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The best SSDs in 2024

From SATA to NVME, these are our top picks for SSDs for every budget.

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The best SSDs allow you to upgrade your PC or console with fast, reliable storage. Whether you’re looking to add more storage space to your gaming PC so you can install more of your favorite games, or you need more room for archiving photos, files and other documents, adding a new solid-state drive into the mix is one of the best ways to achieve this. Now that SSDs are more commonplace than old hard disk drives (HDDs), you can purchase a capable SSD with high read and write speeds without breaking the bank. If you’re struggling to work out the best SSD for your needs, Engadget can help you narrow down the choices. And if you’re looking to add more storage to your PS5, you can check out our list of the best SSDs for PS5 to ensure you get a compatible SSD.

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The most affordable way to add fast storage space to a computer is with a 2.5-inch SATA drive. It’s also one of the easiest if you don’t want to worry about compatibility since almost every computer made in the last two decades will include a motherboard with Serial ATA connections. For that reason, the best SATA SSDs are an excellent choice if you want to extend the life of an older PC build. Installation is straightforward, too. Once you’ve secured the internal SSD in a drive cage, all you need to do is to connect it to your motherboard and power supply.

The one downside of SATA drives is that, in terms of responsiveness, they’re slower than their high-performance NVMe counterparts, with SATA III limiting data transfers to 600MB/s. But even the slowest SSD has a significantly faster transfer speed than the best mechanical drives. And with high-capacity, 1TB SATA SSDs costing about $100, they’re a good bulk-storage option.

If your PC is newer, there’s a good chance it includes space for one or more M.2 SSDs. The form factor represents your ticket to the fastest possible consumer storage on the market, but the tricky part is navigating all the different standards and specs involved.

M.2 drives can feature either a SATA or PCIe connection. SSDs with the latter are known as Non-Volatile Memory or NVMe drives and are significantly faster than their SATA counterparts, with Gen3 models offering sequential write speeds of up to 3,000MB/s. You can get twice the performance with a Gen4 SSD, but you’ll need a motherboard and processor that supports the standard.

If you’re running an AMD system, that means a Ryzen 3000 or 5000 CPU and an X570 or B550 motherboard. With Intel, meanwhile, you’ll need a 11th or 12th Gen processor and a Z490, Z590 or Z690 motherboard. Keep in mind you’ll pay a small premium for a Gen4 SSD.

You might have also seen something about Gen 5 NVMe drives. You can safely ignore those for now. At the moment, only Intel’s 12th-gen desktop CPUs support PCIe 5 and there aren’t any Gen5 NVMe SSDs out on the market. We’ll see the first ones arrive alongside AMD’s next-generation Ryzen 7000 processors later this year, but if the price of early PCie 4.0 drives is any indication, they will be expensive.

As for why you would buy an M.2 SATA drive over a similarly specced 2.5-inch drive, it comes down to ease of installation. You add M.2 storage to your computer by installing the SSD directly onto the motherboard. That may sound intimidating, but in practice the process involves a single screw that you first remove to connect the drive to your computer and then retighten to secure the SSD in place. As an added bonus, there aren’t any wires involved, making cable management easier.

Note that you can install a SATA M.2 SSD into an M.2 slot with a PCIe connection, but you can’t insert an NVMe M.2 SSD into a M.2 slot with a SATA connection. Unless you want to continue using an old M.2 drive, there’s little reason to take advantage of that feature. Speaking of backward compatibility, it’s also possible to use a Gen4 drive through a PCIe 3 connection, but you won’t get any of the speed benefits of the faster NVMe.

One last thing to consider is that M.2 drives come in different physical sizes. From shortest to longest, the common options are 2230, 2242, 2260, 2280 and 22110. (The first two numbers represent width in millimeters, the latter denote the length.) For the most part, you don’t have to worry about that since 2280 is the default for many motherboards and manufacturers. Some boards can accommodate more than one size of NVMe SSD thanks to multiple standoffs. That said, check your computer’s documentation before buying a drive to ensure you’re not trying to fit one it can’t support.

The best buying advice I can offer is: don’t get too caught up about being on the bleeding edge of storage tech. The sequential read and write speeds you see manufacturers list on their drives are theoretical and real-world performance benchmark tests vary less than you think.

If your budget forces you to choose between a 1TB Gen3 NVMe and a 512GB Gen4 model, go for the higher-capacity one. From a practical standpoint, the worst thing you can do is buy a type of SSD that’s too small for needs. Drives can slow dramatically as they approach capacity, and you will probably end up purchasing one with a larger storage capacity in the future.

With all that boring stuff out of the way, here are some go-to best SSD recommendations.

You don’t have to look far to find the best SATA SSD: it's the Crucial MX500. With sequential read speeds of 560MB/s and $85 price tag for the 1TB model, this internal SSD offers a hard-to-beat combination of excellent performance and value. It also comes with a five-year warranty for additional peace of mind.

$48 at B&H Photo
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$87 at Amazon$87 at Walmart

The 970 EVO Plus is a great pick for anyone buying their first Gen3 NVMe drive. It comes in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB and 2TB varieties, all of which are competitively priced. Expect to pay about $70 for the 500GB model, $100 for the 1TB version and $190 for 2TB. Samsung’s SSDs also have a strong reputation for reliability.

