Best Affordable NVMe M.2 SSDs in 2024: Fast Storage For Less

Affordable M.2 NVMe solid state drives Last year brought a lot of interesting releases in the DRAM-less PCIe Gen4 SSD space, which is where you usually find the best value these days.

After testing quite a few of them, my own favorite is currently Teamgroup’s MP44 – an affordable and surprisingly fast drive that easily outpaces the former DRAM-less leader, Western Digital’s WD Black SN770. It can even compete with Samsung’s and WD’s flagships in certain areas.

If you are looking for a cheap Gen5 NVMe drive, you will unfortunately have to wait a little longer, but it looks like 2024 will bring more options to this space as well.

That being said, there are plenty of solid M.2 SSDs for PC builders on a budget right now and my aim with this page is to compare them using real-world data whenever possible.

Best Value Gen4 & Gen3 NVMe Drives

Before going into more detail, these would be my top choices for the best affordable M.2 SSDs in 2024. Note that both are PCIe Gen4 drives because there are few Gen3 drives worth buying at this point and Gen5 SSDs are still too expensive.

Product
Best Value
Teamgroup MP44 (1TB)
Cheapest NVMe
Crucial P3 Plus (1TB)
Image
TEAMGROUP MP44 1TB SLC Cache Gen 4x4 M.2 2280 PCIe 4.0 with NVMe Laptop & Desktop & NUC & NAS SSD Solid State Drive (R/W Speed up to 7,400/6,500MB/s) TM8FPW001T0C101
Crucial P3 Plus 1TB PCIe Gen4 3D NAND NVMe M.2 SSD, up to 5000MB/s - CT1000P3PSSD8
Sequential read (max., MB/s)
7,400 MB/s
5,000MB/s
Sequential write (max., MB/s)
6,500 MB/s
3,600MB/s
Random read IOPS (4K/QD32)
650K
650K
Random write IOPS (4K/QD32)
650K
800K
Memory Type
TLC
QLC
Warranty
5 years
5 years
Endurance rating
1,450 TBW
220 TBW
Best Value
Product
Teamgroup MP44 (1TB)
Image
TEAMGROUP MP44 1TB SLC Cache Gen 4x4 M.2 2280 PCIe 4.0 with NVMe Laptop & Desktop & NUC & NAS SSD Solid State Drive (R/W Speed up to 7,400/6,500MB/s) TM8FPW001T0C101
Sequential read (max., MB/s)
7,400 MB/s
Sequential write (max., MB/s)
6,500 MB/s
Random read IOPS (4K/QD32)
650K
Random write IOPS (4K/QD32)
650K
Memory Type
TLC
Warranty
5 years
Endurance rating
1,450 TBW
Check Price
Cheapest NVMe
Product
Crucial P3 Plus (1TB)
Image
Crucial P3 Plus 1TB PCIe Gen4 3D NAND NVMe M.2 SSD, up to 5000MB/s - CT1000P3PSSD8
Sequential read (max., MB/s)
5,000MB/s
Sequential write (max., MB/s)
3,600MB/s
Random read IOPS (4K/QD32)
650K
Random write IOPS (4K/QD32)
800K
Memory Type
QLC
Warranty
5 years
Endurance rating
220 TBW
Check Price

Last update on 2024-03-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Teamgroup MP44 pictureIf you are looking for the best possible value – i.e. a solid mix of performance and affordability – the best such SSD I’ve tested yet is the Teamgroup MP44 (review). There are also competitors of the MP44 that use the same controller and memory combo, including the Predator GM7 and Silicon Power US75.

If you want the cheapest possible (but still reliable) NVMe SSD, on the other hand, drives like the Kingston NV2 or Crucial P3 Plus may be better suited as low-cost secondary storage.

What mainly separates the cheapest NVMe SSDs from the slightly more expensive (but still DRAM-less) alternatives is the quality of the memory chips (NAND). The cheapest drives typically use QLC (quad-level cell) NAND, which offers inferior performance and endurance ratings compared to TLC (triple-level cell) NAND.

Best Affordable Gen4 NVMe M.2 SSDs

MSI Spatium M470 SSDNow that Intel and AMD both offer PCI-Express 5.0-enabled platforms in the enthusiast segment – and PCIe 4.0 (Gen4) across all price ranges – it’s safe to say that Gen4 has gone mainstream. Compared to Gen3, Gen4 doubles the bandwidth for devices that can use it.

Thanks to mainstream Gen4 adoption, Gen3 drives have largely been replaced by increasingly affordable Gen4 SSDs. As a result, there are few reasons to opt for a Gen3 SSD in 2024, especially since all PCIe SSDs are backward-compatible.

