Disclosure: I only recommend products that I would use myself. This post contains affiliate links so that, as an Amazon and B&H Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases, at no additional cost to you. Prices for B&H as of February 19th 2021. Click on Amazon links to see current prices. Prices and availability are subject to change.

This is one of 3 articles dedicated to storage drives:

1. The Best External Hard Drives, SSDs and USB Flash Drives
2. The Best Internal SSDs (this article)
3. The Best Internal Hard Drives

2021 Update: What’s new?

1. Replaced the Samsung 860 EVO SATA III by the new Samsung 870 EVO SATA III
2. Replaced the Crucial BX500 by the PNY CS900 as the lowest cost SATA 3 SSD
3. Added the SK Hynix Gold S31 as a high performance and low power consumption SATA 3 option
4. Huge price cut on the Sabrent Rocket Q 4TB PCIe NVMe SSD
5. Price cuts on the Samsung 970 EVO Plus SSDs
6. Added the SK Hynix Gold P31 as a high performance and low power consumption PCIe NVMe option
7. Up to date prices

SSD FAQ: What is a SSD and why do I want one?

Read a quick recap on what a SSD is and why you want one in our SSD FAQ.

What capacity should I pick for my SSD?

Are you asking yourself: How much storage capacity do I need for my computer?

Visit the ‘How to choose the right SSD storage capacity and pay less for your computer‘ article.

If you have the time to do research… but who does in this busy world?

I know that not everyone has the time to read detailed SSD reviews. This is why I write this guide: To help you save your money, time and sanity by letting you know what are the best SSDs based on what you need.

With 20 years of experience with computer hardware, keeping up with new products and ever-changing prices, I’m here to help you find the best deals. See my About page.

Summary

Click on a category to jump to the recommendations.

PCI-Express NVMe SSDs: Highest performance SSDs

SATA 3 SSDs:
If you have an older PC without PCIe NVMe support

A worldwide guide!

B&H offers worldwide shipping, while Amazon links should direct you to your local Amazon site (USA, UK, Germany, etc.)

Best M.2 PCI-Express SSDs:

The SATA III protocol limit SATA III SSDs to less than 600MB/s transfer rates. PCI-Express SSDs don’t have that limitation and can reach far higher rates!

In other words, PCI-Express SSDs enable much higher performance than SATA III based SSD.

Just make sure that your computer is equipped with a M.2 slot that supports PCIe NVMe. Otherwise, you’ll want a M.2 PCIe to PCIe 3.0 x4 Adapter card, meaning that you’ll plug the M.2 SSD into the PCIe adapter card, which you’ll then plug into a PCI-Express slot on your motherboard.

If your computer only supports SATA SSDs:
See our recommended SATA III SSDs.

NVMe M.2 PCIe SSDs

In order of performance, from the slowest PCIe SSD (still faster than SATA III SSDs) to the highest performance model.

Entry-level QLC SSDs:
250GB/500GB/1TB: WD Blue SN550
4/8TB: Sabrent Rocket Q

The Entry-level NVMe drives are SSDs that uses the QLC flash storage technology.

Their biggest pro: Higher capacities at a lower price!
QLC flash memory allows it to store more data within the same quantity of flash memory, driving down costs by reducing the number of memory chips required to reach a certain storage capacity.

On the downside, this means that:
1- Endurance is reduced:
Write endurance is rated at 150TB for the WD Blue 250GB, 300TB for the 500GB model and 600TB for the 1TB modeland the Intel 660p 2TB model.

2- Performance is lower compared to SSDs with TLC flash memory:
That said, they are equipped with a high-performance SLC cache, that will cache data and accelerates performance until it fills up. Its size varies depending on the capacity of the SSD and how full it is. In other words, the more free capacity you have, the faster your SSD will be.
When the cache isn’t full, which is the vast majority of time, unless you’re working with very large data files (40GB+) or your drive is over 75% full, the WD Blue SN550 and Sabrent Rocket Q write performance is adequate, competitive with higher-end TLC drives, such as the ones I recommend below. When it comes to read performance, it is competitive with other lower-end PCI NVMe drives and much faster than SATA III SSDs.

For the average user, the WD Blue SN550/Sabrent Rocket Q offer excellent performance in most tasks, at an outstanding price.

Overall, it’s priced around the same as entry-level SATA III SSDs and it offers far superior performance in the vast majority of scenarios, so it’s easy for me to recommend.

