PCIe 4.0 SSDs Next-gen storage is key to the future of gaming, and here are your best options right now. One of the easiest ways of giving your system a performance boost is to upgrade your storage. This is particularly true if you’re still rocking a spinning hard drive or two, although SATA SSDs will also see a notable speed boost when you upgrade to the latest drives.
Right now, the best storage around uses the PCIe 4.0 interface to produce blistering read and write speed.
At the moment only AMD’s Zen 2 and Zen 3 platforms natively support PCIe 4.0 drives, although Intel’s next generation of CPUs (codenamed Rocket Lake) will also jump aboard this particular super speedy wagon. So even if you don’t have a supporting platform right now, you will do when you next upgrade, which is why we think that moving over to a PCIe 4.0 supporting SSD is the best way of protecting your storage investment.
PCIe 4.0 SSDs are the fastest drives you can buy at ‘reasonable’ prices right now, offering higher sequential performance and improved random read and writes over everything we’ve seen before. While the performance can be incredible in benchmarks, when copying files and loading games it’s fair to say that they aren’t fully utilised just yet. A shift to make the most out of these next-gen SSDs that could potentially banish loading times as we know it, and make for more seamless transitions between areas.
What form this will actually take, and how it’ll fit into a landscape that still has gamers running hard drives is tricky to fathom, but we wouldn’t be surprised if future titles demand a certain level of SSD performance in their system requirements.
List of Best M.2 SSD For Gaming
These are our recommended good quality best m.2 ssd for gaming in 2021.
- SAMSUNG 980 PRO 500GB PCIe NVMe Gen4 Internal Gaming SSD M.2
- Sabrent 2TB Rocket 4 Plus NVMe 4.0 Gen4 PCIe M.2 Internal SSD
- Western Digital 2TB AN1500 NVMe Internal Gaming SSD
- Gigabyte AORUS NVMe Gen4 M.2 High Performance Gaming SSD
- addlink 1TB SSD PCIe Gen 4 NVMe M.2
- Corsair Force Series MP600 1TB Gen4 PCIe X4 NVMe M.2 SSD
1. SAMSUNG 980 PRO 500GB PCIe NVMe Gen4 Internal Gaming SSD M.2
The Samsung 980 Pro 500GB is the fastest next-gen SSD money can buy. Samsung has been the go-to name for SSD storage for years, and while a long time coming, the 980Pro with its next-gen Elpis controller has been well worth the wait.
If you’re looking for the best headline performance right now, then nothing else can really challenge it.
With sequential read and write speeds hitting 6,900MB/s and 5,000MB/s, incredible 800K IOPS for random performance, and the awesome Magician software making managing the drive a breeze. The 980 Pro is the performance junkie’s drive of choice.
The only problem is the price, particularly on this 500GB model. At under $150 that equates to 27p a gigabyte, which is a bit much. The 1TB drive for under $400 is slightly better value at 23p a gigabyte, although even here there are better deals to be had for almost the same performance.
Real world performance is that much better than some of the other drives here either, so you’re going to need that extreme throughput.
2. Sabrent 2TB Rocket 4 Plus NVMe 4.0 Gen4 PCIe M.2 Internal SSD
The SABRENT Rocket 2TB Gen4 is the best budget next-gen SSD available in the market. Like a lot of the drives here the Sabrent Rocket Gen4 SSD uses the Phison E16 controller, which is a decent PCIe 4.0 controller, although it does lag behind the more recent Samsung Elpis controller that can be found in the 980 Pro.
That means the peak sequential figures are slightly off the pace, and the randoms are a bit slower as well, although in real terms there’s hardly anything between them. In fact in terms of file copying, this Sabrent drive was moderately quicker. When it comes to game loads, there’s less than a second between fastest and slowest as well. They’re all pretty fast basically.
