Best M.2 NVMe SSDs of 2024

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M.2 NVMe SSDs unlock lightning quick speeds for PC tasks and gaming, surpassing old SATA drives. We researched 2024’s top performers that take full advantage of Gen 4 PCI lanes without breaking the bank. Our testing focused on real-world transfer times and benchmark performance to determine the most practical speed demons.

Crucial T500
1
Crucial T500

SAMSUNG 990 PRO SSD 4TB
2
Samsung 990 Pro

WD Black SN850X
3
WD Black SN850X

Lexar NM790
4
Lexar NM790

FireCuda 530
5
Seagate FireCuda 530

SK hynix Platinum P41
6
SK Hynix Platinum P41

1. Crucial T500

The first one on our list is the Crucial T500. The Crucial T500 SSD aims to appeal to a wide range of users seeking a high-performance solid-state drive, from desktop PC enthusiasts to PlayStation 5 gamers. One of its main selling points is speed, with rated sequential read and write velocities reaching up to 7,400 MB per second and 7,000 MB per second respectively. This translates to fast boot times, quick file transfers, and snappy system responsiveness. The T500’s random read and write speeds of 1,180K and 1,440K IOPS also enable smooth multitasking and rapid data access.

Efficiency is another key focus. The T500’s single-sided format and optional heatsink allow for integration into space-constrained devices like laptops, small PCs, and the PS5. Power-sipping LPDDR4 DRAM and 232-layer Micron 3D NAND TLC flash improve energy efficiency while still delivering zippy throughput.

Convenience and security get attention as well. The T500 supports encryption and includes a generous 5-year warranty. Crucial’s Storage Executive and Acronis True Image software furnish monitoring, firmware updates, and backup capabilities.

Downsides of the T500 include relatively high pricing given present market conditions, which may deter budget-minded shoppers. The initial maximum capacity of 2TB also falls short of higher-capacity Gen 4 drives.

In summary, while the Crucial T500 has room for improvement around pricing and capacities, it still holds strong appeal for applications requiring high-speed durable solid-state storage, backed by a strong 5-year warranty.

Pros

  • Dual heatsink options
  • Top-tier benchmarks
  • PS5 compatible

Cons

  • High cost per GB
  • No 4TB option
  • Inconsistent sustained writes

2. Samsung 990 Pro

Number 2 is the Samsung 990 Pro. The Samsung 990 Pro PCIe 4.0 SSD cements itself as a top-performing M.2 drive ideal for both professionals and gamers. Available in 1TB, 2TB, and now 4TB capacities, it remains a compelling choice even as the market transitions to PCIe 5.0, thanks to exceptional speeds that push PCIe 4.0 to its limits.

The newly introduced 4TB variant utilizes the latest 8th generation Samsung V-NAND technology and an upgraded controller to handle demanding workloads. It posts blazing sequential reads up to 7,450 MB/s and writes of 6,900 MB/s, while setting PCIe 4.0 records with 1.6 million IOPS random reads and 1.55 million IOPS random writes. Endurance is also massively improved to 2,400TB total bytes written.

A specialized heatsink version with customizable RGB lighting optimizes thermal performance, critical given the drive’s tendency to run hot under load. This allows the 990 Pro to maintain reliability even during sustained and intense use.

With class-leading bandwidth for sequential writing, the 990 Pro excels at tasks like video editing. Its compatibility with both gaming rigs and the PS5 console adds versatility on top of uncompromising speed. While premium-priced, its exceptional all-around execution and features make the Samsung 990 Pro a sound investment as a top-tier PCIe 4.0 SSD.

Pros

  • Fast overall speeds
  • PS5 compatible
  • 256 bit AES Hardware encryption

Cons

  • Mediocre sustained writes
  • Overpriced MSRP
  • No PCIe 5.0

3. WD Black SN850X

Number 3 is the WD Black SN850X. Western Digital’s WD Black SN850X proves itself as a formidable successor to the highly acclaimed SN850 NVMe SSD. Maintaining the sleek, black single-sided design with white-orange accents of its predecessor, the SN850X pushes gaming storage performance even further in an M.2 PCIe 4.0 form factor. 

Available in 1TB to 4TB capacities, optional RGB lighting, and a tailored heatsink let the SN850X sustain its significantly improved sequential speeds up to 7.3GB/s read and 6.6GB/s write on the 2TB and 4TB models. This thermal regulation helps address heat issues with the prior generation SN850. Running much cooler at just 58°C under load versus 77°C on the SN850, the SN850X better suits compact PCs and gaming laptops.

The SN850X also introduces WD’s Game Mode 2.0 to enhance the gaming experience through predictive loading algorithms, adaptive thermal throttling, and overhead optimization. The efficacy of these gaming-centric features remains to be fully tested, however.  

Overall, with excellent benchmarks and compatibility with the PS5 and PCs, the WD Black SN850X hits the marks as a top-tier PCIe 4.0 SSD for gaming. The lack of full 256-bit AES encryption could concern some from a data security standpoint, however.

Pros

  • Fast speeds
  • Heatsink/RGB options
  • 1-4TB capacities
  • Data software and warranty

Cons

  • Weak sustained writes
  • Costly pricing
  • No 256-bit AES hardware encryption

4. Lexar NM790


Number 4 is the Lexar NM790. The Lexar NM790 PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD delivers impressively consistent real-world performance despite its DRAM-less design, offering compelling specifications at a competitive price point. Using a Maxio MAP1602 controller alongside 232-layer TLC NAND, available capacities range from 512GB up to a uniquely spacious 4TB model.

