Gaming Solid State Drive (SSD) Guide [Best of 2016]

Gaming SSD brands are many in the marketWhen addressing a matter like building/upgrading a gaming computer, or even optimizing a regular computer for gaming, the issue of the best storage subsystem to employ for this purpose blatantly arises to engage a large portion of user’s concern.

Solid State Drive (SSD) is one of the three available options users may consider beside Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD), and from performance perspective, any computer savvy knows that SSD is the best of all when it comes to building a high-end system that runs blazingly fast, and if you are serious about building a top-notch gaming rig, or you want the utmost power a computer can provide, then leveraging an SSD in your system is inevitable.

The fact cannot be denied that SSD is the drive that real enthusiast gamers seek to take their gaming experience to the next level. But the unreasonable steep price of SSDs when put in comparison with HDDs may repel many budget-aware users from adopting this solution, and they would either go with a combination of SSD and HDD in hybrid mode, or just settle for a high-end mechanical hard drive that offers an adequate speed. (Please check our gaming hard drive guide for more details).

The Best SSDs We Recommend for Gaming

The SATA-III interface is still deployed in most modern computers despite the emergence of new smaller form factor SSDs that employ either mSATA or M.2 interface and are found in the most sophisticated high-end systems.

In this article though we’ll exclusively spot the light on SSDs with SATA III interface because they are the most popular and current SSDs nowadays.

Our Criteria for Selecting the Best SSDs

Gaming SSD criteriaThere are many SSD brands dispensed on the market and each brand claims high-end performance with amazing features.

While we believe that the slowest SSD is still much faster than the fastest laptop hard drive, we’ll follow a strict method though for choosing the top-notch SSDs for our roundup below. This method is mainly based on the verdicts of IT professionals such as Tom’s Hardware, Anand Tech, Storage Review, Tweak Town and others who reviewed the chosen drives and published their reports on their websites. You can view some testimonials of these experts once you click the view more details button below each particular drive you focus on.

Moreover, we have only authorized three SSD manufacturers that are some of the highly-reputed and the most prominent in the industry, that’s to make sure you’ll just get the top-notch and highest quality SSDs on the market.

Additionally, we have classified the SSDs below into two categories:

1. ENTHUSIAST— where the highest-end SSDs designed for power users are placed. These SSDs come with a so long warranty (between 5 to 10 years) and most solid endurance that entitle them to handle the toughest data workload without degradation in performance. These SSDs are good for addict gamers who only play highly-sophisticated resource-demanding games so often, professional video editors who work on huge high-definition movies, and webmasters who manage small network servers.

2. MAINSTREAM—where the SSDs designed for the overwhelming majority of users placed. These SSDs are good for those who consider themselves non-enthusiasts but want, at the same time, to increase their computer’s speed and have a quickly-responsive system for their personal preferences. These SSDs usually come with a warranty between 3 to 5 years limited.

What’s in Our List

We have chosen 10 SSD drives, half of them are for enthusiasts and the other half are for regular users (mainstream).

Below is a table that manifests a quick overview of the certain drives we have selected.

Best Gaming SSD Brands
Manufacturer Brand Name Class Available Capacities Price Range
Samsung Samsung 850 Pro Enthusiast 128gb, 256gb, 512gb, 1tb, 2tb $80 to $700
Samsung 850 EVO Mainstream 128gb, 256gb, 512gb, 1tb, 2tb $80 to $700
SanDisk SanDisk Extreme Pro Enthusiast 240gb, 480gb, 960gb $80 to $700
SanDisk Ultra II Mainstream 240gb, 480gb, 960gb $80 to $700
OCZ OCZ Vector 180 Enthusiast 240gb, 480gb, 960gb $80 to $700
OCZ ARC 100 Mainstream 240gb, 480gb, 960gb $54.78 to $700

About the Top Two Selections

We have placed Samsung 850 Pro on the top of our list because it’s the fastest SATA III SSD ever made. The SanDisk Extreme Pro though is its bitter rival and it outranks it on some benchmark tests.

Being the fastest doesn’t necessarily mean the strongest. In heavy workload environments SanDisk Extreme Pro beats Samsung 850 Pro, but as a personal computer user this issue should not be of your concern, it concerns only network server managers.

Here are two quotes from two renowned SSD experts and reviewers who testified the above fact:

The goal of the Extreme Pro was to be the fastest client SATA drive on the market, and it succeeded in that (before the 850 Pro came out, although the two are very close).
[“Anand Tech” on September 16, 2014]

The SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD currently sits at the top of every High-Performance SATA slot in our Best SSDs of 2015 ranking. The drive is an amazing performer that retains its high performance even under extreme load. Because of that, we’ve chosen it over Samsung’s 850 Pro that can lose performance after heavy use. The Extreme Pro has everything you would expect to find in a workstation SSD, so seeing them at mid-level prices gets us excited.
[“Tom’s Hardware” on November 27, 2015]

Other experts though may disagree with Tom’s Hardware like bit-tech who considers Samsung 850 Pro the best SSD in all aspects:

The SSD 850 PRO is still the best drive on the market – no other manufacturer can yet compete with what its 3D V-NAND offers in terms of performance and endurance.
[“bit-tech” on March 24, 2015]

If you ask about my personal opinion, I would adopt Tom’s Hardware‘s opinion because they conduct robust testing in different environment for each SSD they review which highly raises the credibility of their verdicts.

About the Third Selection (OCZ Vector 180)

This drive is a better fit for desktop computer than laptops due to the relatively higher power consumption compared to other high-end SSDs. This drive though is the best ever in terms of reliability (it has the lowest failure rate an SSD could have) and warranty (an outstanding warranty plan that is not found in any other brand).

Our Gaming SSD Roundup

Samsung SSD
Samsung owns 50% of the solid-states storage market share. When it comes to client-oriented drives, that percentage increases, and in some countries goes as high as 80%. Samsung manufactures roughly 50% of the world’s NAND memory supply, too. Not all of the flash goes into SSDs; much of it goes into cell phones, tablets, children’s toys, SD cards and even automobiles.

Samsung 850 Pro
Samsung SSD 850 Pro The Samsung SSD 850 PRO is a 2.5” form factor SSD for enthusiasts that is the first drive to be powered by 3D virtual NAND technology. It comes in capacities ranging from 128GB up to 1TB. Not only does it boasts some pretty impressive speeds, it has a high endurance, secure encryption, RAPID mode to enhance user experience, and a 10-year warranty. It also claims to be one of the most energy efficient drives on the market, which the real-world testings conducted by many IT professionals proved to be mostly true with its very low idle power usage. This makes it undoubtedly the most suitable SSD for portable computers.
View More Details

Capacity Price Where to Buy
128 GB List Price: $109.99
Current Price: $91.46
256 GB List Price: $159.99
Current Price: $119.89
512 GB List Price: $279.99
Current Price: $220.36
1 TB List Price: $529.99
Current Price: $425.55
2 TB List Price: $949.99
Current Price: $879.99
Official Product Description: The Samsung 850 PRO SSD redefines storage with the world’s first drive based on 3D VNAND flash, offering exceptional read/write performance, reliability and power management efficiency. The 850 Pro delivers up to 2x the speed, density and endurance of conventional flash. The next leading SSD for performance, endurance and energy efficiency.
Basic Features
  • The World’s First Consumer 3D V-NAND SSD
  • Class-leading performance — enables you to boot up your computer in as little as 15 seconds
  • Energy efficient – Features Device Sleep mode for Ultranotebooks and improves battery life by up to 45 minutes vs. standard hard drives
  • Worry-free data security with AES 256-bit encryption, Microsoft Bitlocker and TCG / Opal 2.0 support
  • 5th-generation 3-Core Samsung MEX Controller ensures sustained performance under the most punishing conditions
  • Enhanced endurance and reliability – Backed by an industry-leading 10-year limited warranty and 150TBW rating
  • Perfect for hardcore gamers, mobile users or content creators (like professional animators, video editors, photographers and game developers) who crave the ultimate in performance and productivity
To download this drive’s official datasheet, click here
Awards & Testimonials

Samsung SSD 850 Pro Award Board

Anand Tech July 01, 2014

Samsung does not cease to amaze me with their SSDs as the 850 Pro just kills it in every aspect. The performance is there. The endurance is the best of the class. Heck, even Samsung’s feature and software suites beat the competition by a mile. To be honest, there is not a single thing missing in the 850 Pro because regardless of the angle you look at the drive from, it it will still top the charts.

If you are looking for a SATA 6Gbps drive and want the absolute best, the 850 Pro is your pick. It is without a doubt the best drive in the market as long as you are able to justify the price premium over other options.

Tom’s Hardware June 30, 2014

I can say that Samsung turns the dial as high as it’ll go for SATA 6Gb/s. There’s not much room left to innovate until we start seeing versions of the 850 designed for alternative interfaces.

