Best SSD 2021: Top NVME, NAS & SATA options Windows Central 2021
SSDs vary greatly when it comes to price and performance, but some prove better than the rest for most users. The Samsung 970 EVO Plus is genuinely pushing the boundaries of performance for your buck right now for consumer SSDs, and it's impossible not to recommend.
- Best Overall: Samsung 970 EVO Plus
- Runner-up: Samsung 860 EVO
- Budget SSD: SanDisk SSD Plus
- Best Value: Western Digital Blue
- Best NAS SSD: Seagate IronWolf 110
- Next-gen SSD: Sabrent Rocket
Best Overall: Samsung 970 EVO Plus
Samsung did something incredible with the 970 EVO Plus, offering performance that matches (even supersedes) the 970 PRO but without the insane price tag. The 970 EVO Plus is based on Samsung's latest 96-layer V NAND memory, and with the series starting at an affordable price for the 256GB storage capacity, this is an extremely enticing SSD.
Read and write speeds are 3500 MB/s and 3300 MB/s, respectively. It's super fast.
Samsung 970 EVO Plus offers rapid, yet affordable SSD performance.
Numerous 970 EVO Plus features match other Samsung NVMe SSDs, including the 5-year warranty and overall endurance of the drive. Where this little black stick differs is in its performance, if you're chasing the fastest write speeds possible, this is the one for you.
The only downside to the 970 EVO Plus is the requirement of an M.2 slot, which not everyone may have available. Modern motherboards will usually come with one to spare — the same with a notebook — but you'll need to double-check you have a slot ready for this speedy SSD.
- Amazing performance
- Good value
- Solid endurance
- 5-year warranty
- No 2TB option until April
Runner-up: Samsung 860 EVO
You can do much worse than Samsung memory. The company's storage solutions are viewed as some of the best in the business. It's also why we selected a Samsung SSD as our best overall option here. There's a 5-year warranty on each 860 EVO, and new owners will be able to enjoy up to 550MB/s read and 520MB/s write speeds.
That's not too bad for a SATA SSD. Capacities include 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB and 4TB. While Samsung's SSDs may be slightly pricier than competitor's alternatives, you've got to remember the company states you'll be able to use these drives for far beyond five years. And that's backed with the extended warranty from the factory for each drive.
- Great performance
- Solid endurance
- Five-year warranty
Budget SSD: SanDisk SSD Plus
Moving up from a mechanical HDD to an SSD like this option from SanDisk is a great way to improve the responsiveness and overall performance of your laptop or desktop PC. SanDisk strikes a balance between performance, reliability, and affordability with the SSD Plus series, starting at a budget-friendly price.
You don't lose too much because of this, racking up speeds of 530MB/s and 440MB/s for read and write, respectively. It's not quite as fast as drives from other manufacturers, like the Samsung EVO series, for example. But for the price, you're getting a solid SSD from a reputable brand — SanDisk also makes some great SD cards.
To top all this off, you can enjoy a three-year limited warranty. Just don't expect to be able to buy a model greater than 1TB, as this capacity is as high as you can go.
- Reliable with a good warranty
- Well priced
- Decent performance
- Shock resistant
- Slower than other SSDs
- Tops out at 1TB
- Three-year warranty
Best Value: Western Digital Blue
Sporting 560 MB/s and 530 MB/s for read and write speeds, the Western Digital Blue SSD series offers excellent value. Not only do you have a choice of capacity for 2.5-inch drives, but there are also M.2 modules to choose from as well, depending on what slots you have available on the motherboard.
Against other SSDs with similar technology, you'll not notice much improvement, if any. Compared to older SSDs, there is a noticeable improvement in loading times for software and games, and against an HDD is a no-brainer result. Should you have an SSD or few already with similar speeds, you'll likely not get much out of picking up the WD Blue.
However, should you currently be using an HDD for games or an older-generation SSD, the WD Blue series is worth considering. Pricing also isn't out of this world, allowing you to pick up a 500GB and 1TB version at better price points than competitor drives. You can even go up to 4TB if you need the extra flash storage capacity.
- Great value
- Up to 4TB
- Choice of SATA or M.2
- Speedy performance
- Three-year warranty
Best NAS SSD: Seagate IronWolf 110
If you happen to be running a server on your Windows 10 PC or need to use an SSD that's designed for 24/7 operation, the Seagate IronWolf 110 SSD range is just what you need. A NAS is typically made up of NAS-specific mechanical HDDs that are designed for continuous operation, but now vendors are looking at SSDs too.
This range from Seagate will deliver sustained data rates up to 560MB/s (far beyond what NAS HDDs can achieve) and come rocking some of the same technologies like DuraWrite and AgileArray firmware technologies for enhanced reliability and endurance for 24/7 operation and multi-user environments.
There's also a five-year limited warranty and two-year data recovery cover to further sweeten the deal. These are great little storage devices.
- Ideal for NAS/server
- Enhanced reliability
- Solid SATA performance
- Designed for 24/7 use
- Not really for desktop
Next-gen SSD: Sabrent Rocket
Thought NVMe storage couldn't get any faster? Think again as PCIe 4.0 is here. Should you have compatible hardware, you'll be able to throw this SSD into a spare M.2 slot on your motherboard and enjoy some crazy transfer speeds. PCIe 4.0 allows this SSD to reach up to 5,000 MB/s and 4,400 MB/s read and write, respectively.
You simply cannot reach those speeds otherwise, making PCIe 4.0 exciting to see just how far we can push flash storage. Sabrent also packed in some neat features into this SSD, aside from the data transfer speeds. You get advanced wear-leveling, bad block management, error correction, as well as over-provision protection to enhance reliability and endurance, not to mention upgradeable firmware.
The only drawback to PCIe 4.0 modules like this is the price. It's new tech, so be prepared to pay out some serious cash.
- Ridiculous data speeds
- Up to 2TB
- Reliable SSD
- Need PCIe 4.0
Depending on the available budget, we'd recommend the Samsung 970 EVO Plus because it's lightning-fast. You get not only great read and write speeds, but also a 5-year warranty, high endurance and reliability, and a choice of capacities.
If you can't justify paying out the rather hefty price required, our alternative picks are worth considering. When you want to go all out with the latest technologies and enjoy the fastest read and write speeds around, Sabrent has you covered with the blindingly-fast Sabrent Rocket.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.
Richard Devine is a Reviews Editor at Windows Central. You'll usually find him deep in hardware, gaming, both or drinking root beer for which he openly has a mild addiction.
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