Best M.2 SSDs in 2022: fast, reliable and modern

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Choosing the best SSD for your computer is no less a responsible task than buying a good processor or video card. The «correctly» selected solid-state drive will greatly speed up the work of programs, reduce the boot time of the operating system and make it more responsive. A mistake when buying it will lead to a bottleneck that will slow down the entire system and bring you a lot of unpleasant emotions.

In today’s top you will find, in our opinion, the best solid state drives on the market. We hope this will help you make the right choice.

Content

  • Best PCIe 4.0 SSDs
  • Best PCIe 3.0 SSDs

Best PCIe 4.0 SSDs

If you have a fresh computer with processors no older than 11th generation Intel Core or Ryzen 3000, then the best way to speed it up is to buy an SSD with a high-speed PCIe 4.0 interface. Well, we have selected the best of them for you.

Samsung 980 PRO

This is arguably the best solid state drive for gamers and enthusiasts you can buy today. The combination of Samsung’s proprietary Elpis controller and Samsung’s high-speed V-NAND TLC memory delivers high-speed SSD performance, while a range of proprietary technologies ensure stable performance in virtually all usage scenarios.


The specific speed of the SSD depends on its capacity — 250 GB, 500 GB, 1 TB and 2 TB — and for older models it can reach 7000 MB / s for sequential reading and 5100 MB for writing. And the performance of the drive in random access operations in 4K blocks reaches 1,000,000 IOPS. In order to appreciate all the advantages of this SSD, it is worth buying models with a capacity of 500 GB, and preferably 1 TB — the speed performance of its 250 GB version is much lower.

Kingston KC3000

This is one of the fastest M.2 SSDs on the market, and you can evaluate its capabilities in our review. Just keep in mind that we only tested the 512 GB version of the drive, while its 1 and 2 TB versions have much higher speed characteristics. Suffice it to say that the Kingston KC3000 offers sequential read/write speeds up to 7000 MB/s, and its random access performance reaches 1,000,000 IOPS. These SSD capabilities are made possible by the combination of the powerful Phison PS5018-E18 controller and Micron’s 176-layer 3D TLC NAND memory.


Kingston’s design is faster than the Samsung 980 PRO and has a higher resource, but this is achieved at the cost of reducing the energy efficiency of the drive. Which means it’s great for a desktop, but might not be the best choice for a laptop. It also lacks AES hardware encryption, which is important for some.

WD Black SN850

The WD Black SN850 is available in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB options. The read speed of each of them reaches 7000 MB / s, but, most interestingly, the fastest in the line was not the most capacious SSD (as is usually the case), but a 1 TB drive. Its sequential write speed reaches 5300 MB / s, and performance in random access operations is 1,000,000 and 720,000 IOPS for reading and writing, respectively.


The SSD itself uses a proprietary WD_BLACK G2 controller and BiCS4 96L TLC memory. The solid state drive is much inferior to the same Samsung 980 PRO in random write, lacks support for AES 256 hardware encryption and has a slightly higher idle power consumption. However, it is much cheaper than the development of Samsung, and the capabilities of the model easily allow it to be included in the list of the best M.2 SSDs.

Crucial P5 Plus

If all the SSDs discussed above belonged to top drives, then the Crucial P5 Plus is a pronounced middling offering more than decent performance for a very affordable price tag. It uses a Micron DM01B2 controller and Micron’s 176-layer TLC 3D NAND memory.


As for the performance of the SSD, there were no surprises. The most capacious 2 GB drive in the line provides maximum speed — up to 6600 / 5000 MB / s in sequential read / write operations and up to 720K IOPS in random read operations. At the same time, the greatest emphasis in the development of the drive was placed on data protection (AES-256 with OPAL 2.0) and random write speed — for all models of the line it reaches 700,000 IOPS.

Best PCIe 3.0 SSDs

Of course, PCIe 4.0 SSDs offer much better performance than their PCIe 3.0 brethren. But to use such an SSD, you need a modern computer, and its price is often higher than the latter. Therefore, the demand for M.2 PCIe 3.0 SSDs is still very high, and it would not be entirely reasonable to ignore them when compiling our top.

Samsung 980

This is far from the cheapest, but extremely fast SSD with PCIe 3.0 interface. It uses a proprietary Samsung Pablo controller in combination with 128-layer Samsung V-NAND TLC memory, and the main feature of the model lies in the absence of DRAM. It is thanks to this that the SSD costs noticeably less than it could, and the key disadvantages of such a solution are partly offset by Samsung’s fastest flash memory.


Of course, the PCIe 3.0 interface limits the drive’s capabilities. Therefore, the sequential read / write speed of even the older 1TB model does not rise above 3500 / 3000 MB / s, and its performance in random read and write operations is limited to 500K and 480K IOPS, respectively. Well, the random read speed of the “youngest” representative of the 250 GB line does not exceed 230K IOPS at all. Therefore, when buying such an SSD, we recommend choosing 500 GB or 1 TB models — the difference in their speed is not so great.

Samsung 970 EVO Plus

If you really want the fastest M.2 PCIe 3.0 SSD without any reservations, then the Samsung 970 EVO Plus is the best choice here. It uses Samsung’s proprietary Phoenix controller, coupled with Samsung’s fast V-NAND TLC memory, and features Samsung’s LPDDR4 memory-based DRAM cache.


The top model SSD delivers up to 3500/3300MB/s sequential read/write speeds with up to 620K/560K IOPS random read/write performance. True, this SSD costs accordingly. And, as is usually the case, the junior representative of the 256 GB series has much lower speed characteristics, and we recommend choosing between the three remaining models of 512 GB, 1 TB and 2 TB.

Digma Mega S3

Digma Mega S3 — will be a good choice for those who are looking for a drive to replace a conventional hard drive. It has a simpler controller, Silicon Motion SM2259XT, combined with 3D TLC NAND memory, but at the same time, the cost of an SSD is very democratic, and the speed is still much higher than that of classic HDDs.


The solid state drive is available in 256 GB, 512 GB and 1 TB options. Moreover, the speed of sequential reading and writing of the two older models is almost the same — 2130 / 1720 MB / s for the 1 TB version and 2080 / 1700 MB / s for the 512 GB SSD. Quite decent indicators for a budget model: they are quite enough for a home or office computer.

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