The Fastest M.2 NVMe SSDs in September 2023

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Samsung 980 PRO Vs WD SN850Faster storage will speed up most of your PC activities to some extent – from booting up your OS to loading apps and games. But not all SSDs are created equal. If you have a PCI-Express M.2 slot on your motherboard, then this is where to install your system drive. The best M.2 drives also use the modern storage interface protocol NVMe.

What is NVMe and do I need it?

NVMe example

Image credit: Intel

The performance of any storage device boils down to how quickly it lets you move data from storage (non-volatile, slower) to DRAM (volatile, faster).

The NVMe protocol – short for non-volatile memory express – was created to make the most out of solid state drives in combination with the PCI-Express (PCIe) interface. It replaces AHCI (paired with SATA), which was originally designed for mechanical hard drives. The newer protocol includes many efficiency improvements to deal with parallel transfers and the low-latency nature of SSDs.

High-end NVMe SSDs are also slowly but steadily becoming even faster in gaming PCs thanks to GPU acceleration via Microsoft’s DirectStorage API. AMD and Nvidia are implementing this technology under the names Smart Access Storage and RTX IO, respectively. You can use this technology right now in Square’s Forspoken or Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.

Fastest Gen5, Gen4 & Gen3 M.2 SSDs

It is important to remember that M.2 is just a form factor that says nothing of the drive’s performance. Some M.2 SSDs use the 20-year-old SATA interface and have the same limitations as 2.5″ drives. If you have a somewhat modern motherboard, however, it most likely comes with a PCIe/NVMe-capable M.2 slot, so this is the type of SSD to look for. Several versions of the PCIe interface are currently in use.

InterfaceTransfer Rate
per Lane
Throughput x1Throughput x4
(M.2 SSD)
PCI Express 3.08 GT/s0.985 GB/s3.934 GB/s
PCI Express 4.016 GT/s1.969 GB/s7.877 GB/s
PCI Express 5.032 GT/s3.938 GB/s15.754 GB/s

The latest and fastest iteration of the PCIe interface is 5.0 (Gen5), which became available with AMD’s B650 and X670 chipsets, as well as some Intel Z790 boards. There are relatively few Gen5 SSDs available at this point, but additional models will arrive throughout 2023.

So, while the fastest M.2 SSDs now use the PCIe 5.0 standard, Gen4 SSDs are still far more common. Gen4-capable systems start with Intel’s 11th/12th-gen Core platforms or AMD counterparts based on an X570, B550, or TRX40 motherboard or later.

Many users – and those with older Intel builds in particular – are still on PCIe Gen3. Although M.2 SSDs are backward-compatible, they will offer no performance benefit when running on an earlier version of the interface.

Best Gen5
Crucial T700
Fastest M.2 SSD (Gen4)
Samsung 990 PRO
Best Gen3 SSD
Samsung 970 EVO Plus
Crucial T700 2TB Gen5 NVMe M.2 SSD - Up to 12,400 MB/s - DirectStorage Enabled - CT2000T700SSD3 - Gaming, Photography, Video Editing & Design - Internal Solid State Drive
Samsung 990 PRO Series - 2TB PCIe Gen4. X4 NVMe 2.0c - M.2 Internal SSD (MZ-V9P2T0B/AM)
Samsung 970 EVO Plus SSD 2TB NVMe M.2 Internal Solid State Hard Drive, V-NAND Technology, Storage and Memory Expansion for Gaming, Graphics w/ Heat Control, Max Speed, MZ-V7S2T0B/AM
Sequential read (max., MB/s)
Sequential write (max., MB/s)
Random read IOPS (4K/QD32)
Random write IOPS (4K/QD32)
Endurance rating (TBW)
1,200 TBW (2TB)
1,200 TBW (2TB)
1,200 TBW (2TB)
Best Gen5
Crucial T700
Crucial T700 2TB Gen5 NVMe M.2 SSD - Up to 12,400 MB/s - DirectStorage Enabled - CT2000T700SSD3 - Gaming, Photography, Video Editing & Design - Internal Solid State Drive
Sequential read (max., MB/s)
Sequential write (max., MB/s)
Random read IOPS (4K/QD32)
Random write IOPS (4K/QD32)
Endurance rating (TBW)
1,200 TBW (2TB)
Check Price
Fastest M.2 SSD (Gen4)
Samsung 990 PRO
Samsung 990 PRO Series - 2TB PCIe Gen4. X4 NVMe 2.0c - M.2 Internal SSD (MZ-V9P2T0B/AM)
Sequential read (max., MB/s)
Sequential write (max., MB/s)
Random read IOPS (4K/QD32)
Random write IOPS (4K/QD32)
Endurance rating (TBW)
1,200 TBW (2TB)
Check Price
Best Gen3 SSD
Samsung 970 EVO Plus
Samsung 970 EVO Plus SSD 2TB NVMe M.2 Internal Solid State Hard Drive, V-NAND Technology, Storage and Memory Expansion for Gaming, Graphics w/ Heat Control, Max Speed, MZ-V7S2T0B/AM
Sequential read (max., MB/s)
Sequential write (max., MB/s)
Random read IOPS (4K/QD32)
Random write IOPS (4K/QD32)
Endurance rating (TBW)
1,200 TBW (2TB)
Check Price

Last update on 2023-09-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Crucial T700 SSD with heatsink

Fastest Gen5 SSD

At the time of writing (August 2023), the Crucial T700 is the leading Gen5 SSD. Thanks to the latest Micron NAND, its sequential performance is as high as 12,400 MB/s. That puts it ahead of the current competitors using the same Phison E26 controller.

The Samsung 990 PRO is the fastest Gen4 SSD we have tested to date. It is however in close competition with the SK Hynix Platinum P41, Western Digital’s WD Black SN850X, Kingston’s Fury Renegade, and others.

As for the PCIe 3.0 generation, the Samsung 970 EVO Plus is still a leader, but the price difference compared to more future-proof PCIe Gen4 SSDs is now uncomfortably small.

1. Fastest NVMe M.2 SSD: Crucial T700

Crucial T700 with and without heatsinkCrucial’s T700 is not the first or only SSD to use the Phison E26 controller, but it currently outperforms the competition thanks to the latest and fastest NAND memory chips from Micron (Crucial is a Micron subsidiary).

