Best SSDs 2021: From Budget SATA to Blazing-Fast NVMe

Best SSDs 2021: From Budget SATA to Blazing-Fast NVMe

Finding the best SSD or solid-state drive for your specific system and needs is key if you want the best gaming PC or laptop, or even if you just want a snappy productivity machine. A slow storage drive often leads to a big bottleneck, forcing your processor (even if it’s one of the best CPUs for Gaming ) to waste clock cycles, waiting for data to crunch. To speed up your writes and reads, you need a speedy SSD. To figure out which is the best SSD, we test dozens of drives each year and highlight the best drives here.
We’ve also added a few best SSDs for plotting for Chia coins . You’ll find both a premium and value suggestion at the bottom of the article along with a description of the best attributes to keep an eye out for when shopping for a consumer SSD specifically for creating Chia plots.
Picking the Best SSD for You
Drives like Adata’s Falcon M.2 and the Intel 665p undercut mainstream drives on the slower SATA interface (which was originally designed for hard drives), but we shouldn’t expect to see the end of SATA drives in the near future. Companies are still doing new things with SATA, like Team Group’s cavernous 15.3 TB drive . Existing SATA drives will have to continue to get more affordable in order to at least compete on price, but they can’t hope to keep up with newer NVMe drives on performance.
Blazing-fast PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSDs have become common, and will likely become more mainstream now that Intel has finally joined the PCIe 4.0 support party with Z590 and 11th Gen Rocket Lake CPUs . These drives increase sequential speeds dramatically (thanks to a doubling of the PCIe bus bandwidth), making them the best SSDs for those who need the fastest speed possible. For example, the Samsung 980 PRO can read and write at 7,000 and 5,000 MBps respectively and drives based on Phison’s second-gen controller promise up to 7,400 / 7000 MBps sequential speeds.
But to make use of that speed today, you’ll need either an X570 motherboard or B550 board on the AMD side, or a new Z590 motherboard from Intel.
All that said, keep in mind that in many ways, beyond the obvious bump in sequential performance, users might not see much in the way of real-world benefits from these faster drives in typical applications like gaming or light desktop work. Naturally, file transfers and other workloads, like video editing or more heavy workloads, will benefit. It really depends on how heavily you use your drive.
Now also might be a great time to buy that SSD upgrade you’ve been putting off. Because a new cryptocurrency called Chia, which involves ‘farming’ plots on hard drives, rather than ‘mining’ on GPUs, recently began trading and has already pointed toward drive shortages and price increases in Asia and elsewhere. If the value of Chia Coin continues to climb, we could soon be in for a storage shortage or, at the very least, significant price increases as demand skyrockets. Chia-driven demand for drives has cooled, at least in terms of SSD storage, over the last month, but the new emergence of pooling could reignite interest.
Quick Shopping Tips
When choosing an SSD, consider the following:
– Pick a compatible interface (M.2 PCIe, SATA, Add-in Card): Look at your user manual or a database like the Crucial Memory Finder to determine what types of SSD your computer supports.
– 512GB to 1TB: Don’t bother getting an SSD smaller than 256GB. 512GB provides a good balance between price and capacity if you’re on a tight budget. But 1TB drives are getting significantly cheaper and 2TB drives are now more affordable than ever.
– SATA is slowest: SATA isn’t as fast as M.2 PCIe or a PCIe add-in card, but the majority of [desktops] and many laptops can take 2.5-inch SATA drives and many doing typical mainstream tasks users won’t notice the difference between a good recent SATA drive and a faster PCIe model anyway.
For even more information, check out our SSD Buyer’s Guide . Or if you’re looking for an external SSD, you can check out our Best External Hard Drives and SSD page , or learn how to save some money by building your own external SSD . Below, you’ll find our recommendations for drives with all three major interfaces.
Best SSDs You Can Buy Today
Best Overall / Best M.2 SSD
Specifications
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Reasons to avoid
For those looking for the best, look no further than the Samsung 980 PRO. Samsung pairs its in-house Elpis 8nm PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe SSD controller with the company’s fastest V-NAND to unleash incredible performance.
