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Gaming Gear – The 5 best SSDs for Gaming

Which SSDs are the most fitting for Gamers? Here are the Top 5 for every price range and specifications you require.

Solid State Disks (SSD) should be in every modern gaming PC. The classic HDDs are still useful as backups, but if you want fast loading times there is no way to ignore SSDs.

Our Top 5 Gaming SSDs on a tight budget (90€)

To make it easier to decide on which SSD to get we examined the available offers for several criteria such as form factor or interface. Regardless of SATA or PCI Express, just follow our recommended list to find the SSD you want.

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Here are our other recommendations:


Crucial MX500: Best Price Performance 2.5 inch SSD

The Crucial MX500 rightly earns its place in our top 5 with its outstanding price performance. From 250 GB up to 4 TB has very good rates of reading (560 MB/s) and writing (510 MB/s).

For just $50 in the smalles variant of 250 GB it is very affordable on a small budget. The 1 TB version has the best mix of price and capacity at $100.

The cheap 2.5 inch SSD Crucial MX500 has more than enough performance for gaming| Image Credits: Crucial

Price

You can get the 1 TB version for $100 on Amazon.

► Purchase the 2.5 inch SSD on Amazon.


Western Digital WD Blue SN570: Best M.2 NVMe SSD

The Western Digital WD Blue SN570 is the PCI express equivalent to the Crucuial MX500. Almost no other M.2 NVME SSD is able to compete in price performance ratio. With a reading rate of 3500 MB/s and a writing rate of 3000 MB/s the SSD from Western Digital fulfills all you need from a PCIe 3.0 SSD in gaming.

On the M.2 drive Western Digital offers the SSD in 4 variants: 250 GB, 500 GB, 1 TB and 2 TB. The WD Blue SN570 does not use a DRAM cache, while it should not have too many downsides, it does explain the cheaper price.

The WD Blue SN570 has speed up to 3500 MB/s and offers great performance on a budget. | Image Credits: Western Digital

Price

The 1 TB variant of the Western Digital WD Blue SN570 costs a bit more than $100

►Purchase on Amazon now


Samsung 970 EVO Plus: Best M.2 NVMe SSD with PCIe 3.0

The Samsung 970 EVO Plus is the current best M.2 NVMe SSD on PCIe 3.0. You can get it in various sizes from 250 GB to 2 TB. Its reading speed up to 3500 MB/s pushes the PCIe 3.0 to the limit. The Plus version is 200 MB/s faster than the “normal” Samsung 970 EVO.

A fast DRAM cache and an additional integrated SLC Cache are the main drivers for the SSD’s performance.

Samsung 970 EVO Plus is one of the fastest M.2 SSDs mit PCIe 3.0. | Image Credits: Samsung

Price

Regardless of its high specs the Samsung 970 EVO Plus 1 TB can be bought for about $100.

► You can purchase the SSD on Amazon.


Corsair MP600 Pro: Best M.2 NVMe SSD on PCIe 4.0

For loading times a 2.5 inch SSD is plenty of power, but if you want to go all the way you need a M.2 SSD on PCIe 4.0. The Corsair MP600 Pro is not exactly cheap, but has all the speed you could want.

Corsair has equipped its SSD with a Phison PS5018-E18-Controller enabling writing speed of up to 5500 MB/s. A SLC Cache and a cooler complete the package. You can buy the Corsair MP600 Pro in three sizes: 1 TB, 2 TB and 4 TB.

SSD Performance without end on the Corsair MP600 Pro. | Image Credits: Corsair

Price

The 1 TB version can be purchased for roughly $150.

► You can buy the SSD on Amazon.


Gigabyte Aorus Gen4 SSD: Best PCIe 4.0 SSD on a tight budget

M.2 SSDs with PCIe 4.0 used to be only available for quite a markup in comparison to PCIe 3.0. But the prices are not that far apart now, so you could jump to PCIe 4.0 much easier.

The Gigabyte Aorus Gen4 SSD might not be the cheapest of PCIe 4.0 SSDs, but its 5000 MB/s writing rate and 4400 MB/s reading rate are more than enough compensation for the steep price of $200. On top of that the Gigabyte SSD also has a solid copper cooler, a five year guarantee and an enormous TBW (Total Bytes Written) of 1.8 Petabyte, so you should be set for quite some time.

Gigabyte equips its PCIe 4.0 SSD with a copper cooler. | Image Credits: Gigabyte

► You can buy the SSD on Amazon.


Guide to buying SSDs

When purchasing an SSD you need to keep an eye out for the following aspects:

Which types of SSD exist?

