Best SSDs 2021: The top NVMe and SATA drives around
Speed, reliability and value - it’s all here
If your computer is feeling slow, the cause might not be your CPU or memory – it could just as 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 GB||16.5p|
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 GB||19.6p|
Price when reviewed: £98 exc VAT
Read our full Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB review here
This SSD from Crucial is a high-end drive for those who need and can afford the best storage performance. That is, the best storage performance the PCI 3.0 interface can allow. Look forward to a 96-layer TLC memory and read and write speeds of 3,400MB/sec and 3,000MB/sec respectively. The P5 also supports Opal 2.0 which enables full drive encryption making it suit well to professional environments. For £262, it is also cheaper than many of its rivals.
|Cost per GB||13.1p|
Price when reviewed: £262 exc VAT
Read our full Crucial P5 review here
WD Blue SN550
If you're building a relatively simple PC or wanting to upgrade from your SATA storage on the cheap, this might be the drive for you. This is a budget SSD that is probably going to mainly face relatively simple tasks. It has fast maximum speeds, only cost £83 when we reviewed it and is one of our recommended drives. It has a few advantages over the SN500 too like faster overall.
|Cost per GB||10p|
Price when reviewed: £83 exc VAT
Read our full WD Blue SN550 review here
Seagate IronWolf 510
If you regularly access large amounts of data, the Seagate Ironwolf 510 will have the performance and life expectancy you'll need, whether your handling video, images or big data. It is a high capacity device with extended durability and with is commensurate £360 price, it may be overkill for file server caching in your average office environment.
|Cost per GB||20p|
Price when reviewed: £360 exc VAT
Read our full Seagate IronWolf 510 review here
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