The best SSD picks: Top internal and external SSDs of 2021

Solid state drives, better known as SSDs, are the best storage choice when it comes to speed. While hard drives are great for mass storage, they have very limited speeds and lower reliability due to moving parts. SSDs eliminate those concerns.

With SSDs getting cheaper, and more options entering the market, picking the best SSD can be a bit of a task. To help you with the decision, we’ve rounded up the best SSD picks on the market, internal and external.

Buying the best SSD for your needs

Buying the best SSD is not something that will take too much thought, but there are a few things to consider. Just like hard drives, SSDs are also available in internal and external models. However, with internal SSDs, there are a couple of ways to go.

Internal SSDs are available in SATA and PCIe interfaces. If you’re looking to replace the hard disk in an old system, a SATA SSD would be the way to go. A SATA SSD will push the performance of the aging interface, but if you want the fastest of the fast, a PCIe SSD is the way.

PCIe is a much faster interface, but it is only available in newer systems. PCIe 3.0 is the norm right now, but PCIe 4.0 SSDs have entered the market recently. With PCIe 4.0 SSDs, you’ll get even faster speeds, although at a premium. For reliability, you need to check the mean time before failure (MTBF) and the terabytes written (TBW) figures, which is an endurance rating for the SSD.

For external SSDs, you can make your pick based on your use cases. There isn’t too much to set them apart, other than the varying speeds and some added features like biometric security, but there are plenty of options for you to pick.

The best SSDs (internal and external)

Best internal SSDs

  • The Samsung 980 Pro is the best SSD for most people, providing amazing speeds with PCIe 4.0 and great reliability.
  • The WD Black SN850 is the top SSD pick for gaming systems, offering top-notch performance.
  • The Adata XPG Gammix S50 Lite is the ideal value SSD, giving solid PCIe 4.0 speeds on a budget.
  • The Samsung 870 Evo is a SATA SSD, offering great performance aimed at systems with the aging SATA interface.

Best external SSDs

Best internal SSDs

Internal SSDs are a solid way of boosting up an old system. Internal SSDs are the go-to boot devices now and can help cut the boot-up times of your system dramatically. An internal SSD will also load programs much faster. While not the most economical for mass storage, if you have the budget, you could use an internal SSD to store your media as well. Here is our roundup of the best internal SSD options on the market.

Samsung 980 Pro: The best SSD for most people

 

Samsung 980 Pro SSD on white background

Credit: Amazon

Samsung has led the charge in the solid state drive space with its NAND innovations. The Samsung 980 Pro is a PCIe 4.0 NVMe drive that promises to double the speed of PCIe 3.0 drives and is the absolute best SSD choice for most people. It promises sequential read speeds of up to 7,000MB/s and sequential write speeds of 5,100MB/s.

You can get the Samsung 980 Pro in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB capacity options. Cache goes up to 2GB depending upon the capacity, and it’s all backed by Samsung’s Elpis controller. You also have encryption, with support for AES 256-bit, TCG/Opal, and IEEE1667. Samsung rates the 980 Pro for 1.5 million hours MTBF, up to 1200 TBW, and offers a five-year warranty.


WD Black SN850: The best SSD for gaming systems

WD Black SN850 SSD on a white background

Credit: Western Digital

Western Digital’s WD Black brand is its lineup of gaming-focused solutions. The WD Black SN850 matches the performance of the fastest SSDs you can buy right now, and it carries the cool black aesthetic. It hits up to 7,000MB/s sequential read speed and up to 5,300MB/s sequential write speed, making it worthy of being your gaming drive.

The WD Black SN850 comes with a heatsink for desktop setups, with separate SKUs. Additionally, you also get RGB support. In terms of capacity, you get three options: 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB. For endurance, WD gives a 1200 TBW figure. MTBF figures are not on the product page, but other WD Black solid state drive offerings have 1.75M hours MTBF, so you can expect the same from the SN850. The SSD comes with a five-year limited warranty.


See also: The best hard drive picks: Top internal and external HDDs to buy

Adata XPG Gammix S50 Lite: The best value-for-money SSD

 

Adata XPG Gammix S50 Lite SSD on white background

Credit: Adata

Adata is known for making some amazing value-for-money hardware, and the XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite is no different. This is a PCIe 4.0 SSD as well. It offers lower speeds than the top PCIe 4 SSDs, with sequential read speeds up to 3,900MB/s and sequential read speeds up to 3,200MB/s. Make no mistake, these are still great speeds, and the XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite offers them at a considerably lower price than most other Gen 4 SSDs.