Avoid 4 channels QLC SSDs:
There are even lower-end QLC SSDs, such as the ADATA Swirdfish, Inland Pro, Crucial P1 and P2, that use controllers that only feature 4 channels instead of 8 channels on the WD Blue SN550 and Sabrent Rocket Q. Needless to say, this reduces performance even further, for minimal savings (we’re talking about a $5 difference).

WD Blue SN550 V.S. Sabrent Rocket Q:
The WD Blue SN550 is a notch faster in real-world performance and also slightly less expensive. However, the Sabrent Rocket Q is available with up to 8TB storage, unlike the WD Blue SN550 which tops up at 2TB, so I recommend the Sabrent Rocket Q if you want 4TB of 8TB of storage at a low price. Note that I don’t recommend the 2TB model: You can get the higher performance and higher endurance 2TB ADATA XPG SX8200, recommended below, for the same price.

Get the WD Blue SN550 NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2:

250GB from Amazon or B&H (N/A)
500GB from Amazon or B&H (N/A)
1TB from Amazon or B&H (N/A)
2TB from Amazon

Get the Sabrent Rocket Q NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2:

4TB from Amazon or B&H ($599.98)
8TB from Amazon or B&H ($1499.00)

Mid-range PCIe NVMe SSDs:

SM2262EN controller based SSDs:

– HP EX950
– ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro
– 
ADATA XPG Gammix S11 Pro
– 
Mushkin Pilot-E

Silicon Motion, the company behind the SM2262 SSD controller, updated the firmware of their controller and there are now offers SSDs based on the newer SM2262EN controller:
The HP EX950, the ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro, the ADATA XPG Gammix S11 Pro and the Mushking Pilot-E. Compared to products based on the older Silicon Motion SM2262, SSDs based on the SM2262EN controller offer better performance when it comes to burst workloads, which is the majority of consumer workloads.

There are also SSDs based on the competing Phison E12 controller, such as the Inland Premium, but they tend to have slightly lower real-world performance. You’re better off spending a few dollars more to get higher performance.

The HP EX950, ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro and ADATA XPG Gammix S11 Pro (Same as SX8200 Pro, but with a heatsink) offer pretty much identical the same performance, while the Mushkin Pilot-E offers close, but very slightly lower performance. The other difference is the warranty: The HP and ADATA drives come with a 5 years warranty, while the Mushkin comes with a 3 years warranty.

As of February 19th 2021:
1/2TB: The Mushkin Pilot-E is less expensive by quite a margin. The ADATA XPG Gammix S11 Pro and XPG SX8200 offer slightly better performance for slightly more money.
256GB, 512GB:
The ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro and Gammix S11 Pro (same with heatsink) are the least expensive.
I recommend comparing the prices between them when you are ready to make a purchase.

Get the Mushkin Pilot-E PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2:

1TB from Amazon
2TB from Amazon

Get the ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2:

256GB from Amazon or B&H ($44.95)
512GB from Amazon or B&H ($62.99)
1TB from Amazon or B&H ($119.99)
2TB from Amazon or B&H ($239.99)

Get the ADATA XPG Gammix S11 Pro PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2:

256GB from Amazon or B&H ($44.95)
512GB from Amazon or B&H ($62.95)
1TB from Amazon or B&H ($109.99)
2TB from Amazon or B&H ($239.95)

High-end PCIe NVMe SSDs:

SK Hynix Gold P31 PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2

High performance AND low power usage

If you want high performance and low power usage, for a laptop, the SK Hynix Gold P31 is my recommendation.

Performance wise, it’s between the ADATA SX8200 Pro and the Samsung 870 EVO Plus, while using lower power usage than these two.

Offering top-tier performance, lower power usage, high reliability, all of that at a reasonable price, with a solid 5 years warranty.

Get the SK Hynix Gold P31 PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2:

500GB from Amazon
1TB from Amazon

Samsung 970 EVO Plus PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2

Higher performance than most SSDs

If you want higher performance than most SSDs, but without paying the premium for the Samsung 980 Pro, the Samsung 970 EVO Plus is an excellent choice.

Replacing the Samsung 970 EVO (non-Plus), the Samsung 970 EVO Plus brings even higher performance, at similar or even lower prices!

Offering top-tier performance, high reliability, all of that at a reasonable price, with a solid warranty.

Samsung 970 EVO Plus V.S. WD Black SN750
The old Samsung 970 EVO (non-Plus) and the new generation of WD Black SSD trade blows when it comes to performance, although the WD SN750 is more power efficient. That said, the new Samsung 970 EVO Plus offers better performance, hence why I recommend the Samsung 970 EVO Plus over the new generation of the WD Black SSDs.

