Last Update: July 6, 2021


NVMe SSD is faster than SATA solid state drives. If you have a gaming PC, it might have an M.2 slot for installing this small, high-performance drive.

Many people may not be familiar with computer hardware. We understand some intuitive things, such as speed and sensitivity.
Especially for gamers, even a very short delay will have the consequences of failure.

As the hardware requirements continue to increase, the delays caused by SATA ssd are becoming more and more intolerable.

What is NVMe SSD and is it necessary?

What SSD performance boils down to is 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. Its predecessor AHCI (paired with SATA) was originally intended for mechanical hard drives. The newer protocol includes many efficiency improvements to deal with parallel transfers and the low-latency nature of SSDs. If you are new to NVMe and want a primer on the concept, start with this introduction by Intel.

When shopping for a new SSD, it’s important to remember that M.2 is just a form factor that says nothing of performance. Some M.2 SSDs operate over the SATA interface and have the same performance limitations as a 2.5″ drive. If you have a relatively modern motherboard, it most likely has a PCIe/NVMe-capable (and therefore much faster) M.2 slot, so this is the type of drive to look for.

10 Best NVMe SSD of 2021:

Samsung 970 Evo 1TB0.87 x 3.15 x 0.9 in1.92 ounces
WD Black NVMe SSD0.87 x 3.15 x 0.09 in0.27 ounce
Plextor M8Pe M.23.15 x 0.15 x 0.87 in0.32 ounces
Adata XPG SX70003.15 x 0.87 x 0.14 in0.28 ounce
Intel Optane SSD 900P12.9 x 10.7 x 8.9 in1.5 lbs

1. Samsung 970 Evo 1TB

Samsung 970 Evo 1TB

The Samsung 970 EVO is the best NVMe SSD on the market, at least in our opinion.

As the successor to the Samsung 960 EVO series, the 970 Evo is arguably the representative of high-performance NVMe drives.

In contrast to the 960 EVO, it can be seen that the 970 EVO is mainly upgraded with a new Phoenix master. The flash has been upgraded from the previous 48-layer stack to the 64-layer stack, while the cache has been upgraded from the previous LPDDR3 to LPDDR4.

This has led to further improvements in performance, especially in terms of write speed and random performance growth, as well as a significant increase in reliability, a rise in data life from 400 TB to 600 TB, and a 50% increase in capacity.

More important for consumers, the warranty time of the 970 EVO series has also increased from the previous three years to five years, reaching the level of the Pro series, and the price is cheaper than the existing products.

Pros /Cons
  • Excellent performance and reasonable price
  • Plenty of capacity and endurance
  • Long warranty
  • Not quite as fast as 970/960 Pro
  • Twice the price per GB of SATA

2. WD Black NVMe SSD


The Black NVMe SSD is available in 250GB, 512GB, and 1TB capacities. Of course, the most popular one is the 1TB version, because the mainstream products are now almost 1TB.

Compared to the first black standard WD Black PCIe SSD, the WD Black NVMe SSD uses the standard M.2 2280 specification, supports the NVME protocol, and uses a new master, which greatly improves the speed.

In addition, the layout puts the main control in the middle, and the flash granules are placed on both sides in order to improve the heat dissipation efficiency and facilitate the data channel wiring.

According to official data, the WD Black SSD can reach 1.2 joules/GB, which can reduce energy consumption by more than 25% compared to 1.5 joules/GB and 2 joules/GB of similar products.

Pros /Cons
  • Good performance and price
  • Much better than WD’s 2017 model
  • 5-year warranty
  • Pricey
  • Slower sustained random IO

3. Plextor M8Pe M.2 NVMe SSD

Plextor M8Pe M.2 NVMe SSD

Without a doubt, the Plextor M8Pe NVMe SSD is – despite its high price tag – a spectacular drive.

The M8Pe is Plextor’s top-of-the-line product, boasting the company’s best performance scores across the board.

Games load quickly and, even when gaming while performing another task on the side, my PC remains responsive. It’s safe to say this drive was designed with gamers in mind, especially those who like to multitask.

This storage device delivers a wonderfully smooth gaming experience, even when it comes face-to-face with games that require demanding read/write operations and processing. Although the Plextor M8Pe 512GB SSD is last on our list, it’s not last in our heart!

Pros /Cons
  • Exceptional application performance
  • Two heatsink options
  • Transfer performance

4. Adata XPG SX7000

Adata XPG SX7000

If you want a cheap M.2 NVMe, then Adata’s XPG SX7000 is one of the best options.

It is faster than any SATA drive. As long as you don’t plan to do a lot of random writes or remix IO, it’s a very cost-effective NVMe drive, perfect for gaming PCs.

In fact, whether you should spend a lot of money to buy the fastest SSD, after all, compared to mechanical hard drives, the price of the SX7000 is much higher.

