In our series of Solid State Drive guides, here’s the latest update to our list of recommended SSDs. All numbers in the text are updated to reflect pricing at the time of writing.

Best SSDs: Q3 2019

A solid state drive is often the most important component for making a PC feel fast and responsive; any PC still using a mechanical hard drive as its primary storage is long overdue for an upgrade. The SSD market is broader than ever, with a wide range prices, performance and form factors.

In the six months since the last edition of this guide, not much has changed in the retail SSD market. The constant price drops that kept the SSD market exciting through most of 2018 are over and prices have generally stabilized. Entry-level NVMe SSDs no longer carry a premium over SATA SSDs, and for most consumers a NVMe SSD should now be the default choice over SATA. Products using 64-layer 3D TLC still outnumber newer products using 9x-layer 3D TLC, and the newer drives are for the most part more expensive without offering much tangible improvement in performance, power efficiency or reliability.

September 2019 SSD Recommendations
Market Segment Recommendations
Entry-level NVMe Intel 660p 2TB $184.99 (9¢/GB)
High-end NVMe Silicon Power P34A80 1TB $109.99 (11¢/GB)
Mainstream 2.5" SATA Crucial MX500 1TB $107.99 (11¢/GB)
M.2 SATA Crucial MX500 1TB $107.99 (11¢/GB)

Above are some recommendations of good deals in each market segment. Some of these aren't the cheapest option in their segment and instead are quality products worth paying a little extra for.

The next table is a rough summary of what constitutes a good deal on a current model in today's market. Sales that don't beat these prices are only worth a second glance if the drive is nicer than average for its product segment.

September 2019 SSD Recommendations: Price to Beat, ¢/GB
Market Segment 256GB 512GB 1TB 2TB
Budget 2.5" SATA 14 ¢/GB 11 ¢/GB 10 ¢/GB  
Mainstream 2.5" SATA 19 ¢/GB 13 ¢/GB 11 ¢/GB 11 ¢/GB
Entry-level NVMe 16 ¢/GB 11 ¢/GB 10 ¢/GB 10 ¢/GB
High-end NVMe 20 ¢/GB 15 ¢/GB 14 ¢/GB 14 ¢/GB
M.2 SATA 20 ¢/GB 13 ¢/GB 11 ¢/GB 12 ¢/GB

As always, the prices shown are merely a snapshot at the time of writing. We make no attempt to predict when or where the best discounts will be. Instead, this guide should be treated as a baseline against which deals can be compared. Most of the drives recommended here are models we have tested in at least one capacity or form factor, but in many cases we have not tested every capacity and form factor, or have tested just one of the several brands selling the same turnkey solution. For older drives not mentioned in this guide, our SSD Bench database can provide performance information and comparisons.

NVMe SSDs

PC OEMs have finally jumped on the NVMe bandwagon, and that has helped ensure a supply of more budget-oriented NVMe SSDs in addition to the enthusiast class products. In the future it looks like the entry-level NVMe market segment will be migrating toward smaller form factors like M.2 2230, but for now virtually all retail NVMe SSDs are still M.2 2280 with two or four lanes of PCI Express.

PCIe 4.0 has officially arrived, but is only available on the latest Ryzen desktop platforms and is only supported by one currently-shipping SSD controller: the Phison E16. Right now, PCIe 4.0 is expensive, power hungry, and only helps with synthetic benchmark scores and a narrow range of workloads that need the highest sequential transfer speeds possible. Next year there will be many more options for PCIe 4.0 SSDs including lower price points.

High-end NVMe: Silicon Power P34A80

Most brands have introduced new high-end NVMe models for 2019, but in many cases they change very little compared to last year's products. Some are little more than firmware updates; a few replace 64L TLC with 92/96L TLC but don't gain much performance since they are still using the older controllers. The most significant new controller to ship in 2019 has been the Phison E16, the first PCIe 4.0-capable client SSD controller. Consumers building a new Ryzen desktop may want to opt for one of the drives using the Phison E16 controller in order to earn the bragging rights of the highest sequential transfer benchmark numbers possible without using RAID. For everybody else, PCIe 4.0 isn't ready for prime time and current high-end PCIe 3.0 SSDs will offer just as much real-world performance.

