When it comes to gaming, there’s a common misconception that the speed of your Solid State Drive (SSD) will directly impact your in-game performance—your frame rates, your character’s responsiveness, and so on. Let’s set the record straight: SSDs won’t give you an edge in the actual gameplay. Your GPU and CPU play the starring roles there. However, SSDs do make a difference in in-game loading times, saving games, and loading in-game assets.
In this context, any NVMe drive with decent speeds will generally suffice. A PCIe 3.0 SSD is more than enough for most gaming builds. However, you can go for PCIe 4.0 or 5.0 drives if you have enough budget.
But if you’re looking for a more fluid experience, an SSD with read/write speeds exceeding 3000 MB/s can be considered good. It’s worth noting that while sequential read/write speeds—often the most advertised metrics—are important, they aren’t the end-all-be-all for gaming. Random performance, or how quickly an SSD can access small files scattered across its storage, is often more crucial for gaming scenarios.
For random scores, if your drive is capable of giving 70-80 MB/s read and 180-220 MB/s write random performance in Random 4KB Q1T1 scores, it is well and good for gaming.
This article aims to dissect these aspects in detail, helping you understand what to look for in an SSD to enhance your gaming experience, beyond just the headline-grabbing speed figures.
Let’s dig a little deeper into this topic and reveal the total speed and type of speed you need to enhance your gaming experience.
Random vs Sequential Read/Write speed for gaming
Before starting, it is important to know the concepts of sequential and random read/write performance and their applications in gaming computers.
Sequential speeds, often the more advertised metric, refer to how quickly large files can be read or written in a single, uninterrupted sequence. This is important for tasks like transferring large game files. On the other hand, random read/write speeds indicate how quickly an SSD can access small, scattered files. This is vital for gaming, where quick access to numerous small files like textures and game assets is required. While both are important, random performance often has a more direct impact on your gaming experience.
Gaming scenarios and data read/write speed
|Gaming Criteria||Application of Sequential Speed||Application of Random Speed|
|Game Installation||High: Large files are transferred sequentially from the source to the SSD.||Low: Rarely involves accessing small, scattered files.|
|Game Loading Times||Moderate: Initial game files are often large and loaded sequentially.||High: Quick access to numerous smaller files like textures and maps is crucial.|
|Level Loading||Moderate: Some level data may be large and loaded sequentially.||High: Levels often consist of multiple small files that need to be accessed quickly.|
|Saving Game Progress||Low: Usually involves writing small amounts of data.||High: Save files often contain multiple small data points that need to be written quickly.|
|In-Game Asset Loading||Low: Rarely involves large, sequential file transfers.||High: Real-time access to small files like textures, audio clips, and objects is essential.|
|Patch and Update Installation||High: Patches often come as large files that are written sequentially.||Moderate: Some updates may involve changes to multiple smaller files.|
|Multiplayer Gaming||Low: Network latency is more critical than SSD speed.||Moderate: Quick access to small, frequently updated files can improve responsiveness.|
|Game File Backup and Restoration||High: Involves transferring large, contiguous files.||Low: Rarely involves small, scattered files.|
While sequential speeds are crucial for tasks involving large file transfers, such as game installation and patch updates, random speeds take precedence in real-time gaming experiences. These include game and level loading times, saving progress, and in-game asset rendering. The key takeaway is that both types of speeds are important, but their relevance varies. For a well-rounded gaming experience, an SSD should ideally offer a balanced performance in both sequential and random read/write operations. Therefore, it’s essential to consider both metrics when choosing an SSD for gaming.
SSD Speed and game loading (Ready to Play)
Well, the best way to find out the practical difference is to test different SSDs on the same system and see the difference in actual Ready-To-Play times. So, here is a great video for you. Here, the system is utilizing AMD Ryzen 5 5600X OC 4.7GHz CPU with 32GB of DDR5 3600MHz RAM. The GPU is RTX 3070 8GB.
The video shows the difference between the loading times when the system is using a Hard Drive, SATA SSD, and a Gen 3.0 NVMe SSD.
|Game||HDD||SATA SSD||Samsung 970 EVO Plus Gen 3.0 SSD|
|CyberPunk 2077||29.4 Seconds||9.7 Seconds||8 Seconds|
|Assassin’s Creed Valhalla||40.8 Seconds||12.9 Seconds||11.8 Seconds|
|Horizon Zero Dawn||22.5 Seconds||8.5 Seconds||8.5 Seconds|
|Microsoft Flight Simulator||1.15 Minutes||34.2 Seconds||30.6 Seconds|
|Watch Dogs Legion||48 Seconds||12.6 Seconds||12 Seconds|
It’s evident that upgrading to an SSD, particularly a high-performance one like the Samsung 970 EVO Plus Gen 3.0, can significantly reduce game loading times. The NVMe drive consistently outperforms both the HDD and SATA SSD, making it the optimal choice for gamers who prioritize speed. While SATA SSDs also offer a marked improvement over HDDs, the extra investment in high-quality NVMe drives like the Samsung 970 EVO Plus appears to be well worth it for the best gaming experience.
The latest Gen 4.0 and Gen 5.0 drives, when combined with powerful CPUs and GPUs, can reduce these times just to single-second numbers.
Is Gen 3.0 SSD good for gaming in 2023?
Yes, a Gen 3 SSD is generally good for gaming and offers a significant performance boost over SATA SSDs and HDDs. Gen 3 NVMe SSDs can deliver read and write speeds of up to 3500 MB/s and 3000 MB/s, respectively. These speeds are more than sufficient for reducing game load times, speeding up level transitions, and enhancing the overall gaming experience.
