How to choose the perfect storage drive

Internal storage drives within a PC determine how much data can be stored and at what speed it can be accessed. In the case of a gaming PC, this will impact the number of games you can have installed at once and how fast these, often very large, games load. For example the 2018 Call of Duty version occupied 80GB of drive space - in contrast the 2019 version requires 175GB. Therefore, it is easy to see that fast, high capacity storage is essential in most gaming PC builds. There are two main types of drive - hard disk drives (HDDs) with spinning disk platters, and solid state drives (SSDs) with no moving parts.

Gaming PC Storage Drives

High performance storage for
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HDD SSD COMPARISON
Perfomance up to 2000MB/sec More than 5000MB/sec SSDs up to 25x Faster
Access Time 5-8ms 0.1ms SSDs have almost no latency
Reliability 2-5% failure rate 0.5% failure rate SSDs much more reliable
Resiliance Susceptible to vibrations No moving parts SSDs much safer to install in laptops
Energy Use 6-15W 2-5W SDD much more energy efficient
Noise 20 - 40dB Silent No Noise from SSD
Capacity Up to 15TB Up to 15TB Similar to maximum capacity
Cost £-££ ££-£££ SSD more expensive at high capacity

From the above table, it is clear to see that an SSD out-performs an HDD in every attribute and so is the technology of choice for gaming PCs. However, there is a considerable cost difference between SSDs and HDDs. For this reason we recommend installing your most performance sensitive data, such as Windows and games on an SSD, and bulky data such as music and videos on an HDD as these won’t benefit from the faster performance of the SSD.

There are a number of SSD size options to choose from the large 2.5in and 3.5in formats to tiny M.2 drives that connect directly to the motherboard.

Alongside the size options there are also a number of SSD interface choices too - SATA, U.2 NVMe and M.2 NVMe. SATA is the traditional PC drive interface and offers the slowest throughput, whereas the two NVMe types allow much faster transfer speeds, especially if using PCIe 4.0.

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Storage Drives


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Storage Drives - Internal

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120GB to 550GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs

M.2 replaced the older mSATA standard. Available in 120, 128, 240, 256, 480, 500 and 512GB sizes the M.2 SSD connects to your device via an M.2 socket using the newer PCI Express NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) controller variant designed to fully utilise the capability of high-speed PCI Express storage devices to perform many I/O (in/out) operations in parallel. These SSD's can achieve read speeds in excess of 3000MB/s and write speeds over 2000MB/s making them the fastest available.

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600GB to 4TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs

M.2 replaced the older mSATA standard. Available in 960GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB & 8TB sizes the M.2 SSD Connects to your device via an M.2 Socket using the newer PCI Express NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) controller variant designed to fully utilize the capability of high-speed PCI Express storage devices to perform many I/O (in/out) operations in parallel. These SSD's can achieve Read speeds in Excess of 3000MB/s and Write speeds over 2000MB/s making them the fastest available.

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Tekspek An in-depth guide into tech: SSD Form Factors

120GB to 260GB M.2 SATA SSDs

While the M.2 connector can be used for PCIe SSDs, the ones here are SATA 6Gb/s only, so the benefits over standard 2.5" SATA drives are to do with space-saving, not speed. Available in 120, 128, 240, 250, and 256GB sizes they're perfect for small form factor systems and laptops, but make sure your M.2 slot works with SATA devices, and that it supports the SSD's size, both in length (2280 means 80mm long) and thickness.

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Tekspek An in-depth guide into tech: SSD Form Factors

120GB to 550GB M.2 SATA SSDs

While the M.2 connector can be used for PCIe SSDs, the ones here are SATA 6Gb/s only, so the benefits over standard 2.5" SATA drives are to do with space-saving, not speed. Available in 120, 240, 256, 480, 500 and 512GB sizes they're perfect for small form factor systems and laptops, but make sure your M.2 slot works with SATA devices, and that it supports the SSD's size, both in length (2280 means 80mm long) and thickness.