The Samsung 980 Pro serves up to 7/5 GBps of throughput and sustains upwards of a 1 million random read/write IOPS, making it the most responsive SSD we’ve tested. The drive comes with all the features you could want from a high-end NVMe SSD, making it the perfect drive for anyone who wants the best.
Read: Samsung 980 PRO Review
Fastest SSD
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Reasons to buy
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If you’re looking for the fastest SSD on the market, Kingston’s KC3000 fills that role, especially now that Intel has stopped producing its Optane products. The KC3000 is a high-performance PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe SSD that radishes out bleeding-edge speeds of up to 7 GBps of read and write throughput, along with up to one million IOPS.
Similar to the Seagate FireCuda 530 and Corsair MP600 Pro XT, the Kingston KC3000 is powered by the Phison PS5018-E18 and comes paired with Micron’s 176-Layer TLC flash. However, the KC3000’s flash is faster at 1,600 MTps than the MP600’s 1,200 MTps, giving it a tactical advantage.
The 2TB Kingston KC3000’s endurance and performance comes out on top of the Samsung 980 Pro, but that comes at the cost of efficiency. That translates to shorter battery life for laptop applications. The KC3000 also doesn’t come with OPAL-compliant AES hardware encryption and comes in a double-sided form factor at higher capacities. That means the KC3000 may not be the best pick for your mobile device, but is a fantastic SSD for those building a high-end desktop for gaming or workstation for productivity.
Read: Kingston KC3000 Review
Best M.2 SSD Alternative
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Reasons to buy
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With ever-so-much faster random performance, a more consistent write profile, and higher efficiency, Samsung’s 980 PRO earned the title as our top pick for a next-gen PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe, but WD’s Black SN850 makes for a top-tier runner-up. Depending on the price, you can’t go wrong with either one for your high-end gaming or workstation build.
WD’s Black SN850 paired with the company’s new 16nm WD Black G2 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe 1.4 SSD controller marks a substantial improvement in the company’s SSD architecture. WDs Black SN850 can sustain speeds of up to 7/5.3 GBps and deliver very responsive random performance enabling the SSD to go toe-to-toe with our top pick. Although, that is at the cost of high idle power consumption on our desktop test bench. Also, unlike the Samsung 980 Pro, the WD Black SN850 lacks AES 256-bit encryption.
Read: WD Black SN850 Review
M.2 PCIe NVMe Drives
These small, rectangular drives look like sticks of RAM, only smaller. They are usually 80mm long by 22mm wide, described as size 2280, but some may be shorter or longer, so make sure you get one that matches your slot. You can get M.2 drives that support SATA, but most modern desktops and laptops with M.2 slots support the faster PCIe NVMe standard.
Best Value PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD
Specifications
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Crucial’s P5 Plus is an evolution of the P5 with a focus on improved performance, especially where the original P5 let us down. Built for gamers and creative professionals who want faster load times and more efficient workflows, Crucial’s P5 Plus is a solid PCIe 4.0 x4 SSD that is priced well for its feature set.
Although it banks on value more than flat-out performance, the P5 Plus proved capable of keeping up with the best in most applications. It features a host of specialized algorithms for data protection and hardware-based, OPAL 2.0-compliant AES 256-bit encryption for data security. If you can’t quite afford the Samsung 980 Pro or WD_Black SN850, the P5 Plus is a solid performing alternative that’s worthy of your consideration.
Read: Crucial P5 Plus Review
Best Value PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD Alternative
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Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Powered by Phison PS5018-E18 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe SSD controller and Micron’s 96L TLC flash, the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus boasts some serious hardware that enabled it to shatters write speed records in our testing. Not only is it fast, with its black PCB and matching black PCB and copper tone heat spreader, but it’s also a very attractive M.2. At prices that undercut both WD and Samsung, it’s a great value for those looking to save some cash, but still, get that responsive PCIe 4.0 performance. Plus, it comes in a spacious 4TB capacity, unlike the WD and Samsung, too. But, bear in mind that at its lower price point it lacks AES 256-bit hardware encryption and comes with a 1-year warranty without registration within 90 days.
