M.2 SSD slots can be found on virtually any motherboard today and M.2 SSDs pretty much took the market from the good old SATA SSDs. While there are some SATA-based M.2 drives the majority of M.2 storage options utilize the NVMe standard, which comes with higher read and write speeds than SATA, as well as other optimizations that reduce latency.
NVMe interface uses PCIe standard to allow the SSD to communicate directly with the CPU, allowing impressive transfer speeds that leave the SATA interface in the dust. The two basic groups of NVMe solid state drives are the PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSDs, and the PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs. Drives compatible with the PCIe 4.0 standard offer double the speed of the PCIe 3.0 drives but they are pretty costly at the moment since we’ve only started getting PCIe 4.0 SSDs.
At the moment the majority of M.2 drives are either SATA or PCIe 3.0 compatible, but you should expect more and more PCIe 4.0 SSDs in the future, which will sell at lower prices. When it comes to cost to capacity ratio hard drives are still a better choice for data hoarders. Still, there are some M.2 SSDs that offer large capacities for a price that won’t make you start laughing in disbelief. They usually use QLC flash memory, which is great for tasks that involve lots of reading, such as media servers or data hoarding. If you need a high capacity drive for stuff like keeping a daily backup of your system, it’s better to use a TLC SSD or a hard drive.
Anyway, we’ve gathered the best M.2 SSDs you can find on the market today. We have PCIe 3.0 and 4.0 models but also a couple of SATA-based drives for users who need affordable M.2 storage. And yes, we also have the best RGB M.2 SSD pick. Let’s begin.
Best M.2 SSDs – Our Picks
|Best M.2 SSD Overall||Samsung 980 PRO|
|Best Bang For The Buck PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD||Corsair Force MP600|
|Best High Capacity PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD||Sabrent Rocket Q4|
|Silicon Power US70|
|Best PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD Overall||Samsung 970 PRO|
|Best Bang For The Buck PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD||Adata XPG SX8200 Pro|
|Best High Capacity PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD||Adata XPG SX8200 Pro 2TB|
|Sabrent Rocket Q|
|Best Budget PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD||WD Blue SN550|
|Best RGB M.2 SSD||Adata XPG S40G|
|Best SATA M.2 SSDs||WD Blue 3D|
|Samsung 860 EVO|
Best M.2 SSD Overall
If you want the best and the fastest NVMe SSD currently available there’s only one choice. The Samsung 980 Pro comes with the fastest performance found on a PCIe 4.0 SSD along with an impressive suite of extra features. Reaching the PS5-like transfer speeds (7,000 MB/s read and 5,000 MB/s write) and coupled with a technology such as the GPUDirect Storage from Nvidia, this SDD could offer impressive reductions when loading games.
But that’s not going to happen for a while so, at the moment, you’ll only get a bit faster loading speeds in games and when loading the OS. As for the extra features firstly, you get 256-bit AES encryption for keeping your data secure and the Samsung Magician is one of the best apps for monitoring and benchmarking SSDs. Finally, you get five years of warranty. The 980 Pro also includes a new type of SSD controller and the drive comes with solid endurance thanks to using TLC memory blocks.
The endurance could’ve better, especially considering the high price, which is the biggest downside of this solid-state drive. If you want almost the same performance in a bigger package the newly released Western Digital SN850 PCIe 4.0 offers a bit higher write speed (at least on paper) while selling for about the same price as the 980 Pro. Also, the SN850 comes in a 2TB version while the Samsung model tops out at 1TB.
Best Bang For The Buck PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD
Users looking for a fast PCIe 4.0 SSD for gaming or professional work that isn’t as expensive as the top Samsung and Western Digital models should check out the Corsair Force MP600. It features a write speed of up to 4,250 MB/s and read speed of up to 4,950MB/s, with real-life performance matching the advertised speeds.
Almost as fast as the 980 Pro but also noticeably cheaper. Further, you get a solid heatsink with the MP600 along with the same, five-year warranty period. As for the alternatives, the Gigabyte AORUS NVMe Gen4 is an excellent choice. Almost as cheap as the MP600, with about the same performance and a nice copper heatsink pre-installed on the SSD.
Best High Capacity PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD
If you need a high capacity M.2 SSD with a capacity higher than 2TB that also supports PCIe 4.0, the Sabrent 4TB Rocket Q4 is the best choice. It’s based on the QLC memory which means lower endurance, so we recommend getting this one only for read-heavy use cases, such as running a media server.
As for the performance, it’s excellent for such an affordable PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD. You also get a free SSD management software from Sabrent, which is pretty good and useful. Finally, there’s the version of the SDD that comes with a nice and thick heatsink, which we recommend getting unless you have a preinstalled M.2 heatsink on your motherboard.