$55 at B&H Photo
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$98 at Amazon$105 at Walmart

If the 970 EVO Plus is out of your price range but you still want a NVMe drive, the Crucial P2 is the best budget option. It’s slightly slower than Samsung’s M.2 drive, offering sequential read speeds of up to 2,400MB/s instead of 3,500MB/s, but is significantly cheaper. Crucial offers the P2 in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB and 2TB variants.

$110 at Amazon

If you have an older Windows computer but still want to take advantage of the M.2 form factor, consider the WD Blue SN570. It’s slower than the two above options but pricing is comparable to what you would pay for a 2.5-inch drive.

$72 at Amazon

If you have the necessary hardware and money to spare, it’s hard to beat the high-end Crucial P5 Plus. With sequential read speeds of 6600MB/s, it’s not the absolute fastest PCie 4.0 NVMe you can buy, but it offers about the best value. The P5 Plus comes in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB varieties. The WD Black SN850 we recommend below in the console section is also a great pick.

$90 at Amazon

Portable SSDs are a somewhat different beast to their internal siblings. While read and write speeds are important, they are almost secondary to how an external drive connects to your PC. You won’t get the most out of a model like the SanDisk Extreme Pro V2 without a USB 3.2 Gen 2 x 2 connection. Even among newer PCs, that’s something of a premium feature. For that reason, most people are best off buying a portable drive with a USB 3.2 Gen 2 or Thunderbolt 3 connection. The former offers transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps. The best external hard drives also allow you to transfer data from your Windows PC to a Mac, or other device, if compatible. Be sure to consider this beforehand if you plan to use your portable drive across multiple devices.

Additionally, if you plan to take your drive on trips and commutes, it’s worthwhile to buy a model with IP-certified water and dust proofing. Some companies like Samsung offer rugged versions of their most popular drives with a high endurance rating. For additional peace of mind, 256-bit AES hardware encryption will help prevent someone from accessing your data if you ever lose or misplace your external SSD.

Some of the same features contribute to a great thumbstick drive. Our favorite picks for best external SSD models feature USB 3.0 connections and some form of hardware encryption.

For carrying files on the go, the Crucial X9 Pro is a portable SSD with the right mix of performance, features and cost. There are technically faster options out there, but its 10 Gbps speeds should be quick enough for the backups and file transfers most people do with an external drive, and it outpaced most other models within its performance class in our benchmark tests. It’s super tiny and sufficiently rugged on top of that, with an IP55-rated case made from aluminum and rubber. A five-year warranty helps as well. Just note that the included USB-C cable is fairly short, and there’s no adapter for USB-A ports in the box. — Jeff Dunn, Senior Reporter, Buying Advice

$98 at Amazon

The Samsung Fit Plus has about all the features you could want on a USB drive. It connects to your computer over USB 3.1 and supports file transfer speeds of up to 300MB/s. The Fit Plus is also compact and has a handy slot for attaching it to your keychain. The only downside of Samsung’s USB drive is that it’s on the pricey side.

$20 at Amazon
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$22 at B&H Photo$26 at Adorama
Seagate Storage Expansion
Seagate

If PC gaming isn’t your thing and you own an Xbox Series X|S or PS5, outfitting your fancy new console with the fastest possible storage is far more straightforward than doing the same on PC. With a Series X or Series S, the conversation starts and ends with Seagate’s storage expansion cards. The company offers 512GB, 1TB and 2TB models, with the most affordable starting at a not-so-trivial $139. The good news is that gamers can frequently find them on sale. Your best bet is to set an alert for the model you want on a price tracker like CamelCamelCamel.

With Sony’s PlayStation 5, upgrading the console’s internal storage is slightly more involved. Instead of employing a proprietary solution, the PS5 uses NVMe storage. Thankfully, there aren’t as many potential configurations as you would find on a PC. Engadget published a comprehensive guide to the best SSDs for PS5; in short, your best bet is a high-capacity Gen4 drive with a built-in heatsink. Check out that guide for a full list of gaming SSD recommendations, but for a quick go-to, consider the Western Digital SN850. It meets all the memory specifications for Sony’s latest console and you won’t run into any clearance issues with the heatsink. Western Digital offers 500GB, 1TB and 2TB models of the SN850. Expect to pay about $150 for the 1TB variant and about $260 for 2TB.

For those still playing on a previous generation console, you can get slightly faster game load times from a PlayStation 4 by swapping the included hard drive to a 2.5-inch SSD, but going out of your way to do so probably isn’t worth it at this point and you’re better off saving your money for one of the new consoles.

There is no one size fits all rule for SSDs, but we generally recommend getting at least a 1TB SSD if you’re looking to upgrade PC or game console storage, or looking to add an external drive to your toolkit. A 1TB drive will be plenty for most people who need extra storage space for photos, documents and programs. If you’re a hardcore gamer, you may want to invest in even more storage considering many high-profile titles today can take up a ton of space.

The short answer is that it depends on what you need your drive for. In general, SSDs are faster and more efficient than HDDs, but HDDs are usually cheaper. We recommend springing for an SSD for most use cases today — upgrading a PC, saving important photos and documents, storing games long term, etc. But if you’re focused on getting the most amount of extra space possible (and sticking to a budget), an HDD could be a good option for you.

Getting a bigger SSD doesn’t always translate into a faster drive overall. A bigger SSD will provide a higher storage capacity, which means more space for storing digital files and programs. To understand how fast an SSD will be, you’ll want to look at its read/write speeds: read speeds measure how fast a drive can access information, while write speeds measure how fast the drive can save information. Most SSDs list their approximate read/write speeds in their specs, so be sure to check out those numbers before you make a purchase.