Best SSDs 2020: The top NVMe and SATA drives around

Speed, reliability and value - it’s all here

If your computer’s ​feeling slow, the cause might not be your CPU or memory – it could easily be your storage. A slow hard disk can have a huge impact on the responsiveness of your PC, particularly when it comes to starting up Windows, opening apps and working with large datasets. Upgrading to a high-speed SSD can make a sluggish desktop fly. ​

When choosing your drive, however, raw speed isn't the only factor you should take into account. Reliability is a hugely important issue, especially for business use. SSDs have a finite lifespan, and they’re only guaranteed to sustain a certain number of write and erase cycles. Enterprise drives are typically designed to withstand much more intensive use than consumer models, and it’s crucial to make sure the drives in your machines are up to your workloads.

Remember, though: even if your chosen SSD is designed for heavy usage, unexpected hardware failures do happen, and your warranty won’t bring back any data that gets lost. It remains absolutely essential to keep regular backups.

Another factor to consider when picking an SSD is security. Some drives feature built-in encryption, which provides a welcome layer of protection for those working on sensitive or confidential information.

Finally, there’s the question of price. Larger capacities naturally cost more, but you don’t necessarily need to buy a huge drive: it may make sense to choose a modestly-sized SSD for your operating system and applications, and partner it with a much cheaper mechanical disk for data that doesn’t need high-speed access.

Whether you're building a custom system from scratch or upgrading an existing machine, there are plenty of SSD options to choose from: here’s a selection of our favourites.

Adata XPG SX8200 Pro

This drive from Adata is an excellent choice for anyone seeking high performance on a budget. Thanks to NVMe technology it delivers fantastic speeds in excess of 3,000MB/sec, yet the 1TB version works out to a very reasonable 16.5p per gigabyte. The only disappointment is that higher capacity models haven't made it onto the market, but a terabyte is plenty for most purposes - and if you're looking for a smaller drive then the 256GB and 512GB variants are also good value.

Cost per GB16.5p
Claimed read3,500MB/sec
Claimed write3,000MB/sec

Price when reviewed: £145 exc VAT

Read our full Adata XPG SX8200 Pro review here

Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB

Samsung's 970 EVO Plus makes use of new 96-layer V-NAND technology - which, put simply, means it can cram in more, faster transistors than its rivals. The result is big performance gains that make this one of the fastest SSDs money can buy. It's business-friendly too, promising write endurance levels that should be more than ample for any workstation, plus a five-year warranty.

Cost per GB19.6p
Claimed read3,500MB/sec
Claimed write3,300MB/sec

Price when reviewed: £98 exc VAT

Read our full Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB review here

WD Blue SN500

The WD Blue SN500 is superbly affordable, costing less than £60 for 500GB of fast NVMe storage. There are a few caveats to be aware of: it can't match the performance of the market leaders (though it's still far faster than any SATA drive), and there's also no larger capacity option, so if you need a plus-sized drive then you'll have to look elsewhere. For many business roles though those will be non-issues, making the SN500 a great-value option.

Cost per GB14p
Claimed read1,700MB/sec
Claimed write1,450MB/sec

Price when reviewed: £58 exc VAT

Read our full WD Blue SN500 review here

Samsung 860 Evo

NVMe drives are undeniably faster than their SATA equivalents, but not all machines can make use of the technology. For older laptops and desktops that only support SATA connections, Samsung's 860 Evo makes a great upgrade: it delivers the very fastest performance that the SATA interface can handle, and comes with a high durability rating at a very affordable price.

Cost per GB32.8p
Claimed read550MB/sec
Claimed write520MB/sec

Price when reviewed: £68 exc VAT

Read our full Samsung 860 Evo review here

Samsung Portable SSD X5

If you can't open up your laptop to install a high-speed SSD, the next best thing is to attach a blazing fast external drive. The Samsung X5 requires a laptop with a Thunderbolt 3 connector, but if you've got that then it delivers breathtaking performance, with a maximum read speed of 2.8GB/sec. The model we tested has a huge 1TB capacity too - and since it's detachable, you can use it to easily move large data files between systems, and lock it away when not in use.

Cost per GB52p
InterfaceThunderbolt 3
Claimed read2,800MB/sec
Claimed write2,300MB/sec

Price when reviewed: £525 exc VAT

Read our full Samsung Portable SSD X5 review here

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