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If you're building a new computer or just looking to upgrade your current rig, an SSD is a great way to add storage space as well as a boost of speed and reliability. Since a solid-state drive uses flash memory rather than moving parts like a traditional HDD, it offers much higher read and write speeds for faster access to files and programs. It also means that SSDs are less vulnerable to physical damage since there are no platters, needles, or aperture arms that can get broken from repeated use or accidental drops.
Also: The best gaming CPUs
Solid state drives also have slimmer designs than HDDs, making them better suited for both desktop and laptop use, or even installation in game consoles and very thin laptops if you opt for an M.2 model rather than a SATA version. To help you find the right fit for your computer, I've rounded up the best SSDs you can buy. I've broken down their features as well as their price points to help you decide which is the best choice for your needs as well as your budget.
Capacity: 500GB to 4TB | Read speed: 1050MB/s | Write speed: 1000MB/s | Encryption: 256-bit AES | Compatibility: Windows, Mac | Platform: External (PC, laptop, console)
You may think that all SSDs are pretty much the same, but the WD My Passport external SSD gives you the best balance between speed, performance, capacity, and price. You can choose capacities from 500GB to an impressive 4TB, giving you plenty of options for handling everything from documents and photos at home to huge game files that won't fit on your console's stock storage drive.
You'll get read and write speeds of 1050 and 1000MB/s, respectively, giving you much faster access to your most-used files and programs than a traditional HDD. And you can keep your personal information and work documents safe from prying eyes with both password protection and 256-bit AES encryption.
And since it's a portable, external SSD, the outer case is designed to protect the delicate components inside. It's able to resist drops from as high as 6.5 feet as well as shocks and vibrations, meaning you won't have to worry about your morning commute or a fall from your desk destroying your new SSD.
Capacity: 1TB | Read speed: 535MB/s | Write speed: 515MB/s | Encryption: No | Compatibility: PC | Platform: Desktop, laptop
If you're wanting to snag an SSD without spending a fortune, the PNY CS900 is the best option. For less than $50, you'll get 1TB of storage, which is more than enough to handle everything from school documents and family photos to large game files and video. It's also sized perfectly for use in either desktop or laptop computers, letting you upgrade either your home tower or your mobile workstation on the cheap.
And just because it's budget-friendly, that doesn't mean it skimps out on speed. You'll get read and write speeds of 535 and 515MB/s, respectively, which is perfectly fine for everyday home or office use and accessing your most-used programs and files.
Capacity: 500GB - 4TB | Read speed: 1050MB/s | Write speed: 1000MB/s | Encryption: 256-bit AES | Compatibility: PC, Mac, Linux | Platform: External (PC, laptop, console)
For speed and reliability on the go, the SanDisk Extreme portable SSD is a great option. The external case is designed with mobile professionals in mind, providing IP55 dust and water resistance as well as resistance to falls, drops, shocks, and even airport X-rays. The case also has a built-in carabiner loop for attaching a lanyard to keep the drive close at-hand when you need it.
You can choose capacities from as little as 500GB for everyday home and office use to an impressive 4TB for handling raw photo and video files as well as finished projects. You'll also get read and write speeds of 1050 and 1000MB/s, respectively for faster access to your files, documents, and programs. And if you're worried about prying eyes getting at your personal information or work documents when you aren't looking, the SanDisk Extreme lets you set up both password protection and 256-bit AES encryption.
Capacity: 500GB to 2TB | Read speed: 7000MB/s | Write speed: 5300MB/s | Encryption: No | Compatibility: Windows, PS5, Xbox Series X | Platform: M.2 desktop, laptop, console
For gamers looking to upgrade their desktop, gaming laptop, or console, the WD Black SN850 was built from the ground-up to be the best gaming SSD available. With capacities up to 2TB, you'll have plenty of room for all of your favorite games in your library as well as new releases on your wishlist. And the compact form factor makes it easy to install in laptops and consoles.
With ludicrously fast read and write speeds of 7,000 and 5,300MB/s, you can get near-instantaneous access to files, images, programs, and apps. This is perfect for content creators who need to make thumbnails, highlight reels, and merch designs and have to multitask with heavy-duty programs that lesser SSDs and HDDs can't handle together.
You can also download the WD Black Dashboard, which is a desktop app that lets you monitor read and write speeds, used and free capacity, and other performance metrics so you can catch issues before they can ruin your data.