Storage Review June 30, 2014

The Samsung SSD 850 PRO gives enthusiasts about everything they could want in a single SATA SSD. Like drives before it, Samsung has infused the SSD 850 PRO with new technology to make it a class leader in terms of performance, endurance and warranty.

Samsung 850 EVO
Samsung SSD 850 EVO The SSD 850 EVO continues Samsung’s trend of developing class-leading and innovative SSDs by improving on the 840 EVO on virtually every level using the company’s latest software and hardware technologies. Available in capacities up to 2TB, the 850 EVO comes equipped with a MEX controller (or the MGX controller for the smaller capacities), which allows Samsung to quote reads speeds up to 540MB/s as well as upwards of 98,000 IOPS in throughput. The performance is coupled with impressive endurance numbers, support 40GB of writes per day in the 120/250GB drives and 80GB of writes per day in the 500GB, 1TB and 2TB models.
View More Details

Capacity Price Where to Buy
120 GB List Price: $99.99
Current Price: $67.73
250 GB List Price: $149.99
Current Price: $87.47
500 GB List Price: $269.99
Current Price: $149.00
1 TB List Price: $499.99
Current Price: $294.99
2 TB List Price: $699.99
Current Price: $649.91
Official Product Description: Upgrading your PC with a Samsung SSD is the most economical way to breathe new life into an aging PC. The 850 EVO reads, writes and multi-tasks at incredible speeds, enhancing boot-up speed, application loading and multi-tasking performance. It’s more than an upgrade, it’s a complete transformation of your PC.
More Features
  • Interface: SATA 6Gb/s (Compatible with SATA 3Gb/s and SATA 1.5Gb/s)
  • NAND Flash: 32 Layer 3D V-NAND
  • Optimized performance for everyday computing needs
  • Sequential read speed 540 MB/s; Sequential write speed 520 MB/s; Random read speed 100K; Random write speed 90K
  • Energy efficient – improves battery life by up to 50 minutes vs. hard disk drives
  • Worry-free data security with AES 256-bit, TCG/Opal v.2 and Microsoft eDrive full-disk encryption
  • Backed by a five-year limited warranty
To download this drive’s official datasheet, click here
Awards & Testimonials

Samsung SSD 850 EVO Award Board

Anand Tech December 08, 2014

By combining TLC with V-NAND technology, Samsung is eliminating any and all concerns that people might have had about the endurance of TLC NAND and to back that up Samsung is rating the 850 EVO’s endurance higher than the MLC drives of most manufacturers.

Not only is the endurance higher, but the 850 EVO’s performance is also better compared to its predecessor. In our 2011 Storage Benches the 850 EVO matches up with the 850 Pro and is hence one of the fastest SATA 6Gbps SSDs for typical client workloads.

The 850 EVO is clearly the best performing “value” drive.

Tweak Town December 08, 2014

The 850 EVO is not just a fish out of water, it’s a fish that grew arms, legs, and lungs; a fish actually accomplishing such a feat would be miraculous, and that is what the 850 EVO is to the SSD world. Samsung has brought the company’s best technology together to chance the SSD market.

Storage Review December 08, 2014

Overall, the Samsung 850 EVO is an incredibly impressive drive with bar-setting performance, a solid design, and Samsung reliability. The 850 EVO is so good in fact, it even topped the 850 PRO in many areas. We really can’t recommend this drive enough for those who want the best combination of performance, endurance and cost. Samsung has impressed yet again, topping themselves with an excellent drive on nearly all fronts.

SanDisk SSD
SanDisk Corporation is a company that designs, develops and manufactures flash memory storage devices and software. SanDisk is the third-largest manufacturer of flash memory in the world. In October 2015, Western Digital agreed to buy SanDisk Corp in a $19 billion deal. [Wikipedia]

SanDisk Extreme Pro
Samsung SSD 850 Pro The SanDisk Extreme PRO SSD is designed specifically for gamers, PC enthusiasts, and media professionals who require consistent, top-in-class real-world performance out of their storage. With its quoted sequential read speed of 550MB/s and write speed up to 520MB/s, the SanDisk’s new Extreme PRO certainly is specced to deliver the performance needed for graphics-intensive applications in addition to speedy gaming load times. The Extreme PRO also boasts an industry first a 10-year warranty to assuage any concerns about the drive’s expected longevity and SanDisk’s commitment to the drive.
View More Details

