Best External SSD for Gaming in 2020 (October Reviews)

To help you find the best external SSD for gaming, in addition to video editing and general computing applications, we have tried out a multitude of top models, testing them for efficiency, ensuring they delivered on their promise of read/write speeds up to 540 MB/s or above, helping to load games quickly and efficiently. We also liked products that were available in plenty of size options and those that were made from high quality components, minimizing risk of accidental damage.

The best product we tried was easily the Samsung (MU-PA500B/AM)T5 Portable External SSD, which offers exceptional read and write speeds, up to 540 MB/s, with sequential read and write performance levels of up to 3,500MB/S and 3,300MB/S, respectively. We loved the slim and portable form factor, availability in sizes up to 2 TB and the long-lasting warranty of three years. Keep reading to learn more about the Samsung (MU-PA500B/AM)T5 Portable External SSD and the other items on this list.

Top 6 Best External SSD for Gaming

 #1  Samsung (MU-PA500B/AM)T5 Portable External SSD

Award: TOP PICK

WHY WE LIKE IT: Fantastic product with read and write speeds up to 540 MB/s, an aluminum exterior that protects against accidental damage and a long-lasting 3 year warranty, that excels with use in gaming consoles and connected to laptops.

Pros
  • Best for gaming laptop
  • Aluminum exterior protects against accidental drops
  • 3 year warranty
Cons
  • Formatting to Mac takes a few minutes
  • Requires driver downloads
  • Included USB cable is short, at 16 inches

The Samsung (MU-PA500B/AM)T5 Portable External SSD is a slim and portable product, easily fitting into most pockets and bags, with read/write speeds up to 540 MB/s and sequential read and write performance levels of up to 3,500MB/S and 3,300MB/S, making this the best external hard drive for a gaming laptop. The aluminum exterior is highly durable and can protect against accidental drops of up to two meters and it comes with a long-lasting three year warranty.

Though this item excels with PCs and gaming devices right out of the box, it does require a few minutes of formatting before it can operate with Apple computers, though you are good to go after doing that. Additionally, the included USB cable is rather short, which may not be long enough for some consumers, though you can easily purchase a longer cable. It is the best ssd on our list.

 #2  SanDisk 2TB Extreme Portable External SSD

Award: HONORABLE MENTION

WHY WE LIKE IT: Fast drive, up to 550 MB/s, with a ruggedly designed frame that is water-resistant, dust-resistant and shock-resistant and shipping with a similar 3 year warranty to our top pick.

Pros
  • Best rugged (water-resistant & dust-resistant)
  • Shock-resistant frame
  • 3 year warranty
Cons
  • Top pick offers slightly more drop protection
  • Can get warm with prolonged use
  • Mac computers require reformatting

This SanDisk 2TB Extreme Portable External SSD is an extremely quick and reliable product, with read and write speeds up to 550 MB/s, and features an extremely high quality and durable external casing that is shock-resistant, IP55 water-resistant and dust-resistant. We also loved that this drive is available in sizes up to 2 TB and comes with a fantastic three year warranty, two features in line with our top pick.

Though this item does integrate nicely with Mac OS-enabled devices, it will require a reformat and driver download, though it operates right out of the box with gaming consoles and PCs. Also, we found that this product can get warm with prolonged use, though it doesn’t seem to impact performance. The best external ssd should be fast and reliable.

 #3  WD 500GB My Passport Go External SSD

Award: BEST FOR PS4

WHY WE LIKE IT: Extremely portable drive, weighing just 1.6 oz and featuring a built-in USB cable, with rubber bumpers to help protect against vibrations and accidental drops and a similar 3 year warranty to our top picks.

Pros
  • Also the best portable
  • Shock-resistant frame
  • Rubber bumper helps protect against shaking and drops
Cons
  • Read and write speeds up to 400 MB/s
  • Requires driver downloads
  • No password protection

The WD 500GB My Passport Go External SSD is available in multiple sizes, including a 2 TB SSD external model, and is the most portable product on this list, with a built-in USB cord and a light form factor, as it weighs just 1.6 ounces. We also loved the durable frame and rubber bumper enclosure and the efficient integration with Sony PlayStation 4 consoles. The three year warranty is also fantastic and in line with our top picks.

Though this is a high quality drive, the read and write speeds are slightly lower than our top picks, maxing out at around 400 MB/s, though it still loads games quickly. Additionally, there is no password protection out of the box, though you can download third party software. For console gaming, check out the best external hard drive for ps4.

 #4  Seagate Game Drive External SSD

Award: BEST FOR XBOX

WHY WE LIKE IT: Designed from the ground up for gamers, boasting increased load speeds and a 2 month free trial to Xbox Game Pass, with sizes available up to 2 TB and availability in multiple design options, suiting the tastes of most gamers.

Pros
  • Multiple gaming-centric design options
  • Up to 2 TB capacity
  • 3 year warranty
Cons
  • Not as portable as some items on list
  • Needs drivers for Mac or PC use
  • Included USB cable is only several inches long

The Seagate Game Drive External SSD is perfectly suited for Xbox gamers, thanks to a series of tweaks that decrease load times and a free two month trial to Xbox Game Pass, which allows for the playing of hundreds of recently released titles. The maximum read and write speeds are 540 MB/s, which is in line with our top pick, and it ships with a fantastic three year warranty.