There are plenty of older models still in production (or at least widely available) that are now significantly cheaper than their successors, and consequently offer better price to performance ratios. This disparity is most evident when comparing Phison E12 drives against Phison E16 drives: The Silicon Power P34A80 is one of the cheapest E12 drives at about half the price of Phison E16 drives, and it offers basically the same real-world performance for anyone still using PCIe 3.0. The Silicon Power P34A80 has only a 3-year warranty instead of the usual 5 years for high-end drives, but the hardware is identical to other Phison E12 drives that come with 5-year warranties.

  240-280GB 480-512GB 960GB-1TB 2TB
ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro $49.99
(20¢/GB)
$69.99
(14¢/GB)
$149.95
(15¢/GB)
$289.99
(14¢/GB)
HP EX920 $45.99
(18¢/GB)
$61.99
(12¢/GB)
   
HP EX950   $74.99
(15¢/GB)
$139.99
(14¢/GB)
$269.99
(13¢/GB)
Silicon Power P34A80 $37.99
(15¢/GB)
$59.99
(12¢/GB)
$109.99
(11¢/GB)
$244.99
(12¢/GB)
Corsair Force MP600     $229.99
(23¢/GB)
$395.99
(20¢/GB)
Sabrent Rocket 4.0     $199.98
(20¢/GB)
$399.99
(20¢/GB)
WD Black (2018) $64.99
(26¢/GB)
$79.99
(16¢/GB)
$159.99
(16¢/GB)
 
WD Black SN750 $62.90
(25¢/GB)
$97.15
(19¢/GB)
$207.99
(21¢/GB)
$449.99
(22¢/GB)
Samsung 970 EVO   $89.92
(18¢/GB)
$169.99
(17¢/GB)
$555.38
(28¢/GB)
Samsung 970 EVO Plus $69.25
(28¢/GB)
$109.99
(22¢/GB)
$219.95
(22¢/GB)
$479.97
(24¢/GB)

 

Entry-level NVMe: Intel SSD 660p

Low-end NVMe SSDs have always struggled to carve out a niche between mainstream SATA and high-end NVMe pricing. This market segment has finally made it down to price parity with mainstream SATA drives (while offering a clear performance boost), but the cheapest high-end NVMe drives are still overshadowing most of the options in this segment.

The Intel 660p is probably the only QLC-based consumer SSD currently worth considering, and even then only the 2TB model undercuts TLC drives by a wide margin. At lower capacities there are TLC drives with comparable prices that will offer better performance and endurance. Kingston's recent A2000 hasn't landed on our testbed yet, but it uses the same controller as the Intel 660p and should easily outperform it thanks to the A2000's use of 96L TLC instead of 64L QLC.  The WD Blue SN500 deserves a mention as one of the best-performing DRAMless SSDs we've tested, but its pricing doesn't really stand out.

  240-256GB 480-512GB 1TB 2TB
Mushkin Helix-L $35.99
(14¢/GB)
$58.99
(12¢/GB)
$108.99
(11¢/GB)
 
WD Blue SN500 $54.99
(22¢/GB)
$64.99
(13¢/GB)
   
Kingston A2000 $39.99
(16¢/GB)
$59.99
(12¢/GB)
$99.99
(10¢/GB)
 
Intel 660p   $59.99
(12¢/GB)
$94.99
(9¢/GB)
$184.99
(9¢/GB)


SATA SSDs

Not much is happening in the SATA SSD market. None of the major brands have announced an update of their mainstream SATA SSDs to use 96L NAND instead of 64L NAND, and there are even still a few drives with 32L or planar TLC lingering in the market. The only big news since the underwhelming launch of the Samsung 860 QVO is that SK Hynix is now selling their own branded SSDs, starting with the Gold S31. This is still too new for street prices to have fallen below launch MSRPs so it is interesting mainly because it is one of the few (or only) retail consumer SSDs with Hynix 3D NAND.

Mainstream 2.5" SATA: WD Blue 3D NAND, Crucial MX500

For SSDs that will be the primary (boot) drive in a system, we recommend not using the cheapest DRAMless models. The WD Blue 3D and Crucial MX500 are consistently priced competitively and perform about as well as any SATA SSD can. The ADATA SU800 and Team L5 LITE 3D use older NAND and are a bit slower and cheaper without incurring all the downsides of using a DRAMless SSD controller; the Team drive in particular often beats most DRAMless SSDs on price.