Capacity Price Where to Buy
240 GB List Price: $229.99
Current Price: $109.99
480 GB List Price: $429.99
Current Price: $189.99
960 GB List Price: $699.99
Current Price: $349.00
Official Product Description: The SanDisk Extreme PRO SSD is designed to deliver 24/7 consistent high performance to power gamers, developers, and media professionals in the most demanding situations. This drive includes exclusive nCache Pro technology that delivers consistent high performance with super-fast read and write speeds as well as long drive life. From the company that invented the solid state technology that makes SSDs possible, the SanDisk Extreme PRO SSD comes with a 10-year limited warranty and is the ideal choice for demanding PC users who need instant results and no-wait multi-tasking.
Basic Features
  • Innovative SanDisk nCachePro technology delivers sustainable high performance 24 x 7 x 365
  • Sequential Read Up To 550 MB/s; Write Up To 515 MB/s
  • Up to 33% longer laptop life
  • TRIM support and Background Garbage Collection constantly free up unallocated blocks that once held data to lower latency and boost performance
  • SanDisk SSD Dashboard includes S.M.A.R.T. support to monitor the health of your SSD in real time to prevent data loss
  • Backed with 10-year limited warranty.
To download this drive’s official datasheet, click here
Awards & Testimonials

SanDisk Extreme Pro Award Board

Anand Tech June 16, 2014

The Extreme Pro is without a doubt the fastest SATA 6Gbps SSD in the market. As Anand said in the Extreme II review, SanDisk has picked an excellent balance of IO consistency and peak performance, resulting in high performance regardless of the workload.

SanDisk is turning out to be a very dangerous player in the client SSD space. With nearly perfect vertical integration model (they just lack client controller silicon and DRAM), SanDisk has the ability to put against Samsung and Intel who have traditionally held the performance crown. Before the Extreme II, SanDisk was fairly unnoticeable in the retail SSD market, but the Extreme II acted as a warning of SanDisk’s skill and know how, and the Extreme Pro just further reinforces that. If SanDisk can keep their pace going with PCIe SSDs, others will have hard time keeping up with them.

Hot Hardware November 20, 2014

We think SanDisk’s Extreme Pro series of solid state drives are top-notch and worthy of consideration for your next build or upgrade. Overall performance is very good, the drives offer high endurance and they’re backed by an industry-leading warranty from a company that’s been around for ages. If you’re looking for a high-performance SSD, SanDisk’s Extreme Pro series of drives should be on your short list of possible contenders.

Storage Review June 25, 2014

The SanDisk Extreme PRO family of SSDs delivers consistent best-in-class real-world performance with the ability to easily handle virtually any resource-intensive application paired with an aggressive price point and industry leading warranty.

SanDisk Ultra II
SanDisk Ultra II The Ultra II is designed to deliver an inexpensive and easy upgrade solution for customers looking to improve the performance, battery life, and power efficiency of their PCs. In addition, the enhanced SSD Dashboard offers tools and visibility for drive’s performance, security, and available firmware updates. The drive quotes sequential read speeds up to 550MB/s and write speeds of up to 500MB/s while leveraging TLC NAND flash. The SanDisk Ultra II SSD is backed by a 3-year warranty.
View More Details

Capacity Price Where to Buy
120 GB List Price: $71.99
Current Price: $54.99
240 GB List Price: $119.99
Current Price: $74.99
480 GB List Price: $212.99
Current Price: $128.12
960 GB List Price: $404.99
Current Price: $248.39
Official Product Description: Get accelerated performance from the brand trusted by pros. Featuring SanDisk’s nCache 2.0 technology, the SanDisk Ultra II SSD delivers enhanced speed and endurance with sequential read speeds of up to 550MB/s and sequential write speeds of up to 500MB/s, for no-wait boot-up, shorter application load times, and quicker data transfer. In addition to cooler, quieter computing, the SanDisk Ultra II SSD includes proven shock and vibration resistance to protect your drive. From the company that invented the solid state technology that makes SSDs possible, the SanDisk Ultra II SSD catapults your performance to new levels.
More Features
  • Sequential Read 550MB/s; Sequential Write 500MB/s
  • SanDisk’s nCache 2.0 technology delivers enhanced speed and endurance
  • NCQ support manages queue length for better multitasking and workload management
  • Limited 3-year warranty (US)
To download this drive’s official datasheet, click here
Awards & Testimonials
Anand Tech September 16, 2014

With the Ultra II, SanDisk finally has a value drive that is competitive in both price and performance. I am glad that SanDisk is showing more commitment to the retail space because if there is one company that can challenge Samsung and Micron in all aspects, that is SanDisk.

