Solid state drives on marble countertop
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Update, 3/15/22: With the release of DirectStorage for Windows, we have updated this roundup to include which drives are compatible with the architecture.

What to Look For in an Internal SSD in 2022

In recent years, all the rage in internal SSDs is the use of NVMe and PCIe, and while that can have a significant impact on the performance of your PC, you have to take your needs into account before buying the most expensive version of solid-state drives.

For example, if you are not using your PC for anything taxing such as gaming or streaming 4k content, a cheaper, non-NVMe/PCIe SSD is probably your best option. Granted, it will use a SATA connector and have a lower theoretical maximum speed compared to M.2 drives, but it’s going to be cheaper.

Even if you are going to use your SSD for gaming, not all games can benefit from faster read/write speeds, the primary boost you’re getting from going the M.2 NVMe or PCIe route. Microsoft has also brought its DirectStorage architecture to Windows 10 and 11, so any compatible games on an NVMe drive will get a massive boost in load speeds.

So, should you go for faster speed/write speeds if you can? That depends—will you be watching 1080p videos and playing retro or indie video games? If this is the case, the move from HDD to SSD in general will already provide some pretty significant advantages, and you won’t need the additional speed.

On the other hand, if you plan to watch 4k vids, play newer video games, or run production software, better read/write speeds will be better for you. So. If you can spend an extra $10 or $20 to get a better read/write speed, then definitely go for it.

The only other thing you’ll want to consider is a rating called terabytes written, or TBW. This is essentially the manufacturer’s guarantee that you’ll be able to write that many terabytes to the SSD before it begins to fail.

So, for example, if an SSD has a TBW of 250, that means you can write 250 terabytes before it can start failing, which, throughout the standard 5-year warranty, means roughly 136GBs written to the SSD per day.

For most consumers, TBW ratings shouldn’t be a concern, but as file sizes increase drastically year over year, a lower TBW isn’t that future-proof. This is why you’ll want to aim for SSD with a size of 1TB or more since TBW is generally tied to size. For example, the median TBW for 1TB SSDs is usually around 600, while a 2TB SSD might go up to 1,200.

Of course, more space means more data that needs to be written, and therefore is it that big a difference? The answer is yes because while you likely never fill up the drive, it’s only going to cost a small amount extra to get the higher space and TBW, making it worth the price for longevity.

With that, let’s get to the best internal SSDs you can buy today.

Best Internal SSD Overall: Samsung 870 EVO

Samsung 870 EVO on yellow background
Samsung

Pros

  • Great read/write speeds
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • Excellent SSD management software

Cons

  • SATA speeds still not as great compared to PCIe
  • Not DirectStorage compatible

Being one of the big players in the SSD game, it’s probably no surprise to see Samsung at the top of the list.

While the Samsung 870 EVO is still a SATA SSD, it’s able to hit up to a pretty respectable 560 MBs read and write speeds, which should be enough for most use cases. It’s also rated for 2,400 TBW and comes paired with a 5-year warranty, so you should be covered for a long time.

What’s interesting about the Samsung 870 EVO is that while it doesn’t do as well on copy and pasting as other SSDs, it manages to outshine quite a few when it comes to things such as booting Windows and loading games. Clearly, Samsung has put a lot of effort towards the latter set than the former, which is great if you do a lot of gaming.

What sets the Samsung 870 EVO apart though is that while it is a SATA SSD, it still manages to have excellent performance for a pretty reasonable price. As a SATA drive, though, the 870 EVO is not compatible with DirectStorage. If you’re looking for an SSD for gaming, you’ll want another drive.

As for sizes, they come in a range of 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB, with the last one being quite impressive for a 2.5-inch form factor.

Best Internal SSD Overall

Samsung 870 EVO

Having respectable speeds and performance while being SATA is pretty tricky, but the Samsung 870 EVO hits it out of the park while still being budget-friendly.