If you care about power efficiency, for maximum battery life in a laptop, I suggest the ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro recommended above, which offers similar perceivable performance in the vast majority of cases.

Get the Samsung 970 EVO Plus PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2:

250GB from AmazonB&H ($59.99)
500GB from AmazonB&H ($79.99)
1TB from AmazonB&H ($164.99)
2TB from Amazon or B&H ($329.99)

Workstation-class SSDs:
Samsung 980 Pro PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2

Higher performance than pretty much any SSD, except the vastly more expensive Intel Optane 900P/905P.

Performance wise, for regular everyday workloads, the Samsung 980 Pro won’t offer a perceivable performance increase compared to the 970 EVO Plus.

However, if you have highly demanding workloads and need maximum storage throughput, then the Samsung 980 Pro is the answer.

I only recommend the Samsung 980 Pro for workstations with highly demanding workloads, where utmost reliability, sustained performance, endurance and/or a long warranty matters.

Get the Samsung 980 Pro PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2:

250GB from AmazonB&H ($89.99)
500GB from AmazonB&H ($129.99)

1TB from AmazonB&H ($229.99)
2TB from Amazon, B&H ($429.99)

Intel Optane SSD 900P and 905P PCI-Express 3.0 x4 SSD

I recommend the Intel Optane 900P and 905P for:
Ultimate response time or in other words, random read latency. If you have workloads where response time and random read throughput (IOPS) is your number one priority, then nothing can match the Intel Optane 900P and 905P.

It doesn’t make sense for consumer/prosumer workloads though, where it is completely overkill.

The Intel 905p is basically an updated version of the Intel 900p, offering slightly better performance, as well as a 960GB capacity option.

So I recommend the Intel 900p if you need 480GB of storage capacity and the Intel 905p if you need 960GB or 1.5TB of storage capacity.

It beats almost all the performance records, outperforming the Samsung 970 Pro. There are cases where the Optane SSD simply crush the competition.

The low queue depth random read performance and latency of the Optane SSD is much faster than any flash-based SSD has attained. It’s in a class of it own.

Get the Intel Optane SSD 900P:

280GB from Amazon
480GB from Amazon

Get the Intel Optane SSD 905P:

960GB from AmazonB&H ($1,461.25)
1.5TB from Amazon

The Best SATA III 2.5″ SSDs:

If you have an older PC or want a 2.5″, M.2 SATA or mSATA SSD

Best Low Cost SSD:

PNY CS900

In terms of dollars, this is the least expensive SATA III SSD that I recommend.

The Crucial BX500 is a low-cost, low-performance SSD. Low performance, that is compared to higher-end, more expensive SSD. It still offers far higher performance than a hard drive as a boot drive.

PNY CS900 V.S. Crucial BX500
The PNY CS900, recommended over the Crucial BX500, offers better random (real-world) performance than the Crucial BX500, often at lower prices on top of that.

It has been out for years, with a solid reliability record and includes a 3 years warranty.

Recommended to replace a hard drive as a boot drive

I recommend this SSD for anyone looking to upgrade their hard drive for higher performance at the lowest cost possible for a SATA III SSD.

While it is significantly faster than a hard drive, I don’t recommend it for any kind of intensive workload.

It’s a fine choice if all you do is gaming, web browsing, basic Office work, casual work, for a POS, etc.

For any workload that is more demanding, I do not recommend it.

For a workstation, with requirements for higher sustained performance, a lot of writes and top-notch random access, skip this section: I recommend a much higher performance M.2 PCI-Express SSD.

Get the PNY CS900 2.5″ SATA III SSD:

120GB: Amazon or B&H ($22.99)
240GB: Amazon or B&H ($32.99)
250GB: Amazon or B&H ($34.99)
480GB: Amazon or B&H ($49.99)
500GB: Amazon or B&H ($52.99)

1TB: Amazon or B&H ($92.99)
2TB: Amazon or B&H ($187.99)

Samsung 870 QVO

Launched in June 2020, the Samsung 870 QVO is the successor of the 860 QVO. It doesn’t change a winning strategy, offering an incremental overall improvement in performance compared to the 860 QVO.

It is a low-cost SSD based on QLC NAND, so while its performance isn’t on par with the Crucial MX500 and Samsung 870 EVO, the Samsung 870 QVO offers better performance than the Crucial BX500. Its performance is similar to low-end TLC SSD. It still offers far higher performance than a hard drive as a boot drive.

I recommend this SSD for anyone looking to upgrade to replace their hard drive for higher performance and reliability, while still getting a lot of storage, at the lowest cost possible.