Read: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus Review
Best M.2 SSD for Laptops
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SK hynix’s Gold P31 touts market leadership as the first retail SSD product to launch with 128-Layer flash. With SK hynix’s newest flash reaching incredible bit density, the Gold P31 hits the market at very low pricing. Listed at competitive prices, the Gold P31 is a fantastic value that will make you think twice about spending that extra $25-$50 on the Samsung 970 EVO Plus.
SK hynix’s Gold P31 is great if you’re looking to increase your laptop storage, not only to gain capacity but to gain battery life, too. While some drives may perform well against the Gold P31 in benchmarking, the SK hynix is much more power-efficient, which will lead to longer off-the-charger sessions. Laptop users who prioritize battery life should definitely put the new SK hynix Gold P31 at the top of their drive list. Additionally, the Gold P31’s very strong write performance and ultra-high efficiency make it a well-rounded choice for many desktop users as well.
Read: SK hynix Gold P31 Review
Best Performance PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD
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Reasons to buy
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We’re quite impressed with the Samsung 970 EVO Plus. Like the WD Black SN750, Samsung’s drive carries over the same controller as its predecessor. But instead of refreshing it with the same flash, Samsung decided to switch things up a bit with its new 9x-layer flash. Just as the flash is stacked to new heights, performance hits new highs, too. The resulting drive is exactly what its name says: a big Plus.
As the first widely-available retail SSD to hit the market with Samsung’s latest 9x-layer flash, the Samsung 970 EVO Plus delivers the same performance as the 970 EVO, plus more. The drive consistently proved that it has some of the strongest write performance on the market and can handle tough workloads. It even beat out Samsung’s own 970 PRO in a few tests, which is quite the feat considering the PRO slots in as Samsung’s workhorse for workstation-class applications.
Read: Samsung 970 EVO Plus Review
Best Value PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD
Specifications
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Crucial’s P5 is a mainstream PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 NVMe SSD that has a lot of engineering put into its design with Micron’s in-house designed six-core NVMe controller and some of the latest 96L TLC flash available, but ultimately, the company banks on its value to entice its purchase. While it isn’t as bleeding edge fast as the newest Gen4 SSDs on the market and it can get quite hot under heavy loads, the P5 still holds its own for what it is.
Crucial’s P5 is capable of delivering sequential read and write speeds of up to 3.4/3 GBps, looks great with its blacked-out aesthetic, and comes in a slim, single-sided M.2 form factor for broad compatibility. It also comes supported with a standard 5-year warranty and average endurance ratings, along with some value adder software as a bonus. It even features hardware-accelerated AES 256-bit encryption that is OPAL complaint. But, best of all, in recent times it’s gotten even more affordable than ever. Gamer, prosumer, or just your average PC user looking for a storage upgrade, the Crucial P5 is priced to sell at a very lost cost, making it a solid value for those trying to save a few bucks over the absolute best SSDs.
Read: Crucial P5 Review
Best RGB M.2 SSD
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Reasons to buy
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When we first took a look at the Viper VPR100, we were a bit concerned about its performance. Not only was it rated lower than most Phison E12-based SSDs, but the company states it will perform slower under various RGB settings. But, when we ran it through its paces with various lighting settings, the drive displayed no such issue with our ASRock X570 Taichi testbed. In fact, it even outperformed the MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro at times with the default lighting enabled, beating its rated specs.
The integrated heatshield not only adds quite a bit to the aesthetics of the Viper VPR100, but it also keeps the SSD cool under any workload. The LED’s didn’t add any significant heat output, either. So, no matter what your style is, you won’t have to sweat over your choice. If you’re building an all-RGB rig or just a new gaming system that you want to also add a bit of color to, the Viper VPR100 will definitely light things up.
Read: Patriot Viper VPR100 Review
Best High-Capacity M.2 SSD
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Reasons to buy
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Sabrent’s 8TB Rocket Q slots in as the industry’s highest-capacity M.2 NVMe SSD. The pint-sized monster is obviously best suited for the data hoarder on the go, but at $1,500, it’ll set you back about as much as a decent gaming laptop. The drive doesn’t just push capacity to the highest we’ve seen with a slim M.2 SSD; it also impresses with great performance and efficiency, thanks to the new Phison E12S controller and 96-Layer QLC flash.