The drive gets a heatsink bundle as well. You get three capacity options: 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB. The MTBF rating stands at 2 million hours, and the drive has a 1480 TBW rating. Adata offers a five-year limited warranty.


Samsung 870 Evo: Best SATA SSD

 

Samsung 870 Evo SSD on white background

Credit: Amazon

While NVMe solid state drives are faster, not all systems have the M.2 PCIe slot. SATA is the only way to add internal storage for older systems, and the Samsung 870 Evo excels in this category. It hits the maximum SATA interface limit of 560MB/s sequential reads and 530MB/s sequential write speeds. While these speeds are not as high as the NVMe options, these are still the best speeds you can hit with a SATA drive.

You get capacity options of 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB, with cache going up to 4GB. The Samsung MKX controller runs the show here. The MTBF is 1.5 million hours, and a 2,400 TBW rating is also present. Samsung backs it with a five-year warranty.


Best external SSDs

For external storage purposes, external SSDs make more sense than external HDDs do. First of all, external SSDs don’t carry the same heft as external HDDs do, so you can get better portability even on the most affordable ones. Secondly, the speeds are also considerably higher, which is an obvious upside for storing data that may need to be moved around. Here are our best external SSD picks.

Samsung T7 Touch: High-performance external SSD with biometric security

 

Samsung T7 Touch SSD on white background

Credit: Amazon

Samsung leads the way in the external SSD space as well. The Samsung T7 Touch is an external SSD with USB 3.2 Gen2 support. You get an embedded PCIe NVMe drive with speeds that go up to 1,050MB/s for sequential reads and up to 1,000MB/s for sequential writes. The  biggest selling point is that the T7 Touch comes with biometric security with a fingerprint reader, and AES-256 encryption.

It’s a very portable external drive too. Weighing only 58 grams, it’s roughly the size of a credit card and only 8mm of thickness. That, in addition to the low-key design, makes it quite a stylish choice. You get capacity options of 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB. Samsung backs it with a three-year limited warranty.


WD Black P50: Best external SSD for PC and console game storage

WD Black P50 SSD on white background

Credit: Amazon

WD Black P50 is an SSD fit to be your external game drive. It’s from Western Digital’s gaming brand and carries the edgy gamer aesthetic that we love about the series. It comes with a USB 3.2 Gen 2 connection and has a rugged enclosure that doesn’t take away from the compactness. WD promises speeds up to 2,000MB/s.

WD Black lives up to the WD reputation, and you can expect the P50 to be a fine external SSD. You get capacity options of 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB. You get a 5-year limited warranty.


See also: The best hard drives & solid state drives you can buy for the Playstation 5

G-Technology G-Drive Mobile: External SSD solution for professionals

G Technology G Drive Mobile SSD on white background

Credit: Amazon

WD markets the G-Technology brand towards professionals and content creators, and the G-Drive Mobile is the perfect external SSD for that demographic. If you’re a professional content creator or YouTuber that requires high-performance external storage, this is the drive for you. It comes with IP67 water and dust resistance, 3-meter drop protection, and a 1000lb crushproof rating.

This G-Drive Mobile lineup comes in two flavors: the G-Drive USB-C and the G-Drive Thunderbolt 3. The USB-C version has USB 3.1 Gen 2 support and hits top speeds of 560MB/s, while the Thunderbolt 3 series promises speeds up to 2,800MB/s. You get capacity options of 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB. The G-Drive Mobile lineup comes with a 5-year warranty.


Western Digital My Passport Wireless SSD: The best wireless external SSD

 

Western Digital My Passport Wireless SSD

Credit: Amazon

Western Digital My Passport Wireless SSD is a niche, but very useful solution. WD has designed this one for wireless use, and it can create its own Wi-Fi access point to provide access to the data without using a cable or even a computer. Additionally, it also has an SD 3.0 card reader inside to transfer data back and forth at up to 65MB/s, making it a great solution for photographers and videographers. The drive itself can push read speeds up to 390MB/s over USB 3.0. Another USB 2.0 can connect to external card readers and USB devices for data transfers as well.

The chassis itself is very rugged and comes with an integrated 6,700 mAh power bank, with up to 1.5A of power output. On the capacity front, you get 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB. While not the fastest external SSD out there, the My Passport Wireless SSD is definitely worth considering for all the additional functionality it provides.


See also: The best external hard drives: What are your options?

Picking the best PC hardware and peripherals

Now that you know the best HDDs to pick, you might want to take at some of the other PC components and peripherals. Here are some more of our PC-related best lists and explainers.

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