Best NVMe SSDs 2021: Our choice of the fastest and best storage drives you can buy

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(Pocket-lint) - NVMe drives are becoming much and much common. With the emergence successful popularity of PCIe Gen 4, they're besides getting faster and faster.

We've written a elaborate usher connected however to instal these tiny drives to springiness your strategy a show boost, but, if you're contemplating which thrust to buy, you mightiness beryllium stuck knowing which to choose. 

We're present with a helping hand, covering the champion drives disposable for you - whether you prioritise storage, velocity oregon reliability. Some adjacent diagnostic RGB, because, arsenic each bully PC gamer knows, RGB lighting means amended performance. 

There's plentifulness much to recognize regarding antithetic generations of NVMe, whether your hardware is compatible and however overmuch abstraction you request to tally one, and we've covered these queries successful the conception beneath our picks to assistance you take the close drive.

For now, though, let's dive into the apical options we've tested.


Our Top Pick is presently the WD_Black SN850. Other NVMe SSDs to see are the Crucial P5 Plus, Samsung 980, WD_Black AN1500 and the Seagate FireCuda 520.


Our Top Pick

Western Digital

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WD_Black SN850

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For

  • Fantastic speeds
  • Reliable design
  • Easy installation

Against

  • Can beryllium expensive
  • Not arsenic snazzy arsenic different drives

If you've got a setup that tin instrumentality a PCIe Gen 4 drive, there's not overmuch retired determination that tin champion this superb enactment from WD_Black.

The SN850 is blisteringly accelerated - read/write speeds tin scope 7,000/5,300MB/s, truthful you're looking astatine a large leap guardant from older tech.

You tin get it with oregon without a heatsink, too, successful lawsuit you're a small disquieted astir overheating successful your build. It tin beryllium an costly prime for bigger capacities, but this is simply a bleeding-edge option. 

Other NVMe drives that we recommend

Here are 4 different NVMe models that besides travel highly recommended aft testing.

Pocket-lint

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Crucial P5 Plus

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For

  • Fantastic speeds
  • Actually comes with a screw

Against

  • Design is boring

The Crucial P5 Plus is simply a large alternate for those looking for a PCIe Gen 4 drive. It's not arsenic accelerated arsenic the SN850, but tin negociate arsenic overmuch arsenic 6600MB/s work speed. 

One elemental happening we liked astir this thrust was the information that it comes with the let important M.2 mounting screw - thing a batch of drives don't. But it's besides fast, reliable and casual to use, too. 

Pocket-lint

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Samsung 980

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For

  • Longer lasting speed
  • Easy bundle management

Against

  • Not arsenic accelerated arsenic Gen 4 drives

Samsung's scope of Evo NVMe SSDs has been fashionable and highly recommended for a agelong time, and with bully reason. These drives are solidly built and designed to last. 

The 980 continues that inclination with a caller plan that includes intelligently upgraded internals susceptible of delivering outstanding show for longer than ever before. 

It's a PCIe Gen 3 thrust susceptible of 3,500 MB/s and 3,000 MB/s for sequential work and constitute speeds. The item of this thrust is it tin support those speeds for 75% longer than the erstwhile model. 

Pocket-lint

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WD_Black AN1500

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For

  • Ultra-fast speeds adjacent without Gen 4

Against

  • Not ever strategy compatible
  • Can origin cooling issues depending connected your graphics card

If, for immoderate reason, you don't person an M.2 NVMe slot connected your motherboard, past this whitethorn good beryllium the answer. This thrust is besides a truly absorbing enactment arsenic it boasts speeds akin to PCIe Gen 4 NVMe drives but connected Gen 3 motherboards. 

That's right, the WD_Black AN1500 tin tally with up to 6,500MB/s work speeds, which is inactive precise overmuch bonkers.

It besides installs successful a PCIe X16 slot (the aforesaid 1 arsenic your graphics card) meaning it's perchance adjacent easier to install. You bash request to make definite it's compatible, but, if it is, this happening is incredibly accelerated and besides offers RGB. 

Pocket-lint

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Seagate FireCuda 520

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For

  • Fast Gen 4 speeds
  • Funky looking design

Against

  • Not arsenic accelerated arsenic different drives connected this list

The Seagate FireCuda 520 offers speeds astir doubly that of older drives.

This NVMe thrust tin tally up to 5,000/4,400 MB/s, successful presumption of sequential read/write performance. That's 9 times faster than modular SATA SSDs and faster than older NVMe drives, too.