QLC flash does have its downfalls, like lower endurance and slower write performance after the SLC write cache gets filled up during large file transfers, but the Phison E12S controller helps push the Rocket Q to the fastest performance we’ve seen from a QLC drive.
Read: Sabrent Rocket Q Review
Best DRAMless M.2 SSD
Specifications
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Samsung’s 980 is an inexpensive M.2 SSD that lacks DRAM, but it packs the company’s fastest flash yet. While shackled down by a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface, Samsung’s 980 may not be as fast as the Gen4 speed spewing monster that is the 980 Pro, but it is still a very responsive DRAM-less M.2 NVMe SSD thanks to its optimized design. Without DRAM, the SSD performs efficiently, keeps pace with many of the best PCIe Gen3 SSDs, and still boasts respectable endurance ratings. Sustained write performance may not be as strong as the WD Blue SN550’s, but with a cache that is over 13x larger, Samsung’s 980 shouldn’t slow down to slower than rated speeds often and should offer a more responsive user experience for the majority of its life.
Read: Samsung 980 Review
Best Value DRAMless M.2 SSD
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Reasons to buy
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With a single-sided form factor, the Blue drive is also compact and slim for any M.2 2280 application. And, with a low average and well-regulated maximum power consumption, the WD Blue SN550 will pair nicely with an external NVMe adaptor, too, if you’re looking for something on the go. The SN550 delivers a responsive experience and is a quality SSD backed by thousands of validation tests. With a five-year warranty and plenty of endurance, the Blue SN550 is well worth considering – even if low cost isn’t your main priority.
WD’s Blue SN550 is one of the most consistent-performing low-cost NVMe SSDs available. Even though it has a small SLC write cache, its slowest performance will still remain acceptable when you hammer it with heavy writes. In our testing of the 1TB model, it even responds faster to applications and most consumer workloads than the WD Black SN750, including loading up your favorite games.
Read: WD Blue SN550 Review
SATA Drives
You can get a SATA drive in the M.2 form factor, but most SATA drives are 2.5-inch models, which allows them to drop into the same bays that hold laptop hard drives. SATA drives are the cheapest and still the most popular.
Best Consumer SATA SSD
Specifications
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Samsung continues to show us that it has the best SATA SSDs on the market. Following in the footsteps of its predecessor with top-ranking performance, great power efficiency, and all the features you could want out of SATA SSD, the 870 EVO dominates. While not as endurant as the PRO models, the 870 EVO comes with enough endurance for most users. Whether you’re a gamer or a prosumer, with high capacities of up to 4TB available, there’s a capacity for almost any need. You don’t need to look farther for a better SATA SSD – this is your best pick.
Read: Samsung 870 EVO Review
Best Consumer SATA SSD Alternative
Specifications
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
If you don’t want to dish out big bucks on something in the NVMe flavor but still want strong SATA performance, the MX500 is a great choice. As an alternative to the Samsung 860 EVO, it offers similar performance and has a strong history of reliability. Usually priced to sell, the MX500 is a top value at any capacity you need.
Read: Crucial MX500 Review
Best Prosumer SATA SSD
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Restrained by the SATA interface, but still need the absolute highest endurance and performance you can get? As the pinnacle of SATA performance inside and out, Samsung’s 860 PRO is the SSD to buy.
Like the Samsung 970 PRO, the 860 PRO uses Samsung’s 64L MLC V-NAND, which helps propel it to the top of the charts in our rounds of benchmarking and makes for some incredible endurance figures. You can get capacities up to 4TB, and endurance figures can be as high as 4,800 TBW. But with prices that are triple that of your typical mainstream SATA SSD, the 860 PRO is mainly for businesses with deep pockets.
