Whether you are building a new gaming rig or planning to upgrade the existing storage on your PC, it makes sense to invest in one of the best solid-state drives (SSD) on the market. But if you are looking for the best performing storage with the fastest read and write speeds then, NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) SSDs are the way to go. Not only do they offer up to 12 times faster speeds compared to SATA drives, but they are also more reliable and offer better endurance. In fact, the latest-gen gaming consoles from Microsoft and Sony also make use of NVMe SSDs, although it is the PlayStation 5 that offers a user-accessible M.2 slot to accommodate an additional NVMe SSD.
If you are planning to buy a new NVMe SSD then there are numerous options to choose from. To make things simpler, we have listed some of the best NVMe SSDs to buy in 2022. Our top recommendations include the WD Black SN850, the Seagate Firecuda 530, and the Samsung 980 Pro all of which are competitive in terms of price and performance.
WD Black SN850
Best performance at reasonable price
- Reliable real-world performance
- Good value for money
- Solid sequential speeds
- Can heat up under load
- No AES 256-bit encryption
Why should you buy this: Best performing PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD with a reasonable price tag.
Who’s it for: Professional users and gamers who are looking for the fastest read and write speeds.
Why we picked the WD Black SN850:
The Western Digital Black SN850 was our top pick for the best NVMe SSD in 2021 and it continues to be one of our top recommendations this year. Compared to all the other SSDs in this list, the SN850 is slightly cheaper, yet manages to offer some of the fastest speeds. The PCIe Gen 4 drive delivers sequential read speeds of up to 7,000MBps and write speeds of up to 5,300MBps. It is available in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB capacities with endurance ratings of 300 TBW (Terabytes Written), 600 TBW, and 1200 TBW respectively, which is at par with Samsung's 980 Pro and the Crucial P5 Plus.
The WD Black SN850 also comes in a special heatsink variant that is sold for an additional cost that should offer better thermal performance to keep the temperatures under check. The WD Black SN850 is also compatible with the PlayStation 5, meaning that it can be used to expand the console's storage. Apart from gaming, this drive should also deliver excellent performance for everyday workloads and is suitable for professionals that cannot compromise on data transfer speeds.
Seagate Firecuda 530
Speedy NVMe SSD with high endurance
- Highest endurance rating
- Fast sequential speeds
- Great all-round performance
- Available with up 4TB capacity
- Not the most affordable
- Lacks hardware encryption
Why should you buy this: Offers higher reliability and consistency with fast read and write capabilities.
Who’s it for: Gamers who are looking for a fast NVMe SSD that can sustain prolonged usage.
Why we picked the Seagate Firecuda 530:
The Seagate Firecuda 530 is another highly recommended NVMe SSD that offers one of the best endurance ratings on any NVMe SSD on the market. The base model with 500GB capacity comes with an endurance rating of 640 TBW, 1TB with 1275 TBW, 2TB with 2550 TBW, and there is also a 4TB storage option that can sustain 5100 TBW! To deal with high temperatures, Seagate offers an optional custom heatsink developed by EK Water Blocks (EKWB) to ensure maximum cooling efficiency thereby minimizing thermal throttling and enabling peak performance for longer periods of time.
Using a 176-layer 3D TLC NAND, the Firecuda 530 is claimed to offer the fastest speeds available on a PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD. It is said to reach sequential read speeds of up to 7,300MBps and write speeds of up to 6,900MBps. It is also one of the few NVMe SSDs on the market that is available with a maximum storage capacity of 4TB and it is also fully compatible with the PlayStation 5.
Samsung 980 Pro
Best-in-class NVMe drive with AES encryption
- Built-in AES 256-bit encryption
- Responsive performance
- Robust sustained write speeds
- Slower SLC cache
- Average endurance
- No 4TB capacity model
Why should you buy this: All-round performance with AES 256-bit encryption.
Who’s it for: Professionals and gamers looking for the best performance out of their hardware.
Why we picked the Samsung 980 Pro:
Samsung has been a reliable name when it comes to flash storage and the 980 Pro is the company’s flagship NVMe SSD offering. It is also one of our top recommendations for anyone looking for the fastest storage technology alongside 256-bit hardware encryption. The drive is PCIe Gen 4 compliant and is claimed to deliver sequential read speeds of up to 7,000MBps and write speeds of up to 5,000MBps. It makes use of Samsung's 3-bit MLC NAND technology with over 100 layers of cells and is claimed to consume 15 percent less power than its predecessor. Additionally, one can monitor the performance including the health and temperature of the SSD using Samsung's Magician software.
Crucial P5 Plus
Best value NVMe PCIe Gen 4 SSD
- Competitive pricing
- AES 256-bit encryption
- Good software suite
- Slower than the competition
- High idle power consumption
- Less efficient under load
Why should you buy this: Affordable NVMe SSD offering PCIe Gen 4 speeds.
Who’s it for: Professionals seeking fast PCIe Gen 4 storage at an affordable price.