Other PCIe 5.0 SSDs such as the Aorus Gen5 10000 and Corsair MP700, all of which also use the Phison E26, can reach sequential read speeds of around 10,000 MB/s, but the Crucial T700 takes it a step further – all the way up to 12,400 MB/s.

What it shares with its competitors from the first batch of Gen5 SSDs, however, is that it requires efficient cooling to avoid overheating and throttling. If you don’t have a decent heat spreader on your motherboard, it is probably a good idea to opt for the T700 version with an included heatsink.

Gen5 SSDs can be expected to improve even further in terms of performance, efficiency, and not least pricing over the coming months and years. But for now, the Crucial T700 is the fastest consumer storage device you can get for a Gen5-capable PC.

Shopping links (2TB): Amazon, Newegg

2. Seagate FireCuda 540 (and other E26 Competitors)

Seagate FireCuda 540The Seagate FireCuda 540 is one of the latest additions to the Gen5 space and it uses the same E26 controller as all of its current competitors. It is also equipped with the same 232-layer TLC NAND as all but the Crucial T700, meaning that it runs at 1,600 MT/s.

As a result, the 2 TB model tops out at 10,000 MB/s sequential read/write speeds, while the 1 TB capacity is a bit slower at 9,500 MB/s (read) and 8,500 MB/s (write).

What sets the FireCuda 540 apart from the competition is the Seagate firmware and, perhaps more importantly, a significantly higher endurance rating. The 2 TB model is backed by a 2,000 TBW (terabytes written) rating and half of that for the 1 TB FireCuda 540. 

Shopping links: Amazon, Newegg

3. Best Gen4 NVMe M.2 SSD: Samsung 990 PRO

Samsung 990 PRO SSDSamsung was an undisputed leader in the SSD space for years, but more recently, the Korean electronics giant has often been unable to stay ahead of the competition. The 990 PRO is a return to form, with Samsung now retaking the lead in many key benchmarks that reflect real-world usage scenarios.

This is perhaps not readily apparent when just looking at the sequential transfer rates, where the Samsung 990 PRO, much like the competition, basically maxes out the PCIe Gen4 bandwidth. It does excel in the random performance area, however, at up to 1.4M/1.55M IOPS read/write. The drive uses Samsung’s proprietary Pascal controller, 176-layer NAND, and an LPDDR4 DRAM cache to achieve these numbers.

Warranty and endurance ratings remain the same as the 980 PRO predecessor, at five years or 600TBW (1TB) / 1,200 TBW (2 TB). Unfortunately, the Samsung 990 PRO is not just one of the fastest SSDs on the market, but also among the most expensive. The 1TB 990 PRO comes with a $169.99 MSRP, which is significantly above some of its closest high-end competitors.

Shopping links (1TB): Amazon, Newegg

4. SK Hynix Platinum P41

SK Hynix Platinum P41

SK Hynix is the world’s second-largest memory chip manufacturer (after Samsung). It is however only recently that the company has started to sell consumer products under its own brand name. This should not be taken lightly by the competition, as the Platinum P41 is clearly one of the best M.2 SSDs to date.

Released in May 2022, the SK Hynix Platinum P41 is an entirely in-house design based on the manufacturer’s own 176-layer TLC NAND chips and uses a proprietary controller dubbed Aries. It also includes an SK Hynix LPDDR4 DRAM cache. Sequential performance is up to 7,000/6,500 MB/s (read/write) and random performance is up to 1.4M/1.3M IOPS. More importantly, it performs exceptionally well in real-world-oriented benchmarks such as 3DMark and PCM10.

The only downside is that the Platinum P41 so far has been limited availability, as it’s still hard to find in the US and Europe.

Shopping links (1TB): Amazon, Newegg

5. Western Digital WD Black SN850X

wd black sn850xLaunched in 2020, the original WD Black SN850 was and still is one of the fastest M.2 SSDs on the consumer market. Now, two years later, the drive has been updated with higher-density 112-layer BiCS 5 NAND memory chips. Improvements are mainly seen in random read/write performance, which has gone from 1M/720K IOPS to 1.2M/1.1M IOPS in the 2 TB capacity.

This appears to be more than enough to propel the SN850X to the top of the charts in real-world benchmarks such as PC Mark 10 and 3DMark’s SSD gaming test. As is the case with most of the leading SSDs, the 2TB and 4TB capacities are the strongest in the lineup due to the advantages of parallelism.

Shopping links (1TB): Amazon, Newegg

kingston fury renegade6. Kingston Fury Renegade

Kingston’s Fury Renegade is an improved version of the KC3000 but uses the same Phison E18 controller and 176-layer Micron TLC NAND that originally propelled Seagate’s FireCuda 530 to the top of the charts. It is slightly faster than the KC3000 model and also outpaces its Seagate counterpart in several benchmarks. This makes the Fury Renegade an attractive choice for any PCIe Gen4-compatible build, but it is worth keeping in mind that the difference from the KC3000 is marginal.

Another detail worth noting is that, much like the FireCuda 530, you have to opt for the 2TB or 4TB models to get the best possible performance.

Shopping links (1TB): Amazon, Newegg

7. Seagate FireCuda 530

Seagate Firecuda 530Like the Kingston Fury Renegade and KC3000, the Seagate FireCuda 530 is equipped with the same winning combination of a Phison E18 controller and Micron’s latest 176-layer Flash chips. In its 2TB and 4TB capacities, the drive reaches its maximum 6,900 MB/s sequential write throughput (compared to 6,000 MB/s for the 1TB model). What makes the FireCuda 530 particularly attractive in the high-end SSD space is the drive’s endurance ratings. Even the 500GB capacity offers higher endurance than its 1TB Samsung and WD competitors at 640 TBW.

Shopping links (1TB): Amazon, Newegg

Corsair MP600 Pro XT8. Corsair MP600 Pro XT

As a third “2nd-generation Phison E18” option, Corsair’s MP600 Pro XT is based on the same hardware as the aforementioned competitors and offers roughly the same performance. Also much like its competitors, you also have to opt for the 2GB or 4TB capacities to get the best possible performance. The endurance ratings are a bit lower than both the KC3000 and the FireCuda 530, at 700 TBW (1TB), 1,400 TBW (2TB), and 3,000 TBW (4TB). On the plus side, the MP600 Pro XT comes with a large heat spreader that should help reduce throttling during intensive workloads.

