The fastest SSDs are essential for quicker boot times, speedier read/write times, and improved PC performance.
Internal solid-state drives are already much faster than HDDs. Hard disk drives contain moving parts, which slow them down and make them prone to catastrophic failure over time. But choosing the best SSD for speed isn’t easy. There is a wide range on the market, from internal drives you’ll need to fit yourself to the fastest external SSDs that offer plug-and-play simplicity. As a starting point, for optimal performance, we recommend selecting a PCIe NVMe SSD over a SATA drive.
To help you find the right drive, we’ve tested a range of internal SSD for your PC. And while it goes without saying that the fastest solid-state drives aren’t necessarily the best, if you feel the need for speed, you’ll find the right SSD here.
What's the fastest SSD in 2023?
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Fastest SSD overall
Our expert review:
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
To date, it remains one of the fastest PCIe 4 SSDs we've ever tested. It's a little slower than the newer Samsung 990 Pro, but this more recent SSD has been known to experience hardware failure.
One thing we notice when running the PCMark10 SSD test, which simulates real-world day-to-day storage workloads, is that the score isn't much higher than we would see with a comparable PCIe 3.0 SSD.
It's definitely higher, but it does reflect that when you're moving around your desktop you likely won't notice a major difference in performance. Where this drive will shine is when you're either transferring files, or running data-heavy applications like video editing software. This would also be a perfect SSD for PS5 gamers to supplement the console's internal storage, provided you can live with the maximum capacity of 2TB.
Read our full Samsung 980 Pro review
Fastest 4TB SSD
2. Crucial T700
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Crucial T700 leverages PCI 5.0 making it twice as fast as SSDs of the previous generation and at the time of its release in early June 2023 made it the fastest performing consumer SSD in the world.
This SSD uses the Phison P5026-E26 controller, an 8-channel design which is specifically designed for high performance PCs and applications. Crucial have improved speed further by including optimized DirectStorage firmware.
Naturally these higher speeds are only possible with proper cooling, so you may wish to purchase this SSD along with its own bespoke heatsink.
Although you can insert this SSD into an older device, In order to fully benefit from the advertised read/write speeds, you'll need a PCIe 5.0 M.2 slot. These are still relatively rare, meaning you'll need deep pockets to enjoy the full benefits of this SSD's performance.
Fastest SSD for gaming
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Western Digital offers two versions of this PCIe 4 drive, one for computers (for which a 4TB model is available) and one which is optimized for the Playstation 5 console, which comes with a heat sink included.
When it comes down to performance, the SN850 came close to its marketed 7,000MB/s read speed, clocking in 6,992MB/s in CrystalDiskMark, while write speeds came in at 5,160MB/s. That’s enough speed to easily handle any workflows you throw at it – whether it’s loading your operating system, HD gaming, 4k video edits, and so on.
Read speeds on the PS5 were reported at around 6,550MB/s, and copying game data from the internal storage to the SN850 took very little time. The drive is so fast, that it seemed to shave a few seconds off game load times, which is remarkable given how fast the internal PS5 drive is to begin with. There were no stutters or problems with games launching, so it's well worth buying the SN850 to expand your console's storage.
During gaming we saw peak temperatures of nearly 62C, dropping down to about 40C when idle. As an overheated SSD is slower and can damage your hardware, we recommend only buying the SN850 with a heatsink.
Read our full WD Black SN850 NVMe SSD review
Fastest SSDs: FAQs
What's a SATA SSD?
The SATA interface first launched in 2003. It was originally designed for traditional magnetic hard drives but many SSDs are also compatible. This is the slowest form of interface, so is best avoided if you want the fastest SSD speeds.
What is PCIe?
PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) is a much smaller interface than SATA making it perfect for smaller devices like laptops. There have been several successive generations of PCIe, which transmit data across multiple 'lanes'. For the best performance you'll need a motherboard and SSD with a PCIe 4.0 or 5.0 interface.
What is NVMe?
NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) is a communication protocol designed to work with an SSD's flash memory using PCIe. This makes for extremely fast data transfer speeds.
What is M.2?
An M.2 SSD is a small SSD (sometimes known as a "gumstick" drive) that works via the M.2 interface. M.2 is compatible with PCIe, SATA and NVMe. This means knowing an SSD uses the M.2 interface isn't a guarantee of high performance - check the manufacturer's specifications.
How to choose the fastest SSD
When choosing the fastest SSD, there are a number of factors to consider - and speed is only one of them. First, make sure to avoid hard disk drives. Even the best HDDs will pale in comparison to SSDs when you're optimizing for performance.
While most SSDs are designed to be backwards compatible, for the very best read/write speeds from your SSDs you'll need a motherboard with a PCIe 5.0 slot, as well as a compatible PCI4 5.0 SSD with support for 32 data lanes. Currently not many motherboards and devices are fully PCIe 5.0 compatible and those that are can be expensive.
Also consider what sort of programs you're going to run. SSDs are an excellent choice if you need a lot of physical storage space or you're using resource-intensive apps like the best video editing software.
If you'd prefer a external drive, or want to give your laptop a speed boost, the best portable SSDs may serve you better than an internal solid-state drive.
How we test the fastest SSDs
When conducting out rigorous testing process, we don't just focus on read/write speeds. We also compare each device's drive standard (for example NVMe or SATA), price, and storage capacity,
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Nate Drake is a tech journalist specializing in cybersecurity and retro tech. He broke out from his cubicle at Apple 6 years ago and now spends his days sipping Earl Grey tea & writing elegant copy.