Whether you’re replacing an existing solid-state drive or upgrading from a standard disk drive to urge better performance, almost every SSD you’ll buy today is great. But if you’re trying to find the simplest value for your money, the 512 GB Seagate BarraCuda 510 SSD is that the best choice for upgrading a recent laptop or installing it in a new desktop computer. It isn’t the fastest SSD you’ll get, but it comes close, and it offers an excellent combination of price, performance, endurance, and capacity.
The Seagate BarraCuda 510 is an NVMe Best SSD, which suggests it’d not add computers that are four or more years old (if you’re upgrading something older, buy the Crucial MX500 instead). But if you’re building a replacement personal computer or upgrading a laptop or desktop you purchased recently, the BarraCuda 510 may be a speedy drive with a five-year warranty, and it costs much but only slightly faster high-end drives like Samsung’s 970 Evo Plus.
Seagate’s lineup is confusing, though. you’ll find multiple BarraCuda 510 models at similar capacities, and a few support hardware encryption accelerations (the 256 GB and 512 GB versions) while others don’t (the 250 GB, 500 GB, and 1 TB versions). We prefer the versions with encryption support, but you ought to specialize in buying the quantity of space you would like.
The Addlink S70 is from a lesser-known company than the BarraCuda 510, but its performance is nearly as good because the Seagate drive’s, and therefore the 1 TB version of the S70 is usually a little cheaper (the 512 GB version costs about the same). This NVMe SSD comes with a five-year warranty and has an endurance rating almost twice as high as that of our top pick, and everyone version of the drive supports hardware encryption acceleration. But because Addlink isn’t as established as the storage companies that make our other picks, you may have a harder time getting support if something goes wrong. And the S70 is the only one of our picks that doesn’t offer any kind of software for migrating data from your old drive, so you’ll either need to get your own or start fresh.
Up until a year approximately ago, getting an SSD on a budget meant settling for the slower speeds of a drive that used the SATA interface, albeit you had a more modern computer. But budget NVMe SSDs now offer far better performance than SATA models at no extra cost, and therefore the Western Digital WD Blue SN550 is that the better of them. It is often the maximum amount as three or fourfold faster than the Crucial MX500 for an equivalent price, and it comes with a five-year warranty and about an equivalent endurance rating because the Seagate BarraCuda 510 has. But Western Digital offers no hardware encryption support, and both the BarraCuda 510 and therefore the Addlink S70 is even faster.
The Crucial MX500 uses the older SATA interface, which suggests it’s slower than the opposite drives we recommend but also more universally compatible. Whereas NVMe SSDs add most two- or three-year-old computers, a SATA SSD works in computers overflow a decade old. The MX500 is inexpensive and considerably faster than any spinning hard disc, it’s a five-year warranty, and it supports full-disk encryption. It also comes in both 2.5-inch and M.2 SATA versions, so it can slot in almost any desktop or laptop pc. But if you own a more modern computer, the WD Blue SN550 offers better performance for an equivalent price, and therefore the BarraCuda 510 offers even better speeds for just a touch extra money.
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How we picked
For the newest update to the present guide, we checked SSD review sites and retailers like Amazon and Newegg and located 27 drives that had been released since our last major update. From there, we checked Amazon listings and owner reviews for all of the drives, removing some older models, drives lacking 500 GB (or higher) capacities, and models with particularly poor reviews. We then read reviews from the sites that we all know do great SSD testing—primarily AnandTech, but also CNET, Tom’s Hardware, The SSD Review, Storage Review, The Tech Report, and a couple of others—and pored over benchmarks.
For the drives that made the cut, we then consulted trusted third-party reviews and manufacturer product pages to match the drives supported these criteria:
- A good price: More-expensive SSDs are often better SSDs, but you shouldn’t overpay to urge extra performance or other features you likely wouldn’t notice or use.
- Performance: Speed is that the main reason to shop for an SSD, after all. We checked reviews to form sure that the drives hit their advertised performance figures which they might still feel speedy over time.
- Capacity at or near 500 GB: for many people, 500 GB offers the simplest mixture of value, capacity, and speed. Although 1 TB drives usually offer better performance and price a touch less per gigabyte than 500 GB drives, they’re still overkill for many people within the era of pervasive cloud storage.
- A decent warranty: Most SSDs accompany five-year warranties, and there’s no good reason to accept anything shorter.
- Durability: you’ll write to flash-memory cells only numerous times before they wear out—manufacturers express this as TBW, or the minimum number of terabytes which will be written before the drive will fail. This rating is higher for larger drives since they need more flash-memory cells to write down to; for 500 GB drives, a rating of 300 TBW is fairly common. Although most of the people will never get anywhere near that limit during the traditional lifetime of a drive, higher endurance may be a plus.