Capacity: 8TB | Read speed: 560MB/s | Write speed: 530MB/s | Encryption: With Samsung Magician app | Compatibility: Windows | Platform: Desktop, laptop
It can be difficult to find high-capacity SSDs, but the Samsung 870 QVO aims to give you more storage space than most people could ever need. At an impressive 8TB, you'll have more than enough space for everyday files and documents as well as photos, videos, and games.
The slim form factor makes it easy to install in both desktop towers and laptops, letting you quickly upgrade your current rig for a fraction of the cost of a new computer.
With read and write speeds of 560 and 530MB/s, the Samsung 870 QVO is a faster, more reliable high-capacity drive than traditional hard disk models. And if you download the Samsung Magician app, you can optimize performance, update firmware, perform benchmark checks, and even set up encryption for your new SSD.
My pick for the best SSD is the WD My Passport. You can choose from capacities as low as 500GB up to 4TB. It features read and write speeds of 1050 and 1000MB/s, respectively as well as 256-bit AES encryption to keep your personal data and work safe from unauthorized access. And if you take your external drives wherever you go, the SSD's case is drop, shock and vibration resistant and can handle drops from as high as 6.5 feet. This means that if you have kids, pets, or are accident-prone, you won't have to worry about your new SSD getting damaged from occasional knocks.
Solid state drive
WD My Passport
Up to 4TB
SanDisk Extreme Portable
Up to 4TB
WD Black SN850
Up to 2TB
Samsung 870 QVO
It all depends on what you want the solid state drive to do. If you want to upgrade your boot drive, you'll want to invest in a reliable SSD with decent read and write speeds as well as a reasonable price tag. For gamers, you'll want something with a large storage capacity as well as faster read and write speeds to handle large game downloads and launching apps and programs. For home use, a budget-friendly, low-capacity SSD is perfectly fine for handling documents, photos, web browsing, and more.
Choose this SSD…
If you need…
WD My Passport 2TB
A well-rounded SSD with plenty of storage
PNY CS900 1TB
A budget-friendly SSD
SanDisk Extreme Portable
A rugged, portable SSD for work on-the-go
WE Black SN850
An SSD for gaming PCs, laptops, or consoles
Samsung 870 QVO 8TB
A high-capacity SSD
Since solid-state drives are more expensive than their HDD counterparts, I did my best to choose models with reasonable prices to fit a variety of budgets. I also included SSDs on this list that are suited for different applications like gaming, high-capacity storage, and rugged portability.
Since a solid state drive doesn't have any moving parts, they can last quite a bit longer than a traditional HDD. A well-built SSD will last at least 5 years with moderate use, and high-quality SSDs can give you up to 10 years of use. You'll want to re-assess your storage needs every few years or so as well as regularly run diagnostics on your storage and boot drives to keep an eye on things as well as catch any issues before they have the chance to wipe or corrupt your data.
PYou don't have to buy a high-capacity SSD to get the best value. If you're wanting an SSD as your boot drive (where your operating system is stored), something around 250 to 500GB will be plenty of space. However, if you're wanting an SSD as a secondary storage drive or even your main, you'll want to err on the side of caution and get at least a 1TB capacity. This way, you know you'll have plenty of space for photos, videos, apps, game files, and documents. If you're an avid gamer, you'll want at least 1TB of storage on your SSD to make sure there's enough space for large download files and update patch information, but 2TB is what I recommend as game files only get larger with each new title that's released.
If you're building your first PC or planning upgrades to your current build, deciding which kind of hard drive to use can be tricky. If you want to prioritize speed, whether it's boot times or accessing files and loading programs, a solid state drive is the way to go. Solid state drives can get incredibly fast read/write speeds because they use flash memory, similar to what is used in USB drives and your RAM, to store and access files and programs. This means that there are no moving parts to wait for or that risk damaging your data.
A traditional hard disk drive operates similarly to a vinyl record turntable: you have the disc, an aperture arm, and a needle. The needle "reads" the information on the discs to access files and programs or boot your computer. And while HDDs are significantly less expensive than their solid state counterparts, they also come with a high risk of mechanical failure as well as slower read and write speeds. But if you want to prioritize cost and storage capacity, an HDD is the better choice since they're less expensive and come in capacities up to 20TB.
As the technology becomes cheaper to produce, prices of even high-capacity solid state drives have come down considerably since SSDs were first introduced. This means that you can find tons of great, affordable options for reliable storage in your laptop or PC. Here's a short list of alternative choices that I thought were great: