SanDisk M.2 SSD solid state drive 1
Corbin Davenport / How-To Geek
Update, 04/03/2023: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and have updated our best for PS5 and best M.2 SSD picks.

What to Look for in a Gaming SSD in 2023

There’s nothing more frustrating as a gamer than staring at a loading screen. Games are getting bigger and more graphically impressive, and as a result, they’re taking longer to load. That’s why it’s important to have an SSD, as they can drastically improve boot and load times in addition to making your games feel smoother and more responsive. But with so many options on the market, how do you choose the right one?

The first main factor to consider is storage capacity. Depending on how much space your system still has, you may want to get a higher capacity since a single modern game can take up to over 100GB of storage. Gaming SSDs usually range from 125GB to 4TB, but the price gets relatively more expensive per GB.

However, with games increasing in size, you’ll want to consider getting at least 500GB or 1TB of storage, especially if you plan having multiple games downloaded at once. Opting for a lower-capacity SSD for a boot drive is fine, but you never know when you’ll need the extra space. While you’re thinking about storage, make sure you also choose an SSD that’s compatible with your PC or console.

Next are read and write speeds. The fastest SSDs available are PCIe 4.0 drives with read speeds up to around 7,000 Mb/s and write speeds at 5,000 Mb/s. PCIe SSDs are also known to be much faster than their SATA counterparts.

For longevity, purchasing an SSD with a heat sink is a better option than without one as it helps to dissipate heat better. The cooler your SSD runs, the longer its lifespan will be the more consistent it’ll perform. Having a higher terabytes written rating (TBW) is also important as it’s a measure of how much data can be written to the drive over its lifetime.

Now that you know what to look for in a gaming SSD, let’s take a closer look at the best options available.

Best SSD for Gaming Overall: Samsung 980 Pro

Samsung 980 Pro on blue and purple background


  • Great price for monster performance
  • All components are manufactured in-house
  • Still a great option for PCIe 3.0 users
  • PlayStation 5 compatible
  • Five-year warranty


  • Maximum storage capacity of 2 TB
  • 2 TB version is expensive

The Samsung 980 Pro is a $230 1TB high-performance SSD that uses the latest PCIe technology that fits into most modern PCs and consoles. It delivers read and write speeds up to 7,000 Mb/s and 5,000 Mb/s respectively.

For a little less than double the price, you can upgrade to 2TB. Depending on the number of applications, programs, or games you want to run at lightning speed, getting the extra storage space might be worth it.

The Samsung 980 Pro uses PCIe Gen 4 technology designed for hardcore and competitive gamers that want more and faster bandwidth while gaming. It’s also ideal to run any demanding application that’s heavy on graphics.

To provide stable and consistent performance, as well as longevity, the 980 Pro offers reliable thermal control using a nickel coating that effectively dissipates heat. The drive’s designed to last, as it has an impressive terabyte written (TBW) rating of 300 TBW at 500GB up to 1,200 TBW at 2TB.

The 980 Pro is also fully compatible with PlayStation 5 and PCIe 3.0 rigs. However, installing the drive in a 3.0 slot will limit the speeds–it’ll still be over 3,000 Mb/s. You can also install Samsung Magician to update firmware and further optimize the drive’s performance and monitor its health.

Best SSD for Gaming Overall

Samsung 980 Pro

This premium gaming SSD is great for competitive gamers who run heavy-duty applications and games.

Best Budget SSD for Gaming: Crucial P3

Crucial P3 on pink and yellow background


  • Great performance considering the price
  • Good read and write speeds for PCIe 3.0
  • Excellent cost per GB
  • Five-year warranty


  • Slower than PCIe 4.0 options
  • Low TBW rating

If you’re looking for a speed upgrade, but you’re on a budget, you might consider going with a PCIe Gen 3 drive instead of the more recent Gen 4. The Crucial P3 is an excellent budget pick, starting at less than $50 for 500GB, and it comes from a brand with an excellent reputation.

The 1TB version costs you slightly more at around $65, or you can increase to 2TB at just under $125. There is also a 4TB version, but this isn’t the most cost-effective option at over $300. Unlike the previous generation, there is no difference in write speeds between capacities.

While you won’t get the same speeds you would with the latest version of NVMe, the Crucial P3 still offers decent performance with sequential read speeds up to 3,500MB/s. Write speeds are only slightly slower at 3,000MB/s.

Assuming you’re upgrading from another NVMe drive, you may not notice much difference in speed. That said, if you’re upgrading from a hard drive setup or even SATA drives, you’ll definitely notice the difference in speed.

Regarding longevity, Crucial claims a TBW rating of 440 TBW for the 2TB model. This may be lower than some other options, but Crucial does offer a five-year warranty, which means the company stands behind the P3.

If you’re looking for a bigger upgrade and want a PCIe 4.0 version, the Crucial P3 Plus offers faster read and write speeds.

Best Budget SSD for Gaming

Crucial P3

While they rely on older PCIe 3.0 technology, Crucial's P3 SSDs offer excellent performance for that generation, and they cost far less than you'd expect given the performance.

Best M.2 SSD for Gaming: Crucial P5 Plus

Crucial P5 Plus graphic


  • Great performance, especially for the price
  • Optional heat sink available
  • Comes in 500GB to 2TB options
  • Good price to capacity ratio


  • Slightly power hungry at idle

If you’re buying an SSD for gaming, two things are important: speed and capacity. The major strength of the Crucial P5 Plus is just how much of that speed storage you get for the price.

While they aren’t the absolute fastest you’ll find, the P5 Plus still offers respectable speeds with read speeds of up to 6,600MB/s and write speeds of up to 5,000MB/s. When you consider that you can get 2TB for $150, that’s pretty impressive.

This is a PCIe 4.0 NVMe drive, but it’s backward compatible with PCIe 3.0. This means that if you’re buying an SSD for an older machine with the idea of eventually moving it to a new computer, this is a perfect match.

The P5 Plus is available with or without a heat sink. Whether you’ll need one or not largely depends on how much time your drive will spend in use, but when in doubt, opt for the heat sink, as it will extend the longevity of your SSD.

Without a heatsink, you can find the Crucial P5 Plus in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB options. If you want a heat sink, you have 500GB and 2TB options available.

Best M.2 SSD for Gaming

Crucial P5 Plus

It's nearly cheap enough to consider as a budget option, but Crucial P5 Plus SSDs offer plenty of performance, even if they don't cost as much as you may imagine. Essential if you want to keep plenty of games installed.

Best PCIe 4.0 SSD for Gaming: Corsair MP600 PRO XT

Corsair SSD in motherboard


  • Purchase up to 4 TB of storage
  • Heavy-duty heat sink
  • High TWB ratings
  • Five-year warranty


  • Pretty expensive
  • 1 TB and 2 TB have the same TWB rating

Corsair’s MP600 PRO XT is one of the few gaming SSDs that you can purchase for up to 4TB of storage. It is pricey, but this SSD delivers serious read and write speeds up to 7,100 Mb/s and 6,800 Mb/s respectively.

The MP600 PRO XT is a powerful PCIe Gen 4 gaming SSD that effectively combines performance and endurance using high-density 3D TLC NAND. This is in addition to the aluminum heat spreader that disperses heat and reduces throttling. It also integrates a liquid-cooling option that sets it apart from other options.

The drive leverages NVMe Protocol 1.4 to provide maximum bandwidth. Combined with the heavy-duty heat sink, the MP600 PRO XT is one of the best 4.0 SSDs for those who value consistent and fast speeds. The 1TB and 2TB versions have a 700 TBW rating, but it jumps to an astonishing 3,000 TBW at 4TB.

Upgrading to 2TB isn’t too expensive, while upgrading to 4TB is a hefty $800. If you’re looking to go full out on storage, you can get the MP400 version that offers a massive 8TB of storage. With more storage, you can store many years worth of games and data on a high-performance drive.

Best PCIe 4.0 SSD for Gaming

Corsair MP600 PRO XT

Although expensive, the MP600 PRO XT does an excellent job at keeping cool while delivering consistently high speeds.

