Fastest M.2 NVMe SSDs For Gaming In 2021 – (Best & Reliable Options)

| Last Updated On: April 22, 2021
 
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best m.2 ssd for gaming

Gone are the days when buying new storage for your pc was a difficult thing to do. Things have become a lot simpler and straightforward now. Most people have started to migrate over to M.2 SSDs, and that certainly is a good idea since they are fast, they don’t require any wires, and you are getting excellent speeds, too.

Sure, they are expensive, but that is just one of the things that you will have to run into. Now, whether you are looking for the best M.2 SSD for gaming or for the sake of productivity, the options are there, and they are plenty. That is why in this roundup, we want to help you choose the right one and that too, with ease.

We will be looking at the best offerings that are available in the market so you do not have any problems that could come your way.


Best M.2 SSD For Gaming With Detailed Specs


Image Name Price Rating Specs
Neogamr’s Pick SAMSUNG 980
PRO 
  • Capacity: 1TB
  • Interface: M.2 NVMe
  • Read Speed: 7,000 MB/s
  • Write Speed: 5,000 MB/s
Best Value Gigabyte AORUS 
  • Capacity: 1TB
  • Interface: M.2 NVMe
  • Read Speed: 5,000 MB/s
  • Write Speed: 4,400 MB/s
Editor’s Pick Samsung 970
EVO Plus 
  • Capacity: 1TB
  • Interface: M.2 NVMe
  • Read Speed: 3,500 MB/s
  • Write Speed: 3,300 MB/s
ADATA XPG
Pro 
  • Capacity: 1TB
  • Interface: M.2 NVMe
  • Read Speed: 3,500 MB/s
  • Write Speed: 3,000 MB/s
Samsung 970
EVO 
  • Capacity: 1TB
  • Interface: M.2 NVMe
  • Read Speed: 3,500 MB/s
  • Write Speed: 2,500 MB/s
Crucial P5 
  • Capacity: 500TB
  • Interface: M.2 NVMe
  • Read Speed: 3,400 MB/s
  • Write Speed: 3,000 MB/s
Special Mention Sabrent Rocket
  • Capacity: 1TB
  • Interface: M.2 NVMe
  • Read Speed: 3,200 MB/s
  • Write Speed: 2,000 MB/s

Best M.2 SSD For Gaming


Honestly, the process of choosing an SSD for gaming is not that difficult. All you will need to do is choose the right offering, and you should be good to go without any problems that could otherwise come your way. The more you are looking at better offerings, the better it will be in general.

We have a list that is going to help you, and that is what we are focused on here.


#1 – SAMSUNG 980 PRO


– Specifications:

  • Available in up to 2TB configurations.
  • Delivering read speeds of up to 7,000 MB/s.
  • PCI-e Gen4 supported.
  • M.2 2280 form factor.
  • Nickel coated controller for better thermal performance.
  • Samsung Magician for easier management.

– Advantages:

  • The performance cannot be matched.
  • AES 256-bit encryption is great to have.
  • The black PCB looks great.
  • You are getting a great software bundle.
  • Ships with a 5-year warranty for peace of mind.

– Drawbacks:

  • The endurance ratings are average at best.

The first SSD that we are looking at is coming from Samsung; now we all know that Samsung is killing it as far as storage is concerned, and they have dominated the SSD market for some time now and have done a great job at that, as well.

That is why we are starting this list by looking at the SAMSUNG 980 PRO, as it is one of the best options that are available for you to go through. Granted, it is more on the expensive side for a few, but the performance and everything else about this drive more than justifies the other aspects that are added here.

With this SSD, you are getting unrivaled PCI-E Gen4 performance that not a lot of drives manage to match. Sure, it comes at a cost, but hey, you are getting one of the best-performing SSDs in the market. In addition to that, it also brings AES 256-bit encryption, which is great to have as it allows for better peace of mind.

Samsung has also been wise enough to use a black PCB, which is normally more expensive to source, but you are not getting any fancy lighting. The SSD on its looks good if that is what you are concerned about. In addition to that, the software bundle with this SSD is also great, and you are getting all the tools that you may need.

Last but not the least, the excellent warranty is another thing that you are getting access to, which allows you to have a great experience with the SSD without worrying about any drive failures.

– Our Verdict:

The best part about the SAMSUNG 980 PRO is the speed, it’s the fastest M.2 drive in the world, another great thing is that it works well in almost every single condition, so you are not getting something that is not reliable at all.


#2 – Gigabyte AORUS


– Specifications:

  • NVMe 1.3.
  • PCI-E Gen4 support.
  • M.2 2280 form factor.
  • Up to 5,000 MB/s sequential rea speed.
  • Up to 4,400 MB/s sequential write speed.
  • Phison E16 controller.

