DO I NEED AN SSD, AND IF SO WHICH ONE?
Star Citizen is proven to benefit SIGNIFICANTLY from running on an SSD, and it can be argued it is unplayable if run from a conventional hard disk. PC Requirements at the bottom of https://robertsspaceindustries.com/star-citizen/fly-now even states “SSD strongly recommended”. A spinning hard disk WILL hold you back.
Short answer first. These are my current recommendations in order if getting an SSD for a “gaming only” system. Order may vary depending on current prices.
- Intel 660P (if an m.2 NVMe socket is available)
- Samsung 860 EVO sata (there are m.2 860 EVO drives, but are no faster)
- Crucial MX500 sata
I do NOT recommend getting any of the Samsung NVMe drives (970 EVO,PRO) or Intel Optane SSDs for “gaming only” systems. The benefits are minimal bordering on the imperceptible, and can easily double or triple the cost per gigabyte. If you do not already know you need one of these (video encoding, compiling code, etc) you probably don’t. If money is no object, please just do your research and have fun stimulating the economy.
If you really want to get into details, this article does a good job. https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-buying-guide,5602.html
SPECIAL NOTE: There is some disagreement on the use of the Intel 660P as the system (or OS) drive, due to its use of QLC NAND chips. I’m honestly on the fence on this at the moment. TLC drives (like the 860 EVO and MX500) listed above potentially have more reliability. If it is within your budget, it may be advisable to get two drives. A TLC drive for the C drive and the 660P as a storage or D drive. Game installs could also be directed to the later. Many of the same reservations were voiced when TLC drives were introduced over SLC (single layer cache). At the end of the day this is a cost benefit analysis, and QLC drives haven’t been out long enough for a definite answer.
NVMe (or PCIe x4) or SATA drives
For the purposes of a gaming, there isn’t much performance difference between PCIe channel and sata drives. QLC has brought PCIe channel drives down to the pricing of the sata drives, so now the choices are a little greyer, but sata SSD drives are still a good choice for “gaming only” situations.