We covered the best available SSDs for gaming last week, and as you may have noticed, we stuck to the 2.5-inch models in our review. We didn’t recommend any of the NVMe PCIex4 models that we had earlier covered, which (if you’ve read the article in question) you know give the best performance for the smallest size.
They’re the peerless champions in any kind of situations, hands down, no holds barred, and so on and so forth.
So Why Leave Them Out?
Oh, that’s a lot of money
The first and foremost reason, of course – the price tag. NVMe SSDs can burn a real hole in your pocket, especially for the larger-capacity models, which are a requirement for gaming these days when every other AAA title come out to an installation size of about 50 GB and upwards.
And that’s just on release day;
Let’s not even talk about DLCs. The Crucial MX300 1TB runs at around $280, whereas the Plextor M8Pe 1TB, tailored for gaming, will set you back around $480 (or more, depending on the supplier).
That’s a significant hike in cost – which many can afford, but the question is, will shelling out that extra give you your money’s worth?
Or would you be better off investing it somewhere else – if, for example, you used it on other gaming hardware, would you get a better gaming performance for the same money?
There’s a big difference;
If you have that extra cash lying around, you could use it to make your rig better somewhere else that would give you more of a boost.
Let’s See How?
We talked about loading screens.
Loading screens happen when the game in question is loading up the assets stored in your drive to create the virtual world the game takes place in.
This is why SSD reduce loading screens to almost no time at all – their higher data transfer speed gets the job done much, much faster than an HDD.
This transfer speed is even higher in the NVMe drives, but this doesn’t tally up in the actual load times because they happen too fast already.
For example, assume that an HDD creates a 5-second loading screen for a game. This can get tedious in games like RPGs where you have to go through multiple loading screens in a single mission. The average HDD has a read speed of about 125 MBps. An SSD brings this up to about 500 MBps at least. That’s a 4X speed boost which affects the load time as 5 seconds/4 = 1.25 seconds. An average NVMe drive has a read speed of 2 GBps, or 16X that of the HDD.
The load time for the game now would be 5 seconds/16 = 0.32 seconds approximately.
Yup, you’ve successfully shaved off less than one second with that extra $200. That’s not to mention the costs that go into getting an NVMe compatible motherboard.
So the question becomes, would that cash be better off if you put it into use buying a better GPU or even another stick of RAM? TL;DR answer for those of you who are wondering: Yes, yes it would.
And you know, even a 2.5 inch SATA SSDs can give a lot of advantages to your video game experience: they load up games faster, don’t bottleneck the game (it’s incredibly rare for storage to bottleneck games in the first place, although in really old HDDs you may experience a freeze-frame every now and then in the most demanding games) and let you boot up faster.
#But They Do Not Affect Your FPS!!!
FPS stands for Frames Per Second (if you didn’t already know that STOP READING RIGHT NOW BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS BUILDING A GAMING RIG <calm breath> until you know more about gaming hardware). Seriously.
Anyhow, for those of you who know your anti-aliasing from your anisotropic filtering, FPS is always the big thing you need to optimize for your rig.
A game may run on your PC at Ultra 4K, but if it outputs at twelve frames per second we’re pretty sure you won’t be using those settings.
FPS is affected by many things – your CPU, your graphics card, your RAM, etc. But not your storage;
Once the game’s assets have been loaded up, it doesn’t need to pull any further information from your drive (except tiny bits of data every now and then) and so even with an HDD giving 125 MB/S read speed, you will be able to run Deus Ex: Mankind Divided or even Son Of Rome, perfectly fine once it has gone through the loading screen, as along you have the other hardware to get the required FPS.
But if you have crappy hardware in the rest-of-your-PC and just have an NVMe, this won’t be the case and you’ll likely get horrible and unplayable FPS rates.
Always, boost your FPS first.
FPS boosts come from better graphics cards, which will be able to render the visuals faster to draw the game assets faster, and from the CPU, which will be able to handle the GPU API and the assets without problems.
RAM does have an influence on the FPS but specially for gaming, it also have a bad side, meaning a game with a recommended 8GB RAM requirement will give almost the same performance even if you add another stick to upgrade to 16 GB.
On the other hand, swap out your GPU for one with double the processing power, and you’ll see a huge difference.
So hold on to $200 you just saved and go buy A Perfect GPU for Yourself!