– Advantages:

  • One of the fastest M.2 SSDs available.
  • Black PCB looks great.
  • Good endurance rating.
  • Comes with a 5-year warranty.

– Drawbacks:

  • Available storage options are not as flexible.

The fact that Gigabyte has made excellent SSDs is something that you cannot deny. Granted, their foray into the market was met with a lot of surprises, but at the end of the day, they started giving us great SSDs, and we believe that at the end of the day, that is what matters the most.

The Gigabyte AORUS is one of the best SSDs that Gigabyte is offering at the time of writing, and the performance on this is excellent, to say the least. Gigabyte has taken a page out of the books of other companies and has done a great job at giving us a fast-performing SSD.

The good news is that this is one of the fastest M.2 drives that are available on the market. The performance is not subjective; SSD speeds are raw, which means that they cannot be influenced by a decision or something else along the lines.

You are getting a black PCB as well, which is what you should be looking into if you are getting a GOOD PCB. Black PCBs are always excellent, and that is what one must know about to begin with. In addition to that, the endurance ratio is also excellent, so you are getting a good lifespan.

Gigabyte has good faith in their SSDs, and that is why the Gigabyte Aorus M.2 SSD ships with a 5-year warranty, which is always nice to have and is not something that will let you down in the first place.

My only real concern here is that you can only get this SSD in up three storage variants starting from 500GB, and that might not be enough for everyone.

– Our Verdict:

There is no denying that Gigabyte has managed to bring out something that has an excellent value for money with their Aorus SSD. Granted, it is not the fanciest looking option that is available in the portfolio, but when it comes to delivering an excellent value for money, it cannot be disputed.


#3 – Samsung 970 EVO Plus


– Specifications:

  • Available in up to 2TB storage option.
  • M.2 2280 form factor.
  • Sequential read speed of up to 3,500 MB/s.
  • Sequential write speed of up to 3,300 MB/s.
  • Dynamic Thermal Guard by Samsung.
  • Samsung Magician software for easy management.

– Advantages:

  • The class-leading lifespan.
  • You are getting a 96-layer V-NAND, and that’s great for reliability.
  • Great software package.
  • Great value for money.
  • Great warranty.

– Drawbacks:

  • The write speeds fall when the SSD is under load.

It is safe to say that the list for the best SSDs is going to have Samsung’s name multiple times, and it is only fair that it happens because Samsung has been releasing some of the finest SSDs in the market for some time now, and they are not showing any signs of stopping.

The Samsung 970 EVO Plus is, although an older generation SSD, but that also means that you are comparatively getting a lower price and a better value for money, as well. This SSD is the one that you must be getting if you are looking for the great overall experience.

Getting back to the SSD itself, if you are searching for something that does deliver class-leading performance, this is going to be the one since it is not going to let you down in those cases, and you are getting a great performance out of this.

The 96-layer V-NAND is excellent in terms of reliability, and you are getting excellent software support, as well as the legendary Samsung warranty that we have all come to love. The best part is that this SSD is now available for a lowered price, so you can easily go ahead and find some great deals on this SSD.

As far as the downsides are concerned, honestly, I have spent a good amount of time with this SSD, and I can tell you that the SSD does face lower write speeds when you are talking about putting more load onto it, but that is about it.

– Our Verdict:

Simply put, if you are looking for a great SSD without the chances of worrying about getting into something that is not good enough, I can wholeheartedly suggest the Samsung 970 Evo Plus as it delivers excellent performance, and you will not end up getting something that is not worth it.


#4 – ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro


– Specifications:

  • Super-fast PCIe NVMe Gen3 interface.
  • Sequential read speed of up to 3,500 MB/s.
  • Sequential write speed of up to 3,000 MB/s,
  • M.2 2280 form factor.
  • Ideal for 3D animation, rendering, photo, and video editing.

– Advantages:

  • It is one of the fastest SSDs in the market.
  • One of the best power efficiencies on any SSD.
  • Black PCB also brings a stylish heat spreader.
  • The software package is great.
  • You are getting a 5-year warranty on the SSD.

– Drawbacks:

  • The endurance rating is great but same as the non-pro model.

For some time now, XPG has been killing it with their SSDs, especially because they are being backed by ADATA, and we all know how reliable ADATA has become. However, XPG is considered to be a sub-brand that is more focused on the gamers, and honestly, I don’t mind that at all, as long as we are getting good products.

With that said, the ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro is something that caught my attention when I was looking for good SSDs, and this one is the one that you should be looking at, because again, you are getting great performance out of it, and you are not going to be let down in any way.

