A young man in a dark room gaming on a PC.

What do SSDs do for gaming?

Drawing of an M.2 SSD

Are SSDs of use to today’s gamers? Gamers who are looking to get the highest performance from their computers have turned to SSDs – the premium hard drive that is technically not a hard drive. Hard drives are the traditional magnetic platter storage drives (HDD) that have been used since the mid-1950s.

You often see SSD in reference to solid-state drives. But you just as often see it referred to as SSD drive – also solid-state drive. These types of redundancies are common with initialisms: see ‘ATM machine’ or ‘CPU unit’. But instead of fixating on a trivial issue, let's see what all the SSD talk is about and why gamers should be thinking of SSDs.

First, let's talk SSD basics. In the late 2000s SSDs started to become a more popular choice for computer storage. Today, it is recognized as a premium alternative to the once-ubiquitous magnetic HDD (hard disk drive). For good reason. Today, you will see SSDs in both computers and gaming consoles.

An SSD is a storage medium that uses non-volatile (flash) memory to hold and access data, unlike an HDD. In other words, there are no moving mechanical parts as there are with an HDD. And because it has no moving parts, an SSD is very stable and better suited to handle drops, shakes, shocks, and everyday wear and tear. This means they’re more reliable and less apt to experience data loss.

SSDs are 35 to 100 times faster than HDDs. What does this mean for gamers? A machine that has superior performance because of its faster boot times, data movement, and higher bandwidth. Additionally, faster speeds mean SSDs can handle data at the ultra-high speeds necessary in today's gaming world. With Microsoft releasing the DirectStorage API for Windows, games can potentially tap into these fast transfer rates for even quicker load times too.

So, how does all of this translate into the world of gaming? It should be no surprise gamers love the performance offered by SSDs. Speed, reliability, and energy efficiency are heavy-duty factors in the enjoyment of playing games. These are the mainstays of solid-state drives. Are SSDs good for gaming? It might be what they’re best at.

Among the different types of SSDs available, NVMe™ (Non-Volatile Memory Express) SSD is perhaps the best overall for gaming. This is because their read/write speeds – critical for today's sophisticated games – are at the high-end of the spectrum and help reduce the loathed latency factor, which can hamstring game performance. (NVMe SSDs' read/write speeds range from 1000 to over 7000MB/s, depending on whether it's a Gen 3 or Gen 4; SATA SSDs generally have read/write speeds of 500/500MB/s.)

Is 500GB enough for gaming? It depends what your goals are. Triple-A PC games often weigh in at over 100GB, meaning that maybe only a handful of the industry’s bigger games would fit onto an SSD of that size. For gamers who rotate their focuses between different games from month to month, having a larger backup HDD may be beneficial, reserving the SSD for actively-used games that need the faster read/write speed and reduced latency.

Opened PS5 showing the M.2 SSD slot

NVMe SSDs are so much more impressive than the alternatives that game consoles (specifically the PS5) exclusively use high-speed NVMe SSDs for storage. The PS5™ comes with an effective 667GB of storage (nominally 825GB, though a significant portion is taken up with the console’s OS). How much SSD do you need for gaming on the PS5? Only NVMe PCIe 4.0 drives with a speed of 5,500MB/s and a capacity of 250GB or more are compatible with Sony’s most in-demand console. PlayStation® now gives users the ability to install internal M.2 factor SSDs like the Kingston FURY™ Renegade SSD. This means that you'll still be able to use the original 825GB SSD storage along with the new space you're soon to add with that M.2 SSD. External drives, such as the Kingston XS2000 portable SSD, cannot be used to play games, but can store them. With many of the best PS5 games requiring 40-60GB of storage space, offloading to an external SSD is beneficial.

Xbox®, both Series X and S, come with onboard SSDs (1TB and 512GB, respectively). In reality, Xbox Series X has just 802GB of space usable for games, with Xbox Series S offering just 364GB. Unlike the PS5, there are only two storage expansion options. One being a custom memory card-style SSD and the other being a USB flash drive like the Kingston DataTraveler Kyson. This may be more appropriate when looking for an affordable alternative with high capacities.

SSDs are coming down in price and are available in more and larger storage options, up to 8TB, than ever before. Whether you’re augmenting a console, building a new gaming rig, or improving a trusty old PC, now is always a good a time to purchase an SSD.

#KingstonFURY #KingstonIsWithYou

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