  240-256GB 480-512GB 1TB 2TB
Samsung 860 EVO $54.99
(22¢/GB)
$74.99
(15¢/GB)
$129.99
(13¢/GB)
$279.99
(14¢/GB)
WD Blue 3D NAND $48.95
(20¢/GB)
$64.99
(13¢/GB)
$114.99
(11¢/GB)
$224.99
(11¢/GB)
Crucial MX500 $48.99
(20¢/GB)
$66.99
(13¢/GB)
$107.99
(11¢/GB)
$223.48
(11¢/GB)
ADATA SU800 $37.99
(15¢/GB)
$57.99
(11¢/GB)
$99.99
(10¢/GB)
$209.99
(10¢/GB)
Team L5 LITE 3D $33.99
(14¢/GB)
$53.99
(11¢/GB)
$97.99
(10¢/GB)
 

M.2 SATA: Crucial MX500 and WD Blue 3D

M.2 NVMe SSDs should be preferred over M.2 SATA SSDs anywhere that NVMe is supported, now that entry-level NVMe SSDs have caught up on price and power efficiency. For systems that support only M.2 SATA, we recommend avoiding entry-level DRAMless drives and going with one of the higher-performing mainstream models from Crucial, Western Digital or Samsung. We have only tested the 2.5" versions of most of these drives, but the Samsung 860 EVO M.2 should have a clear advantage in power efficiency over most of its competition. Samsung charges a substantial premium over other brands, so for users that aren't trying to squeeze every last minute of battery life out of their notebook, the Crucial MX500 or WD Blue 3D are more cost effective, especially at higher capacities.

  250GB 500GB 1TB 2TB
Samsung 860 EVO M.2 $64.49
(26¢/GB)
$89.99
(18¢/GB)
$163.13
(16¢/GB)
$309.99
(15¢/GB)
Crucial MX500 M.2 $49.95
(20¢/GB)
$64.99
(13¢/GB)
$107.99
(11¢/GB)
 
WD Blue 3D M.2 $48.01
(19¢/GB)
$64.88
(13¢/GB)
$114.99
(11¢/GB)
$236.62
(12¢/GB)

 

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  • Alistair - Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - link

    Nice charts. You can just get the cheapest in the category, based on your country. Silicon Power is more expensive in Canada so can get HP or Adata here. Reply
  • Araemo - Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - link

    How are the Samsung 970 EVO drives the 'high end NVME' category instead of the Samsung 970 Pro drives?

    I realize they bump the pricing up again to more than double the cheapest ones you have in that category, but I'd really call most of your 'high end NVME' category 'mid-range NVME', with the 970 Pro and its competitors in the "High End" consumer/prosumer/workstation space.
    Reply
  • Billy Tallis - Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - link

    The Samsung 970 PRO and to a lesser extent Intel's Optane SSDs are beyond high-end and well into the territory where the extra money you're spending is only about bragging rights, not meaningful performance increases. If I were to break them out into a separate category, it would only be for the purpose of pointing out that they are never going to be a sensible purchase for any common consumer use case. TLC+SLC caching is almost always fast enough to move the bottleneck away from the SSD, and the extra write endurance of MLC or 3D XPoint doesn't matter. Reply
  • Alistair - Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - link

    Thank you, that's absolutely right. I gave up trying to explain that on reddit... Anandtech knows what's what. Reply
  • Nexing - Friday, September 20, 2019 - link

    "the extra write endurance of MLC or 3D XPoint doesn't matter."
    Uhmm what about retention/charge leakage?
    In specific cases like we users, that store most of the drive with data (music files/samples in large virtual instruments, etc). Data that has to be ready to use but is rarely read and only after years (2, 5, 7 or more) need to access _that sample, that odd note or music articulation _ and it has to be there, accessible... Wasn't that TLC has to periodically rewrite content to maintain long term retention, more so QLC? Despite that SLC caching feature.

