How to install an SSD in a gaming computer?

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(Pocket-lint) Games are getting bigger and bigger, so it’s no surprise that people are quickly running out of space on their gaming platforms.

If your storage space is full and you don’t want to sacrifice performance with an old hard drive, it’s time to add an extra SSD.

Don’t worry, this is a super easy upgrade, and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about the process.

What type of SSD should I buy?

The biggest decision to make when buying an SSD is to choose an NVMe, SATA, or external option. So let’s see what each of these options offers:


SATA hard drives are the oldest and therefore the most common. They are most commonly found in a 2.5-inch form factor, which makes them ideal for upgrading storage from an older system. They are better in all respects compared to traditional hard drives. However, a SATA connection does not exceed about 600 MB / s. So people looking for maximum performance will want to read on.

Almost every computer built in the past two decades supports a SATA SSD, with compatibility by far the widest of all SSD options.


NVMe drives commonly come in the M.2 form factor shown here. These drives forgo the SATA connection and install directly on the motherboard to achieve lightning-fast speeds. Most NVMe drives use the PCIe 3.0 standard, which allows speeds of up to 3.9 Gbps, but the latest high-performance PCIe 4.0 drives can exceed this figure, up to a theoretical limit of 7.8 Gbps.

If you have a relatively recent system, chances are that your motherboard supports PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSDs. PCIe 4.0 support is less common and requires an AMD Ryzen 3000/5000 series or Intel 11th Gen processor or later.


External hard drives are the easiest to install, as they simply need to be plugged into a USB port. Moreover, you can easily transfer your games and files between systems, if you have a desktop computer and a laptop, for example. Just like internal drives, external drives are available in NVMe and SATA versions. There is no difference in how they work, but one is much faster than the other.

As you’d expect from a USB device, the compatibility is pretty much universal, but the performance you’ll be able to get will depend on the port it’s plugged into. If you decide to use an external drive, carefully check your computer’s specifications and review them with your SSD connection type to make sure you’ll be able to take advantage of the maximum speed.

How to install a SATA SSD in a desktop computer?

Before you get started, here’s what you’ll need for this job:

  • SSD (of course)
  • screw driver
  • sata cable

SATA cables are not always included with SSDs, and they are often found in the motherboard box. If you don’t have one, it’s very easy to find on Amazon and won’t cost you much.


Turn off the power (if possible) and unplug the computer from the wall.

Remove both side panels from your computer, usually by removing the screws on the back of the case and sliding the panels apart.

You’ll want to put your SSD in first, as this will let you know where the cables have to come from. We tend to find the chosen installation point first, but don’t screw the SSD into place until it’s plugged in.

Next, locate your power supply and find a cable with a long L-shaped connector, it will supply power to your SSD. Point it to the mount point and connect it to your SSD.

Next we need to find a spare SATA port on the motherboard, it also uses an L-shaped connector, but it’s much shorter than the power cable connector.

Connect one end of the SATA cable to the motherboard and the other to the SSD disk.

Finally, mount your SSD with four screws on the base or side of the drive, depending on your mounting point. If you have an unusual chassis without 2.5″ attachments, double-sided tape, or Velcro that can also do the trick, don’t ask us how we know.

Reassemble your computer, plug it in again, and turn it on. You can then skip to the “How to set up your new SSD” section below.

How to install NVMe SSD in a desktop computer

Installing an NVMe SSD is easier because you don’t have to worry about cables. You will only need a screwdriver to do the job.

As always, turn off the power (if possible) and unplug the computer from the wall before proceeding.

Locate your M.2 slot, and loosen the mounting screw.

Then align the SSD with the socket, and you will notice that it is realised and can only go in one direction. In general, the SSD logo is facing out. Insert the SSD at about a 45 degree angle, don’t force it, it should go in easily.

Push the SSD down so it rests flat on the rack, then reinsert the retaining screw to secure it in place.

As with the SATA drive, reassemble your computer, plug it in again, and turn it on before continuing to the next step.

How to configure your new SSD

Some solid state drives are out of the box. If so, you’ll see the new volume appear in the “This PC” section of File Explorer.

However, if it is not there, you will need to use the Windows Disk Management tool to format the disk and create a storage partition. It may sound daunting, but believe us, it’s simple and easy.

The Disk Management tool can be found under Create and Format Hard Disk Partitions in the Start menu or Control Panel. It will show you all your connected disks in a list, and your most recent addition will be the one listed with Unallocated Space. Follow these simple steps to get it working properly:

  1. Right-click on the area where the unallocated space is, then select Simple new size and clickfollowing When the wizard opens.
  2. Do not touch the volume, it will default to the maximum available space, click following.
  3. Choose a drive letter from the list, or leave it at the default one, click following.
  4. On this screen, make sure that the file system is set to NTFSand leave the customization size at the default setting,
  5. If you want, you can name the drive, or you can leave it blank. Check the box next to Make a quick format and clickfollowing.
  6. Click onto the end then onDisk Format.

Once you’ve got it all sorted, it’s time to fill it up with huge toys!

Written by Luke Baker. Edited by Chris Hall.

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