Best M.2 SSD 2023: get the fastest M.2 solid state drive for work and gaming

A samsung 980 Pro against a purple TechRadar background
(Image credit: Future)
Editor's Note: January 2023

As we enter the new year, we're expecting a whole host of new M.2 SSDs utilizing the latest PCIe 5.0 standard. That doesn't mean that PCIe 3.0 or 4.0 is finished, as the latest Samsung 990 Pro M.2 SSD is still on the PCIe 4.0 standard and once we're done testing it, we expect that it will take its place alongside the 980 Pro and 970 Pro Evo on this list, but we'll know for sure once our review is finished, so stay tuned.

- John Loeffler, US Computing Editor

It might be time to install one of the best M.2 SSDs 2022 has to offer if you find your computer’s starting to slow. Read and write speeds will pick up right away, letting you open, download, and transfer files much quicker.

What’s the top M.2 SSD for you depends on a few things. After all, not everyone is trying to upgrade a gaming PC. You’ll find options for all sorts of budgets as well as data access needs, not to mention different motherboard configurations. In that vein, before you press that buy button, you’ll want to check that your motherboard can work with these types of drives. If you’re unsure, take a look at the best SSDs to expand the storage capacity of your PC. It might take a while to realize you’ve installed the wrong kind of drive since the differences in random data access and sequential speeds between options are relatively minor.

If you’re able to install an M.2 SSD, on the other hand, you’ll see an improvement particularly in read speeds overwrite speeds. That’s due to the fact that your Windows 10 computer will spend more time accessing memory instead of writing it. However, software developers and content creators should put a premium on better write speeds since you’ll be accessing and changing projects regularly.

Whatever your needs are regarding price, read and write speeds, and interface, we’ve collected the finest M.2 SSDs for your consideration. So, no matter if you’re upgrading your desktop or building a new PC, there’s something here that will help you get the most out of your rig.

The Best M.2 SSD - Chosen by our experts

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The Adata XPG SX 8200 Pro on a white background

(Image credit: XPG)
The best PCIe 3.0 SSD for the money

Specifications

Capacity: 256GB to 2TB
Memory type: 3D TLC NAND
Interface: PCIe 3.0 x4
Max seq. read speed: Up to 3,500MB/s
Max seq. write speed: Up to 3,000MB/s
Heatsink: Yes
Mean time between failures (256GB/2TB): 2,500,000 / 2,000,000 hours
Terabytes written (256GB/2TB): 160 / 1280

Reasons to buy

+
Great sequential read performance
+
Fantastic durability
+
Best value for large capacity M.2s

Reasons to avoid

-
Random access speeds fall short of rivals

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. 

Read the full Adata XPG SX8200 Pro review

The Samsung 970 EVO Plus on a white background

(Image credit: Samsung)
The reigning speed demon of the PCIe 3.0s

Specifications

Capacity: 250GB to 2TB
Memory type: 3D MLC NAND
Interface: PCIe 3.0 x4
Max seq. read speed: Up to 3,500MB/s
Max seq. write speed: Up to 3,300MB/s
Heatsink: No
Mean time between failures: 1,500,000 hours
Terabytes written (250GB/2TB): 150/1200

Reasons to buy

+
Fastest speeds for a PCIe 3.0 M.2 on the list
+
In-house memory and controller hardware

Reasons to avoid

-
Bit more expensive than competition
-
Lowest durability for a PCIe 3.0 M.2 on the list

The Samsung 970 EVO Plus has some of the fastest sequential read and write speeds of any PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD out there, making it an obvious contender for the best M.2 SDD on the list. Its random access performance is also the fastest of the PCIe 3.0s, easily making it the winner in the PCIe 3.0 bracket in terms of raw power.

The downside is its durability. The 970 EVO Plus has the lowest durability as measured by MTBF, rating only 1,500,000 hours, and its TBW rating at 2TB is 1200, matching the SN750, but lagging the XPG SX8200. At 256GB, it scores a rather low 150, the lowest of the three PCIe 3.0 contenders. 

It doesn't come with an option for a built-in heat sink, so any heat it generates needs to be bled off with additional cooling solutions. It does use Dynamic Thermal Guard technology to help regulate its core temperature as well as a hardware heat spreader and nickel-coated controller. It's not a heatsink, but it's something.

Of all the M.2 SSD's on this list, the Samsung EVO Plus is the most expensive, in some cases (against XPG SX8200, for example) by a good margin. If you have the money to spend and you want the fastest SSD your PCIe 3.0 board can handle, then you can't go wrong with the Samsung EVO Plus.