There’s a real price war going on with these next-gen drives and price fluctuations are common. Sabrent seems to stay out in front though, and given the overall package it’s this drive that gets the nod from us. 2,000GB at under $400 equate to 18p a gigabyte, which is nothing to sniff at. The 1TB version offers even great value for money at 17p a gigabyte.
3. Western Digital 2TB AN1500 NVMe Internal Gaming SSD
The WD AN1500 2TB delivers the Next-gen performance for PCIe 3.0 motherboards. Apart from looking completely different to the rest of the drives in this group test, this Western Digital drive is actually a bit of a cheat entry because it isn’t actually a PCIe 4.0 drive at all.
No, this WD Black add-in-card is actually a PCIe 3.0 device that manages to hit next-gen levels of performance thanks to running a pair of M.2 PCIe 3.0 drives as a striped array. This means it can hit incredible throughput numbers on Intel’s current platforms, or AMD’s first-gen Ryzen gaming CPUs.
Such performance will cost you of course, and in this case there’s a very real hit on your wallet waiting if you want to see what 6.5GB/s reads feel like.
You will need a free PCIe 3.0 x8 slot in order to hit these performance figures too, which could knock your graphics card bandwidth down to x8 throughput as well (not as big a deal as you might think), depending on your platform. Even so, this is a clever solution that could give older systems a new lease of life.
4. Gigabyte AORUS NVMe Gen4 M.2 High Performance Gaming SSD
On release there was so little between the Corsair MP600 and this Gigabyte Aorus drive that you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart even if you had a whole raft of benchmark results to look over.
And that’s because beneath the wildly different heatsinks, they were essentially the same drives; using the same Phison E16 controller and the same Toshiba 3D TLC NAND.
Since launch, however, Gigabyte has tweaked the firmware of the drive so that it performs slightly better, and more on a par with the likes of the Sabrent and Addlink drives. This means that we recommend it over the Corsair MP600, but honestly the difference is so slight you probably wouldn’t notice in the real world.
About the only thing that is different is that copper heatsink, which adds a certain retro charm to any gaming motherboard – it also does a decent job of keeping the SSD cool. Just make sure you have room for it in your case before you buy.
5. addlink 1TB SSD PCIe Gen 4 NVMe M.2
If you need an affordable up-to-date next-gen SSD, don’t look further. When the Addlink S90 was first released there was nothing else really out there that competed, and thus quickly became the goto next-gen drive.
Since then other manufacturers have caught on to the fact that budget drives can sell in decent numbers, and so pricing has tumbled across the board. This is good for us as buyers, but it means you’ve got to keep on your toes.
At the time of writing the Corsair, Gigabyte and 1TB Sabrent drives are all cheaper than this, and it does put the Addlink S90 in a bit of an awkward spot – particularly as this is a budget drive first and foremost.
The good news is that it is a more up-to-date take on the Phison E16 controller that can be found elsewhere, meaning it offers ever so slightly better performance than the Corsair and Gigabyte drives. So while they’re slightly cheaper, this has a slight edge in terms of peak throughput, and that’s a price we think is worth coughing up for.
6. Corsair Force Series MP600 1TB Gen4 PCIe X4 NVMe M.2 SSD
A next-gen drive that offers good value for money. This Corsair SSD was one of the first PCIe 4.0 drives to appear, with AMD grabbing a bunch of these (and the Gigabyte ones) to ship out with the first review samples of its Zen 2 processors.
That was a year and a half ago now, but these drives are still going strong and offering decent value for money thanks to some keen price cuts.
Newer drives have scraped a bit more out of the Phison controller and the NAND flash, which is why this SSD is slightly lower down the list, but it’s still a quality offering. The fact that this ships with a big heatsink can work in its favour too, although make sure there’s room for it on your motherboard, as Corsair doesn’t recommend removing the cooler in order to slot it under any cooling offered by your motherboard, as it runs a bit hot.
It is inexpensive for a 1TB drive, and is also faster than any PCIe 3.0 SSD around. There are more affordable versions on their way, and potentially faster ones too, but this one is here today.