The Best SSDs for Gaming in 2022 – PCMag

Our Experts Have Tested 33 Products in the SSDs Category in the Past Year

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As today’s AAA games demand ever more computing resources, PC gamers (and sometimes even console players) are hard-pressed to upgrade their components to keep pace. They need speed; they need space. Replacing a primary solid-state drive (boot drive), adding secondary storage, or both can help keep your rig as current as possible. And on the upside: Unlike graphics cards and some other PC parts, SSDs haven’t seen shortages and skyrocketing prices.

Which SSD to buy, though, is the tricky bit. With platforms ranging from gaming consoles to laptops and desktops of different eras, there’s no one-size-fits-all gaming-SSD solution. Your choice of a gaming SSD depends largely on what kind of device you are updating, what type of (and how many) drive slots or drive bays it has, and what flavor of USB-C port it may have. The latest internal PCI Express 4.0 M.2 SSDs are touted for gaming, and drives for Sony’s PlayStation 5 are getting their share of attention, but not all PCs support PCIe 4.0, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who hasn’t yet been able to find a PS5 at a price they’re willing to pay. Fortunately, you can find good solid-state storage solutions even for less-than-current systems.

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

Gauging Speed: How Fast an SSD Do I Need for Games?

In the past year or two, we’ve seen amazing advances in raw SSD transfer speeds (as measured by the Crystal DiskMark benchmark), especially with some of the latest PCI Express 4.0 NVMe internal drives. (If you’re not up on drive acronyms and abbreviations, check out our glossary of SSD terminology.) In sequential read and write testing—which measures throughput for best-case, straight-line transfers of large files—today’s read speeds can exceed and write speeds can approach 7,000 megabits per second (MBps) with PCIe 4.0 drives on an optimized PC. This is all well and good, and raw speed can help bolster both all-around and game-specific performance.

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Speed is most important for a boot drive, which holds your PC’s operating system and from which games have traditionally been run. Secondary drives, whether internal or external, have tended to be slower and have higher capacity—they’re often used to hold game libraries—but you can get a fast, high-capacity secondary drive and run games from it if you have the right expansion slot and are willing to pay the price.

More important than raw throughput, however, is how quickly a drive can load games. Our testing with UL’s PCMark 10 measures the load speeds of the internal SSDs we review for three AAA games: Battlefield 5, Overwatch, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. Crystal DiskMark also measures read and write speeds for 4K-block-size files (a common trait of program-level files in gaming-loading scenarios).

Our newest SSD test in our arsenal, UL’s recently introduced 3DMark Gaming Benchmark, measures installation, loading, playing, saving, and/or copying speeds for various top-tier titles including the abovementioned trio, plus The Outer Worlds and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. We’ve bolstered our test-results database by running the new benchmark on recent drives we have had in house, and will be running it on all gaming and general-purpose internal and external SSDs reviewed from now on.

(Photo: Molly Flores)

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