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Best SSD for gaming 2019: Faster storage for your gaming PC

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Best SSD for gaming 2019: Faster storage for your gaming PC

Best SSD for gaming 2019: Faster storage for your gaming PC


The best SSDs for gaming are 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. Higher-end “Add-in Card” (AIC) SSDs like Intel’s Optane SSDs are another option but offer vastly diminishing returns based on their price point and the performance they provide.

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When you’re shopping for an SSD, you’re typically going to be looking at sequential I/O numbers—how quickly the drive can send or retrieve pre-sorted blocks from your drive. Random I/O numbers can be important too, but have more impact on multi-tasking and production applications. These “back of the tin” numbers are really only manufacturers best-case estimates, though. Some SSDs can slow down as they reach capacity, so your real-world mileage may vary based on the brand or model of SSD.

If you’re specifically looking for a smaller form factor, you’ll want to check out our guide to the best NVMe SSDs. Whichever route you choose to take, if you’ve already spent a solid chunk of cash on the best gaming PC, you owe it to to your rig to invest in faster, better storage.

Best SSDs for gaming

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(Image credit: Crucial)

1. 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

Can be faster than SATA

Respectable brand

Solid power efficiency

Reduced performance when full

QLC results in weaker random IO

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).

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(Image credit: Samsung)

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(Image credit: Samsung)

2. Samsung 860 Evo 1TB

Capacity: 1TB | Interface: SATA 6Gb/p/s | Sequential IO: 550/520MB/s read/write | Random IO: 98K/90K IOPS read/write

As fast as SATA gets

Proven Samsung reliability

SATA bottlenecks

Sometimes higher prices

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.

3. Samsung 860 QVO 2TB SATA

Capacity: 2000GB | Interface: SATA 6Gb/s | Sequential IO: 550/520MB/s read/write | Random IO: 97K/89K IOPS read/write