Best Budget Internal SSD: WD Blue SN550 NVMe Internal SSD

WD Blue SSD on grey background
Western Digital

Pros

  • Excellent pricing
  • Comparatively good performance
  • Single-sided PCB
  • 5-year warranty

Cons

  • Biggest size is 1TB
  • Relatively small SLC cache
  • Sustained write speed could be better

Like Samsung, Western Digital has been in the storage game for ages. As such, the Blue line of WD drives such as the SN550 have a solid reputation for good performance at a low price.

This budget SSD has some pretty good speeds, being rated to do 2,600 MB/s read speed. Being an NVMe drive, it’s also DirectStorage compatible. However, real-world performance is slightly slower, and it doesn’t do as well with sustained write speeds.

If performance is an issue for you, you can always go for the SS570, which is only slightly more expensive and can manage a pretty respectable 3,500MB/s read speed.

In terms of lifespan, the SN550 gets a 5-year warranty, and it’s rated up to 900 TBW, so it should last you a while. It also manages to be cooler than the previous iteration, and the less hot a piece of electronics runs, the longer it’s going to last.

Ultimately, the SN550 is a great internal SSD if your budget is tight.

Best Budget Internal SSD

WD Blue SN550 NVMe Internal SSD

While the SN550 is a budget SSD, it still manages some excellent performance for a great price and is perfect for mainstream or general usage.

Best Internal SSD for Gaming: WD_BLACK 1TB SN850 NVMe

WD Black SN850 dimensions
Western Digital

Pros

  • Excellent performance
  • 5-year warranty
  • Black PCB looks great

Cons

  • Can run hot without the heatsink option
  • Lack of encryption

Well-known among builders and reviewers alike, the WD_BLACK drives have excellent gaming performance and the SN850 NVMe version is no different. Able to hit up to 7,000 MB/s, this SSD doesn’t fool around since real-world performance nearly matches the rated performance.

It’s so powerful that it tends to run hot! So you might want to consider the option with a heatsink if your cooling options are lacking.

Of course, this drive does have a couple of downsides, the main one being a pretty big power draw on idle, which is poor for your power consumption. Another issue is the lack of AES 256-bit encryption which for a gaming SSD isn’t much of a deal-breaker.

The only other matter to keep in mind is the lower TBW of 600, although the 5-year warranty should help assuage any worries you have there.

In the end, though, the WD_BLACK SN850 is geared towards a high-end build—and now that DirectStorage is on Windows, it’s future-proof. This internal SSD is perfect for gaming.

Best Internal SSD for Gaming

WD_BLACK 1TB SN850 NVMe

The SN850 is hands-down one of the fastest SSDs in the market, and while it does run pretty hot and draw a bit of power at idle, it's worth it for the blistering speeds it provides.

Best Internal NVMe SSD: Samsung 980 PRO SSD with Heatsink

Samsung 980 Pro on pink background
Samsung

Pros

  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • Excellent performance
  • Heatsink is aestheticall pleasing

Cons

  • High cost per GB
  • Endurance is pretty average for the price

It’s no surprise at this point that both Samsung and Western Digital are dominating this market, so you’ll know that when talking about the Samsung 980 PRO SSD, it’ll be a pretty powerful DirectStorage compatible NVMe SSD.

In terms of speeds, it’s rated at 7,000MBps, and real-world performance gets pretty close to that. This speed is only reachable when connected to a PCIe 4.0 compatible motherboard, so without one, you’re seeing only about half of those speeds. If your motherboard is compatible, though, this upgrade is worth it.

Of course, all of this speed and power come at a high thermal price, so we strongly suggest getting the version that comes with a heatsink. This will help with performance, but it will also help extend the SSD lifetime due to thermal fatigue. The version without the heatsink is $20 less, but the savings isn’t worth your electronics heating up and burning out.

Finally, you get a 5-year warranty as well as 600 TBW, so it has pretty good coverage in terms of the 980 PRO’s lifetime.

Best Internal NVMe SSD

Samsung 980 PRO SSD with Heatsink

Balancing overall solid performance relative to competitors, the 980 Pro is a great SSD for PCIe 4.0 builds.

