These are the best M.2 SSDs you can buy in 2022


Installing a new SSD for the first time, or replacing an older one, is the single most effective upgrade you can make to a PC. An SSD upgrade won’t cost you too much, doesn’t take long to install, and significantly improves your computing experience. It’s a tried-and-tested method to breathe new life into a computer.
Picking the right SSD, however, can be a little complicated. M.2 drives are widely available on the market with capacities ranging from 250GB to 8TB. They’ve become a standard for laptops nowadays, but they’re also gaining popularity in the desktop space. Many high-end motherboards now have two or more M.2 slots. M.2 Type-2280 is the most commonly used size in both laptops as well as desktop boards.

While SATA-based SSDs are perfectly serviceable for basic workloads, we recommend you go with a PCIe-based M.2 SSD with NVMe support. NVMe (non-Volatile Memory Express) is a protocol for implementing PCIe. These SSDs are faster than SATA because they tend to speak with your computer faster. These are the drives you should be looking for if your day-to-day workloads involve gaming, large file transfers, videos, high-end photo editing, transcoding, etc. When it comes to capacity, we also recommend you go as big as you can afford.

The idea is to have enough storage for a fresh copy of Windows 11 and a couple of your most-used apps or most played video games. Mass storage is still better served by SATA SSDs as they’re generally more affordable for larger capacities. You also have more SATA connectors on a motherboard than you will M.2/PCIe. A good balance for any system is to have an NVMe SSD as a boot drive (if your hardware supports it) and a SATA drive as an additional space for storage.

We’ve included both PCIe Gen 3 and Gen 4 NVMe SSDs in this collection. While PCIe Gen 5 peripherals including the new SSDs are expected to launch in the not-too-distant future, they’ll be available in limited quantities and expensive.

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Best overall – Western Digital Black SN850


Specification Western Digital Black SN850
Capacities 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
Form Factor M.2 2280 Single-sided
Transfer Interface PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4
Sequential Reads/Writes 7,000 MBps / 5,300 MBps
Warranty 5 Years
Endurance Up to 1,200 TBW

The Western Digital Black SN850 drive is our pick for the best SSD you can buy on the market right now. The SN850 builds on the merits of the last-gen SN750 to become the best performance drive. It uses the PCIe 4.0 interface to take advantage of double the theoretical bandwidth limit of other PCIe 3.0 drives. The SN850 can hit 7,000MB/s reads and 5,300MB/s writes in sequential transfers to stand out from the crowd.

The SN850 drive is available in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB capacities with or without heatsinks. This particular drive is known to run a little hot, especially when under load, so we recommend using some sort of a heatsink to keep your drive temperature in check. You can also choose to use a third-party heatsink if you think the variant with the stock heatsink is too expensive. The drive comes in an M.2 2280 single-side form factor with an NVMe controller, a DRAM chip, and two flash packages. The SN850 is powered by a proprietary Arm-based multi-core eight-channel PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe SSD controller, which WD likes to call WD_BLACK_G2. It’s built on TSMC’s 16nm FinFET technology.

WD’s Black SN850 also features a revamped SLC caching implementation called nCache 4.0. It supports hybrid SLC caching, which is similar to Samsung’s TurboWrite but in a larger capacity. The WD Black SN850 also features many safety mechanisms like multi-gear Low-Density Parity-Check (LDPC) ECC engine, internal SRAM ECC, end-to-end data path protection in its ECC scheme, and more. All these features ensure the data on the drive is safe at all times.

The drive is also rated to endure up to 300TB of writes per 500GB of capacity, or up to 1,200TBW on the 2TB variant. The company also backs the Black SN850 with a five-year warranty. These warranty claims are more in line with what most manufacturers offer for their SSDs, so that’s great. As we mentioned earlier, it’s recommended you outfit the SN850 with a heatsink, even inside a well-ventilated case. The drive is known to run hotter than other SSDs on the market, hitting upwards of 75°C under load.