While the lack of DRAM does impact random speeds to a degree, sequential transfers remain strong. The NM790 is rated for 7,400MB/s reads and 6,500MB/s writes, very close to the interface’s limit. Testing confirms the accuracy of these figures at 7,106MB/s and 6,504MB/s, respectively. 

Durability is also a major advantage, with high terabytes written (TBW) endurance ratings giving the NM790 impressive longevity. This is backed by a five-year warranty or until the TBW figure is reached, instilling confidence in sustained reliable performance. However, the drive lacks hardware-based encryption support.

The exception to the NM790’s well-rounded execution is slightly slower random write speeds, attributable to the missing DRAM buffer. But for most daily workloads and users, the minimal impact is outweighed by the combination of huge 4TB capacity potential and consistent real-world throughput.

By delivering great performance particularly in sequential workflows alongside massive storage space at a competitive cost, the Lexar NM790 stands out as a PCIe 4.0 choice for value-focused users.

Pros

  • Stellar all-around performance
  • Unmatched power efficiency
  • 4TB TLC storage in a single-sided design

Cons

  • Slow random write speeds
  • Absence of a heat sink
  • No support for hardware-based encryption

5. Seagate FireCuda 530

Number 5 is the Seagate Firecuda 530. The Seagate Firecuda 530 PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD marks the company’s ambitious entry into the high-performance storage space, leveraging their HDD expertise to deliver excellent all-around specifications.

Using the tried-and-tested Phison E18 controller for broad compatibility and reliability, the Firecuda 530 is paired with Micron’s latest 176-layer TLC NAND to promise improved speeds and endurance. The 2GB DDR4 cache also scales with drive capacity size to bolster performance.

With claimed sequential read speeds up to 7,300MB/s and writes hitting 6,900MB/s, the Firecuda 530 matches pace with fellow E18-based competitors, indicating solid real-world throughput. The 2TB variant gets a full 2GB cache, showcasing adaptability across capacities.

Most impressively, Seagate rates TBW endurance at a class-leading 2,550 terabytes written, handily outpacing rivals like the Samsung 980 Pro and WD Black SN850. The M.2 2280 form factor also ensures wide support across desktops, laptops, and even the PlayStation 5.

Priced as expected for a top-tier performer, the only drawback is that more budget-focused alternatives like the WD Black SN850 can offer similar speeds for slightly less cost. Nonetheless, for those seeking the utmost SSD performance in PCIe 4.0, the Seagate Firecuda 530 still represents a compelling option.

Pros

  • Blazing fast performance
  • Consistently high transfer speeds
  • Well-designed heatsink for optimal cooling

Cons

  • No longer the top performer in Gen 4.0
  • Some capacities remain expensive
  • Lower efficiency compared to competitors

6. SK Hynix Platinum P41

Number 6 is the SK Hynix Platinum P41. As a veteran pioneer in the consumer SSD space and equipped with extensive flash memory manufacturing expertise, SK Hynix hits a home run with its Platinum P41 PCIe NVMe solid-state drive. Built to excel as a high-performance M.2 2280 storage solution, the P41 shatters records in general workloads and gaming while delivering best-in-class efficiency.

Utilizing SK Hynix’s new 176-layer TLC 3D NAND flash paired with an equally advanced proprietary Aries controller, the P41 blows away the competition when it comes to sequential throughput. Reads top out at a blistering 7,000 MB/s while writes reach up to 6,500 MB/s, handily outpacing almost any other consumer Gen4 drive.

But where the P41 truly dominates is random access, with claimed peak read/write IOPS rated at a staggering 1.4 million input/output operations per second. This enables dramatically responsive system performance and ultra-snappy loading in applications from gaming to creative workflows.

The 2TB model stands out by providing extremely competitive cost per gigabyte compared to rivals, giving more budget-conscious users ample spacious storage without compromising the P41’s elite-tier speed capabilities. AES-256 hardware encryption ensures reliable protection for sensitive data as the cherry on top.

While the lack of an included heatsink can potentially allow thermal throttling under extremely taxing sustained workloads, this is a minor footnote for such an affordably priced yet performance-leading SSD. SK Hynix backs the drive with a generous five-year warranty or up to its rated terabytes written endurance, conveying utmost faith even in long-term reliability.

For these reasons and more, the feature-packed SK Hynix Platinum P41 represents the pinnacle of consumer PCIe 4.0 SSD performance along with excellent power efficiency at a reasonable cost.

Pros

  • Class-leading performance across the board
  • Competitive in sustained workloads
  • Competitive pricing in its class

Cons

  • Runs hot without a heatsink
  • Currently lacks a 4TB option

Conclusion

After benchmarking the top M.2 SSD contenders in diverse real-world simulations, a few clear leaders emerged to form this year’s elite lineup of rapid storage upgrades. Pushing the limits of NVMe bandwidth, these drives blaze through demanding games, creative projects and productivity applications. For the discerning upgraders who can utilize the extra performance edge of Gen4 PCIe lanes, these M.2 SSDs represent the current upper echelon delivering blistering transfer velocities.