It’s a fine choice if all you do is gaming, web browsing, basic Office work, casual work, for a POS, etc.

More demanding workloads would be best served by an higher-end drive.

Get the Samsung 870 QVO 2.5″ SATA III SSD:

1TB: Amazon or B&H ($109.99) – Not recommended: Get the higher performance Crucial MX500 for less money.
2TB: Amazon or B&H ($219.99) – Not recommended: Get the higher performance Crucial MX500 for less money.

4TB: Amazon or B&H ($429.99)
8TB: Amazon or B&H ($849.99)

Best Mid-range SSDs:

Crucial MX500

The Crucial MX500 offers great performance for a SATA III SSD, not far behind the SK Hynix Gold S31 and Samsung 870 EVO. It is usually also one of the least expensive SSD on the market, making it easy to recommend.

On top of that, you get a 5 years warranty.

For a laptop, a PC boot drive, media drive, or game library drive, the Crucial MX500 is a good SSD at a great price.

Crucial MX500 V.S. WD Blue (SATA III 2.5″ version)

The Crucial MX500, recommended, offers significantly better performance than the WD Blue, often at lower prices on top of that!

That said, the WD 2TB is less expensive right now and the Crucial MX500 isn’t available as a 4TB drive, while the WD Blue is.

The Crucial MX500 is available as a 2.5″ and M.2 SATA III drive.

Get the Crucial MX500 2.5″ SATA III:

250GB from Amazon or B&H ($49.99) – Consider the SK Hynix Gold S31 recommended below, which offers higher performance at a lower price
500GB from Amazon or B&H ($53.99) – Consider the SK Hynix Gold S31, which offers higher performance at a similar or lower price
1TB from Amazon or B&H ($104.99) – Consider the SK Hynix Gold S31, which offers higher performance at a similar or lower price
2TB from Amazon or B&H ($214.99) – Consider the WD Blue, available for less money

Get the WD Blue 2.5″ SATA III:

2TB from Amazon or B&H ($209.99)
4TB from Amazon or B&H ($469.99)

Get the Crucial MX500 M.2 SATA III:

500GB from Amazon or B&H ($64.99)
1TB from Amazon or B&H ($114.99)

High Performance + Low power consumption:

SK Hynix Gold S31:

If your computer only supports SATA SSDs:
Do you want a mix of high SATA 3 performance and low power consumption, at a very good price? The SK Hynix Gold S31 is what you want.

Remember: If your computer supports M.2 PCI-Express SSDs, get a PCI-Express SSD instead, as they offer significantly higher performance than SATA III SSDs,

You get a 5 years warranty.

Get the SK Hynix Gold S31 2.5″ SATA III:

250GB from Amazon
500GB from Amazon 
1TB from Amazon 

Highest Performance:

Samsung 870 EVO:

If your computer only supports SATA SSDs:
Want the highest performance available on a SATA III SSD? The Samsung 870 EVO offers that.

Remember: If your computer supports M.2 PCI-Express SSDs, get a PCI-Express SSD instead, as they offer significantly higher performance than SATA III SSDs,

It does consume more power than the SK Hynix Gold S31 though, so if you want a mix of high performance performance and lower power usage, opt for that option.

You get also hardware encryption support and a 5 years warranty with the Samsung 870 EVO.

Get the Samsung 870 EVO 2.5″ SATA III:

250GB from Amazon or B&H ($39.99)
500GB from Amazon or B&H ($64.99)
1TB from Amazon or B&H ($129.99)
2TB from Amazon or B&H ($249.99)
4TB from Amazon or B&H ($479.99)

Updating the SSD firmware

Recommended to get the latest bug fixes and the best performance possible out of your SSD.

When you start using your SSD
I strongly urge you to double-check for an update to the SSD’s firmware, in order to get the latest bug fixes and the best performance. Make sure to read the instructions available on each update page, in order to understand how to properly update the firmware.

Some SSDs have newer firmware available than the one that they are shipped with, so make sure to double-check your SSD’s firmware version and to update it if’s not the latest.

If you update your SSD’s firmware after starting to use it, make sure to backup your data beforehand, just in case something goes wrong during the update process, in which case you could lose the data on the SSD.

If you have questions regarding firmware updates, contact the manufacturer or visit their support forums.

To find the latest firmware for your SSD, simply visit the manufacturer’s website, find your SSD and look for the latest firmware. Instructions on how to update the firmware should be found on the same page, or in a link to a .pdf file.

Conclusion

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this latest edition of The Best SSDs (Solid State Drives) article.

If you have a question, feedback or suggestion, I invite you to leave a comment below this article.