Despite being late to the PCIe Gen 4 party, Western Digital’s Black SN850 has managed to top the list of best next-gen SSDs by spearheading the performance charts. This is also a great option for those looking to add more storage to their PS5 now that Sony has enabled the SSD storage expansion on the console. The SN850 was one of the first SSDs recommended by Sony for the PS5.

PCIe 4.0 is all about speeds and the Western Digital Black SN850 is great in that regard. This is arguably the best M.2 SSD to buy right now, and we expect it to stay on top of the list at least until next-gen PCIe 5.0 drives arrive.

    The Western Digital Black SN850 is the best performing PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD on the market right now with impressive sequential read/write speeds.

Runner-up: Samsung 980 Pro

Samsung 980 Pro

Specification Samsung 980 Pro
Capacities 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
Form Factor M.2 2280
Transfer Interface  PCIe Gen4 x4, / NVMe 1.3c Compliant
Sequential Read/Write  Up to 7,000MB/s / 5,000 MB/s
Warranty 5 years
Endurance Up to 600 TBW

There aren’t many bad SSDs out there, but like all Samsung drives, the 980 Pro should be on your consideration list. Samsung’s legendary reputation is well founded for both performance and reliability across its range of internal and portable SSDs. The 980 Pro is the current top dog, though it will be surpassed later in 2022 you would expect by the forthcoming 990 Pro. That said, even the 990 Pro remains at PCIe 4.0 so its real-world improvements will certainly not be any kind of generational leap, meaning you’re still perfectly ok to be buying the 980 Pro.

When it launched the 980 Pro was Samsung’s first foray into PCIe 4.0 SSDs and the performance is unlike anything that came before it. Claimed read and write speeds of 7,000 MB/s and 5,000 MB/s aren’t the absolute fastest in the market, but it holds up in practice. Even the middle capacity 500GB model in our testing hits peaks of around 6,500MB/s and 4,900MB/s read and write respectively. And with up to 600 TB written endurance and a five-year warranty, it’s built to last, too. As always with this type of SSD, the absolute best performance and the longest endurance will come from the larger capacity models.

To unlock all this performance you do need to be using a more recent Intel or AMD CPU and motherboard that supports the PCIe 4.0 standard. Likewise, if you’re looking to put one inside a laptop. The Samsung 980 Pro is backward compatible with PCIe 3.0, but performance will peak at the limitations of that spec. Nevertheless, if you’re buying now and looking to future-proof for your next build, you can absolutely use this in an older PC.

The 980 Pro is also confirmed compatible with the PlayStation 5 if you’re looking to get a high-quality SSD to expand your console storage. You’ll get good performance from it, but you won’t be able to use Samsung’s excellent Magician software to squeeze the best from your drive. Magician has built-in benchmarks and health check tools to keep tabs on how your SSD is performing and monitor vitals such as temperature. It’s also the only way to update the drive’s firmware. So for console use, it’s wise to hook it up to a PC first and make sure your firmware is up to date.

There aren’t really any negatives to speak of with 980 Pro, but it can run warm. PCIe 4.0 SSDs tend to do this anyway, and Samsung does now ship it with an included heat sink if you wish. Without the heat sink, temperatures can top 60C (140F) if there isn’t adequate airflow over the drive, such as you would get in the PS5 or in a laptop. If you’re putting it into a desktop machine, making sure to mount it on a front-facing SSD slot with adequate airflow can drop 10C (50F) from those peak temperatures. But whatever you throw at this drive it’ll handle with ease.

    Samsung SSDs are some of the very best you can buy and this is the company’s current top performer. Whether laptop or desktop, or even the PS5, this is an incredible SSD.

Great all-rounder – Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus

A peach colored SSD sitting in front of a white cabinet fan

Specification Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus
Capacities 1TB, 2TB, 4TB
Form Factor M.2 2280 Double-sided
Transfer Interface PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4
Sequential Reads/Writes 7,200 MBps / 6,900 MBps
Warranty 5 Years (registration needed)
Endurance Up to 2,800 TBW

The Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus M.2 SSD is just as good as the leader of the pack, if not better. It locks horns with the WD Black SN850 while saving you some money for other core components of the build. That said, you still get the same level of general performance and we think it’s suitable even for high-end builds. With peak reads of 7,100MB/s and writes of 6,600MB/s, the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus performs better than a lot of other M.2 SSDs in synthetic benchmarks. It trails behind the SN850 in real-world tests, though.

The Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus uses the new Phison E18 controller. It’s a follow-up to the popular Phison E16 controller that’s running the show on first-gen PCIe 4.0 drives. It’s available in 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB capacities, with a five-year warranty that’s good for 700TBW, 1,400TBW, and 3000 TBW endurance respectively. Both the capacity as well as the warranty options are more in line with what most other M.2 SSDs out there offer on the market. The drive also has Micron NAND flash and SK Hynix RAM for the cache.

Sabrent will also give you a copy of Acronis True Image to help transfer your current installation across. This is a neat addition, especially if you are looking to switch your operating system or boot drive. The company’s Rocket control panel is also decent to keep a tab on your drive’s operating conditions. Sabrent has been pushing the boundaries of storage drives lately. Besides the Rocket 4 Plus, Sabrent’s other drives like Rocket 4, Rocket Q, etc. are equally popular on the market. We’ve also added the Sabrent Rocket Q drive to this collection as the best pick for those who are looking to buy a high-capacity drive.

The Rocket 4 Plus also runs cooler than the WD Black SN850. This makes it perfect for installing in Mini-ITX builds where the operating temperatures are usually higher. Sabrent is using a custom heatsink for the drive, which is perfect for an over-the-top PC build. There’s also a separate thinner heatsink for those who want to install it inside a PS5.

We also recommend checking out the regular Sabrent Rocket 4 drive.  It’s a reasonably priced PCIe 4.0 drive with good performance and costs a little less. It also comes in a 500GB capacity, something which Rocket 4 Plus doesn’t cover.

    The Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus is a viable alternative to WD Black SN850 SSD.

Best value PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD – Crucial P5 Plus

A black colored SSD installed on a motherboard

Specification Crucial P5 Plus
Capacities 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB
Form Factor M.2 2280 Single-sided
Transfer Interface PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4
Sequential Reads/Writes Up to 6,600 MBps / 5,000 MBps
Warranty 5 Years
Endurance Up to 1,200 TBW

The Crucial P5 Plus is one of those products that banks on the promise of value than flat-out performance. The drive is optimized for specific workloads and reliability than trying to excel at everything at once. While it may not offer the best performance when compared to a lot of other SSDs out there, we think it still keeps up with demanding workloads for reliable and consistent throughput. Crucial is using the in-house Crucial NVMe Architecture controller for these sticks. It has an eight-channel design that leverages LPDDR4 DRAM to accelerate FTL management. The 500GB and the 1TB model use 1GB of DRAM, and the 2TB model uses 2GB.

The Crucial P5 Plus is rated for sequential reads and write speeds of 6,600MB/s and 4,000MB/s respectively. It’s not in the same ballpark as some other drives on the list, but it’s going to be useful to power high-end gaming systems. The P5 Plus sticks come with five years of warranty and a decent endurance of up to 1,200 TBW for the 2TB variant. The endurance halves for the lower-capacity sticks. That’s not necessarily an issue and is commonly seen in most M.2 SSDs.

One of the highlights of the P5 Plus drive is it supports TRIM, S.M.A.R.T. data reporting, and AES 256-bit full-disk encryption based on the TCG OPAL 2.0 specification. The encryption will keep the data safe, and the drive is Windows BitLocker compliant too. Crucial provides the company’s own SSD toolbox and some cloning software to help transfer from an existing drive. We think this is a great addition and it adds more value to the price.

The Crucial P5 Plus sits in between the best of PCIe Gen3 and newer PCIe Gen4 drives. It may not have the fastest read/write speeds, but it competes with the best for optimized workloads like the one you’ll find in PCMark 10. Crucial is also banking on the use of Micron’s replacement gate architecture which combines both charge traps with the company’s CMOunder array technology. The new replacement gate suffers from reduced cell-to-cell capacitive coupling issues, lowered resistance levels, and more. All these work in favor of the P5 Plus for improved reliability and endurance over time.

