The 10 Best NVMe SSDs of 2020

See which solid-state drives made the cut

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The Rundown
"Simply put, the best NVMe SSD you can buy when you consider both price and quality."
Runner-Up, Best Overall:
Samsung 970 EVO Plus 1TB SSD at Amazon
"A fast high capcity 1TB SSD with good value."
"Boasts competitive random read/write speeds, which makes it perfect for everyday use."
Best Mid-Capacity Value:
Samsung SSD 970 EVO - 500GB at Amazon
"Boasting the same impressive specifications as its bigger brother, the Samsung 970 EVO (500GB) is an easy pick for our best mid-capacity value."
"For enthusiasts who tend to multi-task and play a bunch of games."
"If you’re looking for a brightly-lit RGB M.2 SSD to add some extra flair to your PC, the ADATA XPG Spectrix S40 is the drive you’re looking for."
Best Mid-Capacity:
WD Black 500GB at Amazon
"The WD Black line is traditionally Western Digital’s premium line of hard drives intended for high end computers."
Best Low Capacity:
WD Blue 250GB at Amazon
"If you’re looking for a low capacity SSD for any reason, the WD Blue (250GB) represents an excellent combination of value and performance."
Best High Performance Value:
ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB at Amazon
"The ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro is our top pick for the best high performance value in an NVMe SSD."
Best High Capacity:
Sabrent Rocket Q 4TB at Amazon
"Our top pick for the best high capacity NVMe SSD is the Sabrent Rocket Q in the 4TB configuration."

The best NVMe SSDs pack in enough storage for your operating system and most commonly used apps and games, and are capable of loading data at blistering speeds. They share a lot in common with the best SSDs overall, but with a laser focus on speed and performance. By leveraging an open M.2 connection on your motherboard, an NVMe SSD can provide read and write speeds that are significantly faster than a SATA or even PCIe SSD.

While NVMe SSDs are fast, they also tend to be more expensive than other SSDs. With that in mind, we researched and tested drives from all the top manufacturers, including giants like Samsung and Western Digital, and lesser-known options like Adata, to find the best high performance NVMe SSDs, the best options across different storage capacities, and options for every budget.

Before you proceed, check with your PC or motherboard manufacturer to make sure that your computer can make use of an NVMe SSD. You’ll need to have an open M.2 socket on your motherboard, and it will need to support the NVMe communication standard. The first motherboards with M.2 sockets didn’t yet support NVMe, so simply having an M.2 socket doesn’t mean you can take advantage of one of these lightning fast SSDs.

Our top pick for the category is the Samsung SSD 970 Evo (1TB) on Amazon. It's a high capacity SSD with fantastic performance and great value. You should also take a look at our more general list of the best SATA hard drives to see if any of them fit your needs. For everyone else, read on to see the best NVMe SSDs to get.

Best Overall: Samsung SSD 970 EVO - 1TB

What We Like
  • Fantastic performance

  • Large storage space

  • Decent value

What We Don't Like
  • Disappointingly slow with full cache

The Samsung SSD 970 EVO (1TB) is an easy pick for the best overall NVMe SSD, with an impressive mix of lightning-fast performance and affordability. It boasts blistering sequential read speeds of up to 3.4GB per second and writes speeds of 2.5GB per second, excellent long-term endurance, and a fantastic software suite.

While there are marginally faster and more robust options on the market, most users will be absolutely satisfied with the performance of the Samsung 970 EVO. Unless you have a specific reason to look elsewhere or have a very particular need that’s not met by the Samsung 970 EVO, there’s really no reason to even look any further. We particularly recommend the 1TB version, but the 2TB version is also excellent if you need the extra space.

The only issue with the Samsung 970 EVO is that the lower capacity versions run slower, and we particularly recommend staying away from the 256GB model. Speeds also drop precipitously if you exceed the cache, but that’s unlikely to happen with the 1TB and 2TB versions of the 970 EVO. 