If you need a PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD with a capacity of 2TB, get the Silicon Power US70. This is another excellent PCIe 4.0 SSD that boasts high capacity, excellent performance, five-year warranty, and endurance that’s much higher than on the Rocket Q4. The best of all, the 2TB version of the US70 is less than 10 percent more expensive than the 2TB Rocket Q4 while offering higher transfer speeds and much higher endurance (the US70 uses TLC while the Rocket Q4 uses QLC memory).
Best PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD Overall
While the Samsung 980 Pro took the throne as the best PCIe 4.0 SSD, its older cousin, the 970 Pro, is the best PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD you can find right now. With advertised speeds of up to 3,500MB/s for sequential read and up to 2,700MB/s for sequential write, this isn’t the fastest PCIe 3.0 SSD on the market but thanks to Samsung opting for MLC flash memory, it is the most durable one.
If you don’t want to pray the huge premium for the 970 Pro, check out the Samsung 970 Evo Plus. It features a bit faster speeds than the 970 Pro, but it uses TLC instead of MLC flash memory. This means lower endurance than the Pro version but if you’re a regular user you won’t even come near the write limit of this SSD. Overall, the 970 Evo Plus is a much better choice than the 970 Pro, unless you need an ultra-durable SSD needed for extreme write-heavy operations.
Best Bang For The Buck PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD
The Adata XPG SX8200 Pro is by far the best bang for the buck PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD you can find. With speeds of 3.500MB/s for reading and up to 3,000MB/s for writing, this SSD comes very close to the Samsung 970 Evo Plus while costing more than 20 percent less. When we look at the 2TB version, it costs upwards of 40 percent less, which is a steal for this level of performance. The TLC memory means pretty good but not amazing endurance, and five years warranty period is always welcome to see.
The alternative to the XPG SX8200 Pro would be the Western Digital Black SN750, but only for capacities up to 1TB. If you want a 2TB high-performance PCIe 3.0 SSD definitely get the XPG SX8200 Pro since it’s much cheaper while having noticeably better performance, especially when copying large files.
Best High Capacity PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD
When it comes to high capacity PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSDs (2TB and higher), the situation’s pretty good at the moment. Your best bet is to get the Adata XPG SX8200 Pro 2TB version if you want a blazing fast SSD that isn’t too expensive. As for the cheapest 2TB SSD that comes with flagship-worthy speeds, the Mushkin Pilot-E 2TB is an excellent choice. It’s cheaper than the XPG SX8200 Pro while having about 10 percent lower performance.
Going into 4TB and higher market, the cheapest choices all feature QLC memory. Your cheapest option that still has excellent performance and high quality of components is the Corsair MP400 series (Up To 3,480 MB/s read, up to 3,000MB/s write). The 4TB and 8TB models are great for media servers or some other use case that doesn’t include lots of writing. Another solid choice would be the Sabrent Rocket Q, with capacities up to 8TB, solid performance, but also average endurance thanks to the QLC memory used.
Best Budget PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD
Users looking for a budget PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD for gaming that has solid performance and excellent endurance should definitely check out the WD Blue SN550 series of M.2 SSDs. These come in various capacities and sell at very affordable prices that are quite close to SATA SSD prices. The low price means lower performance (up to 2.400MB/s read and up to 1.750MB/s write speeds) but also smaller write cache which can result in lower transfer speeds when moving large files (think a couple of dozens of gigabytes or such).
At least the memory used is TLC, ensuring excellent endurance for most users. Also, the price for the 1TB version of this SSD is extremely competitive. As for the alternatives, the Mushkin Pilot-E has faster performance and bigger write cache and is priced about ten percent higher for the 1TB model. If you can spare some extra cash, the Pilot-E could be a better choice.
Best RGB M.2 SSD
If you can’t live without RGB the cheaper way to get some bling on top of your M.2 SSD is to pair one of these RGB heatsinks with a quality M.2 SSD thermal pad. But if you want an M.2 SSD with a preinstalled RGB heatsink well, look no further than the Adata XPG S40G. This is a high-performance PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD that has pretty good performance as well as a pretty bright RGB effects. It would look great if paired with an RGB motherboard.
Excellent performance is coupled with an attractive price making this SSD an outstanding value choice no matter which version you get. But since the price for the 4TB model is ridiculously low considering that TLC flash memory is used, the 4TB version of this SSD is one of the best high-capacity SSDs on the market. If you need a high capacity SSD get this one and simply turn the RGB effects off. That way you’ll net a 4TB TLC drive with speeds matching flagship models for a price of a 4TB QLC SSD, which is an amazing deal. Adata also has got you covered with a five-year warranty.
Best SATA M.2 SSDs
They both come with SATA III transfer speeds (about 550MB/s read and around 500MB/s write) and in various capacities that top out at 2TB and 4TB respectively. Now, while these two sell at low prices, we strongly recommend getting something like the WD Blue SN550 instead. This one sells for almost the same price as the WD Blue 3D NAND SATA M.2 while offering much faster performance and NVMe interface.