The SSD has exceptionally well-balanced performance, which allows you to have a good overall experience without worrying too much. The power efficiency is one of the best in class, and you are also getting a black PCB that has a pretty stylish heat spreader on top of it, as well.

XPG’s software bundle is also great and lets you monitor your SSD without having to worry much in the first place. So, you are all set from that perspective, and the fact that this SSD also brings a 5-year warranty is something that you should be looking into.

Honestly, there is not much to dislike about this SSD, to begin with. For starters, if you are looking for something that has great endurance, this SSD does deliver that, but the SSD is similar to the one that you will find on the non-pro model, but that is about it.

– Our Verdict:

If you are in the market looking for an SSD that manages to deliver great value for money and still has a great performance, you can close your eyes and pick the ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro and forget about the rest.


#5 – Samsung 970 EVO


– Specifications:

  • M.2 2280 form factor.
  • Samsung V-NAND technology.
  • Sequential write speed of 3,500 MB/s.
  • Sequential read speed of 2,500 MB/s,
  • Engineered for gamers and content creators.
  • Samsung Magician for easy management.

– Advantages:

  • The random read and write speeds are legendary.
  • The cost per gigabyte is great.
  • You are getting a wide range of capacity options.
  • The Samsung Magician software makes everything easy to manage.
  • You are getting a longer warranty.

– Drawbacks:

  • None at the given price.

Samsung is making a return once again with their SSD. The reason behind this is simple. We are not doing it for the sake of creating a saturation. The fact that Samsung SSDs are faster than what other companies are offering is something that cannot be denied, and therefore, having them on the list makes more sense than anything else.

Now the good news is that we are looking at the Samsung 970 EVO, it is one of the more affordable SSDs from Samsung that are currently available in the market, and honestly, the performance is noteworthy, so you are not putting a gamble here.

The SSD has one of the best performances when you are discussing random read and write speeds, which are most similar to what you are normally going to get in real-life performance, as well. The cost-per-gigabyte is also a strong aspect here, and the fact that this SSD is available in a wide variety of storage options is only something that you should be able to enjoy.

In addition to that, the Samsung Magician software, which has become a staple at this point, is simple and easy to use. You are also getting an excellent warranty, which is always nice to have, and you are not losing anything here.

On the flip side, I don’t seem to find any issues here, to be honest. For the price you are paying, this is a fantastic offering that should be delivering great performance for everyone who is in the market.

– Our Verdict:

Simply put, the Samsung 970 EVO is a great offering that is going to be available at a breakthrough price for anyone who is looking for a good experience and that too, without any discrepancies that might come your way. The SSD works well in all conditions and will not be letting anyone down here.


#6 – Crucial P5


– Specifications:

  • 3D NAND.
  • Sequential read speed of up to 3,400 MB/s.
  • Sequential write speed of up to 3,000 MB/s.
  • Hardware-level encryption.
  • 5-year limited warranty.
  • M.2 2280 form factor.

– Advantages:

  • AES 256-bit encryption.
  • Up to 2TB offerings available.
  • Black PCB for cleaner aesthetics.
  • 5-year warranty.
  • The software suite is good to have.
  • Great pricing.

– Drawbacks:

  • Can run into performance issues.

We are all well aware of how good Crucial has been as far as their SSDs are concerned because, after all, they have been in the market of making memories for a long, long time now. So, naturally, they know what needs to be created and how to create it the right way, as well.

With that said, the Crucial P5 is the SSD that we are looking today, and while it does have a rather unamusing and simple name, it still is one of the best SSDs available in the market, and as far as the performance is concerned, it does deliver on that front and that too, with ease. So, you are not losing out a lot here.

For starters, you are getting an SSD that comes with hardware-based AES 256-bit encryption. You are also getting access to capacities up to 2TB, and completely black aesthetics are something to commend here. In addition to that, you are also getting a 5-year warranty, which is excellent to have in all cases, and the impressive software suite is also something that you are going to get here.

AS far as the pricing is concerned, Crucial is smart about it as the Crucial P5 is competitively priced to the point that you do not have to stress over what the price is going to be like because you are getting a good one here.

As far as the downsides are concerned, my only issue here is that you are looking at an SSD that has a thermal issue, which causes thermal throttling, and while modern motherboards do provide passive cooling, it still is something to keep in mind.

– Our Verdict:

Overall, the Crucial P5 is surprising in more ways than one. It is an affordable SSD that has enough performance to play in the major leagues and does so without any issues that might come in the way. Just be sure that you are aware of the thermal issues, and you are going to do just fine when you get it.