Shopping links (1TB): Amazon, Newegg

9. Adata Legend 960

adata legend 960What sets the Adata Legend 960 apart from most of its high-end competitors is that it uses the somewhat less common SM2264 controller from Silicon Motion. However, much like the aforementioned Phison-based SSDs, it uses the same popular 176-layer Micron B47R NAND. This hardware combo is often fast enough to propel it to the top 10 of several performance charts. This is particularly true for the 2TB capacity, which offers higher sequential and random performance compared to its 1TB sibling.

Shopping links (1TB): Amazon

10. Samsung 980 PRO

Samsung 980 PRO

Samsung’s 980 PRO launched in late 2020 and was a market leader before the WD SN850 arrived. And to be fair – even after the arrival of the 2nd-gen Phison E18 SSDs, it is still the best M.2 SSD in some benchmarks. In other words, it remains a solid choice for any PCIe Gen4-capable system. At times, you can find it at a slight discount compared to the competition, which makes it even more attractive.

Technically, the 980 PRO is more of a successor to the 970 EVO Plus than to the 970 PRO. Previously, the PRO lineup has been exclusively based on higher-end MLC (multi-level cell) NAND memory chips. With the 980 PRO, Samsung has opted for the same cost-effective TLC chips that all of its competitors use. The newer Samsung 980 (non-PRO), on the other hand, is a DRAMless budget M.2 SSD that competes in the Gen3 category.

Shopping links (1TB): Amazon, Newegg

11. Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus

Sabrent Rocket 4 PlusOutside of storage behemoths like Western Digital and Samsung – who develop and produce SSDs from the ground up in their own fabs –, Sabrent is one of the most interesting manufacturers. Although the company is a comparatively recent addition to the storage industry, it has consistently managed to be first on the market with a variety of attractive products, be it high-capacity M.2 drives, early PCIe Gen4 drives, or affordable QLC-based models.

This is also the case with the Rocket 4 Plus, which takes advantage of the new Phison E18 controller. On the whole, it looks like this drive is a strong competitor to the flagship devices from WD and Samsung, though not quite on par in most cases.

Shopping links (1TB): Amazon, Newegg

Best Gen3 M.2 SSDs: Samsung 970 PRO and EVO Plus

No single drive will take home the crown as the fastest M.2. SSD in every single use case or benchmark. However, one of the best general performers in the PCIe 3.0 segment is still the MLC-based Samsung 970 PRO. This drive has been comprehensively tried and tested over the years and comes with a flawless track record.

The 970 PRO comes with Samsung’s proprietary controller and MLC chips, as well as an excellent endurance rating of 1,200 TBW (1TB) or 600 TBW (512GB). When looking at price versus performance, the 970 PRO has always been a somewhat questionable choice, but it might be a sensible investment for the most demanding users. Unfortunately, there are no large capacities available.

Shopping links: Amazon, Newegg, Amazon UK

Samsung’s 970 EVO Plus is a lot more affordable than the PRO but very close in terms of actual performance. Although it doesn’t use high-end MLC NAND, this drive is still among the best in the PCIe Gen 3 category.

Shopping links: Amazon, Newegg, Amazon UK

Additional Gen4 Options: The Phison E16 Lineup

Right until Samsung launched the 980 PRO, all PCIe 4.0-capable SSDs for consumers were based on the same Phison PS5016-E16 controller and 3D TLC NAND combo. What this means is that all of these drives offer roughly the same performance of up to 5,000 MB/s (sequential read) and 4,400 MB/s (sequential write). Some of the nearly identical drives are:

NameMax. sequential read/write (MB/s)4K random read/write performance (IOPS)Endurance rating (terabytes written)Check Price
Gigabyte Aorus Gen4 (1TB)5000/4400750K/700K1800 TBWAmazon
Amazon UK
Sabrent Rocket Gen4 "Non-Plus" (1TB)5000/4400750K/750K1800 TBWAmazon
Amazon UK
Patriot Viper VP4100 (1TB)5000/4400800K/800K1800 TBWAmazon
Amazon UK
Seagate Firecuda 520 (1TB)5000/4400760K/700K1800 TBWAmazon
Amazon UK
XPG Gammix S50 (1TB)5000/4400750K/750K1800 TBWAmazon
Amazon UK
Corsair MP600 Gen4 (1TB)4950/4250680K/600K1800 TBWAmazon
Amazon UK

Overall performance is about the same with any of these drives, and all come with the advantage of superb endurance ratings compared to the competition. They are also known to run relatively hot, so unless you have a motherboard with an included heat spreader (often supplied with high-end motherboards), this might be a useful addition. Although the E16 drives are no longer in the lead, they are now strong alternatives in the affordable M.2 NVMe category for anyone looking for Gen4 performance on a budget.

7 of the Best PCIe Gen3 M.2 SSDs

If your system is not PCIe Gen4 ready, you can save quite a lot by opting for a Gen3 drive, without losing much real-world performance. The following list includes some of the best-performing M.2 SSDs from the past few years. They are ordered by sequential performance first and random second. Because of different controllers and memory types, these numbers are only an indication of actual performance.

#NameMax. sequential read/write (MB/s)4K random read/write performance (IOPS)Endurance rating (terabytes written)Check Price
1Samsung 970 PRO (1TB)3500/2700500K/500K1200 TBWAmazon
Amazon UK
2Samsung 970 EVO PLUS (1TB)3500/3300600K/550K600 TBWAmazon
Amazon UK
3Adata XPG SX8200 Pro (1TB)3500/3000390K/380K640 TBWAmazon
Amazon UK
4PNY XLR8 CS3030 (1TB)3500/3000N/A360 TBWAmazon
Amazon UK
5HP EX950 (1TB)3500/2900410K/370K650 TBWAmazon
Amazon UK
6Corsair Force MP510 (960 GB)3480/3000280K/700K720 TBWAmazon
Amazon UK
7WD Black SN750 (1TB)3430/3000515K/560K600 TBWAmazon
Amazon UK

Which is the Best M.2 SSD for Gaming?