Best Value: TLC-Based Gen4 SSDs

For a boot/system drive, I would practically always choose an SSD equipped with TLC NAND since it’s faster and much more durable. They are also a bit more expensive than their QLC-based counterparts, but the difference is quite small for what you get in return.

Here’s an extended list of affordable NVMe SSDs that use TLC NAND. It is sorted by actual or estimated performance in the 3DMark Storage Benchmark – a decent proxy for typical consumer/gamer workloads.

Budget TLC
Gen4 SSDs
Product
(1TB capacity)
Max. sequential read/write (MB/s)4K random read/write performance (IOPS)DRAMNAND
Type
Endurance/
Warranty
Latest
Price*
Check
Availability
teamgroup MP44Teamgroup
MP44
7400/6500650K/650KNoTLC1450 TBW/
5-Year
$74.99Amazon
Predator GM7Predator
GM7
7200/6300990K/997KNoTLC600 TBW/
5-Year
N/AN/A
Silicon Power US75Silicon Power
US75
7000/6000650K/650KNoTLC1200 TBW/
5-Year
$82.99Amazon
Crucial P5 PlusCrucial
P5 Plus
6600/5000630K/700KDDR4TLC600 TBW/
5-Year
$106.95N/A
WD Black SN770WD
Black SN770
5150/4900740K/800KNoTLC600 TBW/
5-Year
$74.27Amazon
Newegg
Amazon UK
Sabrent Rocket 4Sabrent
Rocket Gen4
5000/4400750K/750KDDR4TLC1800 TBW/
5-Year
$89.99Amazon
Newegg
Amazon UK
MSI M470MSI
Spatium M470
5000/4400600K/600KDDR4TLC1600 TBW/
5-Year
$142.49N/A
Addlink S90 LiteAddlink
S90 Lite
5000/4000780K/800KNoTLCN/A/
5-Year
N/AN/A

It’s important to note that headline sequential performance numbers do not necessarily match real-world performance in specific workloads. Random IOPS is usually a better proxy – and these numbers can be quite impressive even in the budget range.

Other than the excellent Teamgroup MP44 and WD Black SN770, drives based on the Phison E16 controller (previously used in early high-end Gen4 SSDs) are now making a noteworthy comeback in the affordable PCIe Gen4 SSD space. These include the MSI Spatium M470, PNY XLR8 CS3040, and Silicon Power US70. While not quite on par with today’s fastest NVMe SSDs, these TLC-based mainstream models offer good value – not least due to the very high endurance (TBW) ratings and onboard DRAM. The brand-new WD Blue SN580 is also an interesting budget option, but at this time it is not competitively priced.

Another relative newcomer from 2023 is the Addlink S90 Lite, which uses the Gen4 Phison E21 controller and TLC chips with excellent results.

Budget QLC (or Unspecified) Gen4 SSDs

Budget QLC
Gen4 SSDs
Product
(1TB capacity)
Max. sequential read/write (MB/s)4K random read/write performance (IOPS)DRAMNAND
Type
Endurance/
Warranty
Latest
Price*
Check
Availability
Corsair
MP600 Core XT
5000/3500700K/900KN/AQLC250 TBW/
5-Year
$99.99Amazon
Newegg
MSI
Spatium M461
5000/3200630K/750KN/AQLC250 TBW/
5-Year
$82.74Amazon
Newegg
Crucial
P3 Plus
5000/3600N/AN/AQLC220 TBW/
5-Year
$62.99Amazon
Newegg
Solidigm
P41 Plus
4125/2950225K/520KN/AQLC400 TBW/
5-Year
N/A
PNY
CS2140
3600/3200N/AN/AN/A400 TBW/
5-Year
$64.99Amazon
Newegg
Kingston
NV2
3500/2100N/AN/AN/A320 TBW/
3-Year
$61.70Amazon
Newegg

Sabrent
Rocket Q4
4700/1800180K/450KDDR4QLC200 TBW/
5-Year
$170.15N/A

Corsair MP600 Core XTIn the more affordable QLC space, some Gen4 drives offer about the same overall performance as high-end Gen3 models. That includes the PNY CS2140 and Kingston’s NV2, whereas the Crucial P3 Plus and Sabrent Rocket Q4 deliver significantly higher sequential transfer rates than what is possible with PCIe 3.0.

The Corsair MP600 Core XT and MSI’s Spatium M461 are an interesting pair of newcomers that have raised the performance bar for Gen4 QLC SSDs. Both use the Phison E21T controller, which I recently tested in the Corsair MP600 Mini and it performed well in the Steam Deck.

A downside of all QLC-based alternatives is that endurance ratings are noticeably worse compared to their TLC counterparts. In terms of performance, however, they are often more than decent.

