For the longest time, if you wanted to expand your PC’s storage, you were stuck with hard drives – with their spinning disks and long transfer speeds. Thankfully, times have changed, and in 2018, the best SSDs, or solid state drives, are fast enough to free you from the slow crawl of mechanical drives with lightning-fast boot times and file transfers.
Luckily, you can take advantage of these awesome benefits, even without one of the best PCs. The best Ultrabooks and the best SSDs are essentially made for each other – the portability and lightweight design of ultrabooks perfectly complementing the speed and durability of SSDs. Even if you’re a console gamer – you can say goodbye to long loading screens. Plus, in 2018, SSDs keep getting faster, bigger and even cheaper every day, so there’s never been a better time to buy one of the best SSDs.
If you look on Newegg or Amazon, you’ll see there are great SSDs on the market, and they’re available at every price point you can think of – which is a good thing if you’re on a budget. We here at TechRadar, then, have taken this as a cue to create a list of the best SSDs on the market in 2018. And, you can be confident that every SSD on this list is going to be worth your time and money – we’ve tested them ourselves.
Best SSD: Samsung 970 Evo
Capacity: 250GB/500GB/1TB/2TB | Interface: PCIe Gen 3 x4 M.2 | Warranty: 5-years
Shorter file-transfer speeds than predecessor
Low capacities pricey
Samsung’s Evo line of SSDs just continues to get better, and the Samsung 970 Evo is no exception. Building on the already-impressive performance of the 960 Evo and even out-powering the higher-end 960 Pro, this drive will make short work of any file transfer. And, now that it’s available with up to 2TB of storage, you’ll never have to worry about running out of space either.
Read the full review: Samsung 970 Evo
Best gaming SSD: WD Black NVMe SSD
Say goodbye to loading screens
Capacity: 250GB/500GB/1TB | Interface: PCIe Gen 3 x4 M.2 | Warranty: 5-years
Fastest sequential write speed
Disappointing random write speed
When you’re playing the best PC games, there’s nothing worse than having the action stop for a load screen (we’re looking at you, Half-Life 2). Luckily, with the WD Black NVMe SSD, you can basically say goodbye to long loading screens forever, as this drive absolutely blows the pants off of every other SSD in its price range. At just under $300 you won’t find a faster drive that will last as long as the WD Black NVMe SSD. We can say without a doubt that this is the best SSD for gaming. Trust us on this one.
Read the full review: WD Black NVMe SSD
Best NVMe SSD: Samsung 960 Pro
Capacity: 512GB/1TB/2TB | Interface: PCIe | Warranty: 3-years
Available up to 2TB
Whopping price for the larger sizes
The NVMe standard is designed to maximize the strengths of solid-state drives, and the Samsung 960 Pro takes full advantage. With an M.2 form factor and ridiculous read speeds of up to 3500 MBps, these SSDs are already enticing, but the fact it’s available as large as 2TB is incredible. All that storage doesn’t come cheap, but if you need lots (and LOTS) of fast storage, it’s definitely worth it.
Best PCIe SSD: Toshiba OCZ RD400
The most flexible SSD install
Capacity: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB | Interface: PCIe | Warranty: 3-years
Lots of sizes
Not all sizes available in all form factors
If you’re looking for plenty of options, the Toshiba OCZ RD400 series of drives come in 4 sizes and three different form factors: M.2, M.2 2280, and add-in card (AIC). Not all sizes are in all form factors, so if you’re looking for a fast 1TB drive, make sure you have room in your computer case.
- This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Samsung 960 Evo
Best M.2 SSD: WD Black PCIe SSD
Capacity: 256GB/512GB | Interface: PCIe | Warranty: 5-years
Limited size choices
This M.2 SSD from WD comes with a 5-year warranty and boasts some pretty excellent read/write times, up to 2050 MBps read and 800 write on the 512GB model. Great for installation or OS purposes, but unfortunately the available sizes don’t leave a lot of flexibility as far as storage is concerned.