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Samsung 970 EVO Plus 1TB SSD

What We Like
  • Good value

  • High performance

  • Good management software

What We Don't Like
  • Slows down when transferring large files

The Samsung SSD 970 EVO Plus has a lot going for it and manages to go toe to toe with the 970 EVO in a lot of ways. It’s a bit slow in both writing data and sequential reads, but the difference isn’t that great. This line also has a very attractive per-gigabyte pricing structure, with decent pricing that becomes extremely attractive for the 1TB and 2TB models. If you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of speed, the 970 EVO Plus is unlikely to disappoint.

Like the 970 EVO line, the 970 EVO Plus comes with excellent management software. It also suffers from a similar slowdown issue when the cache is exhausted, but testing shows that the 970 EVO Plus is actually faster than the 970 EVO when exhausted, making this the better choice if you transfer extremely large files.

Best 2TB Value: Sabrent Rocket - 2TB

What We Like
  • Excellent value

  • Fast write speeds

What We Don't Like
  • No management software

  • Barebones packaging

  • Sometimes runs hot

The Sabrent Rocket takes our top pick for the best 2TB value with an NVMe SSD that boasts impressive specifications while maintaining an extremely attractive price point. Looking at the raw numbers, the Sabrent Rocket is actually capable of going toe to toe with our top overall pick in both sequential read and write speeds, which is truly impressive considering the price tag. This drive represents truly remarkable value, making it a fantastic pick if you’re willing to roll the dice on a lesser-known hardware manufacturer.

While this is a truly impressive drive, considering the price, there are a few issues that keep the Samsung 970 EVO solidly in our top spot. Reflecting the bargain price, the packaging of the Sabrent Rocket is pretty bare-bones, with very little documentation, and no packed-in extras. In fact, it doesn’t even come with a screw to secure the drive to your motherboard.

The Sabrent doesn’t come with its own management software either, so installing and managing this drive is a bit of DIY experience. You can find free management software out there to do the job, but the fantastic price of this NVMe SSD definitely comes with the tradeoff that you need to do some extra work to get it up and running.

Best Mid-Capacity Value: Samsung SSD 970 EVO - 500GB

What We Like
  • Fantastic speeds

  • Decent price

  • Great endurance

What We Don't Like
  • Very slow when cache full

  • Less DRAM cache than larger drives

Boasting the same impressive specifications as its bigger brother, the Samsung 970 EVO (500GB) is an easy pick for our best mid-capacity value and almost manages to go neck and neck for the top mid-capacity performance as well. This drive records sequential read speeds of 3.5GB per second and write speeds of 2.3GB per second, nearly matching the 1TB Samsung 970 EVO that we recommend as the best overall NVMe SSD. It also comes with the same great management software you get with the larger versions of this drive.

This is an impressive drive that represents an excellent choice if you don’t have the budget or the need for a larger SSD. It does suffer from the same issue as the 1TB Samsung 970 EVO where speeds slow dramatically when the cache is overfilled, and that problem is somewhat exacerbated by the fact that the DRAM cache is just half the size of the cache found in the 1TB and 2TB versions of this drive, but overall performance is fantastic when the cache isn’t exhausted.

If you have some extra room in your budget, consider taking a look at our overall top pick as a great alternative. Otherwise, the Samsung 970 EVO represents an excellent mid-capacity value.

Best Speed: Samsung SSD 970 PRO - 512GB

What We Like
  • Best-in-class performance

  • Better speed than Samsung 970 EVO

  • Full disk encryption

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

While the Samsung 970 EVO is our favorite NVMe SSD, the Samsung 970 Pro is a fantastic alternative for anyone looking to pay for an upgrade. The increase in performance isn’t monumental, and you do pay a premium for it, but the 970 Pro is worth a look if you’re willing to splurge a bit in exchange for better speed and some very impressive hardware.