- M.2 and 2.5-inch versions of SATA drives: We prioritized those versions because the older mSATA is increasingly rare and thus wasn’t a top priority.
We also considered a couple of things that not everyone needs but that are nice to possess if you’ll get them:
- Native support for drive-encryption acceleration is primarily important for businesses with specific data-privacy requirements, but it’s a pleasant bonus for the privacy-minded. Your OS can still encrypt drives without this feature, but that leads to a rather greater hit to performance.
- Many SSDs include free data-migration software, which is beneficial if you’re upgrading a computer with tons of files or settings you don’t want to transfer manually, or if you don’t want to start out fresh.
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Our pick: Seagate BarraCuda 510
Seagate BarraCuda 510 (512 GB)
Whether you’re upgrading a laptop you’ve bought within the past two or three years or buying a drive for a replacement PC you’re building, we expect the Seagate BarraCuda 510 SSD offers the simplest combination of performance, price, and additional features for many people. It isn’t as fast as a high-end drive like Samsung’s 970 Evo Plus or 970 Pro, but it’s between four and 7 times faster than older SATA SSDs in benchmarks, a difference you’re likely to note if you’re loading games or large images and video files from your drive on a daily basis. It also comes with a five-year warranty from a longtime company and data-transfer software to form upgrades easier, and a few (but not all) versions of the drive support drive-encryption acceleration.
The BarraCuda 510 is roughly two-thirds the worth of a higher-end NVMe SSD like Samsung’s 970 Evo Plus, but it’s nearly as fast at reading data most of the time. It’s not as fast in other ways, particularly when writing data, but the difference isn’t noticeable enough in day-to-day use for a higher-end drive to be worth paying more for. Like other NVMe SSDs within the price-conscious category, the BarraCuda 510 uses cache memory to hurry up performance when writing small amounts of knowledge to the disk, so it slows down if you’re moving quite a dozen gigabytes approximately of knowledge directly. But if you’re not moving big video files around on a daily basis, you’ll be perfectly proud of BarraCuda’s speed. (The only drives that absolutely avoid this problem are expensive, pro-targeted models like Samsung’s 970 Pro, which are overkill for many people.)
For anyone unsure about which size to urge, we generally recommend the 512 GB version. The drive comes in 250 GB, 256 GB, 500 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB capacities, which is confusing. consistent with Seagate’s tech specs, the 256 GB and 512 GB drives support hardware encryption acceleration at the value of a touch performance, while the 250 GB, 500 GB, and 1 TB versions are a touch faster but lack encryption support (if the model number ends in “31,” the drive has encryption acceleration; if it ends in “01” or “11,” it doesn’t). All else being equal, we prefer SSDs with encryption acceleration, but you ought to specialize in buying the capacity you would like first. All the drives accompany a five-year warranty, and both the five hundred GB and 512 GB drives have a 320 TBW endurance rating, fairly typical among the SSDs we researched.
Reviewers’ praise of the BarraCuda 510 has been heavily hooked into its price, which was higher when the drive was originally released. Tom’s Hardware writes that it’s “plenty of performance” and praises its power consumption compared thereupon of high-end PCI Express SSDs. Storage Review is a smaller amount glowing but notes that “[if] it are often picked up for the proper price it’ll function an honest NVMe drive for many use cases.”
Seagate offers a competitive set of software tools, including DiscWizard for migrating data from your old drive to your new one and SeaTools for conducting diagnostics and performing firmware updates.
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Runner-up: Addlink S70
Addlink S70 (512 GB)
The Addlink S70 is an NVMe SSD that, in many cases, is nearly as fast as the BarraCuda 510. And if you need a lot of space, the 1 TB version of the S70 is usually cheaper than the BarraCuda 510. It also has a five-year warranty, but its endurance rating is nearly double the BarraCuda 510’s, and all versions and capacities of the drive support hardware encryption acceleration. But Addlink is a relatively unknown company without a huge retail presence in the US, which might make it harder for you to get support if something goes wrong. And the S70 requires any kind of data-backup or drive-management software.
Like the BarraCuda 510, the S70 is not about to set any speed records, but it is more than fast enough for loading an operating system and large games and other apps, the kinds of things most people use their computers for. Its peak read speeds are around seven times faster than those of an M.2 SATA SSD like the Crucial MX500, and its peak write speeds are around four times faster (most reviews are of the 1 TB version of the drive, which has slightly better write performance than that). As with other inexpensive NVMe SSDs, write performance starts strong but drops off over time when you’re moving large multi-gigabyte files, but most people won’t notice this effect in day-to-day use.
The S70 comes in 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB capacities, all of which are covered by a five-year warranty and a generous endurance rating—600 TBW for the 512 GB version, almost double the (already decent) 320 TBW rating for the BarraCuda 510. Reviewers praise the S70’s good-enough performance and its low price, though they share some of our concerns about Addlink’s less-established reputation and lack of software. HotHardware says that the S70 “consistently loaded applications and games with the best of our test group,” and that it “represents a good value.”