Possibly Good Value: Early Phison E16 Drives

The first batch of Gen4 NVMe M.2 SSDs on the market all used the Phison E16 controller. Many of them are still around and may be worth looking into if you want Gen4 at a reasonable price. You can barely tell these SSDs apart as far as specifications go, as they all use nearly identical hardware.

Gen4 E16
SSDs (1TB)
ProductMax. sequential read/write (MB/s)4K random read/write performance (IOPS)NAND
Type
Endurance/
Warranty
Gigabyte Aorus Gen4 (1TB)5000/4400750K/700KTLC1800 TBW
Corsair MP600 Gen4 (1TB)4950/4250680K/600KTLC1800 TBW
Patriot Viper VP4100 (1TB)5000/4400800K/800KTLC1800 TBW
Seagate Firecuda 520 (1TB)5000/4400760K/700KTLC1800 TBW
XPG Gammix S50 (1TB)5000/4400750K/750KTLC1800 TBW

Admittedly, the Phison E16-based SSDs are not entirely identical. There are a few different firmware variants and some of the drives come with an included (and in some cases optional) heatsink. Nevertheless, although they are no longer on par with the fastest SSDs in the category, these drives have been almost universally well-received and the price remains the most important differentiator.

Best Affordable PCIe Gen3 NVMe M.2 Drives

Seeing as Gen4 SSDs are backward compatible, today’s differences in prices between budget Gen4 and Gen3 SSDs rarely motivate opting for the latter. But if you are looking to fill a PCIe 3.0 slot, it may still be worth a look.
WD Blue SN570

A current budget favorite in the Gen3 space is the WD Blue SN570, which offers better performance than its SN550 predecessor at a similar price point. Much like the SN550 and other low-cost NVMe SSDs, the SN570 is DRAMless, but the latter’s specs have been vastly improved across the board to compete with Samsung’s non-Pro 980.

Budget SSDs
(1TB version)
ProductMax. sequential read/write (MB/s)4K random read/write performance (IOPS)DRAMNAND
Type
Endurance/
Warranty
Latest
Price*
WD Blue SN5703500/3000460K/460KNoTLC600 TBW/
5-Year
$87.87
Samsung 9803500/3000500K/480KNoTLC600 TBW/
5-Year
$79.59
Mushkin
Helix-L
2110/1700240K/260KNoTLC600 TBW/
3-Year
$59.99
Sabrent Rocket Q3200/2000125K/500KDDR3LQLC260 TBW/
5-Year
Price not available
Seagate
Barracuda Q5
2400/1700N/AN/AQLC274 TBW/
3-Year
$60.00
PNY
CS2130
3500/1800N/ADDR3QLCN/A
5-Year
$99.99
Intel
670p
3500/2500220K/330KDDR3LQLC370 TBW/
5-Year
N/A
Patriot
P300
2100/1650290K/260KNoTLC320 TBW/
3-Year
$64.99
Mushkin
Pilot-E
3500/3000331K/353KDDR3TLC600 TBW/
3-Year
$103.10

TLC Vs. QLC NAND – Why It Matters

SLC, MLC, TLC, QLC NAND

Higher densities introduce durability and performance issues.

Although the incredibly high densities in today’s SSDs are a feat of engineering, the ability to write additional bits of data to each memory cell is not without downsides. The exponential increase in density from MLC (multi-level cell) via TLC (triple-level cell) to QLC (quad-level cell) NAND (Not-AND; a type of transistor logic gate) has introduced endurance and performance-related challenges.

  • Firstly, all else being equal, QLC NAND by itself performs significantly worse compared to TLC. The higher density makes QLC slower and more error-prone, which must be corrected for by the manufacturers. This is partly accomplished by using an SLC (single-level cell) cache. Once this significantly faster cache is temporarily used up, the SSD will write directly to the QLC memory, which reduces performance to a fraction of the maximum sequential rates. This is an issue with TLC-based SSDs as well, but there it is much less pronounced.
  • Secondly, the endurance ratings of affordable M.2 SSDs – QLC-based ones in particular – tend to be much lower compared to more expensive drives. This means that you can write less data to it as measured in TBW (terabytes written) before it runs out of warranty, which is mutually exclusive with the warranty in years. For the average gamer or office user, this is rarely an issue. But do keep the TBW ratings in mind if you work with e.g. video editing and other storage-intensive workloads.

However, the main problem with QLC SSDs so far is not that they are unreliable or slow (they’re not), but that they are still too expensive compared to their more durable and (usually) slightly faster TLC counterparts. As long as the price difference is small or non-existent – and it still is among the entry-level NVMe drives – there are few reasons to choose a QLC-based SSD over a TLC-based model.