Best Internal M.2 SSD: XPG SX8200 Pro

ADATA SSD in motherboard
ADATA

Pros

  • Great price per GB
  • Relatively good performance
  • Good sequential read performance

Cons

  • Sequential write performance is rather lackluster

If you’re going for a computer with PCIe 3, then you don’t need to spend a ton of money on an SSD that supports PCIe 4. Instead, you can go for something like the XPG SX8200 Pro, which is much cheaper per GB while still providing relatively strong performance.

In terms of pure numbers, sequential read performance can get up to 3,000 MB/s, which should be more than enough for most people. On the other hand, sequential write speeds leave a little bit to be desired, only coming in at 1,750 MB/s.

That being said, the SX8200 Pro can do around 400 MB/S of random access read, so it all depends on what you value the most. Granted, for the majority of users, that’s going to be the sequential read performance.

On the bright side, this SSD does have a slightly higher TBW of 640 for the 1TB version, as well as the standard 5-year warranty. In short, the longevity is pretty good. ADATA’s SSD is also DirectStorage compatible, meaning it’s future-proof in terms of software support.

Finally, the 8200 Pro comes with a nice-looking cover if you’re working with a case you can see into. Aesthetics are important if you’re showing off your build, after all!

Best Internal M.2 SSD

XPG SX8200 Pro

The XPG SX8200 Pro is probably one of the better PCIe 3 cards that you're going to find out there, especially given its great performance and excellent price per GB.

Best Internal PCIe SSD: SAMSUNG 970 EVO Plus SSD 1TB

Samsung 970 Evo Plus on blue and purple and blue background
Samsung

Pros

  • Excellent performance
  • Using Samsung SSD management software
  • Great pricing

Cons

  • Isn't as efficient as some competitors

The 970 EVO Plus is the ‘go-to’ PCIe SSD suggestion, and for good reason. Not only does it have great performance, but it’s also low-cost per GB and comparable to the XPG SX8200 Pro, our M.2 SSD pick. In addition, it’s DirectStorage compatible.

When it comes to performance, the 970 EVO plus is rated up to 3,500 MB/s, and it manages to hit that in real-world performance for sequential read speeds. Sequential write speeds are also pretty good, with real-world performance speeds at 3,000 MB/s or higher. This is almost double the write speeds of the SX8200 Pro.

Other transfer tests such as small files or 4k aren’t as impressive, although that’s normal when it comes to any hard drive. So, for example, when it comes to 4k, you’ll probably see around 300MB/s on average, which is more than enough not to notice any issues while watching 4k films or shows.

You should be aware that the 970 EVO Plus does have a bit of thermal throttling when it runs for a long time, although that shouldn’t impact you on a day-to-day basis.

As for long-term endurance, the 970 EVO Plus has the industry standard with a 600 TBW and 5-year warranty. That being said, it’s rare to experience issues with modern Samsung SSDs, so it’ll be sure to last.

Best internal PCIe SSD

Samsung 970 EVO Plus

With some of the best PCIe 3.0 speeds around, the 970 EVO Plus is an excellent alternative to the SX8200 Pro.

The Best External Solid State Drives of 2022

Best External SSD Overall
Samsung T7 Portable SSD
Best Budget External SSD
SanDisk Extreme Portable External SSD
Best External SSD for PS5
WD_BLACK P50 Game Drive SSD
Best External SSD for Xbox Series X/S
WD_BLACK P50 Game Drive SSD
Best External SSD for Mac
LaCie Rugged SSD Pro
Best Portable External SSD
ADATA SD700
Profile Photo for Albert Bassili Albert Bassili
Albert Bassili is a freelance writer at How-to-Geek with eight years of experience in both commerce and tech writing. He's been a life-long lover of all sorts of tech and gadgets and has been building his own PCs for just under two decades now and he has more gadgets than he actually needs. He's written for a variety of sites from SFGate to GameGavel.
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