our top picks on the list below.
The best SSD for gaming in 2023
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The WD Black SN850X has recently supplanted its predecessor as our favorite SSD for gaming. While we held off adding the SN850X to this list for a while, the price has finally leveled out so that the extra performance you gain with this model isn't that much more expensive. The SN850 is still a great option, although keep in mind it might get harder to find as it continues to age.
In all honesty, you won't find too many disparities between the SN850X and the SN850 in terms of performance. The SN850X improves upon the sequential read and write speeds we loved from the older model, and even runs cooler thanks to the integrated heatsink. This was a big problem with the SN850, as it tended to run pretty hot under pressure. The SN850X does a great job of dealing with that though, because WD says it's implemented a new thermal management profile that reduces performance throttling when it's working particularly hard.
One slight disappointment is that the 4K performance and random speeds underperformed compared to the older model in our tests. Regardless, the SN850 X is one of the strongest all rounders you'll find on the market, regardless of the platform you play on.
- Read more: WD Black SN850X review
Seagate is one of the biggest names in storage and the Seagate Firecuda 530 2TB is absolutely up there with the big boys. This is partly due to the use of its excellent Phison E18 controller.
We found in our testing that the Firecuda 530 2TB lived up to the claimed figures of 7,300 MB/s and 6,900 MB/s read, making this drive one of the faster Phison E18-based SSDs around. We clocked just over 7GB/s and just shy of the 6.9GB/s read figures.
The random performance of the Firecuda 530 2TB isn't quite as strong as its sequential offerings, though. Simply put, this drive offers good rates but doesn't quite excel in the same fashion as other Phison E18 units. We clocked 83 MB/s 4K reads and 251 MB/s writes, which still offers a great experience, however, doesn't quite hit that 300 MB/s figure that the WD Black SN850 can.
If you can say all that of most drives based on the Phison E18 controller, the Firecuda’s epic 2,550TB write endurance rating is something really exceptional. It’s also worth noting that this drive is fully compatible with the Sony PS5 and is optionally available with a PS5-optimised heatsink. All told, it’s one heck of an SSD that also happens to be one of our favourite PS5 SSDs.
- Read more: Seagate FireCuda 530 review
The Kingston Fury Renegade impresses across the board as one of the best SSDs for gaming on the market right now. With its stated speeds reaching upwards of 7,000 MBS, we're happy to report that this drive really is the real deal when it comes to blazing-fast performance perfect for DirectStorage.
Our benchmarks don't lie, and neither did Kingston. The Fury Renegade achieved read and write speeds of 7,344.99MB/s and 6,873.21MB/s respectively through CrystalDiskMark, and a stellar Anvil score of 21,649.35 for some seriously impressive performance. Of course, raw numbers mean nothing if the in-game performance can't back it up. Fortunately, loading and transfer times were as close to instant as you would hope for from a drive of this caliber.
Briefing touching on transfer times, we noted that CyberPunk2077, a 64.88GB game, took only 22.66 seconds being written from one NVMe drive to the Kingston. It's a similar story with Destiny 2, and its 73.5GB of content, which made the jump between drives in just 28 seconds. Loading times were all but non-existent as well, as we were able to jump into Halo Infinite's main campaign in a mere 18 seconds - straight into gameplay.
- Read more: Kingston Fury Renegade SSD review
The great thing about SSD technology is that you don’t have to go to the biggest brands and most expensive manufacturers for great read and write speeds. The Silicon Power US70 is one of the more affordable Gen 4.0 NVMe drives that you can get your hands on in 2022, and this is due to the more modest targeted figures of 5,000 MB/s read and 4,400 MB/s write. In our testing, we found that the drive yielded respectable figures of around 3 GB/s read and 3.3 GB/s write respectively which is solid considering the quoted numbers, but a little away from what was possible.
AnvilPro gave us the score of 16,591.33 which positions the Silicon Power US70 in league with some of the humbler Gen 4.0 SSDs on the market right now. Thermal performance was particularly impressive, as the hottest the US70 got when being benched and enduring lengthy file transfers hovered between the 40 and 44-degree mark. This means that the drive ran nice and cool, which is something we cannot say for every Gen 4.0 SSD that passes by our test rigs.
The Silicon Power US70 is unlikely to set the world of gaming PCs ablaze with its lightning fast rates, however, if you're after a strong performer at prices starting from around the $100 / £100 mark then there's little more you could ask for. That price-to-performance ratio is the all important factor here.
SATA-type drives are the oldest form of SSDs on the market. And while they can't quite compare against the M.2 form storage devices, they are still worthy of their place in the best SSD for gaming conversation - almost purely on value alone.
Simply put, nowadays, they are remarkably cheap. And you can have multiple SATA drives in your PC, provided you have the cables and setup, and for a bargain price. These drives can really shine as great backup drives for games and storing files on and the Crucial MX500 is the best of the lot, so you can't go far wrong. Especially since it costs considerably less than other SATA SSD models at just $50 or £40 for 250GB, or around $225/£200 for a 2TB bad boy.