Best SATA 3 SSD: Samsung 860 Pro
Capacity: 250GB/512GB/1TB/2TB/4TB | Interface: SATA | Warranty: 5-years
Available 4TB model
SATA 3 limits performance
SATA 3 might not be the hottest SSD tech in the world anymore, but with the Samsung 860 Pro, Samsung shows that there is life in the aging form-factor after all. Offering storage of up to 4TB and transfer speeds that approach the theoretical maximum of the SATA 3 connection and top-of-the-line reliability and security – the Samsung 860 Pro is the best SSD for anyone still clinging onto SATA 3.
Read the full review: Samsung 860 Pro
Best U.2 SSD: Intel 750 Series
Capacity: 400GB/800GB/1.2TB | Interface: PCIe | Warranty: 5-years
Great warranty period
Not as fast as some other PCIe drives
The U.2 standard allows for bigger SSD capacities and uses your computer’s PCIe x4 slot to send all that data back and forth. The Intel 750 series includes a cable so you can mount the drive in the bay on your case and still plug it into the PCIe slot on your motherboard.
Best budget SSD: Samsung 860 Evo
Astonishing speeds at a fantastic price
Capacity: 250GB/500GB/1TB/2TB/4TB | Interface: 2.5 inch, mSATA, M.2 | Warranty: 5-years
Noticeable speed improvement
SATA3 limits potential
The Samsung 850 Evo was an extremely successful and popular SSD when it released back in 2014, due to its fantastic performance that was affordable and attainable by the masses – so Samsung had a hard act to follow – it succeeded. Though limited by the SATA3 interface, the Samsung 860 Evo delivers performance that iterates on its predecessor with improved read/write speeds and an array of form factors, while maintaining its great price. The 860 Evo is undeniably the best SSD for anyone who is looking to dip their toes into blazing fast loading speeds without having to break open their piggy banks.
Read the full review: Samsung 860 Evo
Best endurance SSD: HP S700 Pro
Tough for anything you throw at it
Capacity: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB | Interface: SATA | Warranty: 3-years
Variety of capacities
If you need an SSD that will last through multiple computers, the HP S700 Pro is exactly what you want. Its life will far exceed its warranty, offering up to 2 million hours of use and up to 650 terabytes written. This is one of the best SSDs you can buy if you need something that’ll last, but the SATA interface may slow things down a bit in the read/write department, which technically helps it last even longer.
- This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Samsung 860 Evo
Best SSD boot drive: Intel 760p Series SSD
Amazing performance at an even better price
Capacity: 128GB/256GB/512GB | Interface: PCIe | Warranty: 5-years
Blazing quick read speeds
Slightly sluggish write speeds
For years, NVMe SSDs have been far too expensive. However, with their 760p SSDs, Intel is trying to change the world – of SSDs. The 760p features top-shelf performance that’s only slightly behind the Samsung 960 Evo, reaching speeds of 3,056 MB/s read and 1,606 MB/s write. But what makes the Intel 760p one of the best SSDs you can buy is the fantastic price-to-performance ratio for this drive. Sure, there are faster NVMe drives, but you’ll be paying a premium that, frankly, isn’t worth it. This drive makes us excited for the future of the best SSDs.
Read the full review: Intel 760p Series SSD
Best external SSD: Samsung Portable SSD T5
Worth the premium for USB-C fanatics
Capacity: 250GB/500GB/1TB/2TB | Interface: USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2 | Warranty: 3-years
Unless your laptop or desktop computer employs the USB Type-C Gen 2 interface, you might want to look elsewhere for an external drive. Otherwise, with read/write speeds of up to 540/515MBps, respectively, the Samsung Portable SSD T5 can keep up with some of the more modest PCIe players, resulting in one of the best SSDs for anyone who has to work on the go.
Read the full review: Samsung Portable SSD T5
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article