Honorable Mention – Sabrent Rocket Q


– Specifications:

  • M.2 2280 form factor.
  • PCI-e 3.1 compliant.
  • Power management support for APST/ASPM/L1.2.
  • Supports SMART and TRIM commands.
  • 5-year warranty.
  • Up to 3,200 MB/s transfer speeds.

– Advantages:

  • Available in up to 8TB of capacity.
  • The performance remains competitive.
  • Great efficiency when it comes to power consumption.
  • Looks good.
  • You can get up to 5 years of warranty upon registering.

– Drawbacks:

  • Slow write speed once you fill-up the write cache.
  • Low endurance as compared to TLC drives.

We are finally over with the list after this one, and this time around, we have something from Sabrent, a company we are all well aware of because they do make good SSDs. Now, I have had the chance to review Sabrent SSDs in the past, and they are great offerings for lower money and good performance.

The Sabrent Rocket Q is the SSD that we have on the table here, and let me tell you that this SSD is hard to beat as far as the value is concerned, and while the pricing is excellent, the SSD does have some different tricks up its sleeve.

For starters, this is perhaps the few SSDs that are available in sizes as high as 8TB and not just that. The performance is also one of the most competitive, and the SSD does deliver an extremely well-balanced efficiency. The software support is also great, and you are getting good-looking aesthetics, too, especially if you are a fan of the white and blue color scheme.

Not to mention, the SSD does ship with a warranty that can go up to 5 years, and I say “up to” because for that to happen, you have to register the SSD first, or else you are limited to just a 1-year warranty.

Due to how you are looking at a QLC-based SSD, you are getting a slow write speed once the write cache fills, the endurance-per-gigabyte is also on the lower side, and you can run into some throttling issues, but my unit did not run into any such issues when I placed the SSD under the passively cooled M.2 slot.

– Our Verdict:

If you have been searching for a good SSD that delivers good performance in almost all the cases, you will be glad to know that the Sabrent Rocket Q is definitely the SSD that you should be going for as it delivers fantastic performance and that too, without any compromises.


What Is M.2?


For those who don’t know, M.2 is a form factor that is traditionally used for SSDs that are shaped like a stick. M.2 based SSDs can either be on the SATA interface or the latest PCI-E interface, with the latter one being more expensive.

M.2 slots are also available in laptops, and the reason why this form factor is becoming more and more prominent is that these slots take up a lot less space, and more importantly, they don’t require any cables attached to them, either.

Image of Samsung 980 Pro Plugged into pc

You can get an M.2 drive in capacities as high as 8TB, and to use the M.2, you will need a motherboard that has an M.2 slot on it, and you will do just fine. Most of the motherboards start with two M.2 slots and can go as high as 4.

In addition to that, you can always buy add-in cards that will allow you to add more M.2 SSDs and plug that card into a PCI-E slot on your motherboard.

M.2 Nvme SSD Form Factors

In addition to that, it is important to know that the M.2 drives are available in several form factors, and each drive comes with a form factor, so you know which one to plug the drive into. These form factors are listed below for your convenience.

  • M.2 Type-2280 (22 x 80mm)
  • M.2 Type-2230 (22 x 30mm)
  • M.2 Type-2242 (22 x 42mm)
  • M.2 Type-2260 (22 x 60mm)
  • M.2 Type-22110 (22 x 110mm)

If you are wondering about the form factor that is used most commonly for the SSDs, it is the M.2 Type 2280 or M.2 2280. All the SSDs that are listed here come with that specific form factor.


Best M.2 SSD (Solid State Drive) For Gaming: Quick Shopping Tips


Since we are past everything, we can start looking at all the things that you should know about whenever you are in the market looking for an M.2 SSD. It is not going to be complicated at all since most of the available drives can be bought with ease, and you just have to be careful about what you are picking up.

Related readings:


Sequential Read Speed/Write Speed


Honestly, the sequential read and write speed are the two factors that are the most important whenever you are choosing an SSD. This is something that you should never go wrong with because the entirety of the performance depends on that.

Image of showing how fast is the PCie Gen 4 Nvme SSD

Thankfully, most of the SSDs that we have featured have speeds above 3,000 MB/s, which is what the standard has been for some time. However, if you are getting a PCI-e Gen4 SSD, some of which we have featured here, you are getting faster speeds, and they can go as high as 7,000 MB/s.

Needless to say, you should never really overlook the sequential read and write speeds of the SSDs that you are picking because that is going to be the main factor in how fast the drive is going to be, and getting a slow drive is not what we would suggest anyone, in the first place. Therefore, having this knowledge can help you as far as making a decision is concerned here.