We still think some of the newer PCIe 4.0 drives like the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus are superior in terms of raw performance. But Crucial’s emphasis on longevity makes it a compelling option over the high-end drives on the market. Overall, we think the Crucial P5 Plus has earned a spot in our collection as a reliable option for those who want a PCIe 4.0 drive without spending top dollars. It undercuts most of the high-end performance drives depending on the capacity you go for.

    The Crucial P5 Plus is not the fastest PCIe 4.0 SSD on the market, but it’s priced well for the performance & features it brings to the table.


SSD with an RGB jacket sitting on a table next to a keyboard

Specification XPG SPECTRIX S20G
Capacities 500GB, 1TB
Form Factor M.2 2280 Single-sided
Transfer Interface PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3
Sequential Reads/Writes Up to 2,500 MBps / 1,800 MBps
Warranty 5 Years
Endurance Up to 600 TBW

We believe any list involving storage devices is incomplete without the inclusion of ADATA, which is why we’ve decided to add this M.2 RGB SSD to the mix. The XPG Spectrix is not competing to be the fastest drive. Instead, it’s here to bring the RGB. It’s the only SSD in our collection to have RGB lighting, making it perfect for gaming builds that are already dripping with colors.

The XPG SPECTRIX S20G is also one of the better-looking drives on the list. In fact, we think it looks better than most other SSDs mentioned in this collection, even when you turn off the lights. It features a two-tone design that blends brushed aluminum with frosted plastic. The plastic portion lights up when the system is turned on. It’s not just RGB though. There’s a heatsink under the housing to keep the drive’s temperatures in check

The S20G is available in 500GB and 1TB configurations, with sequential read and write speeds of 2,500MB/s and 1,800MB/s respectively. It would’ve been nice to have more storage options, but these are still plenty for most users out there who are still looking to add an older PCIe 3.0 storage to their PC. The S20G is based on the PCIe 3.0 interface, which is why the read/write speeds are rather underwhelming. The drive supports both SLC Caching and Host Memory Buffer, with which it achieves random read/write speeds of 160K/190K IOPS. The S20G stick also benefits from LDPC (Low-Density Parity-Check) error-correcting code technology to detect and fix a wider range of data errors.

Similar to the Crucial P5 Plus SSD, the XPG S20G also features AES 256 encryption to ensure the security and integrity of the data. ADATA says the drives come with a five-year warranty and are rated at 600TBW. The operating temperature of the drive is usually by the lighting effects in RGB SSDs. XPG says the drive will operate anywhere between 0°C to 70°C, which is more in line with the other offerings.

The fact that XPG S20G M.2 PCIe 3.0 SSD is designed for gaming is clearly reflected in its style. We wish ADATA had released an updated variant with a PCIe 4.0 interface to keep up with the growing needs in this space. That being said, your options are fairly limited when it comes to RGB-enabled SSD sticks. The underlying issue here appears to be the effect of lighting settings on the overall performance.

    The XPG SPECTRIX S20G is the only SSD in this collection to have RGB lights.

Best PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD – Samsung 970 EVO Plus

Samsung 970 Evo Plus


Specification Samsung 970 EVO Plus
Capacities 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
Form Factor M.2 2280 Single-sided
Transfer Interface PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3
Sequential Reads/Writes 3,500 MBps / 3,200 MBps
Warranty 5 Years
Endurance Up to 1,200 TBW

While the last-gen PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSDs are no match against the newer PCIe 4 drives, we think they’re still worth picking up if you’re not too worried about chasing the cutting-edge performance. There’s no shortage of PCIe 3.0 based SSDs on the market in 2022, but the Samsung 970 EVO Plus is our pick in that regard. The 970 EVO Plus replaced the highly popular 970 EVO drive as the mainstream PCIe 3.0 SSD before the new-gen drives arrived. It’s equipped with a V5 flash that provided a nice speed bump to 3.5GB/s of sequential reads.