If you want to assemble a new computer and want to avoid ugly chaotic cables, then this M.2 drive may be the best choice.

Pros /Cons
  • Provides the lowest price per GB in all NVMe drives
  • Usually faster than any SATA SSD
  • Almost slower than any other NVMe SSD
  • In the case of writing large amounts of data, TLC may fall into some dilemmas

5. Intel Optane SSD 900P

Intel Optane SSD 900P

If you want the fastest solid state drive available today, Intel’s new Optane 900P is definitely one of them.

Its core secret is the 3D XPoint technology jointly developed by Intel and Micron, which is transformed from NAND technology and brings more benefits.

In fact, the speed of 3D XPoint is so fast that the 280GB model can achieve the highest performance, which is the same as the higher capacity 480GB.

However, if you don’t want more capacity, the 280GB model can be used as a faster boot disk and provide storage for your favorite games.

It should be noted that the Optane 900P is currently not suitable for notebook computers. It can only be used as a PCIe slot or a 2.5-inch U.2.

Pros /Cons
  • Fastest solid state drive in the world
  • Incredible endurance limit
  • Price is too high
  • Can only be used as PCIe AIC or U.2

6. Addlink S70 512GB

Addlink S70 512GB

The beauty of SSDs, is that now there are high-performance SSD memory controllers available, basically anyone with the manufacturing facilities and access to high-speed NAND flash memory can build a great SSD. Addlink has proved that by pairing the widely available Phison controller with Toshiba’s 3D TLC memory and creating the impressive S70 drive.

It’s also managing to sell this performant SSD for an impressively low price too. It may not be quite as quick as the Samsung 970 EVO, but it’s not far off, and a good bit cheaper too.

The 1TB drive is great value too, but if you’re only after a relatively small 512GB SSD for a speedy boot drive, and as the home for your most oft-played games, the Addlink S70 is a great shout.

Pros /Cons
  • Great value
  • Top-end PCIe 3.0 performance
  • Excellent endurance
  • Slow write performance outside of the cache

7. SK hynix Gold P31

SK hynix Gold P31

SK hynix’s Gold P31 touts market leadership as the first retail SSD product to launch with 128L NAND flash. With SK hynix’s newest NAND reaching incredible bit density, the Gold P31 hits the market at very low pricing. Listed at just $75 and $135 for the 500GB and 1TB models, respectively, the Gold P31 is a fantastic value that will make you think twice about spending that extra $25-$50 on the Samsung 970 EVO Plus.

SK hynix’s Gold P31 is very well suited for those looking to increase their laptop storage not only to gain capacity but to gain battery life, too. While Adata’s SX8200 Pro performs well against the Gold P31 in benchmarking, the SK hynix is much more power-efficient, which will lead to longer off-the-charger sessions.

But, while the Adata is the better buy for desktops and the SK hynix is best for laptops, the Gold P31’s much stronger write performance and ultra-high efficiency make it the better well-rounded choice for many users.

Laptop users who don’t need more than a terabyte of storage and prioritize battery life should definitely put the new SK hynix Gold P31 at the top of their drive list.

Pros /Cons
  • Top-tier performance
  • Unprecedented efficiency
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • Capacity tops out at 1TB

8. Samsung 980 PRO

Samsung 980 PRO

If you are looking for the fastest possible storage device for your PCIe Gen4-capable system, Samsung’s 980 PRO is the current performance leader. The 980 PRO and its proprietary Elpis controller outperform the competing range of Phison-based SSDs by a sizeable margin – reaching speeds of up to 7,000 MB/s (sequential read) and 5,000 MB/s (sequential write), as well as up to 1,000,000 IOPS in the 4K random read/write areas.

In spite of its name, the 980 PRO is more of a successor to the 970 EVO Plus than to the 970 PRO. Previously, the entire PRO lineup has been based on higher-end MLC (multi-level cell) NAND memory chips.

With the 980 PRO, Samsung instead makes the transition to cost-effective TLC (triple-level cell) NAND. Outside extremely storage-intensive workloads this will make little difference, but it should be noted that the endurance rating is lower than the 970 PRO (and also lower than the Phison drives listed below).

Pros /Cons
  • Unrivaled PCIe Gen4 performance
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • Black PCB
  • Software package
  • Average endurance ratings
  • Costly

9. Team Group T-Force Cardea Zero Z340

Team Group T-Force Cardea Zero Z340

Team Group’s T-Force Cardea Zero Z340 SSD isn’t much more expensive than most entry-level M.2 SSDs. Still, with the latest mainstream hardware under the hood, it’s a good choice for gamers looking to stretch their budget a bit for something more consistent and reliable.

