Leaderboard – Best Hard Drive, SSD and Storage Solutions

The StorageReview Leaderboard briefly describes the storage solutions that we believe are the best in their given categories. Note, however, that these capsule comments are not a substitute for the full reviews of the drives.  SMB and enterprise users may also be interested in our dedicated enterprise storage reviews section.

The StorageReview Leaderboard briefly describes the storage solutions that we believe are the best in their given categories. Note, however, that these capsule comments are not a substitute for the full reviews of the drives.  SMB and enterprise users may also be interested in our dedicated enterprise storage reviews section.

You can also check out the page with all our reviews for a complete and detailed analyses of storage solutions from all sectors.

SSD (Solid State Drives)

NVMe SSDs

NVM Express (NVMe) drives offer tremendous speed compared to traditional SATA SSDs, all inside a tiny form factor smaller than a stick of RAM.

For performance-driven models, look no further than the Samsung 970 Pro. Though expensive and a bit older, this is still one the fastest consumer drives we have reviewed to date and has set the bar very high in this category with its performance. The Intel 900P is also a very impressive NVMe drive, as it demonstrates how much low-latency storage can have on the applications that can take advantage of it. It’s easily the best end-user SSD available right now.

The leader in QLC NAND client SSDs the Sabrent  Rocket Q4, while the Corsair MP400 is another great choice, featuring a good price point and some of the best read performance we’ve seen for its class.

The WD_BLACK AN1500 is a gaming AIC SSD drive that offers a boost without needing to go to a PCIe Gen4 platform yet. It features a pretty significant read boost that should translate into less time waiting and more time playing.

There are also a range of good mainstream options targeted towards end users who want the benefits of NVMe technology in a more affordable package. This includes the usual Western Digital Black and Kingston A1000, both of which are ideal for those looking to upgrade their system for light workloads without diving too deep in their pockets. The Sabrent ROCKET is a more recent release and is ideal for those looking for an inexpensive NVMe solution but are not too worried about getting the best performance possible.

More recently, we were thoroughly impressed with the SK hynix Gold P31, the company’s first consumer-grade drive that features a fantastic price point and overall impressive performance. We highly recommend this drive for those looking for an inexpensive, performance-driven consumer SSD.

As for budget-friendly drives, the ADATA XPG SX8200 is a solid choice. Though it is marketed as a high-performer, it is better fitted in the mainstream NVMe SSD category due to its cost and performance.  The Crucial P2 NVMe SSD is certainly one of the slower drives we tested, but it is an ultra-affordable NVMe drive that is priced at the expense of write performance. A lot of consumers on a budget find this an easy buy. In addition, the OWC Aura P12 NVMe M.2 SSD combines decent NVMe performance with affordability (under $200 for the 1TB model), making it another great choice for those looking to upgrade their system to the speedy SSD interface at a reasonable cost.

Lastly, the Kingston KC2500 is ideal for consumers who need a cost-effective NVMe SSD that is also a great performer while the WD Blue SN500 is a sub-$55 entry price SSD for an overall impressive package in the price-per-performance category.

PCIe Gen4 – The new PCIe Gen4 x4 NVMe 1.3 interface is here, and with it, comes some very impressive potential numbers. This new technology is a pretty big leap over the previous generation, offering a huge increase in both random and sequential performance, though it’s currently only supported by AMD processors. Right now, there aren’t a lot of releases on the market, but that number is seemingly increasing as the months go by and as compatibility becomes more widespread.

That said, the Samsung 980 PRO PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD is the best-performing consumer drive we’ve tested to date (a bar that has not been exceeded in quite some time), more than doubling the numbers of its competitors in some areas. Though pricey, the 980 Pro is a must-buy premium drive and is certainly worth dishing out the extra ~$50, especially if for enthusiasts who have a system that supports the technology.

The WD_BLACK SN850 PCIe 4.0 is, surprisingly, a serious contender to overthrow the 980 Pro. It is easily one of the best consumer-grade drives on the market today and the leader in read performance by leaps and bounds. We highly anticipate the next Black release from WD.

Though not as good as the Samsung 980 PRO, the Sabrent Rocket NVMe 4.0 SSD still offers good performance for its price point and would make a solid storage option for those leveraging PCIe Gen4 in their machines.