The difference between an SSD and a hard drive in terms of user experience is clearly noticeable. To date, the effect of shifting from one type of SSD to another is not nearly as dramatic, at least when it comes to gaming. These are some results from our own testing:

Final Fantasy Level Load Times chart

In the standalone benchmark for Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringer, multiple scenes/levels are loaded, and the above are the total loading times for these levels. While the difference between budget and high-end SSDs is noticeable, it is quite crowded at the top. Any SSD will be much faster than any hard drive in games – even if it’s an external SSD in an enclosure.

3DMark Storage Benchmark chart

UL’s 3DMark Storage benchmark is a mix of gaming workloads including level loading, saving, moving/installing, and recording games. It combines these into a total, resulting in a score and an average bandwidth.

Although it is now a bit dated, this comparison by HardwareUnboxed is also interesting:

Until recently it was safe to assume that a comparison of individual high-end M.2 PCIe SSDs would result in small differences in terms of gaming performance. The gap has however grown wider between Gen3 and high-end Gen4 or Gen5. Microsoft’s DirectStorage may widen it further as the API makes its way into more new releases.

Will it Work on my Laptop/Desktop PC?

For the aforementioned drives to work with your computer, you will need an M.2 slot and support for PCIe/NVMe. But there may be exceptions: Even without an M.2 slot on your (desktop) motherboard, you can still use one in a full-size PCIe x4 slot using an adapter. But if you want to run your OS from the drive, your motherboard must still support booting from PCIe, which is no guarantee with older motherboards.

On the other hand, all recent, high-end ATX-size motherboards include at least one M.2 slot and will be able to run a modern SSD at PCIe 3.0 speeds at a minimum. With an older board, you might not be so lucky. In any event, it’s always best to check the manual before buying a new drive.

Keying and Sizes

M.2 SSDs (and other M.2 cards) come in different sizes and some motherboards – particularly in laptops – will only hold a drive up to a certain size. They also have different sets of notches (keying) that will prevent you from installing it the wrong way.

M.2 Keying and Size

Three different key types or ‘notch styles’ may be used by M.2 SSDs: B, M, or B&M. The socket can be either B or M, but not both.

High-end SSDs, as well as recent motherboards, will have to use an M-key slot, as this is the only type that provides four lanes of bandwidth, or 20 Gbit/s, also known as PCIe x4. B-key supports ‘only’ PCIe x2 or 10 Gbit/s.

On many motherboards, the connector itself or the PCB next to it will be labeled with the keying. Otherwise, check the specs or the manual. Likewise, M.2 card length might be stamped on the board, looking something like this:

High-capacity drives have additional memory chips mounted on the card and may require more space in some cases. The M.2 standard allows for cards of five different lengths, with the number format meaning width-length in millimeters. All sizes are the same width, so the two most common, 2280 and 2242, are 80mm and 42mm long, respectively (and so on). All sizes and usage examples:

  • 2230 – WiFi cards, SSD in Steam Deck, and other compact devices
  • 2242 – Some ultrabook-type laptop SSDs and WiFi cards
  • 2260 – Small form-factor laptop SSDs (uncommon)
  • 2280 – Most common form factor for NVMe SSDs in desktop PCs/laptops
  • 22110 – Mainly enterprise SSDs

Most PCs including laptops can accommodate the common 2280 size (the format used by all of the drives listed above). 22110 drives will fit on many desktop motherboards but are extremely rare in the consumer market. The 2230 and 2242 form factors are more often used for WiFi cards than for SSDs. However, 2230 drives have seen an upswing in popularity as it’s the format used by the Steam Deck.

Also, don’t confuse M.2 and mSATA, which is another, older standard. These slots may look similar on the motherboard, but they’re not compatible. M.2 SSDs may also use the SATA interface, but that doesn’t mean it’s an mSATA drive.

It really is a bit confusing, but fortunately, M.2 2280 is the most common standard by far, so it’s harder than it looks to get it wrong. But just to be safe:

Checklist Before Buying an M.2 SSD

  • Check the drive’s interface and M.2 keying, e.g. B+M-key/M-key (all PCIe x4 SSDs are M-key).
  • Make sure it matches the slot on your motherboard or in your laptop. You can usually find this information on the specs page.
  • Also ensure that the length of the drive is supported, e.g. 2280 or 2242 (numbers in bold are millimeters).

To sum things up about keying and interfaces: it might sound complicated, but really isn’t. If you are building a PC based on modern standard components, it will practically always have at least one M-key slot for a 2280 M.2 SSD. And if so, most of the popular M-key or B+M-key drives will work. But there may be rare exceptions, so it’s best to double-check.

Choosing the Right Capacity

You can hardly ever have too much storage space, but all of it doesn’t have to be super fast. There is no reason to use an expensive, high-end SSD to store family photos or your Steam library backups.

Most importantly, you want to boot from your fastest drive. That means it must be able to store the OS and all of its associated files (such as caches and swap). And it’s not that much:

  • Windows 11: 64 GB minimum requirement
  • Windows 10 (64-bit): 20GB
  • MacOs Catalina: 12.5GB
  • Ubuntu 20.04: 25GB
  • Manjaro 18/19: 30GB
  • Linux Mint 20: 20GB
  • Elementary OS 5 (Debian/Ubuntu): 15GB
  • Fedora 30 Workstation: 10GB
  • OpenSuse Tumbleweed: 40GB

Those numbers may or may not be a minimum requirement, but also add – at the very least – the amount of RAM in your system to be on the safe side (to make room for the swap file). Office apps are usually not that demanding either, with MS Office taking up about 4 GB of space on your SSD. Games tend to use a lot more but can range in size from a few hundred megabytes to well over 100 gigabytes, i.e. a lot more demanding in terms of storage space.

If you just want a really fast computer for work (and who doesn’t?), you can probably get by with as little as 128 GB and use mechanical hard drives for general storage. However, when looking at the price/performance ratio (performance is usually improved in larger capacities), 1–2 TB is a reasonable price point with few compromises.


