You want to take The Warrior of Light and comrades to the war torn region of Gyr Abania but slow storage delays your journey. Today we find the best SSD for gaming by looking at 125 products including many classics that you likely already own.
It's the age old story. Slow load times make gaming less exciting. The story plays out across platforms and game modes. As graphics quality increases, so does the amount of data required for virtual worlds. The data has to come from your storage system but not all storage is the same.
The first online game to focus attention on the storage system was Battlefield 3. When released no one had heard of a SSD. The Western Digital Raptor series with 10,000 RPM platters was the fastest consumer storage drive and a must have for gamers. A single drive would get you in the game quickly and in most clans that might mean getting in a jet before others on your team.
To gain a real advantage, gamers would pair more than one drive in RAID 0 to load faster, and get a jet off the ground before anyone else. Building an array of eight WD Raptors would allow you to destroy the enemy jets before they even got off the ground. At that moment, fast storage became a beneficial tool for multiplayer gaming just like surround sound and wide format monitors.
Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood Benchmark
Square Enix built a load-leveling test in the Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood Benchmark. The software is free and works on any Windows platform. Most users run the software to measure graphics performance but we've used the rare load-leveling feature to test several types of storage products including NVMe, SATA, and Optane SSDs, as well as hard disk drives.
In our testing across different systems, we found the load-leveling benchmark to be very sensitive to memory and processor architectures. An X299 system with a 10-core 3GHz processor and 64GB of system memory finished the test much faster with very quick SSDs. The same system took just as long to complete the test with hard disk drives as the Z270 platform we chose to publish results using.
We left some performance on the table with our Z270 platform, but it's much closer to what our readers use today. Our system choice didn't change the performance ranking, a drive that was faster on the X299 was still faster on the Z270.
Our gaming test system uses an Intel Core i7-7700K processor running at stock speeds but we did enable the multicore enhancement option. The system runs Windows 10 Pro RS4 with updates for Spectre and Meltdown patches. All of the drives tested hold both the operating system and the game test files. We cloned the operating system from a master image to ensure consistent testing. Our ASUS Z270 Prime-A motherboard runs the latest BIOS with CPU vulnerability fixes that slow random storage performance. We limited the system to just 16GB of Crucial Ballistix DDR4 2226MHz memory, the same I use for all of my storage test systems.
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