Other Considerations When Buying an Entry-Level NVMe SSD in 2024

Sabrent Rocket Gen3Some compromises have to be made to get the best possible value in the budget M.2 NVMe SSD space. Besides the small QLC/TLC price differences, it is also interesting to note that the difference between entry-level and mid-range drives is also relatively small. Adding around $20–30 to your budget might get you a DRAM-equipped SSD with a much higher TBW rating.

Another issue with the entry-level M.2 SSD market is that some manufacturers are not providing detailed performance specifications (or even an endurance rating in the case of PNY). Comparing SSDs based only on maximum sequential performance alone is not sufficient, as these numbers are not reliable indicators of real-world performance outside of specific tasks. For reference, see our performance comparison further down on this page.

Warranty terms are also important. While three years sounds reasonable enough compared to other product categories, we have come to expect five years for SSDs, so anything less does not inspire as much confidence.

Those objections aside, it should be mentioned that practically all modern M.2 SSDs – even in the budget segment – are considerably more reliable in general than hard drives as well as older SSDs from 5–10 years ago. Drive failures are very uncommon and, for the average user, a cheap NVMe SSD should last for the lifetime of the system, even if the TBW rating is relatively modest.

Entry-Level NVMe SSD (Real-World) Performance

Although high maximum sequential transfer rates are typically the manufacturers’ headline feature, these numbers do not scale with common real-world scenarios like loading apps and games. As the average user load in gaming/office use is more centered around reading and writing small chunks of data, factors like latency and random performance are arguably more interesting.

As our testing of the similarly affordable WD Blue SN550, Sabrent Rocket Q, Kingston NV2, and Samsung 980 reveals, these drives are actually not that far from competing with the theoretically much faster (and more expensive) WD Black SN850 or Samsung 990 Pro in benchmarks measuring loading times.

Teamgroup MP44 FF14 load times chart

The Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers benchmark is a more accurate and practical alternative to a stopwatch for measuring level loading times. Five different levels are loaded during the benchmark, which then provides a total loading time. Here, any SSD (including external SSDs in an NVMe enclosure) will provide a significant and clearly noticeable boost compared to any mechanical hard drive. Note that the hard drive used in our comparison is a comparatively fast 7,200 rpm 3.5″ model.

Teamgroup MP44 app start-up chart

Unsurprisingly, the high-end SN850X and 990 Pro have the shortest app start-up times in PC Mark 10, but it is interesting to note that the cheap Kingston NV2 is trailing by trivial amounts, and the same is true for Seagates Gen3 FireCuda 510. Samsung’s non-Pro 980 and the QLC-based Sabrent Rocket Q are trailing a bit, but it’s hardly a night-and-day difference.

CrystalDiskMark all data comparison chart

Synthetic performance metrics from CrystalDiskMark tell a different story. These high-end, mid-range, and affordable NVMe SSDs perform about as you would expect from their specifications. 4K transfer rates, especially Q1T1 (minimum queue depth) correlate better with real-world scenarios, however. The average office or gaming PC workload is not centered around sequential transfers of large files, but more commonly the opposite.

Summary: Budget Gen4 SSDs Are Now the Best Option

The number of budget NVMe M.2 SSDs has greatly increased in the past couple of years and now makes up a fair share of the market. As of mid-2023, some observations stand out:

  • PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSDs now offer the best value overall – Thanks to the introduction of affordable yet very capable DRAM-less SSDs like the WD Black SN770 and Addlink S90 Lite, there is better value than ever in the Gen4 space. In terms of real-world loading times and user experience, you are not missing out on much at all by opting for a more affordable drive. The price difference between Gen3 and Gen4 has also become largely insignificant.
  • TLC NAND still trumps QLC in the price/performance race – Although it is technically impressive, the main selling point of QLC NAND is that the compromise between improved density and reduced endurance should result in lower prices. Unfortunately, the average price difference is still too small compared to the better-performing TLC counterparts.
  • There is no need to compromise on endurance ratings or warranty terms – On that same note, you don’t have to settle for mediocre endurance ratings or reduced warrant periods. At this time, the price difference between drives with or without an industry-standard warranty (five years) and good endurance is often non-existent.

Do you have a different opinion of what makes the best affordable M.2 NVMe SSDs at this time? Don’t hesitate to share it in the comments.

*Prices are updated automatically at regular intervals but are subject to change between updates. 

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Jesper Berg
Jesper Berg

I got started with PC building in the 3dfx Voodoo era somewhere back in the 1990s, and have been writing for tech publications for a bit more than a decade. In other words old enough to have lost count of the times PC gaming has been pronounced dead.

2 Comments
  1. Great article with very useful comparisons and analyses. Essential shopping guide.

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