The best M.2 SSD 2024: the fastest M.2 solid state drive for work and gaming

Choosing the best M.2 SSD for your PC will greatly improve your system's read and write speeds. A top-quality M.2 SSD is not only better in quality and build, but it can also enable faster file access, faster downloading, and snappier file transfers for your PC and even some video game consoles that support them. And if you want your computer to keep up with your data filing and accessing needs, it’s important to choose wisely. 

Doing so hinges on a number of factors. Are you hoping to build the best gaming PC possible to reduce game loading times? Or do you need the best SSD for a professional workstation to write large amounts of data quickly?

The best M.2 SSD is just as important as having the best RAM and best processor to maximize performance. Luckily, there are many M.2 SSDs tailored for different users so you’ll find something to meet your budget and data needs. Plus, the best motherboards from major players like Gigabyte and MSI are going to have the latest PCIe M.2 slots for faster transfer rates.

We’re here to help you pick the best one for your needs. We've extensively tested a lot of M.2 SSDs over the years, and we've found our top picks for various use cases and budgets to help you find the best M.2 SSD for your device.

Written by
John Loeffler
Written by
John Loeffler

John has been working with computers since he was a teenager, long before he ever started writing about computer hardware or working on his Master's degree in Computer Science. Needless to say, he knows computers inside and out, and he has personally tested (and retested) all of the SSDs on this page, regardless of whether he wrote our original review, and has validated the results you'll find here. 

The quick list

The best M.2 SSDs of 2024

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We've extensively tested each of the SSDs on this list, so you can rest assured that each of these M.2 SSDs will give you the best performance regardless of circumstance.

The Best M.2 SSD overall

The best M.2 SSD overall

Specifications

Capacity: 1TB, 2TB
Memory type: Samsung V-NAND 3-bit MLC
Interface: PCIe 4.0 x4
Max seq. read speed: Up to 7,450MB/s
Max seq. write speed: Up to 6,900MB/s
Sequential Read as Tested: 7,449MB/s
Sequential Write as Tested: 6,826MB/s
Heatsink: Optional
Mean time between failures: 1,500,000 hours
Terabytes written: 600

Reasons to buy

+
Fastest PCIe 4.0 read/write speeds we've tested
+
PS5 compatible

Reasons to avoid

-
Lower MTBW and TBW than predecessor
-
More Expensive

Samsung's 990 Pro M.2 SSD garnered attention upon its announcement, primarily due to its adherence to the existing PCIe 4.0 standard instead of the anticipated PCIe 5.0. However, its performance, nearly maxing out the PCIe 4.0’s potential, silenced many naysayers. For gamers, it boasts unparalleled read speeds; for creative professionals, its write speeds shine, especially during intensive tasks.

A standout feature: the 990 Pro's sequential writes significantly outpace both its predecessor and competitors. Additionally, it showcases impressive read speeds, nearing PCIe 4.0's maximum of 8,000MB/s. 

Tests revealed the 990 Pro surpassing the 980 Pro, transferring a 10GB file about 9% quicker and copying a large folder roughly 32% faster. Such prowess translates to quicker game loads and swift app startups. This includes PS5 performance as well, where we were able to copy a 123GB game roughly 84% faster using the Samsung 990 Pro compared to the console's storage drive.

However, the 990 Pro comes with its caveats. Its current limited capacity options might deter some, though we anticipate more choices soon. Additionally, while its price matches high-performance PS5 SSDs, it sits higher than budget-friendly SSDs like the Adata XPG SX8200. Those strictly budget-focused might consider the more affordable Samsung 980 or 970 Evo.

In essence, the 990 Pro caters to a niche demanding peak performance. Until PCIe 5.0 SSDs really hit the scene, it remains a top-tier choice for enthusiasts and professionals alike.

Read the full Samsung 990 Pro review

The best budget gaming M.2 SSD

2. PNY XLR8 CS3140

The best high-performance M.2 SSD on a budget

Specifications

Capacity: 1TB/2TB/4TB
Memory type: 3D NAND
Interface: PCIe 4.0 x4
Max rated seq. read speed: Up to 7,500MB/s
Max rated seq. write speed: Up to 6,850MB/s
Sequential read speed as tested: 7,256MB/s
Sequential write speed as tested: 6,082MB/s
Heatsink: Optional
Mean time between failures: 2,000,000 Hours
Terabytes written (1TB/2TB/4TB): 700/1400/3000

Reasons to buy

+
Exceptional sequential and random speeds
+
Great price

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the absolute fastest SSD
-
Optional heat sink costs extra

The PNY XLR8 CS3140 M.2 SSD is one of the best SSDs around, both for gamers and PC enthusiasts alike. Available in three capacities—1TB, 2TB, and 4TB—this SSD is a great swan song for the PCIe 4.0 era as PCIe 5.0 SSDs start to roll out. 

