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Best SSDs of 2020: In-depth reviews from our PC experts

Switching to a solid-state drive is the best upgrade you can make for your PC. These wondrous devices obliterate long boot times, speed up how fast your programs and games load, and generally makes your computer feel fast. But not all solid-state drives are created equal. The best SSDs offer solid performance at affordable prices—or, if price is no object, face-meltingly fast read and write speeds.

Many SSDs come in a 2.5-inch form factor and communicate with PCs via the same SATA ports used by traditional hard drives. But out on the bleeding-edge of NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) drives, you’ll find tiny “gumstick” SSDs that fit in M.2 connections on modern motherboards, SSDs that sit on a PCIe adapter and slot into your motherboard like a graphics card or sound card, futuristic 3D Xpoint drives, and more. Picking the perfect SSD isn’t as simple as it used to be.

That’s where this guide comes in. We’ve tested numerous drives to find the best SSDs for any use case. Let’s take a look at PCWorld’s top picks, and then dive into what to look for in an SSD. Quick note: This roundup only covers internal solid-state drives. Check out PCWorld’s guide to the best external drives if you’re looking for a portable storage solution.

Updated April 10, 2020 to update pricing and availability information throughout, and update the news section below. We also removed the Intel SSD 800P from the “fastest SSD” section as it’s sold out at major retailers.

Latest SSD news

  • New PCI-E 4.0 drives are coming out now that AMD’s Ryzen 3000-series processors and X570 motherboards introduced support for the cutting-edge interface. The latest comes from Kingmax, whose Zeus PX4480 SSDs are shipping now in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB configurations, per Anandtech. These blazing-fast SSDs are rated for up to 5000MB/s sequential read speeds and 4000MB/s sequential writes, but unlike other PCI-E 4.0 SSDs relying on Phison’s PS5016-E16 controller, they don’t pack an integrated heat sink. We cover PCI-E 4.0 SSDs in our “Fastest SSD” section. 
  • DirectStorage—the backbone of the Xbox Series X’s ultra-fast storage technology—is coming to Windows…sometime. Microsoft hasn’t diven deep into what DirectStorage itself does, but the Xbox Series X’s “Velocity Storage” looks impressive indeed.
  • Our latest review is of an SSD in a more portable form. The Crucial X8 Portable SSD is an affordable alternative to Samsung’s T5 and Sandisk’s Ultra Portable, but because it slows down drastically during long writes, it’s not a good choice for video or other data-intensive work. Again, check out our guide to the best external drives for more info on the portable SSD landscape.

Best SSD for most people

Samsung’s mainstream EVO series of SSDs has sat atop our recommended list ever since 2014, and the current Samsung 860 EVO is still a great option for people who want a rock-solid blend of speed, price, compatibility, and the reliability of Samsung’s 5-year warranty and superb Magician management software. But for the first time in recent memory, the king has been knocked off its thrown, and by a newcomer that isn’t really new whatsoever.

Most people would be better off buying the SK Hynix Gold S31. Not only is it among the fastest SATA SSDs we’ve ever tested, but the price is right too. At $46 for a 250GB drive or $64 for a 500GB drive, the Gold S31 costs much less than Samsung’s line, which charges $90 for a 500GB model. “When all was said and done in those real-world 48GB copies, the Gold S31 proved the fastest drive we’ve ever tested for sustained read and write operations,” our review proclaimed. Enough said.

Well, maybe not. Let’s talk a bit about the brand itself, since SK Hynix (nee Hyundai) isn’t exactly a household name. Despite that, it’s one of the largest semiconductor manufacturers on the planet. The company has been developing NAND and controller technology since the get-go, and while it’s been the SSD manufacturer for numerous large computer vendors, it generally hasn’t taken a place for itself on the shelves. Now it has, and the results are sterling.

If you need larger capacities, though, still look to the Samsung 860 EVO, which is available in 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB models as well, albeit at steeper premiums. SK Hynix also offered a 1TB version of the Gold S31 for around $110, but it’s currently unavailable.

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