Best SSD in 2023 – top solid-state drives to slot in your PC 

Speedy storage to elevate your gaming PC.

The best SSD sits in front of a bunch of other NVMe drives.
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Not every system needs the best SSD handling storage duties, but every gaming PC definitely needs a solid-state drive. System requirements are increasingly unforgiving, and a regular old hard drive just isn’t going to cut it with modern releases. It’s not surprising, really, considering the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S all pack an NVMe.

The good news is that no game specifies exactly what speed you need. Even the slowest SSD should handle newer titles just fine, from Alan Wake 2 to Starfield. That said, the difference between PCIe 3, 4, and 5 goes beyond their 3,500MB/s, 8,00MB/s, and 14,000MB/s speed caps.

I know what you’re thinking: “The numbers, Mason, what do they mean?” As usual, the higher the figure, the faster the drive is. To the human eye, the differences in load times can be near imperceptible the higher we go. Still, it’s worth getting faster drives. Storage is often the slowest component in your system. If it can’t transfer bits at the same rate as your CPU, GPU, and RAM, it creates a bottleneck that’ll slow your PC to a crawl.

The best hard drives are still fine for playing older games or backing up your data, of course. Looking forward, though, it’s all about picking the best SSD for your budget and making sure it’s compatible with your system.

At a glance

  1. Samsung 990 Pro – the best SSD
  2. WD Black SN850X – the best SSD for gaming
  3. Crucial P3 Plus – a great budget SSD
  4. Crucial T700 – fastest SSD
  5. Seagate FireCuda 530 – the best secondary SSD
  6. Samsung 870 Evo – the best SATA SSD
  7. Kingston XS2000 – the best external SSD

The best SSDs

Samsung 990 Pro 2TB next to a British pound coin.

1. Samsung 990 Pro

The best SSD money can buy right now.

Capacity1TB, 2TB, 4TB
Sequential Read SpeedUp to 7,450MB/s
Sequential Write SpeedUp to 6,900MB/s
InterfacePCIe 4.0 x4
ControllerSamsung in-house Pascal
MemorySamsung V-NAND TLC 7th Gen
EnduranceUp to 2,400TBW
MSRPFrom £97

Samsung’s decision to stick to PCIe 4.0 with the 990 Pro raised some eyebrows. After all, the rest of the SSD world moved onto Gen 5 when it was released at the end of 2022. This was all part of the strategy, however, keeping prices down, device compatibility high, and pushing the performance of the last-gen standard as far as it’ll go.

It takes the crown from the former 2020 champ, the 980 Pro, fixing many of its performance deficiencies. It’s not a flawless run in our tests, but the 990 Pro grabbed enough gold medals that it might as well be a sweep. Its 7,421MB/s sequential read and 6,825MB/s write speed pull ahead of the competition, getting the most out of the 8,000MB/s and 7,500MB/s ceilings, respectively. Admittedly, it falters a little in random 4K tests, but more than makes up for it with real-world gaming. It features the second-fastest load times in Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker and Battlefield V.

By the time of our review, the drive was only available in 1TB and 2TB models. Fortunately, there’s now a 4TB you can grab if you feel you need more storage space. No matter what you choose, they all work great with the PlayStation 5, as well as gaming PCs. There’s also a swanky heatsink option for the lower-capacity models to keep it running a little cooler. Most motherboard heat spreaders work just fine for PCIe 4.0, but Samsung’s solution certainly looks the part with RGB lighting you can control in the software.

Generally, we prefer most of our devices without software, and you can use the 990 Pro right out of the box. That said, Samsung Magician is the most intuitive software of all SSD providers. You can keep an eye on your drive’s health, manage data via migration or encryption, and benchmark it yourself (although always take first-party figures with a pinch of salt).

Naturally, we’re curious what a flagship consumer PCIe 5.0 SSD from Samsung would look like, but the 990 Pro remains a go-to for performance enthusiasts with great compatibility. Hunting around, prices start at £97 for the 1TB version through to £280 for the 4TB model. The heatsink tacks on an extra £8.

Read the full Samsung 990 Pro review for our breakdown of the SSD.


Fantastic performance
Hardware encryption
Good software
Heatsink option


SLC cache isn’t huge

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The WD SN850X NVMe SSD next to a Euro coin for scale.

2. WD Black SN850X

The best SSD for gaming.