Thanks to the TurboWrite cache, the 970 EVO Plus SSD has varied sequential write speeds. It’s based on how much data lands in the hands of the cache memory. The Samsung 970 EVO Plus is available in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB capacities with an endurance rating of 150 TBW, 300 TBW, 600 TBW, and 1,200 TBW respectively. They come in an M.2 2280 single-sided form factor and feature Samsung’s Phoenix controller.

Samsung added a nickel coating on the Phoenix controller and a thin copper film on the back of the PCB to help dissipate heat. The Samsung 970 EVO Plus model comes with the company’s advanced Dynamic Thermal Guard implementation. It forces the drive to transfer more data during the sequential writes before throttling kicks in. This particular feature eliminates the need to have a sophisticated heatsink for dissipating heat.

There’s a lot to like about the Samsung 970 EVO Plus drive. Thanks to Samsung’s superior SSD technology, the 970 EVO Plus is a desirable SSD even in today’s world of PCIe 4.0 drives. They’re not as efficient as the newer SSDs on the market, but they’re great for somebody who’s upgrading an older machine with a slower storage solution. In our testing the 970 EVO Plus is capable of peak read and write speeds of around 3,400MB/s and 3,150MB/s respectively.

The Samsung 970 EVO Plus is still considered to be among some of the best to handle tough workloads which is why we think it’s one of the best PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD on the market right now. As a previous-generation product, the Samsung 970 EVO Plus is also not as expensive as it once used to be. It’s still a really great drive to use in something like a budget desktop build or as an upgrade to your laptop.

    The Samsung 970 EVO Plus is still a fantastic PCIe 3.0 SSD for those who’re not chasing the cutting-edge SSD technology.

Alternative PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD – Western Digital Blue SN550

A blue colored SSD with its components and a label

Specification Western Digital Blue SN550
Capacities 250GB, 500GB, 1TB
Form Factor M.2 2280 Single-sided
Transfer Interface PCIe 3.1 x4 / NVMe 1.3
Sequential Reads/Writes 2,400 MBps / 1,750 MBps
Warranty 5 Years
Endurance Up to 600 TBW

The Western Digital Blue SN550 has its fair share of compromises, but we’ve decided to add it to our collection mainly because it delivers reliable performance at rock-bottom prices. As WD’s mainstream NVMe SSDs, the Blue SN550 offers incredible value for economical shoppers. In fact, this was one of the most popular M.2 drives at the time of its launch, and it’s safe to say that it has managed to keep its name in the game. It’s available in 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB capacities.

The Blue SN550 drives are rated to deliver sequential read and write speeds of up to 2,400 MB/s and 1,750 MB/s respectively. One thing to keep in mind is the 250GB capacity drive can only hit 950MB/s on the write side of things. So we think it’s best to buy either the 500GB or the 1TB variant to get the best value out of this unit. The SSD supports Trim, S.M.A.R.T. data reporting, a multi-gear ECC scheme as well as various other standard flash management technologies. All these things help retain the NAND flash’s longevity. WD says the Blue SN550 drives come with a five-year warranty and are rated to endure up to 600TB of writes at the largest capacity.

Western Digital has also cleverly separated the components on the SSD to distribute and dissipate heat more efficiently. It prevents heat transfer from one component to the other to ensure the smooth function of the drive. This eliminates the need for a sophisticated heatsink for this particular SSD. The temperatures are said to be well under acceptable limits, even under load.WD’s Blue SN550 beats the QLC NAND drives like Intel’s SSD 665p and Crucial’s P1. It even dominates the Corsair Group MP33, another DRAMless SSD that suffers greatly when pushed beyond its cache. We’d rather have a slow yet reliable performer than something that comes down to its knees when you hammer it with heavy loads.

