When most of the people think about upgrading their gaming PCs, or building a new one, their attention goes straight towards upgrading their graphics cards, CPUs, and motherboards.
While this approach isn't entirely wrong, allocating the majority of your money into only 2-3 of PC components can have really bad consequences.
It's because you'll then have to go for less-suitable options among other components, which'll create different bottlenecks and eventually slow down your PC' performance.
One of the least-focused area of gaming PCs are storage devices, although it should be the other way around given the fact that this is where you'll store all of your games.
Best Gaming SSDs 2020 Buying Guide
Not so long ago, Hard drives were the most commonly used storage devices in PCs, and only the high-end builds used to feature SSDs.
But now, thanks to the ever-decreasing prices of SSDs, this trend is quickly fading, and many budget PC builders are opting for them instead of HDDs - and for the right reasons.
Yes, they're still expensive than Hard drives on average, but when you consider the level of performance they bring, you'll happily pay that extra cash.
Best SSD For Gaming 2020
OK, now without further ado, let's start our roundup of best gaming SSDs for 2020.
Keep in mind that majority of the SSDs featured here (or even in the market) are not specifically marked "for the gamers". Instead, the SSDs we mentioned in this review are the ones we think to best suited for gaming PCs.
Crucial MX500: Check Price On Amazon
Best SATA SSD For Gaming 2020
The first SSD we have is MX500 by Crucial. It's been in the market for the last two years, but is still better than most of the competitors in its price range.
Being a SATA-based SSD, MX500 gives you a maximum speeds of 560MB/sec and 510MB/sec in sequential read and write operations respectively. In terms of random read/write operations, this one has 95K and 90K IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) respectively.
While still lower than what's offered in other SSDs like Samsung 860 Evo, MX500 has an improved write endurance from its predecessor, MX300, and now you can write 180TB data (for 500GB model, before this drive starts to wear out) and have a reliable 5-year warranty.
Since SSDs wear out each time you write data on them, you should choose an SSD that has a good write endurance so that you don't have to replace it before long.
180TB is good for average consumers but not suitable enough if you want anything related to content creation where you'll deal with tens of GBs of data every day.
MX500 is available in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB; but I personally like the 500GB version because you can get it in more or less 50 bucks at the time of this roundup and going for a higher-capacity version will make you spend more, which makes it less suitable for budget users.
Another good thing I found about this SSD is that it's available in both SATA and M.2 formats. There isn't any performance difference between these formats which gives you freedom to choose between the interfaces through which you'll connect this SSD to your PC.
All in all, it's perfect for anyone who's transitioning out of the HDDs and making his first steps into the SSD Bandwagon. Apart from that, since this SSD costs only 30 cents per GB (way less than other high-speed SSD), it's a good alternative to be used as your 'secondary SSD' if you already have a faster SSD installed in your PC.
Samsung T5 Portable SSD: Check Price On Amazon
Best External SSD For Gaming 2020
Many times you can face a scenario when you're thinking of buying an NVMe or SATA SSD only to find out that you don't have the spare port/slot for these respective types. This issue is more prevalent in SFF PC builds where you don't get a lot of ports/slots by default.
There are many ways to solve this problem, but the most obvious one is getting an external SSD.
Unlike Internal SSDs, External models utilize the USB ports of your PC. And since you can easily expand the number of USB ports by having a USB adapter, external SSDs (or even hard drives) are now becoming popular among PC community.
Coming back to our topic, here we have the T5 portable SSD by Samsung. Samsung is a well-known company when it comes to SSDs and you'll find many of their products in any 'best of' list related to these drives,
By design, T5 is really compact. So compact that you can easily put it into your jeans' pocket. It has a rally simple but graceful design, and has been built entirely out of metal. This metallic case ensures that the storage chips inside it are properly cooled, and also adds toughness to the drive. It's shock-resistant and can handle shocks up-to 2m height, but you must handle all of your SSDs/HDDs with care, no matter how sturdy they are.
Overall, it looks like its predecessor T3, except the dual-color scheme of T3.
When it comes to performance, T5 is heads and shoulders above any USB-based external SSD we've tested. Actually, there are two sides to look into it. T5 comes with a USB 3.1 Gen 2 connector that provides up to 10 Gbps file transfer speed, but for that to work, you'll also need the same connector at the other end.
