(Pocket-lint) - Adding extra storage to your PC, whether you've built it with gaming in mind or want to use it for work, is a great way to get a bit more space, and thankfully doesn't have to mean a big spending spree.
Some of the simplest and quickest options out there are SATA-powered 2.5-inch SSDs, which have the advantage of being significantly faster than traditional hard drives, as well as being much smaller. They're really easy to install, and most come with instructions in case you're not clear on that side of things.
Testing these drives is an involved task that involves slotting them into our team's PCs and testing their raw speed and transfer mettle, as well as working out which represent the best value in relation to their quality, and it's a process that we go through carefully.
We've gathered some of the very best options on the market for you, right here, comprising options at a few price points.
Our Top Pick
Samsung 870 EVO
- Great speeds
- Reliable lifespan
- Not the cheapest
Samsung is one of the most well-respected names in the SSD business, and has been putting out superb drives for years now.
One of its most recent is the superb 870 EVO, which boasts impressive read and write speeds that both exceed 500MB/s.
It's a great option regardless of what use you're planning for it, gaming, professional or otherwise, and also represents really solid value, which is impressive given its freshness on the market.
2.5-inch SSDs that we also recommend
Here are four more models that also come highly recommended after our testing.
- Outstanding value
- Solid speeds
- Slightly ageing now
Crucial's MX500 has been a mainstay in this industry for years, and that sort of loyalty doesn't just come out of nowhere. It's a well-made, well-performing drive that doesn't cost the earth and will get the job done.
If you're looking for solid speed and a really reasonable price, this is a great bet. It might not be a spring chicken, but it's still a great value option.
SanDisk SSD Plus
- Again superb value
- Not the quickest
If value is your absolute top priority, though, you might want to go straight for this great drive from SanDisk, which is super affordable and therefore an easy way to upgrade your PC without spending too much.
That doesn't make it a slouch, though - this is a drive that can still reach very impressive speeds, and it's more than enough to impress if you're moving from older HDD tech.
- Small size options available
- Can be super cheap
- Limited speeds
If you're looking for a really cut-price way to get more storage, though, this might be the ultimate option. The cost of, for example, this version of this drive from Kingston is almost bafflingly low, meaning you could get it to move your OS files onto and hugely speed up your PC while spending a really small amount.
That's a powerful option, and it's one that's really unlocked by the pricing. Still, performance is also really solid, so it's a potent combination all in all.
HP S700 Pro
- Huge longevity
- Reliable for longer storage
- Pricier than most
If you're getting more into the detail of comparisons between drives you might start to notice that they're rated to last through certain amounts of use. All of the numbers touted are generally sky-high, but still - if you want a drive that's going to last for years and years, through multiple computers, this option from HP is a potent one.
It's rated to last for 2 million hours of use, which is a couple of centuries, so we don't see it failing any time soon. That means you can pick it up in confidence that it'll stand the test of time.
Other products we considered
The Pocket-lint editorial team spends hours testing and researching hundreds of products before recommending our best picks for you. We consider a range of factors when it comes to putting together our best guides including physically testing the products ourselves, consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. Many of the devices we consider don’t make our final best guides.
These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5:
How to buy a 2.5-inch SSD
There are a fair few questions you'll want to consider before you commit to buying a particular SSD for your PC - here are some of the key ones.
How quickly do you need your storage to be?
One of the key determinants for how expensive a drive becomes is down to how fast it is - both for reading and writing files. This is what you'll actually notice as you drag and drop files between drives, or transfer things off external memory, so it plays a big role in your usage.
You'll want to work out what speeds will work for you, perhaps in comparison to what your computer or laptop's current drive can manage, to get a sense of where to pitch yourself.
How much space do you need?
Another big question, and also important on the value front, is how much space you actually need. Are you looking to install chunky games to your SSD? Or is it really just for some extra folders of spreadsheets? Whether you need 128GB or 2TB will have a huge impact on your purchase.
What are you happy to spend?
On the flip side of the two questions above, and related to them as we've pointed out, is your budget. If you want to spend less than £50 or $50, you're going to be constrained by what you can find in that price range, but if you're happy to stretch the budget a bit more you should find that things open up and there are more options.
More about this story
Every product in this list has been tested in real-life situations, just as you would use it in your day-to-day life.
In the case of 2.5-inch SSDs, we put each device through its paces with speed tests, and by detailed comparison of their stats to establish which represent the best value for money. These tests comprise file transfers, installations and loading times.
We aren’t interested in pointless number crunching or extraneous details, though - we just want to provide an easy to understand review that gives you an idea of what it's going to be like to use. And don’t for a second think that the products aren't tested fully because the reviews are concise.
We’ve been covering tech since 2003, and, in many cases, have not only reviewed the product in question, but the previous generations, too - right back to the first model on the market. There is also plenty of models we've considered that didn't make the cut in each of our buyer's guides.
Writing by Max Freeman-Mills. Originally published on 20 January 2021.