On the benchmarking front, the Crucial MX500 doesn't 'impress' much compared to the other SSDs in this guide, but as explained above, that's due to the SATA connection - everything is relative, after all. In the sequential 1MB test, it provides 561 MB/s read and 468 MB/s write – almost identical to the 4MB test with 524 MB/s and 482 MB/s respectively.
If you're looking for a main SSD, then, budget-dependent, one of the above SSDs are likely your best bet, but if you're looking for a secondary drive, or are building a budget rig, then the Crucial MX500 is certainly one of the best of the rest. I currently use it for all the games I can't fit on my other drives and while the loading speeds aren't quite the same, it's still far better and faster than any HDD would be (and most other SATA SSDs, for that matter).
The WD Black SN770 is the successor to the hugely popular mid-tier WD Black SN750 SE model. It features a vastly improved sequential and random performance but at a similar price point. While you're unlikely to be blown away by the raw numbers that the WD Black SN770 outputs, it is one of the best SSDs for gaming for those after an affordable, and consistent, Gen 4.0 drive in 2022.
In our testing, we found that the WD Black SN770 achieved its respectable claimed sequential speeds, with CrystalDiskMark read and write benchmarks of 5,227.53 and 4,980.83 respectively. What's more, the Anvil Pro score was equally solid at 20,024.98, which is a figure normally reserved for more upmarket NVMe drives.
With its aggressive asking price MSRP of $129.99 / £142.99 for a 1TB model, the WD Black SN770 certainly positions itself as one of the more competitive offerings from the storage brand. If you're after a drive with a terrific price-to-performance ratio that'll do everything from quick OS boot times to lightning-fast in-game loading, then the WD Black SN770 is a hard proposition to beat for the money.
One of the best performing M.2 SSDs on the market is the WD Black SN750. It doesn't innovate much over its predecessor – it's still on the same hardware, after all – but the performance tests prove that you don't need to fix what ain't broke. It's worth noting that we've only tested the 250GB variant of the SN750 – the increased sizes seem to offer better performance, peaking at 1TB, before the 2TB option starts to decrease again. However, at just £45/$55 for the 250GB model, you're not breaking the bank for an SSD that can hold a good few games.
In AnvilPro, the 250GB SN750 came back with 2,474 MB/s and 1,488 MB/s read and write scores in the sequential 4MB category, but improved upon them slightly – as expected – in CrystalDiskMark's 1MB test, with 3108 MB/s and 1575 MB/s. These are incredibly hearty numbers and show that the drive has the chops to handle whatever you throw at it.
I've been mainly using the SN750 for my single-player games – Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Cyberpunk 2077, etc. – and the loading is impressively quick, to the point where this SSD – especially at this price – would easily take the number one spot in this buying guide were it not for the incredible speeds of the AN1500.
Best SSD for gaming: Frequently asked questions
What is a good size for a gaming SSD?
As games continue to get larger, we generally recommend either a 1TB or 2TB model over anything smaller in the NVMe form factor. This is to give you enough headroom to load up titles from your virtual game libraries (such as Steam, Epic, or Origin) without having to constantly make room for new releases. Also, 1TB / 2TB drives tend to run slightly faster than their smaller siblings in the same product line.
Is SSD recommended for gaming?
With PC games continuing to become more demanding in terms of bandwidth and file sizes, SSDs are the way to go to minimize loading times and have faster boot-up speeds. A Gen 4.0 SSD especially is fast enough to load in HD textures and the larger game worlds that modern titles utilize in a flash. Like we mentioned earlier, when compared to HDDs, the read and write speeds aren't even close or remotely comparable.
What is a good SSD speed for gaming?
While there's no hard and fast rule as to the quickness of an SSD, we would strongly recommend a minimum of a Gen 3.0 drive in your gaming PC as it has rates of up to 3,500 MB/s read and write respectively. However, should you want the best of the best, then we're seeing sequential performance exceeding 7,000 MB/s from flagship Gen 4.0 drives at the moment. Our advice is to go with the fastest drive that your budget allows, but ideally, you'll want to go NVMe over the slower SATA and HDD models online.
Is NVMe or SSD better for gaming?
We'd argue that the best SSDs for gaming are NVMe (non-volatile memory express) is the one to buy if you're looking to get the fastest load times and best performance in PC games. These types of drive are faster than SATA SSDs, but are another form of solid state drive that offer even better performance and take up much less space.
What brand of SSD is best for gaming?
From the list above, two brands stand out to us as the go-to SSD manufacturers. Seagate and Western Digital.
WD (which owns SanDisk, if you didn't know), was founded back in 1986 and is now one of the most trusted names in all of storage. Their WD Black products in both SSD and HDD are stellar, and their popularity speaks for them.
Seagate, which is perhaps more of a household name than WD, has always been at the peak of the storage mountain. Their FireCuda 530 was the first SSD confirmed for the PS5, and it's easy to see why.
With that in mind, we stand by what we said earlier on in our list. You don't have to go to big brand names to find exceptional read and write speeds. When it comes to SSD, you can trust the technology.
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