Read: Samsung 860 Pro Review
Add-in Card SSDs
These drives are add-on cards, just like graphics cards or sound cards, so they only work with desktops with a spare PCIe 3.0 x4, x8, or x16 slot. However, because they are larger than other form factors, they have room for more chips and better cooling, making them the fastest drives around.
Best Workstation SSD
Specifications
Reasons to buy
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You could get by with using one of our top M.2 picks for workstation use, but flash devices have rather limited capabilities in mixed workloads, so they can still bottleneck the most grueling workloads. For those who don’t want to just ‘get by,’ but absolutely remove storage as a potential bottleneck, then Intel’s Optane SSD DC P5800X is for you. This is a U.2 design, so you’ll find it in most workstations riding on a U.2-to-PCIe carrier, essentially transforming the drive into an add-in-card.
Powered by the company’s second-generation Optane storage media. Intel’s Optane SSD DC P5800X is a supercharged NVMe SSD that can take on nearly any workload you throw its way and ask for more. Capable of delivering sequential performance figures of up to 7.2/6.2 GBps, hitting upwards of 1.5 million random read/write IOPS, and warrantied to withstand up to 292 petabytes, Intel’s Optane SSD DC P5800X is the fastest and most endurant NVMe SSD we’ve ever tested. But it’s pricey, very power-hungry like its predecessors, and has limited capacity compared to its NAND flash counterparts.
Read: Intel Optane SSD DC P5800X Review
Best Workstation SSD Alternative
Specifications
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Samsung 980 Pro and WD_Black SN850 are our Best picks, but that doesn’t mean they are the fastest SSDs on the market. We know Optane’s DC P5800X is unearthly fast, but has limited capacity and doesn’t come in the same efficient M.2 form factor. The FireCuda 530, on the other hand, is available in capacities of up to 4TB, comes in that small M.2 form factor, and delivers incredible sustained write speeds for a flash-based SSD.
If you don’t have that deep of pockets for Optane, or maybe just want to out-benchmark your friends, the FireCuda 530 might be up your alley. Sporting Phison’s beastly, penta-core PS5018-E18 NVMe SSD controller and Micron’s fast 176-Layer TLC flash, the FireCuda 530 outperforms both the Samsung and WD across the board and it comes backed by better warranty and support service. However, its high-performance, endurance, and data rescue support add quite a bit to pricing, making it a very premium buy targeted for the professional crowd rather than the average gamer.
Read: Seagate FireCuda 530 Review
Best Value Workstation SSD
Specifications
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Corsair’s MP600 Pro XT is one of the fastest SSDs we’ve had our hands on, essentially tying the Seagate FireCuda 530 in most of our performance tests. While made of the same components, a Phison E18 NVMe SSD controller and Micron’s B47R TLC flash, the MP600 Pro XT comes at a much lower price point of up to $140 cheaper at the time of publishing.
Of course, there’s a valid reason for this lower price. The MP600 Pro XT lacks the more advanced XTS-AES 256-bit encryption, three years of Data Recovery Services, and has lower endurance ratings than its Seagate counterpart. However, most of those points are of little consideration for most. If you’re looking for the best performance you can get without overspending on features or ultra-high endurance ratings that you don’t need, Corsair’s MP600 Pro XT is a force to be reckoned with and well worth your consideration.
Read: Corsair MP600 Pro XT Review
Best RGB Add-in-Card SSD
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Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
WD’s Black AN1500 is a unique NVMe SSD that combines two of the company’s SN730 NVMe SSDs and pairs them into a RAID 0 with an enterprise-grade RAID controller. The drive delivers the speed of the PCIe Gen4 interface to systems that only support PCIe Gen3.
The drive delivers up to 6.4/4.1 GBps in sequential read/write performance, providing PCIe Gen4-like performance over its PCIe 3.0 X8 interface – but for systems that don’t support PCIe Gen4. However, while the drive offers up incredible performance, it consumes a lot of power and is rather pricey. Fortunately, endurance ratings don’t restrict its warranty coverage, and there is, of course, that well-implemented RGB lighting.
Read: WD Black AN1500 Review
Best SSDs for Chia Farming
We’re working on in-depth SSD testing to create a longer dedicated list of the Best SSDs for plotting Chia coins, but these are the two top picks in both the premium and value categories. You can also reference our How to Farm Chia Coin guide for more details.