SSDs for Gaming can be found in 2.5 inch format or M.2. The first type uses the SATA-3 standard (6 GB/s) and only requires a standard SATA socket. 2.5 inch SSDs usually cap out around 500 MB/s

Some M.2 SSDs also use the SATA 3 standard with the same limitations, these will requrie a mainboard that has a M.2 slot, which supports SATA. The majority of M.2 SSDs uses PCI express (PCIe) and the NVMe protocol to connect to the mainboard. This increases their speed massively, but also the price. M.2 slot 2280 is the current mainboard standard and means 22mm wide and 80mm long. The older slots M.2 2260 and M.2 2230 are being phased out and almost not in use anymore.

What requirements are necessary for your mainboard?

If you plan on getting a 2.5 inch SSD you do not need to care too much about your mainboard’s sockets as SATA 3 ports are part of the standard. For a M.2 SSD you need to take a closer look at the amount of PCIe lanes, but that is also not too outlandish.

The M.2 slot should have at least four PCIe 3.0 lanes to not slow down your SSD. For PCIe 3.0 x4 the maximum speed is 3938 MB/s. Cutting down the lanes to half also reduces your speed to 1969 MB/s, bottlenecking most M.2 SSDs.

2.5 inch or M.2, which format is better?

Comparing purely speed, M.2 SSDs easily pull ahead as long as they use PCIe isntead of SATA. But they are not always the better choice.

M.2 SSDs also need less space, improving air circulation in your desktop. But M.2 SSDs heat up faster under strain compared to 2.5 inch SSDs. If you cross a critical temperature it might slow down your performance, which is the reason for the coolers many premium SSDs have.

How good is PCI Express 4.0?

Most of the current M.2 SSDs us PCI Express 3.0, which is usually more than enough for gaming. PCIe 4.0 is more of a luxury as of now, but they do offer double the bandwith compared to PCIe 3.0 as the theoretical limit for PCIe 4.0 x4 is 7877 MB/s.

PCI Express 4.0 has higher system requirements for mainboards compared to PCI Express 3.0 and you have less choice in terms of CPUs. Intel and AMD Mainboards of the 500 series such as AMD’s X570 or Intel’s H510 or Z590 are compatible with PCIe 4.0, together with CPUs of the 3000 series (AMD) and eleventh generation (Intel).

What are the meanings of SLC, MLC, TLC, QLC and 3D-NAND?

To increase performance and storage capacity most SSDs use 3D NAND, also called V-NAND. This storage module type puts the storage cells on top of each other, resulting in layers of cells. SLC, MLC, TLC and QLC are all different type of storage cells. SLC or Single Level Cell writes 1 bit into each storage cell, MLC or Multi Level Cell is usually 2 bit, TLC or Triple Level Cell has 3 Bit and QLC or Quadruple Level Cell has 4 Bit.

Most common are MLC and TLC, with the majority being TLC. As SLC and QLC are the extreme ends of the spectrum the strengths are weaknesses are also most pronounced there. As a rule of thumb you can say that the more bit you can write per storage cell the cheaper the storage is and the higher your capacity will be. But at the same time the expected lifespan of the SSD will go down as a QLC SSD can sustain less erases and rewrites. Many TLC and QLC SSDs use special SLC caches or DRAM caches to prevent those downsides.

How long do SSDs last?

Compared to traditional HDDs a SSD has no moving parts, making SSDs more durable to mechanical damage. If a 2.5 inch SSD falls to the ground there is mostly no damage at all to the saved data inside, even if the frame gets damaged.

Many manufacturers use MTBF or TBW values to determine life cycle of their hardware. MTBF is the acronym for “Mean Time Between Failures”, the mean value between errors. Even cheaper SSDs like the Crucial MX500 will most likely run without any errors regardless of how long you are using them. The MX500’s MTBF is listed at 1.8 million hours, which would be 200 years of runtime.

Much more practical for an SSDs endurance is the TBW value, “Total Bytes Written”. That is the maximum amount of data that can be written on to a SSD before it reaches the end of its life cycle. But in most cases you can keep using the SSD without any issues even past that amount. Just like the MTBF values the TBW values are usually so high that they will not be reached in regular use. Continuing the MX500 example, its TBW is listed at 100 Terabyte for the 250 GB version. This is considered on the lower end of the spectrum and even if you write 30 GB on to your SSD every day, the manufacturer still guarantees you nine years of use with 100 Terabyte TBW.

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Image Credits: Crucial, Gigabyte, Samsung
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