If you go back several years, hard drives were basically the only choice you had for computer storage, so you were stuck with their spinning disks and creeping tedium. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case – the best SSDs, or solid state drives, are fast enough to finally free you from the slow crawl of mechanical drives with nearly instantaneous data transfers and boot times.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need one of the best PCs to take advantage of the awesome speed benefits that the best SSDs offer. The best Ultrabooks are essentially built for SSDs – the lightweight and compact design of these ultra-thin laptops means that old-school drives inherently clash with their design and aesthetic. Even if you’re a console gamer, the best SSDs are a compelling upgrade for the game console of your choice – you can ask any PC gamer what it’s like to all but eliminate load times with a speedy SSD. It’s because of this flexibility that we’ve created this list of the best SSDs you can buy today, each one tested and ranked in house here at TechRadar.
The market is full of great SSDs, even if your budget isn’t as spacious as you’d like it to be. We’ve made an effort to cover a pretty wide variety of the best SSDs with this list, and we were sure to account for price on top of any technical features. There’s even some external drives in this list that you can use with devices other than your PC.
Best SSD: Samsung 960 Evo
The undisputed king of SSDs
Capacity: 250GB/500GB/1TB | Interface: PCIe | Warranty: 3-years
This is the top SSD on the market, and with good reason. It's astonishingly fast, with up to 3200 MBps read and 1900 MBps write speeds. That's due to the PCIe interface, which allows light-years faster speeds than the already extremely quick SATA interface. On top of that, it's available with up to 1TB capacity. And it only requires 5.7 watts of power when active and a mere 1.2 watts when idle.
Best gaming SSD: Kingston HyperX Predator
Up your game with this unbeatable SSD
Capacity: 240GB/480GB/960GB | Interface: PCIe | Warranty: 3-years
Kingston's HyperX line-up is aimed squarely at gamers. Its headsets are known for being much higher quality than their price might hint at, and HyperX customer support is excellent. Its line of SSDs for gaming computers come in an M.2 form factor, but are also available with a half-height adapter that plugs into your PCIe like any other expansion card.
Best NVMe SSD: Samsung 960 Pro
Capacity: 512GB/1TB/2TB | Interface: PCIe | Warranty: 3-years
The NVMe standard is designed to maximize the strengths of solid-state drives, and the Samsung 960 Pro takes full advantage. With an M.2 form factor and ridiculous read speeds of up to 3500 MBps, these SSDs are already enticing, but the fact it's available as large as 2TB is incredible. All that storage doesn't come cheap, but if you need lots (and LOTS) of fast storage, it's definitely worth it.
Best PCIe SSD: Toshiba OCZ RD400
The most flexible SSD install
Capacity: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB | Interface: PCIe | Warranty: 3-years
If you're looking for plenty of options, the Toshiba OCZ RD400 series of drives come in 4 sizes and three different form factors: M.2, M.2 2280, and add-in card (AIC). Not all sizes are in all form factors, so if you're looking for a fast 1TB drive, make sure you have room in your computer case.
- This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Samsung 960 Evo
Best M.2 SSD: WD Black PCIe SSD
One hardy SSD
Capacity: 256GB/512GB | Interface: PCIe | Warranty: 5-years
This M.2 SSD from WD comes with a 5-year warranty and boasts some pretty excellent read/write times, up to 2050 MBps read and 800 write on the 512GB model. Great for installation or OS purposes, but unfortunately the available sizes don't leave a lot of flexibility as far as storage is concerned.
Best SATA 3 SSD: WD Blue SSD
Globs of flash storage for less
Capacity: 250GB/500GB/1TB | Interface: SATA | Warranty: 3-years
If you want to save a few bucks, but don't want to sacrifice too much in the way of performance, the WD Blue SATA SSD is a great compromise. It nearly maxes out the bandwidth of the SATA 3 interface with its read/write speeds, and you can find the 1TB model in the wild for a pittance.
Best U.2 SSD: Intel 750 Series
Wired for the future
Capacity: 400GB/800GB/1.2TB | Interface: PCIe | Warranty: 5-years
The U.2 standard allows for bigger SSD capacities and uses your computer's PCIe x4 slot to send all that data back and forth. The Intel 750 series includes a cable so you can mount the drive in the bay on your case and still plug it into the PCIe slot on your motherboard.
Best budget SSD: Crucial BX300
The value king
Capacity: 120GB/240GB/480GB | Interface: SATA | Warranty: 3-years
The Crucial BX300 isn’t the fastest SSD you can buy, but it is affordable and chiefly reliable to boot. Sold in three different sizes, this SATA drive is aimed at users still hanging onto older desktops and laptops that might want their PCs to boot up at a rate more analogous to their phones. Plus, it’s a better performer than the pricier MX300, thanks to MLC NAND.
- This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the WD Blue SSD
Best endurance SSD: HP S700 Pro
Tough for anything you throw at it
Capacity: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB | Interface: SATA | Warranty: 3-years
If you need an SSD that will last into your next computer, the HP S700 Pro has just what you need. Its life will far exceed its warranty, offering up 2 million hours of use and up to 650 terabytes written. This is one SSD that's in it for the long haul, but the SATA interface will slow things down somewhat in the read/write department, which technically helps it last even longer.
Best SSD boot drive: MyDigitalSSD BPX
Affordable and fast
Capacity: 240GB/480GB | Interface: PCIe | Warranty: 5-years
Booting from an SSD is a life changer. Seriously, if you're loading your OS from a hard drive, you're doing it wrong. The difference is night and day. This PCIe SSD from MyDigitalSSD is an excellent choice for booting up, with a good price and solid performance. It only goes up to 480GB, but if you're just using it to run your OS, that's way more than enough.
Best external SSD: Samsung Portable SSD T5
Worth the premium for USB-C fanatics
Capacity: 250GB/500GB/1TB/2TB | Interface: USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2 | Warranty: 3-years
Unless you have a laptop or desktop computer that employs the USB Type-C Gen 2 interface, you might want to reconsider your interest in the Samsung Portable SSD T5. Otherwise, with read/write speeds of up to 540/515MBps, respectively, this external storage device does its best to keep up with some of the more modest PCIe players, and the result is superb.
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article