It isn't arsenic accelerated arsenic immoderate different Gen 4 drives connected this list, but it is inactive a large option. 

Other products we considered

The Pocket-lint editorial squad spends hours investigating and researching hundreds of products earlier recommending our champion picks for you.

We person considered a scope of factors erstwhile it comes to putting unneurotic our champion guides including physically investigating the products ourselves, user reviews, marque quality, and value. Some of the drives we tested didn't rather marque the cut. These are inactive bully and mightiness beryllium worthy looking astatine if you're looking for a bargain, but yet these NVMe drives didn't marque our apical five:

How to take an NVMe drive

Buying an NVMe SSD isn't rather arsenic elemental arsenic buying the champion available. There are a fewer different considerations that request to beryllium made archetypal to marque definite you get the close results and aren't wasting money.  

Ensure your hardware is compatible

The archetypal happening to bash is marque definite you really person an M.2 slot disposable connected your motherboard. Most modern laptops and desktops are capable to enactment NVMe drives via an M.2 slot straight connected the motherboard.

Sometimes you'll find your motherboard has one, two, 3 oregon adjacent 4 slots that tin beryllium filled up with drives. Check the specs of your motherboard via the manufacturer's website to spot what's disposable oregon the manual to spot wherever it's located. See our usher connected how to physique your ain PC to spot examples, arsenic well. 

What procreation bash you need? 

There are presently 2 generations of PCIe NVMe available, Gen 3 and Gen 4. Both volition tally successful an M.2 slot, but they won't needfully tally astatine maximum speed.

If you person an older Intel oregon AMD motherboard, for example, you mightiness lone person a PCIe Gen 3 slot connected your motherboard and adjacent if you enactment a Gen 4 thrust successful there, it mightiness beryllium velocity limited. 

For example, the Intel 10th procreation CPUs connected Z490 motherboards are lone susceptible of supporting Gen 3 speeds - astir 3,000MB/s. If you enactment thing similar the Crucial P5 Plus successful determination it could lone deed that speed, but successful a newer motherboard - similar Intel's Z590 setup - it could deed treble that velocity astatine 7,000mb/s. 

You'll besides wage much for Gen 4 drives than Gen 3, truthful it's important to cognize what your instrumentality tin handle. 

How overmuch abstraction bash you need?

Another large question, and besides important connected the worth front, is however overmuch abstraction you really need. Are you looking to instal chunky games to your NVMe?

The 500GB drives are cheaper to buy, but it's amazingly casual to capable these up, particularly if you see the monolithic instal sizes of games similar Red Dead Redemption 2, Call of Duty: Warzone and more. On the different hand, the 2TB, 4TB and 8TB options volition acceptable you backmost a tiny fortune. 

What are you running?

NVMe drives tin beryllium utilized for galore things. You can, for example, use this process to clone your Windows installation onto 1 and truthful marque your PC footwear up faster.

Installing games connected these drives whitethorn besides mean little clip spent looking astatine loading screens and amended responsiveness. If you're transferring ample files astir a batch - similar video files for illustration - past a faster PCIe Gen 4 thrust volition truly marque a quality and assistance marque your workload much efficiently.

There are galore considerations to marque earlier clicking that bargain button, but, hopefully, we've helped easiness the determination making process. 

More astir this story

There are a fig of factors we see erstwhile looking astatine recommending products. Every NVMe thrust successful this database has been tested successful real-life situations, installed successful our machines and tally conscionable arsenic you would with time to time use. 

For these drives, we've tally a assortment of tests connected them, too. These included moving synthetic benchmark tests with programs similar CrystalDiskMark, transferring files betwixt drives and monitoring performance. We've besides installed games and apps and played them to spot however the speeds stood up. 

In our guides, we aren’t funny successful pointless fig crunching oregon extraneous details - we conscionable privation to supply an casual to recognize reappraisal that gives you an thought of what it's going to beryllium similar to use. And don’t for a 2nd deliberation that the products aren't tested afloat due to the fact that the reviews are concise.

We’ve been covering tech since 2003, and, successful galore cases, person not lone reviewed the merchandise successful question, but the erstwhile generations, excessively - close backmost to the archetypal exemplary connected the market. There are besides plentifulness of models we've considered that didn't marque the chopped successful each of our buyer's guides.

Writing by Adrian Willings. Originally published connected 3 March 2021.

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