APH Networks March 06, 2015

Created with a super compact circuit board inside, SanDisk’s excellent reputation for reliability, great performance across the board, and only $110 at press time, the Ultra II 240GB hits all the right notes concurrently.

The SSD Review September 15, 2014

Overall, due to the performance and low entry level price point, we feel that the SanDisk Ultra II is deserving of our Top Value award.

OCZ Storage Solutions – a Toshiba Group Company is a leading provider of high performance client and enterprise solid-state storage products and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Toshiba Corporation. Offering a complete spectrum of solid-state drives (SSDs), OCZ Storage Solutions leverages proprietary technology to provide SSDs in a variety of form factors and interfaces to address a wide range of applications.

OCZ Vector 180
OCZ Vector 180 SSD The Vector 180 SSD (currently available in 120GB, 240GB, 480GB and 960GB capacities) is based on the latest Barefoot 3 NAND flash controller by OCZ (runs at 397MHz as opposed to the 352MHz of the one found in the ARC 100) paired with A19nm MLC NAND flash modules by Toshiba—a combo which produces excellent read/write performance numbers (550MB/s & 530MB/s respectively), superior endurance (has a MTBF rating of 2.3 million hours and an write endurance rate of up to 50GB per day) and finally offers SMART/NCQ support and AES-256bit encryption. Of course OCZ fully covers their flagship model with their 5-year ShieldPlus warranty.
View More Details

Capacity Price Where to Buy
120 GB Current Price: $78.99
240 GB List Price: $263.10
Current Price: $114.95
480 GB Current Price: $189.99
960 GB List Price: $409.99
Current Price: $398.74
Official Product Description: Developed by the most awarded SSD brand of all time, OCZ Vector 180 SSDs offer the be-all and end-all of feature-sets for the most demanding users who won’t settle for anything but the best. Featuring enhanced performance, reliability, and endurance, the Vector 180 series provides a flash storage solution second to none. It’s everything you know about SSDs, but better. Vector 180 was designed to redefine best-in-class storage and built to excel in high-end computing environments. Only the fastest boot ups, file transfers, and system responsiveness are acceptable for Vector 180 users. Say goodbye to every form of storage lag and get a computing experience worthy of your time. With superior reliability in mind, Vector 180 SSDs feature Power Failure Management (PFM) to protect the drive in the event of system power loss, ensuring you’re up and running again in no time. Vector 180 offers real world performance that you won’t get with any other solution. No fancy behind-the-scenes tricks, just pure storage performance. With Toshiba technology built into every drive, each Vector 180 SSD is engineered for superior quality as well as durability with its premium alloy housing.
Basic Features
  • Proprietary OCZ Barefoot 3 controller technology combined with the latest Toshiba A19nm flash
  • Power Failure Management (PFM) helps prevent ‘brick drive syndrome’ that can occur during sudden power losses
  • Advanced firmware suite of NAND flash management keeps your drive at higher sustained performance over the long term comparing to competing solutions
  • Excellent endurance rating at 50GB/ day of host writes for 5 years perfect for power user applications and workloads.
  • Excels in both incompressible and compressible data types such as multimedia, encrypted data, .ZIP files and software
  • Bundled with a 3.5-inch desktop adapter and Acronis True Image cloning software to easily transfer data from your old hard drive or SSD
  • Sleek housing offers slimmer 7mm z-height for compatibility with the ultra-thin notebooks
  • OCZ Shield Plus Warranty- an elite worry-free customer service experience, which eliminates all the hassle surrounding traditional support and warranty claims consumers often have to deal with.
  • Backed with 5-year limited warranty.
To download this drive’s official datasheet, click here
Awards & Testimonials

OCZ Vector 180 Award Board

Tom’s Hardware March 24, 2015

New reliability features are nice as long as the performance penalty isn’t too high. Time will tell, but this could be the most reliable SATA-based SSD to come to market.

Guru3d March 24, 2015

OCZ will also bring in the entire experience, from durability, endurance, encryption compatibility, blazing fast performance and of course reliability. This SSD series is testimony of that as it is among the fastest and most sweet SATA 3 SSDs we have tested to date. No compromises are made here as it is all about endurance, reliability and super fast performance.

Vortez July 17, 2015

Throughout our suite of benchmarks the Vector 180 clearly demonstrated consistently high-performance. Not all drives can handle sequential read and write transfer rates, and quite often we find a drop in performance but the combination of Barefoot 3 controller and Toshiba A19 NAND allows Vector 180 to tackle these demanding tasks.