The Silicon Power US70 PCIe 4.0 is the more affordable one of the bunch, though the performance isn’t quite there yet.

SATA SSDs

Performance SATA – As far as SATA goes, the Samsung SSD 860 Pro still offers best-of-class end-user performance for SATA SSDs and is a complete in-house solution filled with Samsung components through and through. The SanDisk Extreme Pro is also a great solution with a hefty 10-year warranty.

Mainstream SATA – Buyers can now get a ton of value from mainstream SATA 6.0Gb/s SSDs as prices continue to come down. The biggest concerns for most SSD buyers are about reliability and perhaps a little less about top-tier performance. Not that SSDs in this class can’t perform, they certainly do and most users won’t “feel” that much of a difference between the performance SSD class and the more cost competitive mainstream category.

The Samsung 860 EVO is one of our top choices for consumer SATA drives. The older Samsung 850 EVO (along with the 2TB model and 4TB capacities) are also still very relevant.

The newer Seagate FireCuda 120 is a specialized and slickly-branded SSD with a high TBW and good overall performance, making it a great choice for gamers or simply those looking for a high-capacity SATA SSD. In addition, the affordable OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G brings 4TB capacity to the table with consistent performance for those looking to upgrade their system to an SSD-based rig.

Older consumer SSDs that focus more on their price tag include:

  • Crucial MX500 and BX300, which offers decent performance and a good replacement option for an aging HDD
  • Seagate BarraCuda, which features a 5-year warranty and aggressive pricing

NAS – The Nytro 3530 SSD is an impressive drive and a clear leader in the entry-enterprise SAS category, specifically for those who need a 24×7, low power SSD solution.

The Seagate IronWolf 125 is an impressive NAS specific SATA SSD, boasting very good numbers in our benchmarks (particularly in iSCSI configuration) with a reasonable price tag.

3.5″ Desktop Hard Drives

Enthusiast – Our current top choice for consumer performance hard drives is the newly revised WD Black 6TB. It is simply faster than all other desktop drives in virtually every benchmark with a huge capacity point, which is perfect those looking for SSD alternatives. When lower cost is required, the Hitachi Deskstar 7K4000 is still a very good option.  As far as high capacity goes, the Seagate BarraCuda Pro 10TB HDD is one of the largest desktop hard drive available and comes with strong performance in several categories.

Mainstream – As SSDs are now the focus of mainstream system builds, we are seeing fewer and fewer new releases of Hard Disk Drives. However, we still have our favorites. For always-on applications like home servers, the Seagate Barracuda LP and the Seagate Desktop HDD15 are nice choices due to their lowest-in-class idle power consumption. If you want to take the step up to a 4TB drive, look at the new Hitachi Deskstar 5K4000.

NAS HDDs – The Seagate IronWolf 18TB is the highest capacity drive to date, giving SMBs the performance they need our of a hard drives while allowing them to pack more density in the same footprint.

Though a bit behind in performance, the Seagate Exos X16 16TB HDD offers density and capacity that many organizations need.

The Toshiba N300 excels in NAS environments and other high-performance storage systems while showing solid performance and a focus on reliability while the WD Red (14TB) is another great choice for those to add a bit of performance to their NAS solution.

2.5″ Notebook Hard Drives

Hybrid Hard Drives –  The WD Blue 1TB and Toshiba SSHD are two options to give hard drive users a modest bump in speed.

Enthusiast – In all of our testing, one notebook drive continues to rise to the top – the Western Digital Scorpio Black. After two years, the 320GB Scorpio Black is still a great drive, bested only by the recent release of its bigger brother, the 500GB Scorpio Black. The Cruicial MX100 SSD is also a good choice for consumers looking to upgrade their laptops to a solid-state based system, especially for those looking for good gaming performance.

Portable Storage

Memory cards –Lexar has released the Professional CFexpress Type B card, the company’s next-gen flash media specifically designed for next-gen cameras, which feature higher image resolutions and color depth. The new Lexar card supports both two lanes of PCI Express Gen 3 protocol and is native NVMe. This card was so fast that it even performed well across all of our workloads designed for actual SSD, something that we have never seen before. It is leaps and bounds better than other memory media. If you are a professional photographer and need the best, this is a must buy.