While PCIe 4.0 SSDs have a theoretical maximum speed of 8,000MB/s, the PNY XLR8 CS3140 pushes right up to that line with a rated sequential read speed of 7,500MB/s, along with a 6,850MB/s sequential write rating for its 2TB and 4TB capacities (5,650MB/s for 1TB). 

Our tests reflect this for the most part, recording a sequential read speed of 7,256MB/s in CrystalDiskMark 8, with a somewhat lower than expected sequential write speed of 6,082MB/s in the same test. Interestingly though, it had the highest random write performance of any drive we tested (4,938MB/s), including the vaunted Samsung Pro 990, which had a roughly 17% slower random write rate (4,105MB/s). It also had the best average data copy rate of all the drives we tested recently with 1,733MB/s, so this is not only a great gaming SSD, it’s a fantastic all around performer at a great price.

Fortunately, PNY offers an optional heatsink that can be added to the drive to help keep temperatures in check, which is a must for a drive this fast. It also has a PS5-specific heatsink you can buy, making it an ideal pick for gamers aiming for optimized thermal performance on Sony's latest console.

So while there might be faster M.2 SSDs than the PNY XLR8 CS3140, its price-to-performance ratio makes it the best high-performance SSD for gamers and enthusiasts who don’t have the stacks to throw at Samsung or Corsair’s best SSD offerings.

The best PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD

A Samsung 970 Evo Plus SSD on a table

(Image credit: Future)
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 rated seq. read speed: Up to 3,500MB/s
Max rated seq. write speed: Up to 3,300MB/s
Sequential read speed as tested: 3461.6MB/s
Sequential write speed as tested: 2,999.1MB/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 Best Gaming M.2 SSD

The Best M.2 SSD for PC gaming

Specifications

Capacity: 500GB to 4TB
Memory type: 3D TLC NAND
Interface: PCIe 4.0 x4
Max rated seq. read speed (4TB): Up to 7,100MB/s
Max rated seq. write speed (4TB): Up to 6,800MB/s
Sequential read speed as tested (2TB): 7,364MB/s
Sequential write speed as tested (2TB): 6,871MB/s
Heatsink: Yes
Mean time between failures (500GB/4TB): 1,700,000/1,800,000 hours
Terabytes written (500GB/4TB): 350/3000

Reasons to buy

+
Top-tier sequential access speeds
+
Works with PS5

Reasons to avoid

-
Low-profile heatsink costs more
-
Underwhelming random speeds

The Corsair MP600 Pro LPX made waves in the SSD market when it launched with competitive pricing and unparalleled speeds, and that remains the case today. Its PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 SSD credentials deliver lightning-fast speeds, outshining cheaper, slower PCIe 3.0 alternatives, and keeping up with the very best SSDs on the market. Some PCIe Gen 4 drives might appear similar in value but fall short in maximizing the bandwidth that the MP600 Pro LPX exploits.

Our tests on the 2TB capacity drive revealed remarkable speeds: sequential read and write speeds of 7,364MB/s and 6,870MB/s, respectively. This outpaces both the WD_Black SN850 and Samsung 980 Pro SSDs, even surpassing Corsair’s own advertised rates. 

Its random read/write operations aren’t the best among PCIe 4.0 SSDS, so this SSD is best suited for loading very large files like video games, large media files, or as a boot drive.

Corsair offers various cooling options for this drive, with the MP600 Pro LPX tailored with a low-profile heatsink fit for the PS5.

Read the full Corsair MP600 Pro LPX review

The best M.2 SSD for PS5 gaming

An WD Black SN850 SSD in an M.2 slot

(Image credit: Future)
The Best M.2 SSD for PS5

Specifications

Capacity: 1TB/2TB
Memory type: 3D TLC NAND
Interface: PCIe 4.0 x4
Max rated seq. read speed (1TB): Up to 7000MB/s
Max rated seq. write speed (1TB): Up to 5100MB/s
Sequential read speed as tested (1TB): 6,992MB/s
Sequential write speed as tested (1TB): 5,160MB/s
PS5 read speed as tested (1TB): 6,550MB/s
Heatsink: Yes
Terabytes written (1TB/2TB): 600TBW/1200TBW

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent performance
+
PS5-compatible

Reasons to avoid

-
Runs hot
-
Model with Heatsink costs more

The WD Black SN850 is one of the best SSDs for PS5 consoles thanks to its great balance of price and performance. 

