Who is for
Buying an SSD is a great way to update almost any computer from one to five years old that has a traditional hard drive. SSDs are much faster than booting, loading games, opening and switching apps, and today's SSDs are bigger, cheaper, and faster than yesterday's SSDs. In general, you should spend the money only if you plan to keep your computer for at least another year, or if you know you can transfer your new SSD to your next computer: There is no point in replacing a machine [1
If you have a desktop PC If you need more than one drive and need more than 500 GB of storage space, consider our SSD selection for the operating system and programs and add one or two conventional hard drives as media storage.
Mac owners should think twice about whether to upgrade to SSD. Although you can upgrade some older MacBooks (mostly before 2013) with standard SATA drives, you can not do the same with the latest MacBooks and MacBook Pros. Laptops from 2013, 2014, or 2015 often support such upgrades, but only with specialized, expensive drives from just a few manufacturers.
How We Picked
For the latest update of this guide We spent four hours researching eight new drives released since our last update in August 2017. From there, we reviewed Amazon listings and owner ratings for all drives and sorted out older drives with 500 GB (or more) capacity, and models with particularly bad ratings.
For the 12 drives that made the cut, we then compared the drives against these criteria based on trusted third-party reviews and manufacturer product pages:
- A good price: More expensive SSDs are often better SSDs, but you do not want to overpay for additional performance or other features that you probably would not notice or use.
- Good performance: Speed is the main reason for buying an SSD after all. We reviewed the reviews to make sure that the drives reach their announced performance and that they continue to feel fast over time.
- A capacity of or near 500GB, which is currently a good mix of value, capacity, and speed: Although 1TB drives typically offer better performance and cost a little less per gigabyte as 500GB drives, they are still over the top for most people in the era of pervasive cloud storage.
- For SATA drives 2.5-inch and M.2 versions for maximum compatibility with different systems: We preferred these versions because the older mSATA devices are becoming rarer, and therefore none had highest priority.
- An Appropriate Warranty: Three-year warranty is standard, but high-end drives sometimes come with five or even ten years warranty, which helps them stand out from the crowd.
- Durability: You can write in flash memory cells only so often before they wear out. Although most people never reach this limit during the normal life of a drive, higher endurance is a plus.
Our Choice: Crucial MX500
When we upgrade or buy a laptop As the primary drive for a desktop, we bought the Crucial 500GB MX500 (available for 2.5-inch and M. 2 SATA versions). It's one of the cheapest SSDs you can buy, it's fast enough and spacious enough for most people, and it offers useful features like hardware encryption and a five year warranty. A handful of SATA drives – including our second-place model, the Samsung 860 Evo – are a little faster and consume slightly less power than the MX500, but no SSDs currently offer such a superb combination of speed and features for the price.  You would not notice a speed difference between the MX500 and the much more expensive SATA drives. Drive benchmarks from AnandTech and Tom's hardware show that the MX500 is occasionally 10 to 20 percent slower than Samsung's 860 Evo drives in some individual tests, but its overall performance is better than that of the competition and close to the limits of the SATA Interface. Compared to the previous generation MX300, the MX500 improves performance when the drive is full or nearly full, one of the main flaws of the MX300.
Crucial offers typical capacities for the MX500: The 2.5-inch SATA drive is available In 250GB, 500GB, 1TB and 2TB versions, the M.2 SATA drive is 250GB, 500 GB and 1 TB available. Crucial does not produce an mSATA version of the MX500. So if you're using an older Ultrabook that needs such a drive, look at our second place instead.
The MX500 limited warranty of 500GB is for five years or 180 TB (TBW), whichever comes first. The MX500 supports native encryption acceleration – something that is not found in most SSDs in its price range. The (even Windows only) Crucial Storage Executive software is handy if you want to monitor the health of your hard drive or install firmware updates.
Runner-up: Samsung 860 Evo
The Samsung 860 Evo is as good as or better than the Crucial MX500 in almost every metric: it's a little faster, it uses less power, it has one Much higher endurance, it comes in 2.5-inch, mSATA and M.2 versions, and it has the same five-year warranty and encryption support. It's also your best option if you need an mSATA SSD. But with this writing it is more expensive than the MX500 at any capacity, especially 1TB and 2TB. If the two drives had the same price or almost the same price, the 860 Evo would be our choice, but right now most people should not spend more money to get the MX500.
This guide might have been updated by Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.
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