SLC, MLC, TLC, QLC NANDIn any SSD context, you will inevitably run into the MLC, TLC, and QLC abbreviations. What these signify is the number of bits that can be written to each cell in NAND (Not-AND) memory chips. In the early days, just one bit could be written to each cell, hence the name single-level cell, or SLC. Solid state drives using SLC memory were (and now only in very rare cases, are) extremely durable but also prohibitively expensive.

Consumer SSDs became common once density increased to two bits per cell, also known as multi-level cell or MLC. Most high-end drives today use the even denser triple-level cell, or TLC, memory type, whereas some budget SSDs use quad-level cell or QLC NAND.

The downsides to increased densities are – all other things being equal – worse performance and durability. Adding additional bits per cell adds to the complexity and cells will be worn down in fewer write/erase cycles.

Nevertheless, today’s TLC-based drives are far faster than older MLC drives thanks to some highly innovative use of buffering and caching technology, whereby data is first written in SLC mode and then to the slower TLC memory. The durability problems have also mostly been solved using, among other things, spare capacity (overprovisioning) to spread out the wear over time. On the whole, today’s TLC-based SSDs are not only much faster but also durable enough to outlast most other PC parts for the average user.

Jesper Berg
Jesper Berg

As a PC gaming enthusiast since the 3dfx Voodoo era, Jesper has had time to experiment with a fair few FPS-improving PC parts over the years. His job at GPCB is to test and evaluate hardware, mainly focusing on GPUs and storage devices.

    • Very thorough article!
      You mentioned the Corsair MP600 was available with & w/o heat spreader, but could not locate one w/o it?
      Not even on Corsair’s website, on their online store, was it possible to purchase w/o, so I’m guessing you can’t and you assumed that you could buy w/o?

      • Thanks Dan!
        It looks like I mixed these drives up and got it wrong about the MP600 being available without the heat spreader. The article is now updated, thanks a lot for pointing this out.

    • Whatt is the best seagate firecuda 520 or samsung 980 pro

      • Hi Mohamed,
        The 980 Pro is considerably faster (theoretically) than the Firecuda 520 and all other drives with the same controller (until now, all PCIe Gen4 SSDs).

        In terms of sequential speeds, the 980 Pro offers up to 7,000 MB/s (read) and 5,000 MB/s (write), compared to the FireCuda’s 5,000/4,400 MB/s. Random performance is 1,000,000 IOPS (Samsung) Vs. 760,000 IOPS (Seagate).

        This large difference will however not be anywhere near as apparent as the numbers indicate outside of synthetic benchmarks. But it’s definitely faster overall.

    • Thanks Brad for spotting the typo! Changed it.
      There will probably be another few years before these things are a thousand times as fast… 🙂

      • hello, Jesper!! great article with great info!

        I’m an audio professional and some of my DAW sound/sample libraries require that I install them on SSD drives. to keep from taking up space on my boot drive, I’m looking to move them to external storage and the an NVMe SSD seems to be the smart route.

        I’ll be connecting via USB 3 on a 2018 Mac Mini and putting the SSD in a USB 3 enclosure. I’m currently looking at the Samsung 970 PRO or EVO (512GB), but can you recommend a drive and enclosure combo where I can max read speeds and reliability at a reasonable price? thanks in advance!!!

        • I would suggest using a thunderbolt enclosure instead of a usb one
          (visually its the same port, usb-c connector, but the thunderbolt protocol vs the usb is superior)

  1. All the links for Samsung EVO (and what I can find online) are for PCIe Gen3 drives, not Gen4

  2. As of now, there are still no Samsung EVO (or PRO) M.2 drives on the market that run on Gen4. The Gen4 Samsung 980 PRO was announced at CES this year, but I’ve seen nothing of a release date yet.

  3. Your specs are all wrong, for chart under heading, “”12 of the Fastest M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs in 2020″” Please update!

    They should be this: (consider adding Gen3 for comparison)

    Gigabyte Aorus PCIe Gen4 (500GB) – 5000/4400
    Gigabyte Aorus PCIe Gen3 (500GB) – 3500/2500

    Sabrent Rocket PCIe Gen4 (500GB) – 5000/2500
    Sabrent Rocket PCIe Gen3 (500GB) – 3400/2500

    Corsair MP510 PCIe Gen3 (480GB) – 3480/3000

    All the rest seemed okay…

    • Thanks for your comment. I believe that you are mistakenly referring to the read/write specs for the 1TB+ models, which are higher than the 500GB ones listed here (write speeds in particular).

      That said, it would make more sense to compare the 1TB drives, which is probably the most common capacity these days. I’ll change this in the next update.

  4. Dont know how the Seagate NVME PCIe 4.0 Firecuda 1TB didnt make this list. It’s the fastest by far in real world file transfer speeds. Blew the Sabrent away in a side by side comparison video I saw. They all have the same Phison controller but Seagate uses its own proprietary firmware or something.

  5. The Addlink S90 should be included on the list near the top if not the number one spot. It performs even faster than what it advertises.

    • 3600 TBW is for the 2TB model. 1TB drives are compared in the table and the Corsair MP600 1TB offers half of the 2TB so 1800 TBW.

  6. “If you just want a really fast computer for work (and who doesn’t?), you can probably get by with as little as 128 GB and use hard drives for the rest. ”

    Price difference of 128GB and 240GB is only ~10 euros so for normal user there is no point to get only 128 GB. Going 128 GB needs special conditions.

  7. This article was really helpful. I want to buy an M.2 SSD for my Acer TravelMate P449-G2-M-50S9 (Part Number NX.VFUAL.001) but I wanted to know which ones were compatible with my device. Is any M.2 PCIe 2280 going to work with my laptop? I was trying to buy some models which didn’t appear in userbenchmark so I’m not completly sure if they’ll work or not.

    For example I was wondering if some of these are compatible with my laptop:
    Kingston SA2000M8/250G 250GB
    XPG SX6000 PCIE GEN3X2 M.2 2280
    SSD 256GB SEAGATE M.2 2280 BARRACUDA 510
    ADATA SWORDFISH PCIe Gen3x4 M.2 2280

    Thanks in advance!

