Inexpensive. Blazing-fast bootup times. Greatly improves all-around performance. Simple to set up. Available in 120, 240, 480, and 960GB, and 1 and 2TB sizes.
Its plastic construction feels less sturdy than it is.
Affordable. A snap to install. Designed for longevity. Blazing-fast. Optimized for high-end PCs. Available in 250 and 500GB, and 1, 2, and 4TB sizes.
Its online installation guide is leagues better than its print instructions.
Optimized for high-end gaming PCs and creative software. Durable. Premium loading speeds. Extremely easy to install. Available in 500GB, and 1 and 2TB sizes.
Best saved for gaming PCs.
Especially inexpensive. Impressively fast read and write speeds. Sturdy construction. Shock-resistant. Vibration-resistant. Available in 190, 240, 480, 960GB, and 1.92TB.
Not the best option for a gaming laptop.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Any time you save a file, open a video, or play a game on your computer, you’re tapping into its internal storage system — drives that store and retrieve digital information. The classic example of this is the hard disk drive (HDD), which consists of a magnetic disk that spins inside your computer and is read by pins. These systems are relatively inexpensive, allowing you to store massive amounts of data without breaking the bank. That said, their moving parts can potentially fail, and that’s why some users have shifted toward a more refined, energy-efficient, quieter, and admittedly more expensive option called the solid-state drive (SSD).
Unlike HDDs, SSDs have no moving parts. They store data in semiconductor cells somewhat similarly to a USB flash drive. This improves their longevity as well as read/write speeds compared to HDDs.
If you’re building a new rig from scratch, researching pre-built machines, simply looking to learn more about SSDs, or interested in some of our favorites, you’ve come to the right place.
Consumer-grade internal solid-state drives typically store between 120 gigabytes (GB) and 4 terabytes (TB) of data, which is quite a large range. The amount of storage you need corresponds to what tasks you undertake frequently. For instance, if all you want to do is to store your operating system on an SSD for improved performance, while using a hard disk drive for bulk storage, a smaller unit will do just fine. If you plan to put multiple applications and games on your SSD, invest in a multi-terabyte model to take your machine’s speed and responsiveness to the next level.
As the name suggests, the read/write speed of an SDD dictates how quickly it can manage data and execute tasks. SSDs far outpace HDDs in this regard, with the latter producing average speeds of approximately 125 megabytes per second (MB/s). However, SSDs can operate as quickly as 550 megabytes per second.
This refers to the SSD’s physical shape, size, and, consequently, compatibility with particular machines. You’ll see a form factor of 2.5 inches very often because this design is used on many laptops and desktops. M.2 and mSATA form factors are used frequently as well, but on thin laptops and tablets.
The interface is how the SSD physically connects to a computer’s system. There are two main flavors here: PCIe and SATA.
PCIe SSDs use a Peripheral Component Interconnect Express interface, which connects to the motherboard directly like a graphics card. This makes PCIe SSDs fast, desirable, and expensive.
Installation hardware: Purchasing an SSD, getting it home, and freeing it from its packaging would be very frustrating if you then find that it doesn’t include the necessary components to install it. Keep in mind that most SSDs require additional cables, screws, and brackets to set up, and some offer an install package as an add-on.
Power-loss protection: Certain SSD manufacturers include a power-loss protection function, which is intended to preserve all of your saved work if the power supply fails. One brand of SSD refers to this technology as “Integrated Power Loss Immunity.”
Warranty: There’s a lot on the line if your SSD fails, particularly if it houses your operating system or other crucial applications. This places more importance on the warranty of your product. Five-year warranties are easy to find, and in our opinion, you shouldn’t settle for anything less.
As with any piece of computing hardware, the price of an internal SSD is important, but try not to focus solely on the sticker price. A more important consideration is the dollar-per-gigabyte rating in conjunction with the read/write speed.
Inexpensive: Entry-level SSDs that cost between $50 and $100 offer capacities around 500 GB. These units typically have SATA interfaces and are compatible with a wide range of machines.
Mid-range: For approximately $250, expect to find larger SSDs that can store up to 2 TB of data. These products have more impressive read/write speeds than cheaper models and may feature SATA or PCIe interfaces.
Expensive: At the top of the range you’ll find high-capacity SSDs that are able to store 4 TB or more. Prices soar past $300 for these, but read/write speeds of 550 MB/s and higher will make it worth it if you’re after high performance. PCIe interfaces are common here, but you will still find SATA versions as well.
Check compatibility. Internal solid-state drives are not plug-and-play with every machine. Compare the make and model of your computer with the manufacturer to confirm compatibility before buying. Also, take the time to see if your system accepts SATA or PCIe interfaces.
Consider a hybrid. If you’re building your own computer, think about installing a hybrid drive with a solid-state drive as your boot drive for your operating system and a hard disk drive for bulk data storage. This is an extremely cost-effective way to design a high-performance system.
Back up your important data before formatting or reformatting your SSD. These processes return the drive it to its clean, factory state. Backing up your important data before doing this guarantees you won’t lose anything. On a Windows system, access your System and Security files in the Control Panel. Click Admin Tools, Computer Management, and then Disk Management. Then right click on the disk you’d like to format.
Q. What type of files should I store on my SSD?
A. Ideally, SSDs should be used to store files that need to be accessed quickly and frequently. A perfect example of this is the operating system because it’s constantly in use. Others include resource-intensive installed programs like video games. If you can, use your HDD for big files like movies and data you access infrequently, saving SSD space for files that will benefit from the increased performance.
Q. Do SSDs wear out over time?
A. Solid-state drives are known for their sturdiness because the lack of moving parts prevents issues due to physical damage. Their memory cells do have limited lifespans, however, specifically their ability to charge and discharge after thousands of read/write processes. The wear issues of SSDs are largely overblown, though. The average model can be rewritten with an average of 30 TB to 50 TB over its lifespan, and it will likely last far longer than the rest of the computer.
Q. Will SSDs always be more expensive than HDDs?
A. SSDs are getting cheaper each year, with a large number of models nearing prices of $0.50 per gigabyte. That said, they’re still noticeably more expensive than traditional hard disk drives, which cost $0.05 per gigabyte on average. Experts estimate it will take another three to five years for SSD prices to normalize and become comparable with HDDs.