IOPS & Choosing The Right Capacity


The next step has something to do with the technical detail that, most of the time, people just go over without paying attention in the first place. We are talking about IOPS or input/output operations per second. This happens to be a common measurement when you are talking about measuring the performance of a storage device.

Image of 970 Evo and 970 Pro inside a pc

This can be used to measure the performance of both hard drives, solid-state drives, as well as storage area networks. The faster the IOPS are, the better performance you are going to get. But the reason why this is overlooked in the majority of cases is that sequential read and write are what serves as a better determinant for the overall performance understanding.

As far as the right capacity is concerned, this all depends on the user demand. M.2 drives are available in as little as 128GB and can go as high as 8TB. So, the choice is entirely yours. However, I would always suggest that you start with at least a 1TB M.2 SSD, and keep the other slot free for a 2TB or higher, so you have plenty of storage in case you end up needing it, which could be the case in most of the situations as well.


Price, Performance & Size


Moving on, whenever you are in the market looking for an SSD, one of the most important things that you will have to start paying attention to is the price. I know it might not sound like something important to do, but these SSDs are spread across several prices, so choosing the right one is what seems to be the most important for a lot of people.

Image of Stickman Selling pc parts

Next up is the performance, and again, I have already talked about how performance is one of the more important factors. Now, the Gen3 M.2 SSDs are fast, going as high as 3,500 MB/s, but you can even look into the Gen4 SSDs that can go as high as 7,000 MB/s in many cases.

It all depends on the SSD that you are getting and the controller and technology that they use. Samsung is known for making some of the fastest SSDs that are available in the market, and it does not matter if you are looking at M.2 or SATA-based SSDs.

Last but not the least, the size of the SSD is another thing that I have discussed in the past, but that does not make it any less important. You can easily end up choosing the wrong SSDs size, and that will only warrant an upgrade later down the road.


Compatibility And Endurance


The last tip that we can give you is to start looking for compatibility. Thankfully, it no longer is too complicated for anyone to deal with. All the modern motherboards are equipped with at least 2 M.2 slots, so you are covered there. As far as the compatibility is concerned, there are no software or hardware related issues that could come your way, so you are all good there.

As far as the endurance is concerned, this is the advertised lifespan of an SSD, but based on my experience, the SSD can last longer than that. Still, the endurance is often measured in TBW or terabytes written, and most SSDs have high endurance, so you generally do not have to stress over it.


Final Verdict:

Buying the right SSD can surely be a confusing ordeal for a lot of people, but it is important to understand that when you are in the market looking for the right SSD, you will need to find something that can fulfil your requirements in the way you want it to fulfil.

With that said, the M.2 based SSDs have become a lot more popular lately because of how good they perform, and that is what we did. We took all the best SSDs available in the market and put them for you in a list, so you can just get the one that you want without running into a lot of issues.

The list has all the best options available, so you are not going to go wrong with the SSDs at all. All of them are tested thoroughly and can easily give you the best performance you want.


Frequently Asked Questions

#1 – What is the best M.2 SSD for gaming?

All the SSDs that we have tested are great in every aspect, but if you are looking for something that is going to defy the limits, the getting the Samsung 980 Pro makes the most sense as that is the fastest drive that I have tested so far.

#2 – Does M.2 SSD improve gaming?

M.2 SSDs or any other SSD does not necessarily improve frame rates in gaming. They can have a minor influence in loading speeds, but that is as far as the impact goes.

#3 – Which is faster, SSD or M.2?

M.2 on its own is not an SSD, and it is just a form factor that is used for SSDs. SSD itself is a drive, and therefore, is often based on M.2 form factor.

#4 – Which is better, NVMe or M.2?

Again, it is the same as the previous answer. While M.2 is a form factor, NVMe itself is an interface that you find in modern SSDs. So, you normally run into M.2 NVMe SSDs that are on the more expensive end of things. M.2 on its own is just a form factor.

#5 – Is PCIe faster than M.2?

PCIe is an interface that is often used in M.2 SSDs. Especially the higher-end M.2 PCIe NVMe drives that are available in the market. M.2 on its own is just a form factor that is used for these drives.

#6 – Should I install games on M.2?

If you have the space for it, there is nothing wrong with installing games on your M.2 drive. Again, while you are not getting more frames, the loading times can improve in most of cases, which is always a good thing.

#7 – M.2 vs. NVMe – What’s the Difference?

Most of the time, people confuse M.2 with NVMe being the same thing, but that is not the case. M.2 is just a form factor that is most commonly used for NVMe drives. Whereas NVMe is an interface that is used alongside PCIe standard on the fastest possible SSDs available in the market.


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