In terms of hardware, the Samsung 970 Pro differs from its more affordable cousin in that it uses a 2-bit MLC V-NAND flash memory instead of a 3-bit. This not only boosts performance but also increases the durability and endurance of the 970 Pro. Both models have similar theoretical read and write speeds, but real-world testing shows that the 970 Pro outperforms the competition with best-in-class performance.

Most users will do just fine with the 970 EVO, but the 970 Pro is an easy recommendation if you don’t mind spending some extra money to enjoy the top-notch performance, rock-solid speeds, and endurance that can’t be beat.

Best RGB: XPG S40G 1TB

What We Like
  • Great write and sequential read speeds

  • Decent value

  • Attractive RGB lighting

What We Don't Like
  • Underperforms when the cache is exhausted

  • Some thermal throttling

If you’re looking for a brightly-lit RGB M.2 SSD to add some extra flair to your PC, the ADATA XPG Spectrix S40 is the drive you’re looking for. With flashy RGB stripes running the length of the drive, a great read and write performance, and a surprisingly affordable price tag, the XPG S40G (1TB) takes our top pick for the best RGB NVMe SSD.

Most of the best NVMe SSDs are pretty basic looking. While there are a few options on this list that spice things up a bit, the XPG S40G is your go-to option if you’re trying to put together a flashy build. This is one of the brightest RGB-enabled drives on the market, and the included software gives you full control over the lighting behavior. You can fine-tune the coloring of eight individual LEDs, select from a massive list of effects like breathing and cycling, and set up a number of custom profiles.

While the flashy LEDs are the main selling point here, the XPG S40G is no slouch in the performance department, and the 1TB model also represents a great value. With sequential read speeds in excess of 3.5GB per second, and write speeds of about 2GB per second, you don’t have to sacrifice much in the performance department just to get some flashy RGB functionality.

Best Mid-Capacity: WD Black 500GB

What We Like
  • Excellent performance

  • Great pricing

  • Performs well during long writes

What We Don't Like
  • Lower performance than high-capacity WD Black drives

The WD Black line is traditionally Western Digital’s premium line of hard drives intended for high-end computers, and the WD Black NVMe SSD (500GB) definitely has the specifications to fit that bill. This drive actually meets or exceeds the read and write speeds of the high-end Samsung 960 Pro, the predecessor to the 970 Pro, despite sporting a much more affordable price tag. That makes the WD Black NVMe SSD (500GB) an easy pick for our best mid-capacity NVMe drive.

The performance of the WD Black NVMe SSD line is top-notch, with the higher capacity drives somewhat outperforming the mid- and lower capacity drives. The 500GB is still a fantastic little performer for the price, though, and it actually outperforms a lot of more expensive drives during exceptionally long writing sessions. If you regularly need to save large files, but your budget only allows for a mid-capacity SSD, then this is exactly what you’re looking for.

Best Low Capacity: WD Blue 250GB

What We Like
  • Decent performance

  • Good software package

  • Efficient power use

What We Don't Like
  • Small cache

  • Low capacity

We typically recommend 500GB and higher M.2 NVMe SSDs, but there are definitely circumstances where budget or application may call for a smaller option. If you’re looking for a low capacity SSD for any reason, the WD Blue (250GB) represents an excellent combination of value and performance.

The WD Blue SN500 NVMe SSD (250GB) is a solid little entry-level drive with enough space for your operating system and a few key apps or games. Performance is pretty good for the price, although it’s significantly slower than our top recommendations. You’re likely to see write speeds in the neighborhood of 1.7GB per second and write speeds around 1.4GB per second.

In addition to decent read and write speeds, you also get a nice software management package, and this drive is also pretty energy efficient. It does suffer from a small cache, like most low capacity drives, which can have an effect on transfer speed, but it’s still a great option if 250GB is all you need and you’re working on a budget.