Capacity1TB, 2TB, 4TB
Sequential Read SpeedUp to 7,300MB/s
Sequential Write SpeedUp to 6,600MB/s
InterfacePCIe 4.0 x4
ControllerWD Black G2
MemorySanDisk TLC
EnduranceUp to 2,400TBW
MSRPFrom £74.99

The WD Black SN850X is the embodiment of a few sayings. Close, but no cigar. In the ballpark. So close, yet so far. The Samsung 990 Pro outshines it in everyday use, but this upgrade over the SN850 does have some things going for it. First of all, it’s cheaper for a slight drop in performance, according to our tests. Second, it’s ideal for gaming and content creation, with quicker load times than our top pick.

Edging out all the competition, the WD Black SN850X boots every game we tested quicker than its rivals. It’s not by a small margin, either. In part, this is thanks to its Game Mode 2.0 feature managing data. It detects when you launch a game and disables lower power states, so your gaming PC is quite literally firing on all cylinders. There’s debate about whether it’s worth it, but the proof is in the pudding (which is the data in this case).

Coming in 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB capacities, each model improves upon their non-X predecessors. From write speed to IOPS and general application performance, it’s almost in a different league to the SN850. You might consider forking extra for the heatsink variant because the SN850X runs on the hotter side. Still, it performs exactly as you’d expect, toasty or not.

It was originally released with an MSRP that would’ve made you think twice, but its current £74.99 starting price should tempt anyone in the market for an upgrade. It might even pack more value than our top pick, especially if you’re sticking this in a gaming PC.

Read our full WD Black SN850X review for a closer look at the drive.


Impressive performance
Great for gaming
PS5 compatible


Subpar for workstations

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The Crucial P3 Plus lying on a desk facing upwards.

3. Crucial P3 Plus

The best cheap SSD if you’re on a budget.

Capacity500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB
Sequential Read SpeedUp to 4,800MB/s
Sequential Write SpeedUp to 4,100MB/s
InterfacePCIe 4.0 x4
ControllerPhison PS5021
MemoryMicron 176L QLC
EnduranceUp to 800TBW
MSRPFrom £35

Top M.2 SSDs have come down in price over the years, but so have budget NVMe drives. At the sacrifice of performance, the Crucial P3 Plus can save you a pretty penny by halving the cost or giving you double the capacity for the same price.

The ‘Plus’ in its name comes from the jump to PCIe 4.0, increasing its read and write speed. It doesn’t change much over its predecessor, packing the basic Phison controller and 176-layer QLC NAND, but its strength lies in its price tag. This wasn’t always the case, mind you. During our tests last year, the RRP was so eye-watering that we couldn’t recommend it over rivals. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case.

It has more capacities to choose from than our premium options, but we’d recommend dreaming a little bigger where possible. It’s nice that you can get a 500GB model for £35, but it doesn’t perform as well as higher capacities. Besides, M.2 slots are usually a precious resource. Motherboards don’t tend to pack many, and using one sometimes comes at the cost of PCIe bandwidth. As a result, the 1TB from £45, 2TB from £85, and 4TB from £196 are all a little more tempting.

Backing up the newly low cost is a five-year warranty should you hit any speedbumps during your time with it. You can’t go wrong with the Crucial P3 Plus, so long as all you expect is an entry-level PCIe 4 SSD.

Read our Crucial P3 Plus review for an overview of how the drive compares to others.


Five-year warranty
Wide range of capacities
Now very affordable


Low endurance

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The underside of the Crucial T700 NVMe SSD.

4. Crucial T700

The best PCIe 5 SSD.

Capacity1TB, 2TB, 4TB
Sequential Read SpeedUp to 12,400MB/s
Sequential Write SpeedUp to 11,800MB/s
InterfacePCIe 5.0 x4
ControllerPhison E26
MemoryMicron 232L TLC
EnduranceUp to 2,400TBW
MSRPFrom £171 / $180

The Crucial T700 is currently the world’s fastest SSD available to customers at the time of writing. The move to PCIe 5.0 x4 grants it a whole new speed ceiling that’s up to 75 per cent quicker than the previous standard with twice the throughput. Naturally, it comes with a premium price tag as a result, and you’ll need to be mindful of your device’s compatibility.