The drive offers a good bang-for-your-buck upgrade or a good option for those planning their next PC. It’s a responsive SSD that not only offers up multi-gigabyte performance; it’s rated for killer write endurance over its five-year warranty period. Plus, it comes with a slick graphene and copper label to handle heavy workloads without overheating, even without airflow in our test system. If you want to use a heatsink with your M.2, the label won’t prevent it like the heatsinks on some SSDs, like Patriot’s Viper series.

In our testing, we found that the combination of the Phison E12S controller and Micron 96L flash performed fairly well. Notably, the drive delivers faster performance than the older hardware powering the Seagate FireCuda 510 and is more efficient, too. But it isn’t the best of the best.

Pros /Cons
  • Competitive pricing, performance & efficiency
  • Single-sided form factor
  • 5-year warranty & class-leading endurance ratings
  • Head spreader is very malleable

10. Adata XPG SX 8200 Pro

Adata XPG SX 8200 Pro

If you’re looking for great value for the long haul, then the Adata XPG SX8200 Pro SSD is one of the best M.2 SSDs you’re going to find.

It has respectably-high sequential read and write speeds compared to its nearest competitors, the WD Black SN750 and Samsung 970 EVO Plus, but it’s the SSD’s outstanding durability that defines it. With an MTBF rating of 2,000,000 hours and a TBW score of 1280 at 2TB – the highest TBW of the PCIe 3.0 M.2s on the list – and 160 at 256GB. It also has a 5-year warranty, so no matter the capacity you buy, it will keep hustling along, even if it’s a tad bit slower than the rest.

Where it does fall short compared to the SN750 and the 970 EVO Plus – by a good bit, in fact – is its random access speeds. The XPG SX8200 Pro is a little under half as fast as the two competing SSDs, so if you use batch programming to generate a lot of new files for work, like invoices or database entries, then you might notice that the XPG SX8200 lags somewhat. That isn’t most people, though, who will find the XPG SX8200 Pro more than fast enough for general use, gaming, and creative work.

Pros /Cons
  • Great sequential read performance
  • Fantastic durability
  • Best value for large capacity M.2s
  • Random access speeds fall short of rivals

What’s so special about NVMe SSD?

The old storage paradigm was built on the idea of spinning disks. When SSDs hit the mainstream consumer market, starting in 2007, they reset our expectations for storage.

Moving from the mechanical world of hard drives to the silicon world of SSDs brought rapid improvements in performance, technology, capacities, and reliability. SSDs had no difficulty saturating the various SATA connections. Faster alternatives were needed, but the interface was only part of the problem.

The AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface) command protocol was designed for much slower media (i.e., spinning magnetic disks). AHCI is inefficient with modern SSDs, so a new standard was developed: NVMHCI (Non-Volatile Memory Host Controller Interface). Combine NVMHCI with a fast PCIe interface, and you have NVMe, Non-Volatile Memory Express. It’s a much-improved interface developed around the needs of flash memory rather than spinning disks.

But what’s NVMe like in the real world? If you’re copying a game from one drive to another or validating game files in Steam, faster NVMe drives make a difference. They can also shave off a second or two when it comes time to load a game level, but the more significant difference is against hard drives where even a slower SATA SSD is much faster. Go beyond a certain point, and all SSDs start to feel similar.

In other words, while the speed freak in me loves what NVMe brings to the table, I recognize that in practice, it’s usually not that noticeable. If you’re looking to get the most from your money when it comes time to build a gaming PC, good SATA SSDs remain an excellent option, with prices now falling below 10 cents per GB.

What is M.2?

Most NVMe SSDs are also M.2 SSDs, but M.2 SSDs using SATA bandwidth also exist. This can be confusing!

Some M.2 SSDs can function as either NVMe or SATA SSDs- so what’s the difference?

Simply but, M.2 is a form factor. Imagine something about as long as a USB thumb drive and about as thin as a wafer, and you have an M.2 drive.

M.2 drives are popular in both full-sized desktop tower PCs and low-profile laptops and tablets, due to their ultra-compact size.

It’s a particularly useful form factor for SSDs, which generally don’t even come close to filling a full 2.5-Inch SATA drive enclosure.

There are two types of M.2 SSDs: SATA and NVMe. If you want to achieve the fastest speeds with an SSD, verify that the SSD you’re getting says either “PCIe” or “NVMe”!

How we test and performance

There is no doubt that testing is the most important part of our evaluation of a product. If we don’t test it ourselves, we have no reason to comment on the quality of a product.

Throughout the test, we used the Windows 10 64-bit operating system, turned off all boot items, turned off write buffer refresh and ASPM power management, and did not optimize the system.

We selected HD Tune, CrystalDiskMark, AS SSD Benchmark, ATTO Disk Benchmark and other test software, and made this list after comprehensive evaluation.