SSDs have steadily reduced in price, making them relatively affordable than they were a few years ago. While SATA SSDs offer a much-needed performance boost compared to traditional hard drives, NVMe SSDs take things a notch higher.
NVMe SSDs are traditionally available in an M.2 form factor that is about the size of a gum stick. The drive fits easily into an M.2 slot on the motherboard, which often has direct access to the PCI Express lanes coming from the CPU instead of the chipset. In general, NVMe SSDs can offer up to 10 times or more sequential read and write speeds over conventional SATA SSDs.
With the introduction of the AMD X570 and Threadripper TRX40 platforms, the PCI Express Gen4 standard is now available for the consumer. The first components to actually feature support for PCI Express Gen4 are the NVMe SSDs from Gigabyte, Corsair, and Sabrent. PCI Express Gen4 SSDs offer significantly higher data transfer rates compared to Gen3 SSDs but can be somewhat expensive as well.
With that information, here are the 8 best NVMe SSDs that you can buy in 2020 for all kinds of workloads.
1. Gigabyte Aorus NVMe Gen4
NVMe SSDs are already among the fastest storage devices available. But if you want the absolute fastest storage you can get in a consumer driver, you need to opt for PCI Express Gen4 (PCIe) SSDs, such as Gigabyte Aorus NVMe Gen4. The Aorus NVMe Gen4 offers blazing fast read and write speeds, which are perfect for demanding workflows. While you can use the Aorus NVMe Gen4 in any modern motherboard that has M.2 NVMe slots, its full potential is reached when you use it in an AMD X570 motherboard along with a Ryzen 3000 series processor or a Threadripper TRX40 platform that offers native PCIe Gen4 support. There aren't too many PCIe Gen4 SSDs available in the market, which makes the Aorus NVMe one of the fastest SSDs on the market.
According to Gigabyte, the Aorus NVMe Gen4 can offer sequential read speeds up to 5 GB/s and write speeds up to 4 GB/s. It is much faster than the previous king of NVMe SSDs, the Samsung 970 Evo Plus, and nearly 10 times as fast as the best SATA SSDs on the market. Combine two Aorus NVMe SSDs in RAID 0, and you have a whopping 10 GB/s of R/W speeds. Gigabyte offers a 5-year warranty and rates the Aorus NVMe Gen4 at 3,600 terabytes written (TBW), which is a high endurance rating. High data transfer speeds are bound to generate a lot of heat, and, therefore, the Aorus Gen4 comes with its own copper heatsink with thermal pads. You can remove the heatsink and use the SSD directly as well, but you may experience throttling if temperatures rise above a certain threshold. Or, you can use your motherboard's built-in heatsink as well. PCI Gen4 SSDs are still not abundantly used, so they do cost more than conventional Gen3 SSDs. That said, if you need the best storage performance you can get on a consumer platform, the Gigabyte Aorus NVMe Gen4 SSD is among the best NVMe SSDs on the market.
- Pros: Blazing fast performance; Copper heatsink included
- Cons: Expensive cost per GB;
2. Samsung 970 EVO Plus
If you are not yet ready to jump on the PCIe Gen4 bandwagon, the Samsung 970 EVO Plus is the next best NVMe SSD you can look at. The 970 EVO Plus was among the most popular high-end NVMe SSD offerings till recently and still holds that position thanks to excellent performance and stability. The 970 EVO Plus is very much similar to the original 970 EVO and now comes with improved firmware and a 96-layers V-NAND. The improved firmware allows for some nice performance boosts in read and write tests. The EVO Plus is now rated for 3.5 Gb/s sequential read and 3.2 GB/s sequential write, which is a decent boost over the 970 EVO. The random I/O performance is also excellent at 600k read and 550k write IOPS across all four available capacities. Samsung offers a 5-year warranty and a 600 TBW endurance.
The Samsung 960 EVO Plus also comes with support for hardware-based AES 256-bit encryption, TCG Opal, and Microsoft eDrive and is actually one of the few NVMe SSDs to offer such encryption features. While there is no built-in heatsink, the 970 EVO Plus has a copper strip sticker on the back that helps to spread heat. The performance of the 970 EVO Plus is very much near to the more enterprise-focused 970 PRO, making it a viable choice if you do not want to spend extra on the PRO version.