WD has thrown in everything with the SN850 in terms of specifications and performance. For peak performance, the SN850 is optimized for a PCIe Gen 4 x4 M.2 slot. However, it supports as far back as PCIe Gen 2x1, although using the latter means compromising its speed.

As rated, the SN850 boasts a read speed of 7,000MB/s and a write speed of 5,300MB/s, and our tests showed the SN850’s read speed nearing its advertised limit at 6,992MB/s with write speeds at 5,160MB/s. This makes it adept at handling rigorous tasks like video editing, game loading, and more.

Furthermore, the SN850 shines when integrated with a PlayStation 5, registering read speeds of about 6,550MB/s, enhancing game load times on the PS5 over integrated console storage.

However, it's essential to note that the SN850 runs hot under load, so a heatsink is advised (which can increase its price), but it's a great option for PS5 owners and PC gamers alike.

Read the full WD Black SN850 NVMe SSD review

The best high-endurance M.2 SSD

6. Patriot Viper VP4300

The best high-endurance M.2 SSD

Specifications

Capacity: 1TB/2TB
Memory type: 3D TLC NAND
Interface: PCIe 4.0 x4
Max rated seq. read speed (1TB): Up to 7,400MB/s
Max rated seq. write speed (1TB): Up to 6,800MB/s
Sequential read speed as tested (1TB): 7,389MB/s
Sequential write speed as tested (1TB): 6,799MB/s
Heatsink: Yes
Terabytes written (1TB/2TB): 1000TBW/2000TBW

Reasons to buy

+
Phenomenal performance
+
Very high endurance ratings
+
Two included thermal solutions

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive than rivals

The Patriot Viper VP4300 is a major contender for the best SSD crown with its impressive sequential and random speeds, fast copy operations, and low operating temperature. But most of all, this SSD is built for the long haul with a best-in-class 1000TBW endurance rating for a 1TB drive, and a 2000TBW rating for a 2TB one.

This SSD also doesn't skimp on features. It provides two cooling options for the drive: a 4mm thick aluminum heatsink and an ultra-thin graphene label, which is perfect for tight spaces in like the best thin and light laptops

Available in 1TB and 2TB capacities, the VP4300 offers rated speeds of up to 7,400MB/s read and 6,800MB/s write, which are pretty much spot on in our testing (where we recorded 7,389MB/s and 6,799MB/s sequential read and write speeds, respectively). 

It's slightly more expensive than similar capacity SSDs, but it definitely compensates for this with its performance and durability, as well as the included "heatshield" options. These work exceptionally well, and this SSD has the lowest recorded max temperature (about 57℃) of any of the high-end PCIe 4.0 SSDs we've tested recently, including those on this list.

Tech-wise, the VP4300 is comparable to Samsung 980 Pro and WD Black SN850, as it employs a high-end PCIe 4.0 x4 SSD controller and premium NAND flash, the latter of which ensures robustness and efficiency, but it's performance is considerably outperforms those two SSDs, and really only struggles to keep up with the Samsung 990 Pro in terms of random data operations, blowing past most of its other competitors in that regard.

Ultimately, this SSD is about delivering fast, consistent performance for the entirety of its very long life, so if you're looking for an SSD to perform constant data operations rather than just load up the best PC games that you'll never actually uninstall, than the Patriot Viper VP4300 is the M.2 SSD you've been looking for.

How we tested the best M.2 SSDs

To test the M.2 SSDs on this list, perform a number of benchmark tests on them to measure their sequential and random read speeds and their sequential and random write speeds. These include PassMark's PerformanceTest Disk benchmark, CrystalDiskMark 8, 3DMark and PCMark 10, as well as our own, in-house SSD operation scripts to simulate and time the SSD's speed when copying files.

We also make sure to measure the SSD's heat and controller-reported data on how much data has been written to the drive and how much life the drive has left before failing to determine whether the manufacturer's claimed endurance measures up to the time the drive itself estimates it has left.

If the drive is compatible with a video game console, we will also measure the SSD's speed both with the console's own benchmarks but also through file copy operations to and from the main console storage drive.

Finally, we use the dri