    //Samsung PRO MLC line is not "beyond high-end" for musicians or DJs carrying latency free setups that hopefully won't be migrated in 10 years time, only enlarged (hopefully).
    Reply
  • Nexing - Friday, September 20, 2019 - link

    Probably have to provide more data here. Audio is typically relegated in tech circles as a little brother with less needs, so if the solution put forward suits Gaming and Video, then it is going to be well enough to audio, for sure.
    But as mentioned above, thousands of composers now use Virtual Instruments, that may amount to 100 GB just for a piano (to get samples recorded in 18 velocities/volume, each at 96 kHz, 24 bits, with 8 microphones from a Bechstein D-280, Steinway D, Bösendorfer 290, and a Yamaha C7) http://www.soundsonline.com/pianos
    But wait, there are full Orchestras, Choruses, world instruments, percussion and sound being released in sound libraries in several formats/samplers. Visit Kontakt, BDF, Toontrack, etc. to name whole ecosystems.

    And as musicians, producers and DJs you want to access those files instantly, with latency free, where thunderbolt and nowadays SSD standards allow for 2 or 3 ns (nanoseconds) of round latency. HDD won't do here.

    Yes, you install those VST libraries once, atune your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and either create, compose, perform, record, mix, produce, masterize at your home, homestudio, rehearsal room, venue, studio or postproduction/mastering studio.
    Plenty of different usages with basically similar hardware. Doing all that, through snappy latency-less SSD based storage, able to sustain that large info stored long time (years) with minimal cell discharge. As far as I know MLC will be able to achieve it, whereas TLC or other multiples cell configurations will fail, two, three years or more down the line...

    MLC is a must at many places not "beyond high-end". Correct me if I am wrong, please.
    Reply
  • Billy Tallis - Saturday, September 21, 2019 - link

    Retention is only a concern if:

    1. You wear out the drive to near the end of the write endurance before you start using it for this work.

    and

    2. You put lots of static data on the drive and don't write anything else to the drive

    and

    3. Your drive doesn't do background data scrubbing to detect data degradation

    New flash has vastly longer data retention than worn-out flash, and any numbers you've seen about retention times were likely for drives that are at the end of their write endurance. If the drive that holds the sample library also gets used for some non-static data, then wear leveling will cause that static data to be gradually refreshed. And if you're still concerned, then simply doing a full-drive scrub in software a few times a year will generally allow the SSD to catch errors before they accumulate enough to become uncorrectable, and cause the SSD to either refresh data that's starting to degrade, or at least to adjust its read thresholds so that future accesses won't require the slower second/third level ECC. BTW, from the drive's perspective, a FS scrub operation looks basically the same as a full-disk backup, and you're already doing that several times a year, right?
    Reply
  • Nexing - Sunday, September 22, 2019 - link

    Thank you for your response.
    Alternatives 1 and 2 are usual no go in cited SSD usage segments.
    About 3, and the retention figures are mostly non-existent for static-data except for famed Samsung 840, since when MLC based SSDs are the long term norm for static data.

    Your affirmation that "If the drive that holds the sample library also gets used for some non-static data, then wear leveling will cause that static data to be gradually refreshed", equals to just trust TRIM activity in a connected SSD, used as my previous posts above. Good to hear that.
    Not enough though, to switch from PRO to EVO in my book, and so still hoping MLC cells are included in a few PCIe 4.0 drives.
    Musical libraries, and the net of connected programs around them, are becoming an entangled complex net, where no one wants to introduce data loss risks because of defective/worn out/wrongly specified hardware.
    *Checked "scrub" superficially and found almost nonexistent references, except for a Sun Microsystems/Oracle? ZFS program at wikipedia, but no mention at howtogeek.com or Tomshardware.
    //I understand this site typically calls to engineers and devs from many sources, plus some gaming audience, of whom could possibly are/were connected with some manufacturers AND not related with Pro Audio at all.
    Hence me writing a bit of these "musical" needs here, with some luck returns practical answers and ideally it could also promote further questioning for someone somehow related, hopefully.
    From my side; thanks for your answer so far.
    Reply
  • crimson117 - Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - link

    I've never heard of Silicon Power. Are they as reliable?

    Also, can you add "Phison E12" etc. to the charts so we know which drive uses which controller?
    Reply
  • Ruimanalmeida - Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - link

    " The Silicon Power P34A80 has only a 3-year warranty instead of the usual 5 years for high-end drives, but the hardware is identical to other Phison E12 drives that come with 5-year warranties. "

    Silicon Power website informs that warranty period for this deviice is 5 years - see https://www.silicon-power.com/web/product-340
    Reply

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