Though this item excels with gaming devices, particularly the Xbox One, it does require some driver downloads to integrate with Macs or PCs, though they don’t take long to install. Also, this drive is somewhat portable, but not quite as pocket-friendly as other items on this list. For Xbox gaming, the best external hard drives for xbox one is a great idea.

 #5  Pioneer 3D NAND External SSD

Award: BEST BUDGET

WHY WE LIKE IT: Budget-friendly product with a compact form factor, a shock-resistant casing and instant integration with Apple Mac computers, without the need for a lengthy reformat.

Pros
  • Best for Mac gamers
  • Shock-resistant external casing
  • 3 year warranty
Cons
  • Speeds up to 400 MB/s
  • Only available in sizes up to 960 GB
  • Included USB cable extremely short, at 2 inches

This Pioneer 3D NAND External SSD is a budget-friendly model that doesn’t skimp on the high end features, with a durable and shock-resistant casing and a highly compact and pocket-sized form factor. We also loved that it integrated immediately with Apple Mac computers, which is perfect for Steam gamers, and that it came with a long-lasting warranty of three years, a feature in line with our top picks.

Though this item is certainly much speedier than hard disk drives, the maximum read and write speeds are slightly lower than our top picks, at 400 MB/s. Additionally, it is only available in sizes up to 960 GB, whereas our top picks can be purchased as large as 2 TB. Compare it to the best internal hard drive.

 #6  Sabrent Rocket Nano External Aluminum SSD

Award: FASTEST

WHY WE LIKE IT: Fastest drive on this list, featuring maximum read/write speeds of 1000 MB/s, with a plug-and-play design that does not require drivers and an extremely light form factor, weighing just 1.6 oz.

Pros
  • Best for graphically intensive games
  • No drivers required
  • Extremely light and compact
Cons
  • 1 year warranty
  • Included USB cable on the short side
  • Does not include encryption software

This Sabrent Rocket Nano External Aluminum SSD is a highly advanced product that boasts maximum read/write speeds of 1000 MB/s, the fastest metric on this list, and an extremely light and compact form factor, as it weighs just 1.6 ounces. The ultra-fast 10Gbps throughput makes this the best drive for graphically intensive games, particularly on laptops. We also loved the plug-and-play design, which does not require the download of drivers, and the durable aluminum alloy shell.

Though this is a well made and durable drive, the warranty on offer is only for one year, which is shorter than the three years that comes with several of our picks. Also, it does not include encryption software, which could be an issue for some consumers.

How We Decided

To help narrow down to the above list, we focused primarily on high quality products that delivered on their promise to exponentially increase the speeds typically found with hard disk drives. To that end, the minimum speed requirement was 400 MB/s, while most products hovered around 540 MB/s, though one drive ascended to 1000 MB/s. During our testing, we made sure that the advertised speeds were achieved, though must note that in order to maintain these high speeds you’ll need good cables and good ports on your computer or gaming console.

As far as build quality goes, we liked items that were made with durable components, such as aluminum alloy, that were rated to survive falls of up to two meters. We also liked drives that boasted some form of protection against water, dust and the kinds of vibrations that can cause accidental damage.

We also made sure to populate the above list with a wide variety of drives that are efficient at a multitude of computing tasks, in addition to gaming. To that end, however, we made sure each drive functioned nicely with gaming laptops and video game consoles. Finally, we liked products that offered long lasting warranties of at least one year and maxing out at three years.

Best External SSD for Gaming Buyer’s Guide

The Most Important Features to Consider

  1. Read and Write Speeds
    These products offer much more speed and efficiency than what is typically found with hard disk drives. They can eliminate load times during gaming sessions and make video editing an absolute breeze, among speeding up other intensive computing tasks. Even our slowest featured SDDs still move files at around 400 MB/s, which is several times faster than HDDs. In short, you’ll be pleased with just how fast these drives can go, no matter which you choose.
  2. Durability and Portability
    These are usually much pricier than HDDs, so you are going to want to protect your investment. To that end, make sure your chosen hard drive is manufactured using high quality materials, including aluminum alloy. Many of our picks feature rugged external cases that can resist damage caused by accidental drops, up to two meters, and some are water-resistant and dust-resistant. Many of the above products are also extremely portable, often just weighing several ounces and fitting easily into a pocket or bag.
  3. Drive Size
    Solid state drives are available in a wide variety of size options, though we capped our picks at 2 TB, as larger drives tend to be much more costly. To that end, the most popular external SSD for gaming is 500 GB, as these can usually be found much cheaper than 1 TB or 2 TB models. Even 500 GB will give you plenty of room to use these drives as boot disks or to store plenty of photos, videos or games. For storing a multitude of modern games, however, you may want to err on the side of caution and go with a 2 TB drive.

External SSD for Gaming FAQs

Is an external SSD worth it?

We like to think so. The prices on solid state drives have gone down significantly in recent years, making them an affordable and high quality option for storage. SSDs offer much more speed and flexibility over their HDD counterparts.

Can you run games off an external SSD?

Absolutely. All of the above products can be used to run Steam games on PCs or Macs, in addition to integrating nicely with the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Switch. They offer superior load times to HDDs.

What are the best SDD brands?

There are many companies that manufacture high quality solid state drives, including Samsung, Western Digital and Seagate. These companies have been on the forefront of storage technology for years.

Which lasts longer SDD or HDD?

Modern solid state drives generally last somewhat longer than hard disk drives, though they can experience non-catastrophic data errors. Older SDDs, however, can be prone to failure, so we made sure to populate the above list with newer models.

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Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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