Crucial rates the T700 at up to 12,400MB/s sequential read speed, which isn’t quite the standard’s upper 14,000MB/s limit. Our tests show these are slightly conservative estimates, however, as the drive exceeds each benchmark with ease. Components under the hood are notably premium, powered by a Phison E26 SSD controller and Micron’s 232-Layer 3D TLC flash. Slap a 600TB write endurance on top of that, and it doesn’t get much better than this in 2023.

As with any component, the faster they get, the hotter they run. The T700 is no exception, blazing past cosy and right into thermal throttling territory if you don’t properly cool it. There’s an option to buy the 1TB, 2TB, or 4TB model with a heatsink, and we highly recommend it if you don’t have your own solution to hand. Top marks to Crucial for keeping things passive and avoiding stupidly-sized active coolers. You’ll also want to check whether your motherboard is PCIe 5.0 compatible before buying. They’re backwards compatible, meaning you can slot it into a PCIe 4.0 board just fine, but it’ll only be as quick as the weakest link. We can’t recommend paying these prices if you’re not getting the full speed out of them.

Speaking of which, the bog standard 1TB Crucial T700 starts at £171, but it’s worth the £8 premium for the heatsink. More capacity will certainly dent your bank account, costing up to £574 with all the trimmings. We can’t wait to see these come down in price when rival drives are released at the end of the year. For now, though, the cost is appropriate to be on the cutting edge of technology with the fastest SSD around.

Read our Crucial T700 review to see how the drive stacks up against other SSDs.


Ridiculously fast
Attractive design
Active cooling isn’t necessary



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The Seagate FireCuda 530 SSD sitting on top of a gaming PC case.

5. Seagate FireCuda 530

The best secondary SSD.

Capacity500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB
Sequential Read SpeedUp to 7,300MB/s
Sequential Write SpeedUp to 6,900MB/s
InterfacePCIe 4.0 x4
ControllerPhison E18
MemoryMicron 176L TLC
EnduranceUp to 5,100TBW
MSRPFrom £39

No device on the planet is infallible. Like humans, SSDs can trip, stumble, and fumble the bag. It’s not something we like to think about when it comes to handling our important data, but it’s a very real risk we take. Sure, we encourage you to back up your data, but what if your secondary drive fails right after your primary? You need a good recovery system in place.

Seagate knows this all too well, bundling the FireCuda 530 with three years of Rescue Data Recovery Services. The program has an industry-leading 95 per cent success rate when retrieving lost data on SSDs and hard drives. It’s one of the only M.2 purchases that lets you sigh in relief if it gets damaged or corrupted.

The Seagate FireCuda 530 also has industry-leading endurance. The 500GB option is pretty high for its size at 640TBW, but the 1TB has 1,275TBW, the 2TB has 2,550TBW, and the 4TB has a whopping 5,100TBW. This puts the device as the best secondary SSD you can buy right now, backing up all your files.

Generally, the FireCuda 530 handles itself just fine compared to other PCIe 4.0 SSDs. It’s a little more middle-of-the-pack with speed, but game load times won’t leave you hanging for long. Starting at £39, there’s a metric tonne of value that eases any pain points you might have with this drive.

Check out our Seagate FireCuda 530 review for more information.


Robust performance
Useful rescue software
Decent pricing
Excellent steady-state


No encryption
Clunky firmware update

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6. Samsung 870 Evo

The best SATA SSD.

Capacity250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB
Sequential Read SpeedUp to 560MB/s
Sequential Write SpeedUp to 530MB/s
ControllerSamsung MKX
MemorySamsung 512Gbit 128L 3D TLC
EnduranceUp to 2,400TBW
MSRPFrom £30

The curtain’s calling for SATA SSDs. What was once the king of cheaper solid-state drives is now outshone by smaller, faster M.2 alternatives occupying a similar budget. There’s still room in your rig for the humble SATA, though. These bulkier 2.5in options might take up more room, but you can plug far more into a motherboard, and they’re still cheaper for price per gigabyte.

We haven’t tested the Samsung 870 Evo, but we can tell it strikes a fantastic balance. It offers more capacity options than any other device on this list, with 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB models. Prices start at £30 for the smallest drive, but 2TB is the sweet spot, sitting at around £106. 4TB asks for more than double this, making it less economical.