The OCZ Vector 180 is designed for the enthusiast and as such delivers the performance and features an enthusiast demands. Advanced power failure features and impressive warranty service make this drive a top-pick!

OCZ ARC 100 OCZ ARC 100 Series SSDs are designed for mainstream consumers who want the benefits of flash storage without a big price tag; the ARC 100 gives consumers an aggressive suggested price point of .50/GB. OCZ doesn’t cut corners though with the ARC 100, part of the pricing power is due to the vertical integration with parent company Toshiba. Jointly they own all of the core components in the drive, including the controller and Toshiba MLC NAND. The ARC 100 offers a good endurance profile, supporting 20GB of writes per day (same as the Vertex 3) and the drives come with a three-year warranty.
View More Details

Capacity Price Where to Buy
120 GB List Price: $64.99
Current Price: $63.45
240 GB List Price: $104.99
Current Price: $69.99
480 GB List Price: $209.99
Current Price: $139.99
Official Product Description: Solid Performance for Notebooks and PCs: With OCZ’s Arc 100 Series, get lasting SSD performance and an exceptional computing experience, all while delivering an excellent value for flash storage thrill seekers. Imagine faster boot-ups, snappier file transfers, improved energy efficiency, and system responsiveness that make you wonder why you put up with that hard drive for so long. If you’re ready to make the leap to a more durable alternative to spinning discs, the Arc 100 Series is ready to take on your storage challenges at an upgrade-friendly price point.
More Features
  • Cutting-edge A19nm process geometry NAND offers excellent value for consumer desktops and laptops
  • Emphasis on endurance, rated for 20GB/day of host writes for 3 years (typical client workloads)
  • Proprietary Barefoot 3 M10 controller technology delivers superior sustained speeds over the long term
  • Excels in both incompressible and compressible data types such as multimedia, encrypted data,. ZIP files and software
  • Advanced suite of NAND flash management to analyze and dynamically adapt as flash cells wear
  • Superior reliability with in-house technology and high quality components based on the latest technology
  • Sleek alloy housing offers ultra-slim sub-7mm z-height for use in the latest thinner form factor notebooks
  • Max Sequential Read Speed 490MB/s; Max Sequential Write Speed 450MB/s; Up to 80K IOPS
  • Limited 3-year warranty (US)
To download this drive’s official datasheet, click here
Awards & Testimonials
eTeknix Year 2014

If you want a drive with steady performance and a long life while not blowing your wallet, then get the OCZ ARC 100. Offering a steady throughput at all fill stages and barely any degradation, even over long periods of usage. With the offering of higher write speeds then most competition in this segment, the ARC 100 is a perfect drive for an office or family PC, ensuring reliability and performance that suits everyday tasks. May 14, 2015

The Arc 100 is a good example of an entry-level drive posting solid numbers across the board. There’s a fine balancing act between features, price and accessories, though we would encourage OCZ to include some form of cloning software across its entire spectrum of SSDs. Other than that, the Arc 100 240GB, a well-balanced drive, deserves to be on a shortlist if budget is of primary importance.

Overclockers May 05, 2015

Excellent performance, a great warranty program, and a good software package in SSD Guru all add up to a value that’s tough to beat at $99. The OCZ ARC 100 is easy to recommend and is a worthy recipient of our Overclockers Approved stamp.


There are still powerful SATA III SSD in the market that we did not lay out in our list above because they have their own disadvantages compared with the above items, but the brilliant name and glowing reputation they own allures us to list them here as additional options for our readers.



Why SSD is Superior to HDD in Gaming Environment

SSD is superior than HDD in aspects when it comes to performanceWhen it comes to gaming, using a powerful storage subsystem is essential to handle the heavy workload caused by high-end, sophisticated video games. These games come in a tremendous installation file size (can be up to 50 GB) and need an extremely responsive system to run them seamlessly and flawlessly, and the storage subsystem is a critical part of a performance structure that also includes CPU, Graphics Card, and RAM. If just any of these parts is slow, the overall system performance (thus the gaming experience) will be negatively effected and will slow down consequently.

Solid State Drive (SSD) has become very common nowadays in high-end systems that are designed with extreme performance in mind as a top priority.

Now you can hardly find any modern top-notch gaming computer without an SSD incorporated inside. That’s because the fact cannot be denied that current SSDs are magnitudes faster and way more reliable than HDDs. Even though they have their own drawbacks, they are still inevitable and imperative for every performance rig that cares only for performance, nothing else!