When testing it with devices having USB Type-C Gen 1 connectors, we got read/write speeds of almost 440/340 MBps - which roughly equates to 5 Gbps (the maximum speed of Gen 1 connectors).
On the other hand, when tested it with Gen 2 connectors, we got 500+ MBs per second speed in both read and write operations.
So, as you can see, the results will vary depending upon the USB interface types your other devices have.
For better connectivity, T5 comes with foot-long USB Type-C to Type-C and Type-C to Type-A cables. For security, there's 256-bit AES hardware encryption. It supports Mac, Windows as well as Android OS (provided that you're running on KitKat and above).
Warranty is the area where I think T5 could've been better but 3 years are good enough for many people. All in all, you should definitely get it if you want a great performance within a small size. Yes, it's expensive but worth every penny in my opinion.
WD Black SN750 NVMe SSD: Check Price On Amazon
SSD With HeatSink
M.2 is now the preferred format among most of the people upgrading their PCs, and for good reasons. Most of the modern motherboards have built-in M.2 slots and these SSDs are smaller as well as faster (if get an NVMe, not SATA M.2 SSD) than SATA counterparts.
But what most people don't realize is that these NVMe SSDs also do a lot of processing and get heated in this process. If they get too hot, there's the possibility of thermal throttling and a performance decrease in those SSDs.
In order to counter this problem, many new motherboards are coming up with M.2 heatsinks but that's not stopping some SSD manufacturers to have a cooling solution of their own on the SSD itself.
This is the reason why we're reviewing the SN750 SSD by WD Black. It comes in two version: 'normal' version and a 'heatsink' version featuring a heatsink designed by EK. Since there's very low price difference between the two ,we decided to go with the 1TB heatsink version.
Having a heatsink pre-installed, this SSD is bulkier than the normal version and may have some compatibility issues. This is why WD has published this compatibility chart to let you know if it would fit in your motherboard or not.
Being an NVMe SSD, it performed great in our testing. Both normal and heatsink versions touched 3500 MBps mark in sequential read operations. In sequential write testing, the speed went slightly down, but still reached close to 3000 MBps - an impressive feat by any means.
In terms of temperature, we found it to be 4 degrees less hot than its non-heatsink version - after a hour of gaming. WD's SSD Dashboard also helps you in this regard and has multiple tabs which give you different types of information related to overall capacity, temperature, and performance.
It also has a built-in gaming mode which prevents the drive to go into the low-power state.
If I have to pinpoint any one downside than that would be the little performance difference between both of SN750 versions which means that you can also go for a without heatsink version if you want to.
Corsair Force Series MP600: Check Price On Amazon
Best High-End SSD For Gaming 2020
For a long time, Intel was considered the supreme leader in the processors market with no other competitor near it.
But all of this was changed when AMD released their Ryzen CPUs back in 2017. Ryzen 1st and 2nd gen processors gave a good fight to their Intel counterparts but AMD gave a final blow in the form of 3rd-gen of those CPUs.
Those new-gen processors have come with a new chipset by AMD called X570 and it holds a big advantage over Intel's Z390 chipset in the form of PCIe 4.0.
Simply put, PCIe 4.0 offers double bandwidth as compared to PCIe 3.0 over a single lane. This increased bandwidth can help, among other things, PCIe-based SSDs transfer data even faster.
But in order to have that much data transfer speed, you'll need a PCIe 4.0 SSD as well. Considering this in mind, Corsair has decided to jumped into this newly-formed bandwagon, and released a PCIe 4.0 based SSD called MP600.
Form wise, it's an NVMe-based M.2 2280 slot which utilizes the PCIe x4 connection.
Since it's blazing fast and can generate a good amount of heat in the process, MP600 comes with a black-colored aluminium heatsink.
This heatsink makes the MP600 much more attractive as well as protects the Phison E16 controller inside from thermal throttling under heavy workloads. But in case you don't like this heatsink for whatever reasons, there's an option of removing it.
In our testing, MP600 performed heads and shoulders above any SSD in the market with almost 5000 MBps speed in sequential read and 4200+ MBps speed in sequential write operations. In fact, it respectively performed almost 140% and 130% better in those tests than the Samsung's 970 Evo Plus - the second-best SSD in that list.
Moreover, the Random read/write speed benchmarks were impressive as well.
When tested through Anvil's Storage Utilities, it performed slightly better than 970 Evo Plus in write score, and was only beaten by Intel 905P Octane SSD in read score. But keep in mind that 905P is a 3D XPoint-based SSD that costs almost 1200 bucks.