- Pros: Good read/write speeds
- Cons: Pricing near to Gen4 drives
3. Silicon Power P34A80
Silicon Power is well-known for making SSDs that don't break the bank, and the P34A80 is one such offering. The P34A80 won't shatter any speed records, but it doesn't need to. The sequential read/write speeds are on par with some of the other more expensive drives, but the random speeds are somewhat on the lower side. The P34A80 comes with a 5-year warranty but offers a slightly lower endurance rating at 500 TBW. It shouldn't be much of a problem, though, as it is complicated to actually hit the rated endurance in daily use, and the drive will easily last many years of use. The P34A80 reduces costs by missing the Opal or BitLocker encryption support. Silicon Power offers a neat toolbox software to view SSD status and run diagnostics.
The P34A80 is a double-sided M.2 2280 NVMe SSD and is powered by the Phison E12 controller and the Toshiba BiCS3 TLC NAND flash. This combination is present in most drives on the market, which should mean that the P34A80 should perform on par with current offerings. The lower endurance can mean that you should be careful with the number of writes this drive is subjected to, but that shouldn't matter much if you aren't a power user. The P34A80 is also very power-efficient and consumes just about 600 mW when idle. Enabling active state power management can reduce this further, to only 50W. If you are looking for an affordable NVMe SSD, the Silicon Power P34A80 can help you get the most out of your system for far less dough.
- Pros: Affordable; Good sequential read/write
- Cons: Low TBW
4. Corsair Force MP600
The Corsair Force MP600 is a new PCIe Gen4 SSD that offers improved performance over many of the current PCIe Gen3 drives. It uses the same Phison E16 controller as the Gigabyte Aorus NVMe Gen4 and comes in capacities ranging from 500 GB to 2 TB. Like other first-generation PCIe Gen4 drives, the Corsair MP600 is also powered by the Phison E16 controller paired with DDR4 memory and 96-layer BiCS4 TLC NAND. Corsair rates the MP600 as having a 4950 MB/s read and 2500 MB/s write. The company offers a warranty of five years and an endurance of 850 TBW. Like other PCIe Gen4 drives, the MP600 also ships with a custom heatsink to keep temperatures low and prevent the drive from throttling during heavy use. You can use the included heatsink or use that of your motherboard's.
While the Corsair Force MP600 offers excellent sequential reads, the sequential writes are on the lower side. In most benchmarks, the MP600 reaches the advertised speeds, so you know you are getting what you pay for. Corsair offers an SSD toolbox for monitoring drive health, updating the firmware, and also for cloning your previous drive onto the MP600. Given the somewhat thick heatsink, you may want to ensure that the drive is installed in a clear area on your motherboard so that it does not hinder your installed GPU. The Corsair Force MP600 is great for anyone whose workflow demands a lot of sequential read performance and have a compatible AMD X570 based system. The 500 GB drive is affordable for most and, when paired with a similar drive in RAID 0, offers excellent speeds for content creation workflows.
- Pros: Good sequential reads; Heatsink included
- Cons: Slow sequential writes
5. Western Digital Black SN750
Western Digital (WD)'s Black series is all about performance, and the WD Black SN750 tries to live up to that name. The WD Black SN750 is targeted at gamers and enthusiasts looking for a fast performing NVMe SSD. In the new iteration, WD has improved the firmware, the toolbox, and also offers the option of equipping the SN750 with an EKWB heatsink. Unlike many other SSDs that offer Phison or Silicon Motion controllers, WD uses a custom NVMe Architecture controller, which was also seen in the previous model. The SN750 is available in capacities ranging from 250 GB to 2 TB. The SN750 offers up to 3.4 GB/s sequential read and up to 3 GB/s sequential writes. Random IOPS has also been improved at 515K read and 560K write. The endurance rating of 600 TBW for the 1 TB model isn't the highest out there, but most users will not be affected by it.
While the WD Black SN750 offers most features found in the competition, it does not support hardware-based encryption or secure erase, which can be a negative for power users. WD offers an updated SSD Dashboard software for checking up various parameters of the drive. The SSD Dashboard also comes with a gaming mode that turns off the low power mode and reduces latency. While this hardly matters for most regular gamers, it is good to see that WD has considered a niche gaming population as well. Also on offer is a free copy of Acronic True Image for data transfer and cloning your existing drive. The high read and write speeds mean that the WD Black SN750 is a viable alternative to the Samsung 970 PRO. The gamer-focused aesthetics of the optional EKWB heatsink and the built-in gaming mode make the WD Black SN750 one of the best NVMe SSDs for gaming.