The S70 is the only one of our picks not to offer any kind of data-migration software. Free alternatives are available, but none of them are as polished or easy to use as the versions of Acronis True Image or DiscWizard that come with our other picks. If you’re building a new computer or don’t mind reinstalling your operating system and all your apps from scratch, this drawback might not matter to you.
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Budget pick: Western Digital WD Blue SN550
Western Digital WD Blue SN550 (500 GB)
Western Digital’s WD Blue SN550 SSD is three to four times faster than our favorite SATA SSD, the Crucial MX500, even though the drives usually cost the same amount. SATA drives used to be your only option if you wanted a budget SSD, but because of drives like the SN550, there’s no reason to buy anything else unless your computer is too old to use NVMe SSDs. Compared with the Seagate BarraCuda 510 or the Addlink S70, the WD Blue SN550 is slower and doesn’t carry hardware encryption speedup. But it’s more than fast enough for the regular tasks most people do most often on their computers.
The peak speeds of the SN550 are around two-thirds as fast as those of a pricier drive like the BarraCuda 510 or the S70, but that’s still four times the speed of an equivalently priced M.2 SATA drive. That means there’s no reason to buy an M.2 SATA SSD over the SN550, though the BarraCuda 510 or the S70 may be worth springing for if you’re regularly loading huge games or exporting large video files.
We generally recommend the 500 GB version, but the SN550 also comes in a 1 TB variant if you need more space. All versions are covered by a five-year warranty, and the 500 GB version has a 300 TBW durability rating, in line with more expensive drives.
Reviewers acknowledge that the SN550 isn’t the fastest PCI Express SSD you can buy, especially if you often copy or write large files regularly (exporting large videos, for example). But they praise its value: Dong Knows Tech calls it a “great find” for home use, and Storage Review says it’s “a good (and very affordable) option for users looking to enhance overall system performance when matched to SATA SSDs and HDDs.”
Western Digital provides a copy of Acronis True Image with all of its SSDs, which you can use to clone your old drive to your new one if you don’t want to move things manually or start over with a new installation of Windows. And the Western Digital SSD Dashboard is a lightweight and easy-to-use tool for checking on your drive’s health and performing firmware updates and other diagnostics.
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Also great: Crucial MX500
Crucial MX500 (500 GB)
If you’re upgrading an older laptop or desktop that can’t use an M.2 NVMe Best SSD—a group that includes most computers made before 2016 or so—buy the 500 GB Crucial MX500. It’s available in both 2.5-inch and M.2 SATA versions, and although it isn’t the fastest or cheapest SATA SSD, it does offer the best combination of speed and price you can find. Plus, it offers useful features like hardware encryption support and a five-year warranty. Crucial doesn’t make an mSATA version of the MX500, so if you’re using an older ultrabook that needs such a drive, your best option as of this writing is Kingston’s SSDNOW UV500.
In regular use, you’d be unlikely to notice a speed difference between the MX500 and much more expensive SATA drives. Drive benchmarks from reviewers at AnandTech and Tom’s Hardware show that the MX500 is occasionally 10 to 20 percent slower in some individual tests than Samsung’s 860 Evo drives, and it consumes a bit more power, but its overall performance is better than that of the rest of the competition and near the limits of the SATA interface.
In a review of the 1 TB version of the MX500, AnandTech’s Billy Tallis writes that the drive “isn’t at the top of every benchmark” but also notes that “it is clearly a top-tier choice.” In a review of the 500 GB version, Tallis says that while it is slower than the 1 TB version, it still comes with no major shortcomings and is “easy to recommend.”
Crucial offers the MX500 in a typical range of capacities: The 2.5-inch SATA drive is available in 250 GB, 500 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB versions, while the M.2 SATA drive comes in 250 GB, 500 GB, and 1 TB versions. The 500 GB MX500’s limited warranty lasts for five years or 180 TBW (terabytes written), whichever comes first. That coverage is not quite as good the 300-and-up TBW rating of our other picks, but you would still need to completely fill up the MX500 once every 10 days to even come close to wearing that drive out in less than five years. Most people just don’t use their computers that way.
The MX500 supports native encryption acceleration—something not found in other SATA SSDs in its price range—and comes with a (Windows-only) license for the Acronis True Image data-transfer software if you need help moving your stuff over from your old drive. The (also Windows-only) Crucial Storage Executive software comes in handy if you want to monitor your drive’s health or install firmware updates. And Crucial includes a spacer (7.5 mm to 9 mm) with the 2.5-inch version of the MX500, so it can fit more snugly in older laptops designed to use thicker hard drives.