  8. You are just quoting advertised speeds and that is completely misleading. I can tell you, Samsung drives don’t perform anywhere near the advertised speeds. I have tested 21 drives. The random speeds are particularly poor. Overpriced trash. I expect all other drives will experience similar speed differences. What really matters is real world performance, and I’ve yet to see a NVMe drive that performs anywhere near the marketed speeds.

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment. I agree that max. sequential speeds don’t paint the whole picture but they still tend to be quite accurate when tested with e.g. ATTO. As for the Samsung drives, I’ve also tested most of them since the 830 and they have usually been among the best in most areas (except when compared to the Intel Optane drives in terms of latency/random data).

  9. Thanks , very helpful article
    what about Toshiba like :Toshiba XG5-P KXG50PNV2T04 2TB Internal M.2 2280 NVMe Solid State Drive (SSD)
    This wasn’t included in comparison, my Dell XPS came originally equipped with same Toshiba but 1TB, I am trying to upgrade to 2TB, I was thinking between Samsung 970 EVO Plus 2TB , Sabrent Sabrent 2TB Rocket NVMe PCIe M.2 2280 Internal SSD High Performance Solid State Drive (SB-ROCKET-2TB)and Toshiba XG5-P KXG50PNV2T04 2TB, what would you advise ?
    Thanks , appreciated

    • Thanks, Walid!
      Your current Toshiba XG5-P is a high-end OEM SSD, so it’s probably safe to say that you won’t experience any real-world difference outside of synthetic benchmarks with either the Samsung or the Sabrent (or a 2TB XG5-P).

      The Samsung EVO Plus is a great drive that performs well in almost every area, but personally I would have opted for one of the others at this time due to the large price difference and small real-world performance difference.

      Here’s a review that compares the Sabrent with the Samsung in the 2TB capacities: (I haven’t seen any review of the XG5-P yet).

  10. Has anyone done a good performance shootout ranking PCIe 4.0 SSDs? Preferably the 2tB models?
    I have the Gigabyte AORUS 2tB and I’d like to know how it stacks up against the others. I bought it because the specs looked so good, and I am VERY impressed with its performance. Windows 10 boots up lightning fast, and games are super speedy too.

  11. I have to say you are the first tech writer who’s back doesn’t go up and get all snotty and defensive when someone has a dissenting opinion. You handle yourself with intelligence and diplomacy. Kudos to you and thank you for your informative articles.

  12. jb, excellent work- info is spot on.
    please update with the additional NVME’s ..
    ive been performing similar ATTO and Crystal Disk tests. the only mfg that actually understates the r/w speed is crucial. please verify the P5 NVME 500 & 1TB 2280’s ..let me know your thoughts and if i can assist.

  13. Crucial P5 500Gb & 1TB 2280

  14. Is it usually possible to move the M.2 plastic post on motherboards, to accommodate the various lengths? I’ve never encountered this before and while it looks possible (mine is a pale blue plastic post), I’m reluctant to break it, if they’re normally immovable

    • You are absolutely right, good point! On many motherboards, the post is a metal screw that can simply be moved to another position. The issue rarely comes up though since the vast majority of consumer M.2 drives use the 2280 form factor. Maybe this will change once really large capacities are more common.

  15. sorry for the duplicate comment. I noticed I said I was connecting via USB 3. it actually is USB-C. full corrected comment is below. thanks again!
    hello, Jesper!! great article with great info!

    I’m an audio professional and some of my DAW sound/sample libraries require that I install them on SSD drives. to keep from taking up space on my boot drive, I’m looking to move them to external storage and the NVMe SSD seems to be the smartest route.

    I’ll be connecting via USB-C to a 2018 Mac Mini and putting the SSD in a USB-C enclosure. I’m currently looking at the Samsung 970 PRO or EVO (512GB), but can you recommend a drive and enclosure combo (for external storage, not booting) where I can get max read speeds and reliability at a reasonable price? thanks in advance!!!

    • Hi Garfield, and many thanks!
      Although you could theoretically connect an external Thunderbolt drive to your 2018 Mac Mini, I would personally not spend money on anything that fast, and certainly no 970 PRO/EVO (which I would only use as an internal drive) + enclosure.

      I don’t know about your exact working environment of course, but I am currently using Logic (audio recording + samples) on a 2012 MacBook Pro (SATA SSD) with no lag whatsoever.

      It’s unlikely that you would have an issue with any external SSD on the market. My tip would be to simply maximize the amount of GB/$

      • I appreciate the info, suggestions and response!!

        I used to run Logic Pro X from a 2012 MBP as well with a Samsung SSD and it was a great solution!! the 2018 Mini has DEF been an upgrade, and the Logic Pro, Studio One and Native Instruments samples are currently on an external 7200rpm and running with no problems.

        however, my instruments from UAD LUNA are suggested to run on SSD (from UAD) and I use several sample-based Acustica Audio plugins that sound great, but are VERY heavy on the computer both in CPU load and space required. my thought was that the fastest possible SSD drive solution would be the smart bet. also, since the Samsungs are top notch in terms of quality, and I’ve installed them in both of the 2012 MBP in our home with great results, I just assumed I’d stay in the Samsung family… so in that scenario, you still say the Samsung EVO would be the least efficient option (because of cost)? thanks again!

        • Thanks for the clarification, though I’m not familiar with those plugins, so I won’t pretend that your situation is perfectly clear to me 🙂

          I still get the impression that storage bandwidth might be a lesser issue, but if you are intent on taking this route then I agree that a 970 EVO/EVO Plus would be one of the best-performing options.

  16. Keep in mind once PC games (and hardware) start supporting DirectStorage, a good NVMe drive will become a larger asset. I suspect games developed for the next-gen consoles will see optional support for DS on PC. Obviously the impact will vary based on how aggressively developers use it, your game settings (textures and so forth that would exceed available RAM), and how much memory you have to play with in the first place.

    Consoles will still benefit the most, obviously. They have a comparatively small amount of total available RAM, and they have fixed specs, so developers can really fine tune streaming algorithms. They’ll have to be more conservative on PC, and it will be optional, so the impact won’t be as large for many (most?) configs.

    Even so, I’m glad to see them bring DirectStorage to PC, it’s about time we actually taxed these high-falutin’ NVMe drives in-game.