Though applications for SD cards are becoming rarer as technology gets smaller, Samsung still released their newest UHS-I (U3, Class 10) iterations with the Samsung PRO Plus SDXC and Samsung EVO Plus SDXC cards. These newest offerings from the company provide solid performance and the same Samsung reliability we are use to seeing.

The Samsung EVO Plus/PRO Endurance lines are also one of the best choices in the microSD category.

The Micron c200 is also a solid high-capacity, well-rounded option, which brings capacity, affordability and performance to a space that can usually only deliver two of these. Though a little more expensive, the 1TB SanDisk Extreme UHS-I microSDXC Card offers a great combination of capacity and performance to make price tag seem a little more reasonable.

USB – Portable USB storage has seen some really impressive releases lately. There is a lot to like with the recent SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD V2 (a powerful, compact portable SSD the checks all the right boxes) and the more affordable SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD V2 (a perfect solution for photographers, videographers and prosumers) are great choices.

The WD My Passport NVMe SSD and the always-impressive Samsung T7 are two other great portable NVMe choices.

Those looking for the ultimate protection for their portable storage should look no further than LaCie’s Rugged line. The LaCie Rugged SSD iteration features a protective rubber-shell for those needing an ultra-durable solution that protects against falls, shocks, and the elements, combined with speedy NVMe performance. The LaCie Rugged BOSS is a unique offering that has all the durability features of the Rugged line, but is highlighted by its very cool-looking LCD and ability to be managed on the fly.

Solid choices focused on the gaming demographic include the Seagate FireCuda Gaming SSD (a portable drive with strong performance, good pricing, and a rugged build) and the Seagate Game Drive for Xbox (CyberPunk 2077 edition) (a nice-looking drive that performs well).

Desktop Storage (DAS)

Performance – LaCie has thrived in this area due to the premium design and advanced technology used with all of their devices. Creative professionals looking to streamline their workflow with a big capacity bump should look into the LaCie 1big Dock, as it goes up to 16TB. However, for professionals who need extra speed, the company offers the LaCie 1big Dock SSD Pro. This dock comes with dual Thunderbolt 3 ports and an internal NVMe SSD to hit speeds up to 2.8GB/s.

Although a bit older, the LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 still provides some pretty impressive numbers with its two PCIe SSDs cranking out roughly 1300MB/s read performance. We also highly recommend the LaCie 5big Thunderbolt 2, as it offers users upwards of 30TB in capacity as well as great performance and a variety of RAID configurations. The G-Technology G-SPEED Studio 4-bay–a direct competitor to the 5Big–is also a very good DAS, providing consumers with a high capacity point, great performance, and a very easy-to-use RAID manager; all at a reasonable price.

Single Drive – As data requirements grow, so does the importance of high capacity desktop storage solutions at a reasonable price. These may be less in storage capacity compared to the multi-drive devices, but they are only of a fraction of the price and are catered towards people who don’t need 30TB in storage.  As such, the Seagate Backup Plus External Hard Drive offers 8TB in available storage on just a single drive.

Another option is the LaCie d2 Professional, which offers decent performance for external spinning media and 10TB in capacity inside a small footprint.

Home/SOHO Network Storage

Large NAS (more than 5 bays) – We’re big fans of pretty much anything Synology when it comes to this category, such as with the new DS1515+ (5-bay) and the DS1815+ (8-bay), both which boast from pretty great performance along with the reliability that comes with the company’s storage solutions.

Smaller NAS (less than 5) – The QNAP TS-451 NAS is a powerful NAS for home, small, and medium businesses along with an HDMI port.

As far as affordability and simplicity goes, the WD My Cloud Mirror (as well as its entire line of My Cloud devices) is a very competitively priced and robust NAS that has a consumer-centric feature-set as well as the easiest setup on the market. The Synology DS220j is a great entry-level “j” line NAS that gives all the benefits of DSM inside a tightly packed and affordable 2-bay NAS, while the DS720 brings more power to those that need a small powerful NAS to start, but desire a lower initial investment with 5-bays of expansion capability if needed.