Why we picked the Crucial P5 Plus:
The Crucial P5 Plus is an affordable NVMe PCIe Gen 4 SSD compared to the offerings by Samsung, Seagate, and Western Digital. While it is respectably fast, it is claimed to deliver peak sequential read speeds of up to 6,600MBps and write speeds of up to 5,000MBps, which is a tad bit slower than the ones mentioned above. It does however come with AES 256-bit hardware encryption, something which is only available on the Samsung 980 Pro. The drive offers similar endurance ratings as the Samsung 980 Pro making it a solid recommendation for those who want a taste of PCIe Gen 4 storage without spending a lot of money. The Crucial P5 Plus is also compatible with the PlayStation 5 when used with a heatsink.
SK Hynix Gold P31
Affordable PCIe Gen 3.0 NVMe SSD
- Respectable endurance rating
- Value for money
- Best in class performance
- AES 256-bit encryption
- Black PCB limited to 2TB model
Why should you buy this: Value for money NVMe SSD with PCIe Gen 3.0 interface.
Who’s it for: Casual gamers and media professionals who don't need PCIe Gen 4.0 speeds.
Why we picked the SK Hynix Gold P31:
For those who are not ready to take the leap to PCIe Gen 4.0 or are running an older system that only has a PCIe Gen 3.0 interface, the SK Hynix Gold P31 is a really good choice. It is said to be one of the first NVMe SSDs on the market with a 128-layer flash, delivering excellent performance at a low price point. The SSD is rated to reach peak read speeds of up to 3,500MBps and write speeds of up to 3,200MBps when used with a PCIe Gen 3.0 motherboard. This makes it the perfect candidate for older desktops and laptops that do not support the PCIe Gen 4.0 interface.
The SK Hynix Gold P31 has an endurance rating of 500TBW on the 500GB model, 750TBW on the 1TB model, and 1200TBW on the 2TB model. Additionally, the SSD comes in packaging if that is 100% biodegradable if that is something that matters to you, and it comes with a five-year warranty.
ADATA XPG Spectrix S40G
For those who cannot live without RGB
- Great 4K sequential-read capabilities
- Programmable RGB lighting
- AES 256-bit encryption
- Tends to run toasty
- Average endurance rating
Why should you buy this: Affordable NVMe SSD with some RGB flair.
Who’s it for: Gamers and enthusiasts who care about RGB aesthetics.
Why we picked the ADATA XPG Spectrix S40G:
If you thought there weren't enough RGB products in the world, think again. ADATA's XPG Spectrix S40G is one of the few NVMe SSDs that comes with its own set of LEDs to add some RGB goodness to your system. Using the XPG RGB Software one with the S40G allows you to control the lighting on the drive. Apart from a customizable color palette, there are a variety of preset effects to choose from.
As for the performance, it is a PCIe Gen 3.0 NVMe SSD based on a second-generation, 64-layer 3D triple-layer-cell (TLC) NAND manufacturing process. Available in 256GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB capacities, the maximum sequential read speeds are rated at 3,500MBps and sequential write speeds of 3,000MBps. ADATA claims that the 500GB model offers up to 320TBW which isn't the best when compared to the competition, hence it is best to go for the 1TB or the 2TB model which offer 640TBW and 1,280TBW respectively.
NVMe or Non-Volatile Memory Host Express is the logical interface specification or the protocol that is used to access a computer’s non-volatile storage media at high speeds. In simpler words, it refers to the way in which data is moved instead of the size or the shape of the drive. NVMe delivers high-performance and is a highly scalable storage protocol, that has been designed for non-volatile memory media (NAND and Persistent Memory) directly connected to CPU via PCIe interface. Typical PCIe Gen 3.0 based NVMe SSDs can offer transfer speeds more than six times faster than SATA SSDs, while the relatively newer PCIe Gen 4.0 based SSDs can go over 12 times.
PCIe is short for Peripheral Component Interconnect Express, which is a common serial expansion bus standard seen on most motherboards. The interface is used for connecting high-speed components to your PC like graphics cards, Wi-Fi cards, sound cards, and even SSDs. Depending on the number of bidirectional lanes that connect to them, PCIe slots come in different physical configurations: x1, x4, x8, x16, x32. The first generation of NVMe drives could fit into a standard PCIe motherboard slot similar to a graphics card, but today the modern NVMe drives use the M.2 form factor. NVMe drives with the M.2 form factor are like tiny sticks that measure a few inches long and around an inch wide.
At the moment there are generations of PCIe - PCIe 1.0, PCIe 2.0, PCIe 3.0, and PCIe 4.0. Naturally, if you are looking for the fastest data transfer speeds, it is recommended that you purchase NVMe SSDs that support PCIe 4.0 paired with a supporting motherboard and CPU.
Apart from the 2.5-inch form factor, SSDs also come in a much smaller form factor called M.2. It is as small as a stick of gum and looks a lot like a tiny memory module. An M.2 SSD can be SATA-based, PCIe-based with NVMe, or PCIe-based without NVMe.
Considering their fast speeds, NVMe drives can cost more than 2.5-inch SATA SSDs, but thanks to their wider adoption, the price difference is slowly fading away. For instance, a 1TB Samsung SATA SSD costs anything from $100 to $110. A similar capacity Samsung PCIe Gen 3.0 NVMe SSD costs about the same, while Gen 4.0 drive sells for an additional $30 to $40, which is totally worth the money.
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