The best SSDs for 2021

Whether you want to upgrade your internal drive or need an external storage solution, a solid-state drive (SSD) will deliver fast and reliable read and write speeds. These storage devices use flash memory to store your data, making them faster than traditional mechanical hard drives. Not all drives are built equal, however. For the fastest transfers, you’ll need one of the best SSDs. 

You’ll find a wide range of SSDs available on the market, including built-in storage products and external storage options. Whether you want to boost your computer’s performance or simply want to replace an outdated drive, these SSDs are worth considering, starting with the all-around great pick, Samsung 970 EVO Plus.

SSDs are becoming more important for gaming, too, with the PlayStation 5 supporting M.2 SSDs. No matter if you want a lot of storage for little money, or just a little storage with ultra-fast speeds, we have an SSD for you.

The best SSDs

Best SSD overall: Samsung 970 Evo Plus 500GB

Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB

For superior performance and reliability, Samsung’s 970 Evo Plus line is one of the best around. Our tests found that the SSD offers read and write speeds upwards of 2,500 MB/s, with the ability to keep functioning with up to 600 terabytes written on the drive. It’s a great upgrade for anyone who needs extra professional storage or a big speed boost for their current computer.

It also supports both PCI Express (PCIe) and NVMe technologies. PCI Express offers greatly improved speeds and versatility compared to older SATA-based SSDs — an important feature to watch for when buying solid-state drives for newer computers. NVMe is a similar protocol that offers the most advanced ways to transfer storage data between the SSD and the computer. Together, PCIe and NVMe make the best combination for high-performance drives, and the Samsung 970 EVO Plus is an excellent example.

Best PCIe 4.0 SSD: Samsung 980 Pro 500GB

Samsung’s SSDs have led the pack for years, and the 980 Pro is no different. Boasting sequential read speeds of up to 7,000 MB/s and sequential write speeds of up to 5,000 MB/s, the 980 Pro is an SSD that takes full advantage of PCIe 4.0. It’s still compatible with PCIe 3.0, but the drive enjoys twice the data transfer rate on PCIe 4.0.

Cutting-edge speed usually means limited storage, and that’s true of the 980 Pro. Manufacturers have been pushing capacities higher on PCIe 3.0 SSDs — the 970 Evo Plus goes up to 2TB, while the WD Black SN750 goes up to 4TB. The 980 Pro, on the other hand, tops out at 1TB, making it an ideal SSD to use as a boot drive (or a cache location, if you edit videos frequently).

Because of that, we’re recommending the 500GB model of the 980 Pro, which clocks in just shy of $150. The 1TB is a better value overall, however, at around $230.

Best SATA SSD: Crucial MX500 SATA 2TB

While SATA connections aren’t as fast as the newer PCIe interfaces, the related drives can be significantly cheaper. If you need a lot of storage but don’t want to sacrifice SSD benefits, this Crucial drive offers an amazing 2TB of storage at an incredibly affordable price.

Sequential read and writes are very good for a SATA model at 560 MB/s and 510 MB/s, respectively. This model includes protection against power loss problems as well as AES 256 bit encryption for security.

You won’t get the best specs in the world with the Crucial MX500 SATA, but it sure can hold a lot without breaking your budget.

Best add-in-card SSD: Intel Optane SSD 905P 960GB

If you want speed, Intel’s Optane drives are right for you. This nearly-1TB model showcases the best the company has to offer, equipped with the latest NVMe PCI 3.0 x4 connection.

This drive is available in two different designs: One with LED lights and one with a built-in heatsink. Both are very speedy, with sequential read speeds up to 2,600 MB/s and write speeds up to 2,200 MB/s. Both include all the tricks Intel can conjure to reduce latency and keep speeds stable even with high demand. It also has a 10 DWPD score, meaning it can overwrite 9.6TB of data each day for the extent of its warranty (10 x 960GB).

At first glance, the high price tag on the Intel Optane SSD 905P might strike you as snobbish. However, it’s a good sign for enthusiastic computer builders who want the best possible parts to blow away their colleagues.

Best SSD for gaming: Western Digital Black SN750 250GB

Western Digital Black SN750 250GB NVMe Gaming SSD

This SSD may appear unassuming, but it provides gamer-friendly features, random-read speeds as fast as 412.5 MB/s, and maximum transfer speeds of 3,100 MB/s—all for an affordable price. Rapid transfer speeds aren’t this SSD’s only positive offering, though.

The Western Digital Black SN750 250GB NVMe Gaming SSD includes a “Black Dashboard” option that lets you adjust your settings, customize your setup, and review your performance any time you’d like. Gamers concerned with curtail lag time during long gaming sessions can customize their system to enable low power mode and gaming mode in one fell swoop. The system has a protective heatsink, so you don’t need to worry about it overheating.

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