By their very nature, SATA drives aren’t as fast as M.2s – both internal and external. Samsung rates the 870 at up to 560MB/s read speeds and slightly less than this for write speeds. This isn’t ideal for gaming in 2023, but it’ll do the trick if you’ve run out of space elsewhere. Otherwise, it’s more for backing up precious files.

Samsung prides the device on a 2,400TBW endurance for the largest capacity. This is backed by a five-year guarantee, and you can use Magician software to check the device’s health. If you can go for an NVMe, we’d recommend it. If you can’t, there are few SATA SSDs better than the Samsung 870 Evo.


Long write endurance
Fairly cheap
Lots of capacities available


4TB price isn’t great
SATA is much slower

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The Kingston XS2000 external SSD beneath a PS5 DualSense controller to show scale.

7. Kingston XS2000

The best portable SSD to take on the go.

Capacity500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB
Sequential Read SpeedUp to 2,000MB/s
Sequential Write SpeedUp to 2,000MB/s
InterfaceUSB 3.2 Gen 2 2×2
ControllerSilicon Motion SM2320
MemoryMicron 96L TLC
EnduranceIP55 water-dust resistant
MSRPFrom £60

Sometimes, you need to take your storage with you into the big, scary world. That’s where the best portable SSD comes in, and few impressed us as much as the Kingston XS2000. Not only is it the fastest USB solution we’ve tested, it should work with just about any gaming laptop.

Portable SSDs are understandably slower than their internal counterparts. Several brands now look towards Thunderbolt 4 and USB 4 connections to bridge the gap, but that leaves most devices behind. Even if you can plug a USB 4 cable into your portable SSD, it’ll only be as fast as the ports on your system. The Kingston XS2000 sticks with a somewhat more accessible 20Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2 2×2 interface.

In our tests, the Kingston XS2000 has the fastest sequential read speeds and transfers a 67GB folder quicker than its competitors. It’s worth keeping your expectations in line, given we’re talking no more than 2,000MB/s read and write speed, but it’s still fine for PC gaming. We mention PC gaming specifically because consoles don’t have a 20Gbps port, meaning it’s not ideal for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.

It comes in 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB options starting from £60. Don’t worry; the size of the enclosure stays the same no matter what you choose, keeping it not much larger than a packet of gum.

Check out our Kingston XS2000 review to see more of this dinky device.


Truly pocketable
Fast speeds
Attractive pricing
Looks great


Limited to 20Gbps devices

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What’s the difference between an SSD and a hard drive?

A hard disc drive (HDD) houses digital information on rapidly rotating platters, accessing it using a moving mechanical arm. It’s a little like a record player in this respect and you might hear the whirring of the disc. A solid-state drive (SSD) uses flash memory with no moving parts, making it much smaller, quieter, and faster. There are several different types of SSD, from cost-effective 2.5-inch models that use a SATA connection to slimmer M.2 variants that vary between SATA and NVMe.

What’s the difference between SATA, M.2, and NVMe SSDs?

Both SATA and NVMe are connection types. Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) is an older standard that uses a motherboard’s SATA bus. SATA III is the latest version with a 600MB/s throughput ceiling. Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) instead uses the PCIe bus, which continually improves with each passing generation. We’re slowly moving onto PCIe 5.0, which has a substantially larger 14,000MB/s throughput limit. M.2 is a form factor, much like 2.5in and 3.5in. SATA comes in all forms, but NVMe is currently much more common to M.2.

Can I put a PCIe 4.0 SSD in a PCIe 3.0 slot?

Yes, generations of PCIe are backwards and forwards compatible since they share the same connection type. Your SSD will only be as fast as the slowest part of the chain, however. If you plug a PCIe 4.0 drive into a PCIe 3.0 slot, you’ll be subjected to the previous generation’s upper limits. The same happens when you use a PCIe 3.0 drive in a PCIe 4.0 slot.

Is an NVMe SSD better for gaming?

Since NVMe offers faster speeds than any other connection type, it’s the best you’ll get for gaming. You’ll spend less time on the loading screen and more time playing. You do get fewer NVMe slots on a motherboard, however, and it’s more expensive. Storing more games requires more storage space, making SATA more cost effective. It also features diminishing returns. It’s easy to see when someone is still running a hard drive as they’re the last to load into the lobby, but you’ll be hard pressed to tell who’s using a 2.5in SATA or NVMe drive.