Overall, the WD Blue SN550 is one of the most consistent M.2 SSDs the market has seen in many years. It may not be the fastest SSD out there, but it’s perfectly serviceable to be used as the primary storage on a budget PC build. The Blue SN550 is also proven to respond faster than the more premium WD Black SN750 in some cases. It’s a fantastic SSD to work as your boot drive, or it can be used to dump less frequently used data.

    The Western Digital Blue SN550 SSD offers a great value for money. We think it’s perfect for budget gaming builds.

Best High-Capacity M.2 SSD – Sabrent Rocket Q

An SSD unit with white colored label sitting on a motherboard waiting to be installed

Specification Sabrent Rocket Q
Capacities 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB
Form Factor M.2 2280 Double-sided
Transfer Interface PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3
Sequential Reads/Writes 3,300 MBps / 2,900 MBps
Warranty 5 Years
Endurance Up to 1,800 TBW

What’s the maximum capacity of an M.2 SSD? Sabrent added a shocking answer to that question with the launch of its Rocket Q series drives. Rocket Q is the world’s first 8TB SSD in an M.2 form factor. Yes, you can buy a Rocket Q M.2 SSD with 8TB of storage right now and never worry about the growing size of Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare. It’ll be an expensive installation, though. It’s available in double the storage capacity of most modern M.2 drives out there, after all.

Before the Sabrent Rocket Q’s arrival, a 2.5-inch SATA SSD was your option to add more storage beyond 2TB. Even those drives were limited to about 4TB capacity and were no match to the speed of NVMe SSDs. None of the manufacturers were ready to push the boundaries by pairing QLC NAND with an 8-channel NVMe controller to deliver a high-performance and high-capacity QLC M.2 NVMe drive.

Sabrent changed by pairing a Phison E12S NVMe controller and Micron’s 96L QLC NAND flash to come up with the Rocket Q — a high-performance and high-capacity monster for all the data hoarders. The Sabrent Rocket Q comes in 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, and 8TB capacities. Sabrent says the Rocket Q drives can hit a maximum sequential read and write speeds of up to 3.2GB/s and 3.0GB/s respectively. The write speeds, however, depend on the dynamic write cache.

The write performance starts degrading as the SLC write cache is depleted during large transfers. This is one of the biggest tradeoffs of QLC flash. Speaking of tradeoffs, the Rocket Q also has low endurance compared to TLC SSDs. Sabrent is offering a five-year warranty for the drives though. A lot of these cons, however, are easily outweighed by the fact that it’s available in 8TB capacity. It targets a very specific set of users who don’t bother running after the fastest drive and focus on buying higher-capacity drives for their use case.

The only real drawback is the associated price tag. An 8TB Sabrent Rocket Q will cost you a hefty $1,500 — the average price of a gaming laptop. Intel’s Optane SSD 905P is the only drive carrying such a high price tag, but it doesn’t come close to the 8TB capacity. This makes the Rocket Q the most expensive M.2 SSD in this collection, but we think it’s well worth the asking price. The Rocket Q demands top dollars for being the only M.2 NVMe SSD of its kind. As long as the workload is within the cache limits, the Sabrent Rocket Q will perform as advertised and nothing else comes close.

    The Sabrent Rocket Q is the industry’s highest capacity NVMe SSD with up to 8TB storage

Final Thoughts

The Western Digital Black SN850 continues to be our top pick on this list for being the best overall PCIe 4.0 SSD around. It’s the M.2 SSD we think should go into your next high-end gaming PC. But Samsung’s 980 Pro is hardly a bad alternative.

If you’re leaning towards a budget build, then you might want to consider buying the WD Blue SN550 or the Samsung 970 EVO Plus SSDs. As last-gen products, they’re not as expensive as the top contenders in our collection and are also compatible with a variety of platforms. They’ll either serve as perfect boot drive options on a budget build or they can be used to store the less-frequently files in your system.

Building a new PC doesn’t have to be a daunting task. You can make it easier by tackling one component at a time. Just make sure you’re not spending all the time only on the core components like the CPU, GPU, and motherboard. Even the peripherals like keyboards, monitors, webcams, etc. play a vital role in making your computing experience better.

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