Chia plotting, which is the process of creating the actual farmable plot, takes a lot of resources before low-resource farming can happen. Each K32 plot needs roughly 239GiB of high-speed storage capacity for the process before you end up with a tidied-up 101GiB plot. With the workloads eating through up to 1.8TiB of SSD endurance per plot over six to twelve hours (speed varies widely), plotting requires high endurance, high capacity, and incredible speed to pull off multiple concurrent plots at once for optimal efficiency.
The software automatically moves the finished plot from the SSD to an HDD for bulk storage. You don’t have to worry much about HDD endurance for these tasks; they are normally rated for up to 150-300TB of writes per year. However, their slow access times aren’t suitable for plotting.
SSDs, with their much faster access times, make great candidates for speeding up your plotting process. However, don’t get fooled into thinking that just any old SSD will speed up your plotting. That’s far from reality; Chia plotting is a consumer SSD killer.
What is the best SSD for Chia? Figuring that out can be complicated. Because most consumer SSDs have rather limited endurance ratings than enterprise parts, it’s hard to recommend drives designed specifically for the consumer market. Ideally, you want high endurance enterprise-grade NVMe or SAS SSDs for the task. Many of these types of used SSDs are for sale on eBay for much cheaper than new, but we know that many of us don’t have the means to purchase or configure such a setup, or only plan to do a few plots that don’t require such high-performance accommodations. Not to mention, second-hand enterprise SSDs are becoming scarce now that more people are getting into Chia mining.
But if you are left looking at consumer SSDs, you’re going to want to get something with a good balance of specs and value. Look at these SSDs as disposable wear items for this specific task, like a pair of tires on a race car. Ideally, you want fast performance for plotting and plenty of write endurance since both are huge pieces of the puzzle due to the massive write burden per plot. You will also want a high-capacity model to enable concurrent plotting too.
You can only plot roughly three to possibly four plots per 1TB of storage capacity, and if you have a setup with, say, a Ryzen 9 5900X or better paired with a lot of RAM, even 1TB drives can become a big bottleneck. As such, plan to purchase a minimum of 239 GiB of capacity for every two CPU cores that you plan to mine with.
Best Consumer Chia Mining SSD
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Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Team Group’s T-Create Expert was originally built to offer up near unparalleled reliability and peace of mind for content creators, but since the release of Chia crypto farming, the company spun its marketing and claims it is the best SSD for Chia plotting. We were skeptical at first, but after testing, we found it to be our top pick for this grueling task.
Leveraging a Silicon Motion SM2262EN SSD controller and Micron’s FortisMax high-endurance enterprise-grade 64L TLC flash, the T-Create Expert makes for a responsive and high-endurance NVMe SSD. It not only carries ultra-high endurance ratings, but also an ultra-long 12-year warranty that most competitors can’t match. But, that said, this device makes for a costly purchase.
Read: Team Group T-Create Expert SSD Review
Best Value Consumer Chia Mining SSD
Specifications
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Chia plotting is taxing on storage, eating away at up to 1.8TiB of writes per plot and requiring roughly 239GiB of free space per plot you make. The higher the capacity and higher the write performance, the better and you’re not going to want a QLC SSD at all. For this task, we recommend the WD_Black SN750 as our best value pick. Capable of awesome sustained write performance and available in capacities of up to 4TB, this PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD is perfect for the task. While it isn’t the fastest to respond in some applications, it is still a solid pick for those looking for a high-capacity SSD to constantly write all your Chia plots to. Not only is it fast at writing, but it is also a solid value at a lower cost than Samsung’s 970 EVO Plus, which slots in as our premium recommendation.
Read: WD Black SN750 SSD Review
Finding Discounts on the Best SSDs
Whether you’re shopping for one of the best SSDs or one that didn’t quite make our list, you may find savings by checking out the latest Crucial promo codes , Newegg promo codes , Amazon promo codes , Corsair coupon codes , Samsung promo codes or Micro Center coupons .

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