The Major Benefits of Using SSD for Gaming

There are several remarkable benefits you’ll gain one you configure your gaming computer with an SSD. We’ll briefly list below the most significant ones:

  1. The game files will load exponentially faster than HDD. This is the biggest advantage of SSDs over HDDs. This helps cut down on the time of game launch and moving to a newer stage of the game.
  2. Complex resource-demanding high-end games will run seamlessly with an SSD. That’s because the strength of multitasking an SSD boast which enables it to handle multiple tasks at a time without any noticeable performance hit.
  3. An SSD will take online gaming to the next level. Because an SSD boasts a very fast write speed, it will write the online game’s data much faster than an HDD which will enhance your online gaming experience. This features will only avail users with very fast internet connection.
  4. The game installation process will become way faster. Modern High-end games come in huge file size (an AAA game-file can reach 50GB in size), and when you use an SSD during the installation process, the component files will be extracted and written so quickly that will notably decrease the installation time.

So what justifies using a mechanical hard drive after all? Well, there are some strong points that leads to that trend.

Why Choose a Mechanical Hard Drive for Gaming?

What justifies choosing a hard drive for gaming over an SSD?You might already ask yourself the question that since SSD is much better than HDD, then why the HDD manufacturers still develop it? In a nutshell, the answer is: because it’s much cheaper while providing an adequate performance compared to SSD.

Just few months back, one of the major drawbacks of SSD was the limited capacity that couldn’t exceed 2TB even in the enterprise space. But now, since Samsung released its first 16TB enterprise-grade SSD, SSD has the superiority over HDD in this regard. But that too-large SSD is also too expensive for an individual to buy (Samsung didn’t make that drive available yet, but it will be within few months from now, and the price is expected to be between $5000 to $7000 according to BackBlaze).

Now if you conduct a simple price comparison between SSD and HDD, you’ll see the blatant difference. A 8TB enterprise hard drive from Seagate costs around $450, while a 2TB of Samsung 850 Evo, which is a mainstream drive, costs around $650 as of the time of writing.

Primarily for that reason I can say undoubtedly that a modern high-end hard drive is still a very appealing option for gamers due to the huge storage capacity it provides with an adequate price.

Performance Comparison Between HDD and SSD

Here we’ll compare WD Performance Black 6TB Hard Drive, which is the fatsest consumer-grade high-end 6TB HDD available, and Samsung 850 Evo 2TB, which is currently the fastest mainstream SSD on the market.

We’ve deliberately chosen a mainstream SSD in this comparison to manifest how a low-end SSD can easily beat a high-end HDD in terms of performance.

Performance Comparison – HDD vs SSD
Test WD Black HDD Samsung 850 EVO SSD
2MB Seq. Read 214.53 MB/s 493.54 MB/s
2MB Seq. Write 214.91 MB/s 468.10 MB/s
2MB Ran. Read 78.34 MB/s 483.45 MB/s
2MB Ran. Write 107.05 MB/s 467.22 MB/s
4k Ran. Read [MB/s] 0.325 MB/s 40.18 MB/s
4k Ran. Write [MB/s] 0.811 MB/s 116.20 MB/s
4k Ran. Read [IOps] 83.21 IOps 10,287.13 IOps
4k Ran. Write [IOps] 207.61 IOps 29,748.15 IOps
4k Write Latency [Avg] 4.8 ms 0.0333 ms
4k Write [max] 1,248.19 ms 3.94 ms

As can be already observed, a mainstream SSD can easily beat the most powerful mechanical hard drive in all performance tests.

Ok, so SSD is great enough to attract every serious gamer, but how can we work around the high price issue of SSD while take the full advantage of the huge capacity of HDD?

Solution: SSD-HDD Combination (SSHD)

The best option we always suggest to everyone who looks for a large capacity and a high performance is to combine SSD and HDD together in hybrid mode. That way you will leverage the power of both drives.

We strongly suggest that you don’t go below 250/256GB SSD capacity, and not less than 2TB hard drive capacity.

You can read more about this method in detail on this article.

