The best NVMe solid-state drives can make your games load faster, Windows boot more quickly, and make your PC feel that bit more responsive — especially compared to older SSDs and traditional hard drives. Installing an NVMe SSD is relatively simple, providing a noticeable difference to read and write speeds on your desktop or gaming PC.
Although the Samsung 980 Pro offers unmatched performance in the market, our top pick for the best NVMe SSD in 2021 goes to. It offers the best value for money when weighing up performance, reliability, and cost, and with a few extra bucks thrown at it, it’s compatible to use as PlayStation 5 storage.
The best NVMe SSDs at a glance
Why should you buy this: One of the fastest PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs available at a reasonable price.
Who’s it for: PC and console gamers who want to load and run their games quicker and home-based office workers who need a fast and productive machine.
Why we picked the WD_Black SN850:
Western Digital’s WD_Black SN850 uses the latest generation of PCIe interfaces, giving it cutting-edge performance no matter the task. It’s a fast and reliable NVMe SSD that is available in 500GB, 1GTB, and 2TB capacities, boasting sequential read speeds of up to 7,000MBps and write speeds of up to 4,100MBps — games and apps will load at lightning speeds and data will transfer quickly.
Aside from offering outstanding performance, the WD_Black SN850 will look great in a gaming setup, sporting customizable RGBs that can be controlled via the WD_Black Dashboard. If you’re lucky enough to have nabbed yourself a PlayStation 5, this NVMe SSD now works with PS5 consoles (software version 21.02-04.00.00 or higher required). Not only does that net you more storage, but it also offers the necessary speeds to handle next-generation games so you get the full experience.
The WD_Black SN850 is available with or without a heatsink. For the extra $30, it’s definitely worth paying for the upgrade since it can get warm under a heavy load.
Samsung 980 Pro
Why should you buy this: It offers unrivaled NVMe SSD PCIe 4.0 performance with AES 256-bit encryption.
Who’s it for: PC gamers who want the best hardware available for incredible performance.
Why we picked the Samsung 980 Pro:
Samsung has injected its fastest V-NAND to offer an outstanding NVMe SSD. Weighing just 9 grams, this miniature-sized beast unleashes maximum read speeds of up to 7,000MB/s and write speeds of up to 5,000MB/s.
This NVMe SSD’s controller is coated in nickel to maintain the level of heat, coupled with the heat spreader to disperse heat away from the NAND chip. Using Samsung’s Magician software, gamers can monitor the performance and health of the Samsung 980 Pro, ensuring it’s delivering the best performance possible. As well as offering 1.5 million hours of reliability, it also comes with a five-year limited warranty.
The Samsung 980 Pro is optimized for gaming with up to 2TB storage; plenty for the latest AAA titles. If that wasn’t enough, it can sustain upwards of 1 million random read/write IOPS, making it one of the most responsive NVMe SSDs available. The only downside is that these specifications come with a heftier price than the WD_Black SN850.
Crucial P5 Plus
Why should you buy this: High-speed NVMe SSD that is available up to 2TB at an affordable cost.
Who’s it for: Creatives and gamers who want high-performance, next-gen storage that is well-priced.
Why we picked the Crucial P5 Plus:
The Crucial P5 Plus NVMe SSD does a fantastic job at balancing performance and value for money. It offers read speeds of up to 6,000MB/s and write speeds of up to 5,000MB/s while providing AES 256-bit encryption for security.
For those who aren’t ready to splash out on the WD_Black SN850 or Samsung 980 Pro, the Crucial P5 Plus is a worthy compromise. It’s available in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB capacities and uses the latest Gen4 NVMe technology. Not only is it future-proof, but it’s also backward compatible with many Gen3 systems.
The Crucial P5 Plus performs well under load, making it suitable for intensive apps used for video editing and content creation, and is more than capable of handling the latest games. While it can be less effective if you throw a lot at it, couple it with a high-performance gaming PC with sufficient cooling and Crucial’s software suite to maintain great performance.
Seagate Firecuda 530
Why should you buy this: All-around performance with high endurance and compatibility with PS5 consoles.
Who’s it for: Gamers who value sustained sequential performance with the option to double up as storage for the PlayStation 5.
Why we picked the Seagate Firecuda 530:
While Seagate took their time entering the PCIe 4.0 market, they certainly delivered an epic offering with the Firecuda 530. Not only is its performance on par with bigger brands like Samsung and Western Digital, it offers a 2,550 TBW endurance rating, meaning it’s built to last.
Using Micron’s 176-layer TLC NAND, the Seagate Firecuda 530 offers a significant improvement in read and write speeds over its previous generation. This NVMe SSD uses a custom-designed heatsink (which is optional) to minimize thermal throttling while delivering excellent performance.
The Seagate Firecuda 530 includes Seagate’s Rescue Services to protect your data from water damage or other potential disasters. Gamers can manage their NVMe SSD via Seagate’s DiscWizard and SeaTools to monitor performance, back up data, and create partitions. It’s one of the most versatile NVMe SSDs available that’s worth the higher price.
Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus
Why should you buy this: NVMe SSD PCIe 4.0 with fast sequential performance at a competitive price.
Who’s it for: PCs used for productivity and gaming that need responsive performance at a lower price.
Why we picked the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus:
The Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus is powered by PCIe Gen4 technology and takes advantage of TLC NAND to deliver high-performance read speeds of up to 7,000MB/s and write speeds of up to 5,300MB/s. It’s also backward compatible with PCIe Gen3 systems, maxing out at read speeds of up to 3,400MB/s and write speeds of up to 3,000MB/s.
For gamers, this NVMe SSD boasts an attractive copper-tone design, sitting pretty in a windowed PC setup. While it doesn’t feature AES-256 encryption like the Crucial P5 Plus, its price is well within reach to boost any PC’s storage capacity.
This model is available up to a huge 4TB capacity, enabling users to store plenty of high-resolution media files and games. There’s also a PS5 version available with a heatsink to expand the storage on any PlayStation 5 console, making it a versatile option.
SK Hynix Gold P31
Why should you buy this: Excellent PCIe 3.0 performance with AES 256-bit encryption.
Who’s it for: Laptop users who want to invest in M.2 storage at a low cost.
Why we picked the SK Hynix Gold P31:
The SK Hynix Gold P31 is one of the first NVMe SSDs on the market that boasts 128-layer flash. Despite its high performance, this SSD is fantastic value for money and is ideal for upgrading sluggish laptops.
It doesn’t use PCIe Gen4 technology like many of its competitors, but the SK Hynix Gold P31 will struggle to be beaten on performance versus power efficiency. Laptop users who value battery life will immediately see the benefits of the SK Hynix Gold P31. It can reach read speeds of up to 3,500MB/s and write speeds of up to 3,200MB/s when installed in a PCIe Gen3 motherboard.
Although it certainly has the capability of delivering in a lower-end desktop PC, there are other NVMe SSDs to consider that are more future-proof. The SK Hynix is available in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB storage capacities and features a built-in temperature sensor to protect your device. It’s a reliable, high-speed NVMe SSD with a five-year warranty at prices that are hard to beat.
Samsung 970 EVO Plus
Why should you buy this: Outstanding performance PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD with 9x-layer flash.
Who’s it for: Desktop PC users who have a PCIe Gen3 motherboard but require decent read and write speeds.
Why we picked the Samsung 970 EVO Plus:
Samsung is a reliable brand for excellent SSDs. While many brands make the shift towards PCIe Gen4, they are still an expensive investment. The Samsung 970 EVO Plus is one of the best high-performance Gen3 NVMe SSDs, delivering read speeds of up to 3,500MB/s and write speeds of up to 3,300MB/s.
The Samsung 970 EVO Plus is rated incredibly for endurance, making it a great choice for longevity and reliability. For the average consumer, the 1TB model is rated for 600TB of writes over a five-year period. Whether you’re gaming or working on a creative project, the Samsung 970 EVO Plus will stand the test of time. If you want to achieve a good balance between performance and value, the 1TB model should be suitable for most users. However, there are 500GB and 2TB models to suit your needs.
It’s a bit chunkier than other NVMe SSDs and weighs in at 8 grams, but it’s a hell of a performer with great heat dissipation.
SATA SSDs generally have a maximum throughput of around 600MB/s, whereas an NVMe SSD can achieve speeds on average of 3,500MB/s. Many next-generation NVMe SSDs can even reach up to 7,000MB/s, leaving the dust to settle in the SATA SSD market.
While SSDs are dramatically faster than traditional HDDs, an NVMe SSD will give you the clear upper edge when loading apps, operating systems, and games. Most SATA SSDs are 2.5 inches wide, whereas NVMe SSDs come in many shapes and sizes. M.2 NVMe drives are much smaller in size, allowing more room inside a desktop PC case or laptop for other components.
With many SSD brands shifting to NVMe, SATA SSDs are often more affordable. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t obtain a high-performance, good-value NVMe SSD.
Whether you’re building a new PC or upgrading your existing one, you should set aside at least $100 for an NVMe SSD. Within your budget, you’ll need to consider how much storage you require. Casual users can probably get away with installing a 1TB NVMe SSD to store documents and media files.
However, gamers may prefer to combine a SATA SSD with a larger capacity for less important files, and a 500GB or 1TB NVMe SSD for their OS and games. There are plenty of decent NVMe drives within reach below $150, however, if you want faster read and write speeds as well as more storage, you’ll need to fork out upwards of $200 in most cases.
PCIe 4.0 SSDs are currently the fastest storage drives available. They are faster than PCIe 3.0 drives, offering advantages to gamers who want to store an abundance of games or creatives who need to make large file transfers.
With the launch of Windows 11, gamers can leverage the DirectStorage feature to take advantage of NVMe SSDs, allowing them to operate to their maximum potential, so PCIExpress 4 does hold some advantages if you’re running the latest Windows operating system.