Computer Hardware

How to Pick the Best SSD for HPC, PC Gaming or Workstations

March 12, 2021 • 10 min read


The Top 3 SSDs for High-Performance Computing (HPC), PC Gaming, and Desktop Workstations

If you are looking for the best Solid State Drive (SSD) for your High-Performance Computing (HPC), gaming desktop, or workstation, we have 3 recommendations.

The good news is that the SSD market is booming. SSDs have come a long way since being first introduced to the public in the 1990s. In the early 90's a 20MB SSD sold for over $1,000, making traditional hard drives far more attractive with their larger capacity and cheaper price. The improvements in speed and capacity for SSDs has led to a large reduction in price making them a must-have item in any PC or HPC build.

When SSDs were first released, they were almost used exclusively by corporate and enterprise customers because the price points were too high for the average PC user. With recent technology and manufacturing process improvements came the ability to manufacture SSDs at a lower cost.

So, if you think now is the time to consider adding an internal or external SSD, this guide should help fill in any blanks you have with this hardware. SSDs are a great way to upgrade to any computer.

What is an SSD?

Split and cut hard drives hdd

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You’ve probably heard of SSD’s before, but do you know what they actually do? We have a great article talking about SSD vs. HDD: The Difference Between Computer Storage, if you're looking for more detailed information. We recommend checking it out to learn more, but here's a quick comparison: SSDs simply use flash-memory chips to retrieve data whereas a hard disk drive uses an actual spinning disk with a mechanical arm that reads and writes information.

HDDs use moving mechanical parts, but SSDs use interconnected memory chips to store and retrieve data almost instantaneously.

HDD cut in half

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Moving from an HDD to an SSD is, without a doubt, the best upgrade you can make for your PC. The best SSD can obliterate those long boot times for your PC and applications, ramp up the load times for games and programs, and make you feel like you’ve got a brand-new PC!

However, not all SSDs are created equal, and there are a few things to look for as you select the best SSD for your PC.

The best SSDs are reliable, fast, and won’t suck power.

While SSDs can cost more than your standard HDD, it is a far cry from what it used to be. If you know where to look (hint hint, our SSD options are a great choice), you can often find an SSD with plenty of space for a fair price. Since an SSD also doesn't use moving parts, there is less wear and tear on the device meaning you won't replace them as often. Another added benefit – they are much smaller than HDDs making them able to fit into smaller PC cases.

The best part about SSDs is you don’t need a high-end PC to take advantage of the benefits of all that SSDs have to offer. No matter what PC you have (gaming, research, streaming, work, or home), you can add in or entirely replace your HDD. There is almost no scenario where an SSD is not worth purchasing for your desktop.

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Can I Install Both SSD & HDD in my Computer?

Yes, you can add an HDD and SDD into your computer at the same time. Some reasons why you may want to do this include:

  • Not wanting to migrate all the files already stored on your HDD
  • Not having a large enough SSD with enough storage for your current files
  • Wanting to use an SSD for just your boot drive

Since an HDD is so cheap for a massive amount of storage and an SSD is lightning-fast for reading and writing data, they work well together. You will just need to make sure you purchase the right SSD that is compatible with your system. Typically, there will be space in your PC to add some form of SSD, you just need to do your homework to make sure you have the available space and the correct slot for the SSD to be installed in.

A good SSD can help your PC boot up and run quickly and efficiently while utilizing your HDD for data and file storage. This maximizes your total data storage capabilities alongside the quick response times. It gives you an overall snappy performance of your machine.

How to Choose an SSD

The main thing you need to know in choosing an SSD is what kind of space and slots you are looking for. 

If you are going to completely replace your HDD with an even better SSD, then there isn't much to worry about. However, if you are wanting to add an SSD alongside your HDD, then you will want to pay close attention to the following notes.

SSDs come in three main physical forms:

  • 2.5-inch drives
  • M.2 drives
  • add-in-board (AIB) SSDs

These three physical forms have some critical differences. M.2 drives and AIB drives, for example, can sometimes transfer data using the same pathways as graphics cards and other hardware, which can slow the process down. All three forms can also transfer data using an unhindered pathway, if it is available. 2.5-inch drives can only use unhindered pathways, though, which you may not have available.

The most important thing to keep in mind when looking for the best SSD, is whether or not your system can actually accept the type of drive you want. Nine times out of ten, your PC will have plenty of space and available slots for a top-quality SSD, but it is always best to check before you purchase anything and make sure your new SSD will be compatible with all your PCIe slots.

The 3 Best SSDs to Buy

There are many SSDs to choose from, but the following 3 are highly recommended so you can have the best experience on your HPC, gaming desktop, or workstation. Each of these SSDs offer something unique in performance, price, and experience depending on your budget and requirements.

#1 Samsung 980 Pro

Price: $89.32-$484 (prices may change over time)

Samsung NAND SSD 980 Pro

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The Samsung 980 Pro series is the best overall bang for your buck. It is a little bit pricier than other options on our list, but you get what you pay for here. 

If you are going for performance and willing to pay for it, then the 980 Series is a great choice. The Samsung 980 Pro series of SSDs is the best jack-of-all-trades for solid state drives for 2021, which is why it is at the top of our list.

Specifications for the Samsung NAND SSD 980 Pro:

#2 Intel 760p Series

Price: $47.44-$213.57 (prices may change over time)

Intel 760p Series SSD

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The Intel 760P SSD is a little bit cheaper, but rivals the reading speed of most higher-end SSDs. This SSD is perfect if you are looking to drastically increase the boot time of your PC without having a hefty price tag. The specs for this SSD can clearly show you this is a great mid-range SSD, if that’s what you’re looking for in your computer.

Specifications for the Intel 760p Series:

#3 WD Blue SN550

Price: $53.64-$264.99 (prices may change over time)

WD Blue SN550 SSD

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For our 3rd best SSD, we are going to go with the WD Blue SN550. It is by far one of the cheapest options still giving you all the benefits a high-performing SSD has to offer. While it isn’t the highest performance SSD on the market, it has the whole package with some solid specs at a lower price point. It definitely packs a punch, and the added performance can be felt all around without the sticker shock of a high price tag. 

It’s definitely a great budget option that still offers some good performance all around.

Specifications for the WD Blue SN550 SSD:

Get More Helpful Insights in Our Other Articles

What's your favorite SSD from this list? If you are stuck on the fence, then we highly recommend the Samsung 980 Pro series as it offers the best of what SSDs have to offer at a fair price.

You can find other articles and comparisons about all your PC and Desktop needs on our SabrePC blog. Keep a lookout for more helpful articles that will be on the way soon. If you have any questions or want to suggest some other topics for us to focus on, please feel free to contact us.


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