Best High Performance Value: ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB

What We Like
  • Fantastic performance

  • Great power efficiency

  • Excellent value

  • Includes optional heat spreader

What We Don't Like
  • Slows down on long writes

  • May experience thermal throttling

The ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro is our top pick for the best high-performance value in an NVMe SSD. In order to take top marks in this category, the XPG SX8200 Pro had to accomplish two tasks: come very close to matching the performance of the best NVMe drives, and do so with a mouth-watering price point. Consider those missions as both accomplished.

While it doesn’t quite match our top overall picks in terms of performance, the XPG SX8200 Pro comes extremely close. It’s actually rated at 3.5GB per second read and 3GB per the second write, more or less in line with the top-performing options, although real-world testing shows it to stumble a bit.

The main exception, in terms of performance, is that it doesn’t slow down as much during long writes and when the cache is exhausted as most of the competition. In those circumstances, it actually continues to manage fairly respectable speeds. That, combined with an absolutely fantastic price, makes this a very attractive option if you’re working on a bit of a budget but still want the highest speeds possible.

Best High Capacity: Sabrent Rocket Q 4TB

What We Like
  • Massive 4TB storage

  • Fantastic performance

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Lower write durability than the competition

Our top pick for the best high capacity NVMe SSD is the Sabrent Rocket Q in the 4TB configuration. This drive packs a massive amount of storage into the familiar M.2 NVMe form factor, and it doesn’t sacrifice on performance either. The Sabrent Rocket Q provides some of the fastest read and write times available, and it’s also available in an even more epic 8TB configuration if your storage needs are great and your wallet overflows.

The Sabrent Rocket Q does have somewhat lower write-durability ratings compared to the top performers in the segment, but it’s still a durable enough drive for most usage scenarios. It’s also the best game in town if you’re looking for a high capacity drive, as Sabrent was the first to market with 4TB and 8TB NVMe SSDs, leaving the competition to play catch up.

If you have your heart set on a truly high capacity NVMe SSD, the only thing that should really stop you from snapping up a 4TB Sabrent Rocket Q is the price tag. It’s an expensive drive, both in absolute terms and when you look at the cost per terabyte. If

Final Verdict

The Samsung 970 EVO (view on Amazon) is our top pick for best overall NVMe SSD because its real-world performance beats out most of the competition, and its down-to-earth price makes up for the few cases where it isn’t the top performer. If you’re looking for great baseline performance from an affordable NVMe SSD, you really don’t have to look any further. Our runner-up for best overall, the Samsung SSD 970 EVO Plus (view on Amazon), is also an excellent choice, as it comes very close to matching the performance of its more expensive cousins while coming with a more attractive price tag.

About our Trusted Experts

With over 10 years of experience reviewing and writing how-to content about computer hardware, Jeremy Laukkonen has a ton of hands-on experience with storage media, up to and including the latest NVMe SSDs.

What to look for in an NVMe SSD

Capacity - The sweet spot for price versus storage space is typically about 500GB to 1TB, but there are a lot of great options that have more space if it’s in your budget. A smaller drive with only 256GB is fine if you’re working on a tight budget and only need to speed up a few apps and files, but don’t bother with anything smaller than that. In general, try to buy a drive that has about 20 percent more capacity than you intend to use. Filling one of these drives to full capacity will actually tend to slow it down.

Support - Before you buy an NVMe SSD, make absolutely sure that your computer actually supports this style of SSD. If your motherboard doesn’t have an open slot for an NVMe SSD you’re better off just buying a traditional SSD. Some older motherboards have M.2 slots that aren’t compatible with NVMe SSDs, so make sure to double-check. Additionally, some laptops have NVMe SSDs that are soldered to the motherboard, in which case you don’t have the option to upgrade yourself.

Read and write speed - In terms of performance, look primarily at how fast the drive can read and write. Bigger numbers are better, so a drive that reads at 3GB/s and writes at 2.5GB/s will be significantly faster than one that only reads at 1.2GB/s and writes at 900MB/s. Slow NVMe SSDs are still much faster than traditional hard drives, but you can pay a premium for truly impressive speeds.