How to Pick The Right SSD for Gaming

Picking the right SSD for gamingIn the pursuit of picking an SSD that well matches your gaming requirements, you need to bear in mind a few factors that will determine the best fit for your gaming computer:

  • Make sure that the SSD manufacturer is prominent and highly-reputable in the market. We authorize the following SSD manufacturers Samsung, SanDisk, Crucial, Corsair, OCZ, Intel and Plextor as the are renowned to produce the most reliable and fastest solid state drives. There are other manufacturers though that produce good SSDs, such as Mushkin and MydigitalSSD but we prefer to stay away from them when our main concern is the highest quality.
  • Determine your needs and title yourself. Once you find out what you need an SSD for after gauging your needs according to the class of users you belong to (i.e. regular/mainstream or enthusiast) then you can pick the right SSD brand that suits you best. It’s not only about brand, but also about capacity. Don’t go for a capacity larger than 256gb if you are just a regular user who only carry out lightweight tasks such as web-browsing, basic photo editing, watching movies, playing small games and so on. Always bear in mind that you can always store your extra data externally via an external hard drive or an external SSD.
  • Investigate the SATA version of your computer. It’s just not worth going for a high-end SSD while your motherboard is old enough to not support SATA III. If you don’t know how to find out about it, simply just know the year of manufacturing, if it’s before 2012 then most probably it’s SATA II.
  • For laptop users: Find out whether your laptop has another room for an additional hard drive. If this is the case, then you are lucky. You’ll be able to combine an SSD with the old hard drive in a hybrid mode where they will work together as a single drive where an SSD is made to cache the most frequently used files/applications and keep other files on the hard drive. All of that is after using a special software for this purpose. That way you’ll not have to pay for a large capacity of an SSD, and a 128gb or 256gb SSD capacity is pretty sufficient.
  • For Desktop Users: You better combine SSD with HDD in hybrid mode. This point has been already discussed above. That way you’ll save more money when buying an SSD because then you’ll not be stressed by the capacity limitation of SSD.
  • For Enthusiast Gamers: Check the term of warranty. If you are an intense gamer (i.e. enthusiast) that download and play lots of high-end games, one of your top concerns must be the warranty term. Don’t go with an SSD that has less than 5-year limited warranty. Samsung and SanDisk offer 10-year warranty for their flagship SSD.
  • Specify your budget. Finally, if you have found the most suitable SSD for you, see how much you can pay for it. I strongly suggest not going for less than 256gb if you only have one room in your laptop unless you are a very basic computer user then it will be enough for you.

FAQs about Gaming SSD

Here, in this section, we’ll be answering some of the most common questions asked about using SSD for gaming.

How can SSD improve gaming experience?

How SSD improves gaming experienceModern games continuously stream data to the system and there is a persistent need to have a good storage to properly hold these data. Since most of modern games are too large to be fully cached on a graphics card, thus having enough main memory is a critical factor for any game lover.

As you play a game, the game is continuously making guesses as to what you will navigate next. If playing a racing game, it has information like the maps, and your possible next turn on the race course. This is what enables it stream asserts like model data, sound files, textures and level-of-detail information.

If the game makes a wrong guess, it has to reload new data and that is why you need an SSD because it guarantees quick communication. This can be said to be an engine cache miss, only that it must continuously go back to the storage device to load the ideal data. This is the game engine’s “valley of despair” in that it doesn’t have the data, but needs to fetch them, and the result of this is the game to come to an abrupt stop. An SSD enables the game to access the needed data faster and thus keep the game going. Otherwise, if the data loads slowly, the players will not have a good experience.

By using a sturdy gaming SSD you will renew your gaming PC and greatly improve user experience, which includes improved responsiveness, better visual-graphic effects and elimination of lagging. A lag-free system with reduced loading time enables you to spend less time waiting and more time in playing.

Does SSD only improve offline, single-user gaming?

Definitely not. SSD does improve all forms of gaming, whether it’s offline or online, single-player or multiplayer.

If you are playing multiplayer games such as Starcraft2, battlefield, and League of Legends, SSD will load all the files stored on your computer faster than an ordinary HDD. You will also need a stable internet connection for enhanced experience.

If playing a single-player game, SSD will greatly boost your experience because it will allow you fast access to information requested to render what you would like to see. For instance, if you’re watching a game that has higher graphical demands, an SSD will quickly provide your graphics card with all the information it needs, thereby, enabling it to provide you the best experience ever.

Is it advisable to use SSD for PlayStation 4?

Honestly I don’t recommend at all using an SSD for PS4. We’have already published on our website a somewhat detailed report on configuring PS4 with SSD and we presented our logical reasons for dissuading users from getting an SSD for their PS4 gaming console. You can read more about that HERE.


SSD is a strong addition to your PC if you are serious about taking your gaming experience to the next level. Your games will install much faster than before when using a traditional hard drive, and they will load lightning fast to make your time with gaming so enjoyable.

SSD is worth its relatively high price just if you really feel the need of blazing speed drive.