Read the full Samsung 970 EVO Plus review

The WD Black SN750 NVMe SSD on a white background

(Image credit: Western Digital)
Best M.2 SSD for the PS5

Specifications

Capacity: 500GB to 2TB
Memory type: 3D NAND
Interface: PCIe 4.0 x4
Max seq. read speed: Up to 7,000MB/s
Max seq. write speed: Up to 5,300MB/s
Heatsink: Yes (optional on 500GB)
Mean time between failures (500GB/2TB): 1,750,000 hours
Terabytes written (500GB/2TB): 300/1200

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent performance
+
Works with PS5

Reasons to avoid

-
Can get hot
-
Pricey

With some strong performance numbers, the WD Black SN850 is an easy choice for anyone looking for a blazing-fast SSD for their PC. The other advantage is it can also be used with a PlayStation 5, but you’ll need to ensure you pick up the model with a heatsink included or buy your own, since the massive speeds on this SSD come at the cost of heat which needs to be properly managed.

Still, even with the cost of a heatsink, this is still one of the best gaming SSDs around whether you're using it in a gaming PC or your PlayStation. For all the effort and expense though, you'll get sequential read speeds of up to 7,000MB/s and sequential write speeds up to 5,300MB/s, which will make your games load faster than ever, so it's a worthwhile investment no matter which way you game. 

If you're just looking for a new SSD though for general use, you'll still see a huge performance boost when loading big files like 4K and 8K video.

Read the full WD Black SN850 NVMe SSD review

Samsung 980 Pro

(Image credit: Samsung )
The best professional M.2 SSD

Specifications

Capacity: 250GB to 2TB
Memory type: V-NAND 3-bit MLC
Interface: PCIe 4.0 x4
Max seq. read speed: Up to 7,000MB/s
Max seq. write speed: Up to 5,100MB/s
Heatsink: Yes
Mean time between failures (500GB/2TB): 1,500,000 hours
Terabytes written (500GB/2TB): 300/3000

Reasons to buy

+
Extreme performance
+
Competitive price
+
Good endurance rating

Reasons to avoid

-
PCIe 3.0 users better off with cheaper drive
-
Lower capacities have slow write speeds

The Samsung 980 Pro manages to be the fastest SSD we've ever tested here at TechRadar, without substantially raising the price over competing Gen4 SSDs. This makes the 980 Pro the SSD to beat now that PCIe 5.0 SSDs are on their way.

Other than the 250GB capacity SSD which has a rather paltry 2,700MB/s write speed, capacities above that outwrite their competitors handily, meaning that saving large project files like video editing, photograph imports, and more are going to run much more smoothly than the competition, making this the ideal SSD for professional workloads.

It's read speed isn't bad either, so it definitely makes a strong case as one of the better gaming SSDs, but it doesn't come with a built in heatsink, so if you're looking to push this SSD to the max, make sure to invest in one to help keep things cool and functioning for the long term.

Read the full Samsung 980 Pro review

The Corsair Force MP600 PCIe 4.0 SSD on a white background

(Image credit: Corsair)
The most affordable M.2 SSD for PS5

Specifications

Capacity: 500GB to 4TB
Memory type: 3D TLC NAND
Interface: PCIe 4.0 x4
Max seq. read speed: Up to 7,100MB/s
Max seq. write speed: Up to 6,800MB/s
Heatsink: Yes
Mean time between failures (500GB/2TB): 1,600,000 hours
Terabytes written (500GB/2TB): 300/3000

Reasons to buy

+
Very fast
+
PS5 compatible
+
Great price

Reasons to avoid

-
Heatsink might be too tall for some

The Corsair MP600 PRO LPX is Corsair's latest Gen4 x4 NVME SSD that is very fast reading and very competitively priced, but not so great for write speed. It has a slightly taller heatsink that keeps temperatures in check but can be a tight fit for some M.2 slots. If it fits though, it's definitely well worth it since this SSD is one of the fastest gaming SSDs you're going to find right now.

This is also a major improvement over the Corsair Force MP600, which has a 37.5% slower write speed, and a 30.2% slower read speed, and right now the Force MP600 is typically more expensive than the MP600 Pro LPX, so you win out on both performance and price with the MP600 Pro LPX, so you really can't go wrong with this one.

If you're looking for a gaming SSD, read speed is substantially more important than write speeds, since games load data exponentially more than they write it, so a faster read speed means levels load faster and you can enjoy a more seamless gaming experience. 

Read the full Corsair MP600 PRO LPX review

John Loeffler
Computing Editor

John (He/Him) is the US Computing Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY. 


Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.


You can find him online on Twitter at @thisdotjohn


Currently playing: The Last Stand: Aftermath, Cartel Tycoon