- Pros: Good sequential read/write performance; Revamped SSD Dashboard
- Cons: No hardware-based encryption
6. Adata XPG SX8200 Pro
Adata offers a solid selection of SATA and NVMe SSDs, and the XPG SX8200 Pro is one of the best 1 TB NVMe SSDs on the market, catering to all kinds of users. The SX8200 Pro offers excellent sequential read and write speeds of 3.5 GB/s, and 3 GB/s, respectively. Adata uses the SMI SM2262EN controller that provides some much-needed improvements to performance and efficiency over the previous generation. The SX8200 Pro is available in capacities ranging from 256 GB to 2 TB. We would recommend going for at least a 512 GB variant, given the high cost per GB in the 256 GB model. With a 5-year warranty and a high 640 TBW endurance, you can have peace of mind and need not worry about the drive failing any time soon, even with prolonged use. Similar to many other SSDs, Adata also provides an SSD toolbox software for managing the drive. You also get access to Acronis True Image HD for data backup and cloning.
The Adata XPG SX8200 Pro offers stiff competition to the likes of similar drives from Samsung, Crucial, and, in some cases, even Intel Optane. The SX8200 Pro is perfect for gamers with its fast game loading times. Data transfer and copy speeds are very high and are second only to the Samsung 970 EVO Plus, which is more expensive. The Power-efficiency of the SX8200 Pro is also very high, making it one of the best NVMe SSD options for laptops.
- Pros: Good performance; Good power-efficiency
- Cons: None as such
7. Intel Optane SSD 905P
The Intel Optane 905P SSD can be considered as the world's fastest SSD, in some ways. Intel uses a new 3D Xpoint memory, which is very different from the typical NAND flash that most SSDs use. 3D Xpoint is used in enterprises where there is a higher preference for random read/write performance than sequential read/writes. As such, the Optane 905P's sequential performance is lower than what the competition offers. But most workflows benefit from random read/writes, and this is where the Optane 905P shines. All this performance does not come cheap, though. The Optane 905P is available in capacities of 380 GB, 480 GB, 960 GB, and 1.5 TB. The 960 GB variant of the Optane 905P comes in a half-width half-height PCI card form factor, and features LED lighting with an acrylic diffuser in the heatsink. The lighting can be customized to some extent in the Intel SSD Toolbox app.
With Optane, Intel has introduced a new endurance metric called petabytes, written (PBW). The 960 GB variant is rated for the endurance of 17.52 PBW, which is way higher than any SSD available on the market and will easily stand the test of time. The main advantage of 3D Xpoint memory is that it performs the same no matter the capacity of the drive, which is a significant advantage in heavy workloads. The benefits of the Optane 905P become visible while benchmarking the drive for random IOPS at low queue depths. Those with substantial write requirements will also benefit from this drive. Unlike other SSDs, Optane does not need to use the TRIM command. The $1,300 price is very high, so you have to evaluate whether the Intel Optane 905P benefits your particular application or not before purchasing, as the advantages over NAND-based NVMe SSDs can range from negligible to extreme.
- Pros: Excellent performance at low queue depths; Enterprise-grade endurance rating
- Cons: Very expensive
8. Sabrent Rocket NVMe 4.0
While PCIe Gen4 SSDs with heatsinks are now becoming commonplace, the Sabrent Rocket NVMe 4.0 takes things a bit further. The Rocket not only uses a heatsink, but it also includes heat pipes for more efficient heat dissipation and, as such, is one of the bulkiest NVMe SSDs you can find. The Sabrent Rocket NVMe 4.0 is priced relatively affordable (compared to other Gen4 drives) and offers the same blazing-fast speeds found in the slightly more expensive Gigabyte Aorus NVMe Gen4. The drive reaches the advertised speeds in most tests, and the 1800 TBW endurance means a very long-lasting drive.
Transfer rates and game load times are very impressive, and it often takes on the much more expensive Intel Optane 905P 960 GB and the Samsung 970 Pro 1 TB with ease. Sabrent offers several utilities to help you get the most out of your drive. The Acronic True Image Cloning software makes backup and cloning of your current drive onto the Sabrent Rocket a very smooth task. The Sabrent Rocket control panel offers an at-a-glance view of the drive's health and makes it easy to update the firmware. There's also a Sabrent Sector Size Converter tool available if you wish to change the individual sector size of the drive for distinct cloning scenarios. The Rocket runs cool even under load, and the included massive heatsink further helps keep the temperatures under control and prevents the drive from throttling. Overall, if you are looking for the best NVMe SSD for gaming, productivity, or just about any other task, the Sabrent Rocket NVMe 4.0 gets the job done with ease.
- Pros: Excellent read/write speeds; Massive heatsink
- Cons: None as such
Those were our picks for the best NVMe SSDs you can buy in 2020. If you have any queries, let us know in the comments below, and we'll get back to you at the earliest.