  17. Sorry but 970 Evo Plus has 1200tbw and not 600tbw.

    • Hi Leonardo. The 2TB capacity is 1,200 TBW but the above mainly compares 1TB capacities, and the 1TB EVO Plus is 600 TBW. Did I get this mixed up somewhere?

  18. Thank you for this. I’m so tired of seeing lists based on advertised read and write speeds.

  19. MB/s Mega BYTES per sec
    Mb/s Mega bits per sec
    Mega meaning 1,000,000 or an even 1 million
    I see this expressed incorrectly a lot, the disk manufacturers do it constantly to try and make their drives seem faster.
    Since a pcie 3.0 lane max’s out at approximately 2Mbits/sec (pre-encoded using the 128b/130b standard) there is no way an NVME device can read 7000 or write 5000 Mega Bytes per second. The theoretical maximum transfer rate is actually about 985 mega bytes per second per lane or for a x4 (by 4) link 3940 mega BYTES per second. Not bad, and way way better than a mechanical HDD. In a quick test on 2 i9-9900k systems i got around 2800 Mega Bytes/sec throughput
    Pcie 4.0 is faster, about double that of pcie 3.0, or 16 Gbits/sec for a by 4 link which boils down to approx 8,000 Mega Bytes per second (theoretically)
    In real world scenarios, even with pcie 4.0 I would expect half the theoretical, perhaps maybe a little better. There are just so many other bottlenecks that slow things down.
    Another thing is the queue, I would not expect any normal desktop user to have a workload that makes use of a queue depth of more than 2 or 3 in the worst of cases so the 60,000 depth for desktops is mostly a wash

    • Thanks for the interesting comment. The 7,000/5,000 MB/s reads/write are only claimed in the PCIe 4.0 space though. Of course, and as you mention, these are theoretical sequential figures seen in e.g. ATTO.

      I think you may even be underestimating the difference between theoretical performance vs real-world scenarios for the average desktop user. I’ve seen a lot of comparisons of loading times (and made some myself). A high-end SSD will certainly improve things a bit on average over an entry-level model, but you get diminishing returns compared to the vast difference when compared to a mechanical drive.

      It will be interesting to see how much of an effect technologies like Microsoft’s DirectStorage will have on removing the bottlenecks and make the performance figures somewhat (or hopefully a lot) less theoretical.

  20. Very comprehensive and direct to the point. Well written article. Good job Jesper and thanks for this.

  21. Adata xpg S70

  22. You have the PNY XLR8 CS3030 listed as having a total terabytes written endurance of 1650 TBW. Is this a typo, or is this particular drive special in some way? The others in the same category are only around 600 TBW. TBW is actually one of the most important stats for my decision making. If the listed rating is true, this is the clear winner for the money in my book.

    • Yes, it’s an odd but correct number:

      And I definitely agree that it’s important. Most high-end drives will likely last much longer than their specified TBW indicates, but a high number is always reassuring (and could say something about spare capacity/overprovisioning, which is hardly ever made clear in the specs).

      • It seems the spec sheet you linked has much lower TBW, can you check again?
        1Tb = 360
        2Tb = 660
        you stated 1650 for 1Tb and the doubled down. This is a make or break item for my use case. Please help clarify. PNY CS3030

      • Thank you for responding. I think you are absolutely right, the “spare capacity/overprovisioning” would perfectly account for the higher TBW despite the lower generation, as simply a space allocation decision on their part. It would also account for the odd 1650 number, at odds with the factors of the other TBW numbers. I expect as a result however, this SSD actually has slightly less usable memory than the others. It is however a tradeoff I am happy to have. My existing boot drive SSD has already had a couple of errors after only three years, including one that crashed the system. My upcoming new system needs a boot drive that can operate reliably for six years.


  24. Refreshing an article such as this — over a year — can result in errors. You’re actually missing the truly fastest Gen 4 SSD, possibly due to their confusing nomenclature: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 2TB.

    Via Tweaktown: “Boasting sequential speeds in excess of 7,100 MB/s read and 6,600 MB/s write, the Rocket 4 Plus is capable of the highest throughput we’ve seen to date from any retail SSD…the first of its kind retail Phison E18 powered SSD.”

    Your article only covers the “Sabrent 1TB Rocket NVMe 4.0 Gen4″…which is considerably slower. It uses the Phison PS5016-E16 controller.

    • Thanks for your comment. You are absolutely right, I edited this page right before the Rocket 4 Plus was launched. Based on the reviews available so far, I’d be hesitant to call it the fastest of its kind, but there is no doubt it’s among the best. I have an SN850 here and I’m hoping to pit a Rocket 4 Plus against it soon!

  25. 20GB for Windows? My folder C:\Windows is 70BG FeelsBadMan

  26. I quite curious about m.2 slot which has gen4 and gen3 in x570 mobo. If i use 1TB gen4 card into m.2 gen4 slot and 500gb m.2 gen4 into m.2 gen3 slot, can both m.2 of gen4 card run together smoothly??

    Or it is still need same size of memory with different type of gen. Or you can have different type of memory with different type of gen?

    • They will work together smoothly, capacity and memory type is not an issue as it might be with RAM. However, a Gen4 SSD in a Gen3 slot will be capped at Gen3 speeds.

  27. Perhaps a little advice before doing a speed test on the Gammix S70 m.2 It would be advised to update the firmware before actually using it. I have not done the firmware update and have achieved speeds of R/W 7425/5844 running on MSI X570 Tomahawk wifi
    Good luck.

  28. The Optane info needs to be updated. Optane Memory H10 is available with 512 GB and 1 TB capacities, curiously with PCIe 3.0 interface. Maybe time to comparo test them?

