The best SSDs of 2021

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Switching to a solid-state drive is the best upgrade you can make for your PC. These wondrous devices speed up boot times, improve the responsiveness of your programs and games, and generally makes your computer feel fast. But not all solid-state drives are the same. You can find top-notch SSDs that offer solid performance at an affordable price, or you can spend big to achieve read and write speeds that reach a whole other level. 

Many SSDs come in a 2.5-inch form factor and connect to your PC via the same SATA port used by a traditional hard drive. But out on the bleeding-edge of NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) drives, you’ll find tiny “gumstick” SSDs that fit in an M.2 connection on a modern motherboard, 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 the purpose of this guide. We’ve tested numerous drives to find the best SSDs for any use case, and offer our top picks below. In addition to that we give you useful information on what to look for in an SSD so you can be a more knowledgable shopper. 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.

Editor’s note: This article was most recently updated with current street prices and fresh information in the news section.

Latest SSD news

  • Check out our guide to which SSD you should buy, breaking down everything you need to know about which sort of solid-state drive works best in each system.
  • Samsung teased blazing-fast PCIe 5.0 SSDs in July, ahead of the next-gen specification’s expected support in future Intel and AMD systems. It’s an enterprise drive, but make no mistake: PCIe 5.0 is coming.

Best SSD for most people

Samsung’s mainstream EVO series of SSDs has sat atop our recommended list ever since 2014, and the new Samsung 870 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 most people would be better off buying the SK Hynix Gold S31.

Not only is the Gold S31 among the fastest SATA SSDs we’ve ever tested, landing within spitting distance of the best-in-class 870 EVO, but the price for this drive is spectacular. At $44 for a 250GB drive, $48 for a 500GB drive, or $85 for 1TB, the Gold S31 costs much less than Samsung’s line, which charges $95 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 at the time. Enough said.

Well, maybe not. Let’s talk a bit about the brand itself, since SK Hynix 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 a larger capacity, though, or simply want to stick with a tried-and-true brand, still look to the Samsung 870 EVO, which is available in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB models. They’re just a tiny hair faster than the SK Hynix drives in raw performance but cost a fair amount more. That speaks more to how wildly good of a deal the Gold S31 is though, as the Samsung 870 EVO offers a very compelling and affordable package compared to most SSDs. The Samsung 870 QVO is another strong contender, with capacities ranging from 1TB all the way to a whopping 8TB, but we’ll discuss that in the next section.



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