Best SSD for PS5: Western Digital WD_BLACK SN850X

WD BLACK SSD on motherboard
Western Digital


  • Great performance overall
  • Faster than the previous SN850 model
  • Heat sink adds to the SSD's longevity
  • 5-year warranty


  • On the pricey side

While the Xbox Series consoles limit you to pricey proprietary storage, the PlayStation 5 makes it much easier to expand the internal storage. If you need more space, you can’t go wrong with the Western Digital WD_BLACK 2TB SN850X.

As the name implies, this is essentially the WD_Black SN850 with increased speeds. This new drive features write speeds up to 7,300MB/s and read speeds up to 6,350MB/s, which is nearing the limits of the PCIe 4.0 spec.

If you’ve paid attention to the guidelines for finding the right SSD for your PS5, you’re probably aware that Sony recommends a heat sink. The WD_BLACK SN850X features said heat sink, which will help extend your SSD’s life, meaning you don’t need to worry about replacing it.

Heat sink aside, Western Digital specs its WD_BLACK drives at 600 TBW, which means even if you’re constantly ready and writing tons of data, the drive will last. Unless you plan to use your PS5 20 years from now, you shouldn’t worry about upgrading the drive.

With the heat sink, the Western Digital WD_BACK SN850X is available in 1TB and 2TB varieties. A 4TB version is also available, but without a heat sink.

Best SSD for PS5


The WD_BLACK SN850X is even faster than the SN850 it replaces, making it an even better option for your PlayStation 5. The Sony-recommended heat sink helps ensure that your drive will last just as long as your PS5 does.

Best External SSD for Gaming: WD_BLACK P50 Game Drive

WD Black P50 specs


  • Fast USB interface speed
  • Reliable portability
  • Comes with USB-C to USB-A cable
  • Five-year warranty


  • Slightly bulky
  • No AES 256-bit encryption

At 1TB for $250, WD_BLACK P50 Game Drive is one of the best external SSDs for gaming, delivering read and write speeds up to 2,000 Mb/s. It’s a USB-3.2 Gen 2 x2 SSD that’s compatible with PlayStation, Xbox, PC, and Mac.

The smaller 500GB size costs $140, and you can upgrade to 2TB for $350 or 4TB for $560. The read and write speeds remain the same for all capacities, so you can choose one based on how much storage you need.

The P50 offers decent speed for an external SSD but is still slower than your average PCIe 3.0 drive. However, you’ll still have no problem booting up your system and quickly hopping into the action of your favorite games or transferring files. It’ll dramatically upgrade your standard portable drive or USB flash drive.

The simple plug-and-play design makes it easy to get started, and the included USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A cables gives you more compatibility with other devices. The Gen 2 x2 interface’s designed to work with the latest hardware and will last many years.

For optimized speed and long-term use, the P50 features an impressive 20 GB/s USB interface speed, protected by a shock-resistant and forged aluminum cover casing for reliable portability. The drive’s capable of delivering twice the bandwidth of other external gaming SSDs, making it ideal for gamers who strive for the best performance possible.

Best External SSD for Gaming

WD_BLACK P50 Game Drive

For an external SSD, the P50 delivers decent speeds that easily stump your average HDD or USB stick.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Best External Solid State Drives of 2023

Samsung T7 Portable SSD
Best External SSD Overall
Samsung T7 Portable SSD
SanDisk Extreme Portable External 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
LaCie Rugged SSD Pro
Best External SSD for Mac
LaCie Rugged SSD Pro
Samsung T7 Shield
Best Rugged External SSD
Samsung T7 Shield
Best Portable External SSD
Profile Photo for Andy Nguyen Andy Nguyen
Andy Nguyen has been a professional freelance writer for over three years and has written hundreds of articles. He has loved computers and technology ever since he started gaming as a kid back in the 1990s. He's the person everyone he knows turns to for help with tech, too. Andy also runs a blog where he provides information and guides for students on becoming more productive.
Read Full Bio »
Profile Photo for Kris Wouk Kris Wouk
Kris Wouk is a freelance tech writer and musician with over 10 years of experience as a writer and a lifetime of experience as a gadget fan. He has also written for Digital Trends, MakeUseOf, Android Authority, and Sound Guys. At MakeUseOf, he was Section Editor in charge of the site's Mac coverage.
Read Full Bio »