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Tekspek An in-depth guide into tech: SSD Form Factors

600GB to 2TB M.2 SATA SSDs

While the M.2 connector can be used for PCIe SSDs, the ones here are SATA 6Gb/s only, so the benefits over standard 2.5" SATA drives are to do with space-saving, not speed. Available in 1TB and 2TB sizes they're perfect for small form factor systems and laptops, but make sure your M.2 slot works with SATA devices, and that it supports the SSD's size, both in length (2280 means 80mm long) and thickness.

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Tekspek An in-depth guide into tech: SSD Form Factors

120GB to 480GB 2.5" SATA3 SSDs

Available in 120, 128, 240, 250, 256, 275 and 480GB capacities these SATA III 6Gb/s SSDs may no longer be the fastest around thanks to emerging PCIe SSDs, but they're the most cost-effective and are still easily fast enough for most users. You'll need a spare SATA 6Gb/s port to get the most from them, and a 2.5" capable drive bay - an adaptor may need to be bought, but most cases have at least one. These drives are suitable for holding an operating system, as well as numerous programs and a healthy collection of media and games.

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500GB to 1TB 2.5" SATA3 SSDs

Available in 500, 512, 525, 960GB and 1TB capacities these SATA III 6Gb/s SSDs may no longer be the fastest around thanks to emerging PCIe SSDs, but they're the most cost-effective and are still easily fast enough for most users. You'll need a spare SATA 6Gb/s port to get the most from them, and a 2.5" capable drive bay - an adaptor may need to be bought, but most cases have at least one. These drives are suitable for holding an operating system, as well as numerous programs and a healthy collection of media and games.

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1.5TB to 5TB 2.5" SATA3 SSDs

Available in 1.9TB, 2TB, 4TB and 5TB capacities these SATA III 6Gb/s SSDs may no longer be the fastest around thanks to emerging PCIe SSDs, but they're the most cost-effective and are still easily fast enough for most users. You'll need a spare SATA 6Gb/s port to get the most from them, and a 2.5" capable drive bay - an adaptor may need to be bought, but most cases have at least one. These drives are the highest capacity ones available, suitable for holding an operating system, as well as numerous programs and a healthy collection of media and games.

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500GB to 1TB 3.5" SATA Hard Drives

These 3.5" hard drives are available in 500GB, 750GB, and 1TB sizes and mostly utilise the newer SATA III 6Gb/s interface, ensuring as high speeds as possible with their mechanical technology, especially when using them in RAID. They're the most popular drives for today's desktop PCs, thanks to high spindle speeds, lots of cache and huge capacities.

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2TB to 4TB 3.5" SATA Hard Drives

These 3.5" hard drives are available in 2TB, 3TB, and 4TB sizes. They utilise the newer SATA III 6Gb/s interface, ensuring as high speeds as possible with their mechanical technology, especially when using them in RAID. They're the most popular drives for today's desktop PCs, thanks to high spindle speeds, lots of cache and huge capacities.

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5TB to 14TB 3.5" SATA Hard Drives

These 3.5" hard drives are available in 5TB, 6TB, 8TB, 10TB, 12TB, & now even 14TB sizes. They utilise the newer SATA III 6Gb/s interface, ensuring as high speeds as possible with their mechanical technology, especially when using them in RAID. They're the most popular drives for today's desktop PCs, thanks to high spindle speeds, lots of cache and huge capacities.

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500GB to 1TB 2.5" SATA Hard Drives

2.5" drives are significantly smaller than standard 3.5" ones, making them great candidates for upgrading the storage of your laptop or games console, especially as they're available in capacities of 500GB, 750GB and 1TB. Remember to check the height of the drives, as most portable or console systems only have bays which support 9.5mm drives or less. Also pay attention to the spin speed in rpm; while most drives here use the latest SATA III 6Gbps interface, faster spinning drives will read and write data faster.

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