When it comes to game loading times, MP600 did well without beating its competitors like it did in above tests which probably indicates that if you're strictly buying this SSD for gaming, there are better options available.
All in all, we couldn't find any flaw in this SSD except its slightly higher price.
That one 'downside' is also pretty subjective because you totally get what you pay here, and with its 5-year warranty and 3600 TBW of endurance rating (for 2 TB version. It's 1800 TBW for 1 TB version and 850 TBW for 500 GB version), it's certainly going to serve you well.
So, if you're on the content-creation side as well as a gaming-enthusiast, and have some extra budget too, then it'll be good for you.
Lately, it has been noticed that 2 TB versions of different SSDs are slower than their 1 TB models. But MP600 is a good exception because its 2 TB variant is just as great as the 1 TB or 500 GB versions, and there's no difference among these models except the endurance rating.
Things To Look For In An SSD For Gaming
Now that we've discussed our roundup, let's talk about of the common factors you need to consider while looking for a Solid State Drive.
SSD vs HDD
When assembling a gaming PC, two options come in front of every builder when it comes to storage: SSD or HDD.
Hard drives are the traditional mechanical drives and store data on physical tracks. SSDs, on the other hand, are based on the NAND flash memory modules for data storage and have no moving parts in them.
Both of these storage devices have their own pros and cons. Hard drives are cheaper, last slightly longer, and have low data transfer speeds as compared to the SSDs, which makes the games load slowly. Solid State drives are faster, and perform better than HDDs, but are relatively expensive as well.
That's why it's up to you to decide which path you're going to take. Many PC builders, including me, have taken a middle way by using an smaller-capacity SSD for things like OS and other games/softwares which demands high-data transfer, and having a bigger HDD for storing files which don't demand that much transfer rate, such as Movies.
How much storage you need in your PC depends on how many programs/files you want to run on your PC.
If you want to install just a few softwares, browse the web, and check some documents every now and then, you don't need too much and a 256GB SSD would be more than enough for you.
On the other hand, if you're building a full-fledged gaming PC and want to run many AAA titles, apart from watching some 4K movies, then you should probably go for a 1TB option.
Yes, that would be too expensive for most of us. That's why you should take the route I mentioned in the above section (having a large HDD with smaller SSD).
SATA vs NVMe SSDs
Like I said many times, SSDs are very fast. So fast that they hit a bottleneck because the SATA 3 connection is capped at 6Gb/s which is roughly equal to 500MB/s. SSDs, on the other hand, can have data transfer rate as fast as 3500MB/s.
This is the reason why companies have now started to produce NVMe SSDs. NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) is a new standard which allows the SSDs to transfer data their flash memory is capable of.
This is because NVMe enables SSDs to operate through PCIe standard, which is very fast as compared to the SATA interface. Another advantage of these SSDs is that, unlike SATA-based SSDs, these SSDs don't require SATA cable (and makes cable management slightly easier) and are plugged into your motherboard.
All you need to do is make sure that your motherboard has a spare M.2, or PCIe slot depending on the type of your NVMe SSD.
When talking about SSDs, many people think of M.2 as another standard, when the fact is that it's just a form factor instead.
Latest motherboards now usually come up with 2 m.2 slots which can take an M.2 SSD as well as M.2 Bluetooth and WiFi cards.
In short, an M.2 SSD can be SATA or NVMe-based, and the latter standards will determine its data transfer rate and performance, not the M.2 connection.
As you guys may have already guessed by their names, hybrid drives combine the features of both SSDs and HDDs to give you best of both worlds.
These SSHDs have a small portion of the drive as SSD which holds the frequently used data, while the rest of the drive works as a typical Hard Drive.
In simple words, SSHDs are faster and expensive than Hard drivers, but cheaper and slower than Solid State Drives.
Internal vs External SSD For Gaming
Since SSDs also come with an external USB interface, you'll have to decide if you want an internal SSD or an external one.
Just as the case with internal SSDs, data transfer speed of external SSD also depends on different factors, with the USB interface being the most important one.
When buying an external SSD, make sure that it has a USB 3.1 connector. USB 3.0 will be good too, but don't expect any good transfer rate with it. USB 2.0 interface, on the other hand is a straight no, because it's way too old and too slow for modern standards.