While Gen 4 and Gen 5 SSDs are available and offer even higher speeds, the real-world difference in gaming performance between Gen 3 and these drives is often minimal. Therefore, unless you’re building an ultra-high-end gaming rig where every millisecond counts, a Gen 3 SSD should serve you well.
For CPUs like Intel i9 14900K and GPUs like RTX 4090, it is important to invest in at least Gen 4.0 SSD if not Gen 5.0. But, for most of the older builds, a Gen 3.0 SSD is more than enough.
A sequential read/write speed within 2000MB/s to 3000MB/s is normal. In the random numbers, there is going to be very little difference when we compare a Gen 3.0 to a Gen 4.0 drive.
SSD Speed and Game File Management
SSD speed is a crucial factor that can dramatically affect how quickly you can copy, move, or delete files.
For example, transferring a 50GB game could take approximately 2 minutes on a high-speed NVMe SSD with read/write speeds of 3500/3000 MB/s. In contrast, the same operation could take around 15 minutes on a SATA SSD with speeds of 550/520 MB/s, and even longer—potentially up to 30 minutes—on an HDD with speeds of 160/150 MB/s.
This speed advantage is particularly beneficial for gamers who juggle multiple titles and need to manage their storage space efficiently. In summary, a faster SSD can save you valuable minutes, streamlining your game file management.
SSD Speed and OS
SSD speed has a significant impact on the overall performance of your operating system, which indirectly affects your gaming experience.
For instance, booting up Windows 10 can take as little as 10 seconds on an NVMe SSD with read speeds of 3500 MB/s, compared to 30-40 seconds on a SATA SSD with 550 MB/s read speeds, and even longer on an HDD.
Faster SSDs also enable quicker file searches, smoother multitasking, and more efficient system navigation. These improvements contribute to a more seamless gaming experience, allowing you to jump into your games faster and manage your system with greater ease.
SSD Speed and Game Streaming
For streamers, a high-speed SSD with read/write rates of around 3500/3000 MB/s can expedite the process of loading game scenes and accessing recorded clips, making for a smoother broadcast. If you’re using software like OBS to capture and stream gameplay, faster SSDs can handle larger temporary files more efficiently, reducing the risk of lag or stutter during your stream.
It becomes much more important when you are streaming 4K content. For that, you may need a faster Gen 4.0 or Gen 5.0 SSD based on your overall system specifications.
Are high-speed SSDs worth it for gaming? Is there an SSD overkill?
High-speed SSDs can certainly offer benefits in gaming scenarios, such as reduced game and level loading times, quicker file transfers, and smoother in-game asset loading. However, it’s essential to consider whether these advantages translate into a noticeably better gaming experience for you. For many gamers, the difference between a game loading in 8 seconds versus 12 seconds may not be a game-changer.
Is there such a thing as SSD overkill?
The answer largely depends on your specific needs and the types of games you play. For example, if you’re into competitive gaming where every millisecond counts, a high-speed SSD could be a worthwhile investment. On the other hand, if you’re a casual gamer, a mid-range SSD with decent read/write speeds should suffice, and anything faster might be overkill.
In summary, while high-speed SSDs offer tangible benefits, they come at a premium. It’s crucial to weigh these advantages against your gaming needs and budget to determine if a high-speed SSD is worth it for you.
So, what is an ideal SSD speed for gaming?
For most users, a PCIe 3.0 SSD with around 3000 MB/s sequential read/write speed and around 5,00,000 random read/write IOPS is good enough.
Going for Gen 4.0 and Gen 5.0 drives will be good if you have a system with all the latest and most powerful components in the market. Otherwise, there is no need to spend 100$ extra on a Gen 5.0 drive when your gaming build is good enough with a 60 Gen 3.0 drive.
Gen 4.0 SSD with near around 5000 MB/s read/write speed is always an ideal pick for any kind of system.
Who needs to go for the latest Gen 4.0/5.0 drives for gaming?
If PCIe 3.0 drives are more than enough, why are manufacturers developing these much faster drives? Yes, there are users and applications for these drives as well.
When you equip your system with very powerful CPUs, GPUs, and RAMs with high clock rates, the need for faster storage mediums also increases. For those high-end users and professional gamers, these drivers are crucial.
What is the ideal SSD for gaming?
I can give the final answer by looking at your system specifications. However, in order to conclude, I would say any good PCIe 3.0 NVMe is good for gaming. Random read/write speed is the most important parameter when it comes to gaming. And this is the area where you will find little difference between low-end and high-end drives.
So, there is no need to spend too much on those high-end Prosumer drives if you know your system specifications are average. However, when you have invested in the modern 2022 or after 2022 components, I would recommend going for the Gen 4.0 drive. Gen 5.0 drives are kept for early adopters and enthusiasts.
Thanks for reading!
Frequently Asked Questions
Write speed has a minimal impact on actual gaming performance, which is more reliant on read speed and the GPU. However, write speed can affect game installation time and save time, which can vary by up to 20% depending on the write speed.
SSD speed can significantly impact game load times. For example, games can load up to 50-60% faster on an NVMe SSD with read speeds of 3 GB/s compared to a SATA SSD with read speeds of 550 MB/s.
An SSD with a read speed of at least 500 MB/s is recommended. However, for more demanding games or professional gaming setups, an SSD with read speeds above 1 GB/s would be more suitable.
SSD speed plays a role in how quickly game patches and updates are applied. Faster SSDs can reduce this time by approximately 15-25%.
If you’re recording gameplay at high resolutions like 4K, a higher read/write speed is beneficial. It can ensure that the recording process doesn’t lag, potentially improving the quality of recorded gameplay by up to 10%.
In terms of game load times and asset loading, NVMe SSDs can offer a 20-40% improvement over SATA SSDs due to their higher read and write speeds.