  29. You forgot about ADATA S70 NVME?
    You skipped it?

  30. What is the most endurance (TBW) NVME?

  31. Reply Avatar photo
    Donald(DON) C Diehl Jr August 11, 2021 at 2:42 am

    Hello, my name is DON. I have been acquiring internal parts for my build since 2019. That’s when I got my large full ATX case. Thermaltake Core X71 Tempered Glass case. It can hold everything I need for my build. I have three CPU’s to choose from all AMD and all Ryzen they are 7-5800x, 9-3900x, 9-5950x My motherboard Gigabyte X570 Aorus Master 1.2, DEEP COOL Assassin III CPU Cooler, Two PSU’s-1200w PSU and 1600W, Two GPU’s- XFX RX 6700x , AMD RX 6700x. With that being said I had planed on using the one PSU dedicated for the GPU, and the other for the motherboard and everything else. That way it wont be taking power away from it or them, the GPU’s or anything plugged into/onto the motherboard. I had planed on getting “DELTA” fans for the case and Switching out the cooler fans for the DELTA FANS since they can run at a higher RPM for more air flow to keep it cool. I’m trying to get unbuffered ddr4 udimm ecc memory but have been having a hard time locating the correct kind and amount. 32GB a stick @ 3200 GHZ for a total of 128GB or 16GB a stick for a total of 64GB for all four motherboard slots. That along with the M.2’s, three of them. I’m also going to be putting in 2.5 sata SSDs. Yes this will be a very large build. It will be something like a “SERVER” but not used as one. Now onto the question. What do you think of it so far? Do you have any suggestions on anything? ANY CHANGES? Better or Bigger case? How much TB for the M.2’s? How many 2.5’s and how much TB for them? I know this is a lot to take in and I never stop learning, even at my age! LOL!! Thank you in advance for your help and suggestions.

    Sincerely Don

  32. Thank you for giving some information about NVMe, M.2, and SATA. This article is very helpful for selecting the Fastest drives.

  33. Jasper, People keep telling you that your speeds are wrong and you keep pointing out size differences. And, the downside is it’s so much more than that. Your data is inaccurate and not sourced properly.

    Your Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus Data is epically off. Yes, the 4TB is 7100 and 6600 which is not the same as the 1TB but the 1TB isn’t anywhere close to what you listed either.
    It’s 7000 and 5300.

    Own your mistakes instead of trying to come up with excuses. You did not do your homework thoroughly enough to write this article. It’s called due diligence.

    • Hi Christoper,
      On the contrary, I’m happy to have errors pointed out and will correct them ASAP.

      As you mention, this is not the first time that the Rocket 4 is mentioned. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe this is perhaps due to both the Rocket 4 Plus and Rocket 4 (non-Plus E16-based) being mentioned in the article, whereas only the slower non-Plus model has its specs listed? This is indeed a bit confusing and I should edit to clarify.

  34. Awesome article! I agree with the list and i learned some new stuff. I would add T-Force Cardea A440 Pro (PhisonE18/176L) to 4th place and Acer Predator GM7000 to 10th place right above Aorus7000s. Also i can’t wait for Rocket 4 Plus 8TB! Cheers.

  35. For what its worth if you are eyeballing the Kingston KC3000, get it from Kingston’s website. Its $70 cheaper then on Amazon. Not sure if you guy get a cut of the links. If so sorry. But I was stunned at the price difference.

  36. Thank you for your reviews. Please start including temperature testing results in your reviews. I am looking at upgrading my current gaming laptop’s PCIe NVMe drive but want to get one that runs cooler.

    • Thanks for your comment, PLK. This is definitely a good point and worth keeping an eye on, especially as temperature-challenged PCIe 4 (and eventually PCIe 5) drives make their way into laptops.

  37. Is there a disk available in the Pcie x4 2242 form factor?

    • Hi, do you mean Gen3 x4 (four PCIe lanes) or PCIe 4.0 (Gen4)? If it’s Gen3 x4 there are a few, including the Sabrent Rocket 2242 and Samsung PM991. Also some Kioxia and SK Hynix OEM products I believe. There are no 2242-size Gen4 drives that I know of.

  38. Hello, i just want to thank
    you because after all this years.. this is still a very helpful and well written article..

    I want to ask for your opinion. I have a 2021 asus tuf gaming laptop with pcie 3.0 slot.. should i go with the 970 evo plus or the aorus gen 4 ssd. Weirdly enough, these are priced the same in my country, while the rest of ssd’s in the list are expensive by atleas 10 to 20 dollars

  39. Hi,

    This review is incomplete! The magician software is necessary for performance optimization on each system (I’ve been using Samsung SSD’s since 840 Evos, built dozens of systems with them). Nowhere in this article does it mention the magician software; it may be because they couldn’t have the 990 pro listed as #1 if they had. The magician software has not worked correctly, thus the drives do not run optimized, since 980 pro. I currently have 2 systems: a Dell Precision 7560 with a 980 pro and an MSI B560M PRO-VDH ProSeries system I built yesterday with a 990 pro. Magician’s functions do not work on either; according to crystal disk mark both drives are significantly underperforming in reads and writes.

    You are better off purchasing a drive that does not rely on optimization software to run correctly; from now on I will only go with drives like Western Digital WD Black SN850X which are significantly less expensive and more reliable.

  40. Hey, your review is incomplete as you didn’t include the TeamGroup MP34. I have been running my Dell T3610 with the Teamgroup MP34 for > 3 years now and running CrystalDiskMark 7 says it delivers 3289 Mbps read speed and 2980 Mbps write speed with 65% of the 1 TB used. It was 3358 Mbps read speed and 2950 Mbps write speed in Dec. of 2019 when it was new and only 15% was used. With > 3 years of moderate use and still going flawlessly the TeamGroup MP34 should not be overlooked.

    Not including the very popular TeamGroup MP34 is a glaring error.

    • Thanks for the comment, Aman! Yes, it should definitely take the lead if it becomes available before the upcoming 2400 MT/s NAND models.
      This one apparently uses 2000 MT/s chips as opposed to the current Gen5 drives’ 1600 MT/s.

  41. I am after recommendations for a 1000+ TBW M.2 SSD with at least 5k read and 3k write. i dont mind the storage size as its just for the OS

    I was thinking of team group T-Force A440 as it has very high TBW.

  42. Samsung 980 and 990 Pro models are widely reported to have bad lifetime in the real world – they have a new firmware version out that ALLEGEDLY fixed the issue, but it appears to only be updateable if you run Windows and the latest version of Magician – which makes these drives BAD choices under LINUX.

    WD SN850x drives also have issues with Linux, related to power cycling issues, that do NOT appear to have been fixed.

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