The best PCIe 4.0 SSD will cut loading times to a minimum, speed up your desktop, and make transferring large files a breeze. While there will soon be PCIe 5.0 drives offering double the bandwidth of PCIe 4.0, you’re more than likely going to need a whole new system to make use of those. In the meantime, a PCIe 4.0 is mighty quick and delivers more than enough speed for your Gaming needs.
As for capacity, we recommend 1TB as a bare minimum these days. Game sizes are increasing, meaning 256GB and 512GB SSDs aren’t cutting it anymore. It’s better to have more storage than you need instead of constantly needing to prune your Gaming library. Write performance generally improves with capacity, too, so that’s another reason to go for a bigger drive.
A quick SSD will also be necessary if you want to keep up with new features like Windows 10 and Windows 11‘s DirectStorage (opens in new tab). Whenever that actually makes it onto our systems and into our games.
To take advantage of these PCIe 4.0 SSDs, you’ll need a PCIe 4.0 platform. That means having either an AMD Ryzen 3000- or 5000-series CPU and X570 or B550 motherboard. Likewise, the new Core i5 12600K (opens in new tab) or Core i9 12900K (opens in new tab), Intel CPUs have support for these SSDs with the Z690, H670, and B660 motherboards. Intel’s older, 500-series motherboards, along with Rocket Lake CPUs like the Core i9 11900K and Core i5 11600K, support them too. These SSDs will still work in the PCIe 3.0 platform but expect performance to take a hit due to interface limitations.
We’ve exhaustedly tested all the PCIe 4.0 SSDs listed below. We do this to ensure they’re up to our standards and worthy of recommendation.
Gaming“>Best PCIe 4.0 SSD for Gaming
Western Digital has released some quality drives over the years, with the SN750 being a mainstay of our best SSD for Gaming guide and the likes of the SN550 offering incredible value for money. With the release of the SN850, Western Digital gets to add another trophy to its cabinet—the fastest PCIe 4.0 SSD around. Yup, this is as good as it gets for PCIe 4.0 SSDs right now.
A quick scan down this list would have you scratching your head a bit at this, as the Phison E18-powered Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus has higher quoted sequential read and writes. And while it’s true that the SN850 trails slightly in some of the synthetic benchmarks, we put more weight on the real-world tests, and here the SN850 is head and shoulders above anything else in this group test.
It’s the fastest at the FFXIV game load and PCMark10’s full storage test, and it isn’t exactly sluggish in straight throughput either—managing 5,920MB/s reads and 5,021MB/s writes in AS SSD.
It shouldn’t come as much of a shock to discover that this incredible performance comes at a cost, particularly when compared to PCIe 3.0 drives, but price cuts are common and the premium for the latest tech isn’t so harsh anymore—this drive is regularly available for almost half of its original launch price of $230.
This is a toasty drive though, hitting 77°C in our test machine. This shouldn’t be a problem in a well-ventilated case but maybe an issue in a more cramped system. It’s worth throwing an extra fan in your case if you can.
Overall, this is a great second-generation PCIe 4.0 SSD that is worth including in any builds you have planned (from mid-range to high-end builds). Since its launch, we have seen some theoretically faster drives, but this has maintained its position at the top of this list thanks to that real-world performance. And we don’t see that changing any time soon.
Read our full WD Black SN850 1TB review (opens in new tab).
The Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus was the first SSD to hit our lab using the new Phison E18 controller, which is the follow-up to the immensely popular Phison E16 controller found in basically every first-gen PCIe 4.0 drive. Offering peak reads of 7,100MB/s and writes of 6,600MB/s, it wasn’t only a major step up from the first generation of PCIe 4.0 drives but a notable improvement over the Samsung 980 Pro, especially in terms of write performance.
In testing, this performance was born out too, with the faster write performance dominating Samsung’s drive in the write tests. Real-world performance didn’t always tell the same story, although the differences between these top drives can be slight. Even so, you’re looking at AS SSD hitting 5,868MB/s for reads and 5,630MB/s for writes. Impressive stuff.
Sabrent has recently updated this drive to use faster NAND flash and also new firmware for the Phison E18 controller. The quoted performance doesn’t change with this update, but some performance metrics have improved, and it’s that bit closer to the competition while still offering solid value for money.
One thing worth noting is that the SSD market is in a state of flux at the moment, with pricing shifting almost daily. On release, this was the cheapest second-gen PCIe 4.0 you could lay your hands on, but there’s often nothing between this and our top pick, the WD_Black SN850, which is why this is in the second spot.
This drive does run Cooler than the SN850 though, which may be a factor if you’re looking for a drive for a cramped case. Also, this is a drive worth keeping an eye on in the sales season as it’s often keenly discounted, more so than the other drives here.
The new version of the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus is a welcome release, even if it doesn’t dramatically alter the drive’s place in the market. We’ve had faster drives released recently, like the Kingston Fury Renegade (opens in new tab), along with more budget-focused offerings like the WD Black SN770 (opens in new tab), leaving the new Rocket 4 Plus in pretty much the same place as the original—not the fastest, nor the cheapest, but still worth considering.
Read our full Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 2TB review (opens in new tab).
We’ve seen some incredible NVMe SSD releases recently, but they’ve tended to focus on top-end performance and come with prices to match. The WD_Black SN770 bucks this trend and like its predecessor, the SN750, is aimed at offering better value for money than outright performance.
The main way it achieves this is by being a DRAM-less SSD drive. This saves a big chunk of the manufacturer’s bill of materials, and thanks to advances in the latest controllers, it can be surprising how little impact this has on performance. Such drives are slower, don’t get me wrong, but this new SN770 still quotes read and writes of 5,150MB/s and 4,900MB/s respectively. Not bad.
The drive itself is a low-profile affair, with this 1TB model boasting a single NAND flash module at the back (actually a rebranded Kioxia BiCS5 112-Layer TLC chip) and the SanDisk controller towards the connector. Western Digital rarely reveals much about its controllers, and that’s the case once again here.
The SN770 is available in four sizes: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB. There’s no 4TB option, which is a bit of a shame. If you want a seriously capacious drive, you’re going to want to track down the Sabrent Rocket offerings, which go all the way up to 8TB.
The synthetic performance shows the SN770 trails more expensive drives in terms of reads, although the writes are much closer. The 4K performance is relatively impressive and shows that the SN770 has something to offer in this crowded marketplace. It’s not too surprising that this drive outperforms Samsung’s DRAM-less offering, as that is a PCIe 3.0 drive, after all, but the extent to which it does is impressive.
It’s worth noting that this drive can get hot when pushed, just like the SN850 in fact. It hit 76°C after a long day of testing, although that was without any direct cooling on it at all, not even a heatsink. It should be fine in most systems, especially if your motherboard does come with some cooling solution.
It’s in the real-world tests where the SN770 really struts its stuff. Basically, you’d be hard pushed to tell the difference between this drive and much faster offerings in most day-to-day operations. Given this is the cheaper drive right now, that counts for a lot. If you need better performance, then the SN850 is clearly the better drive, but you will pay considerably more for it.
The only problem issue for this drive is that we don’t know for sure how fast a drive needs to be for Microsoft‘s DirectStorage. We know some developers have been targeting 5,000MB/s, which is where the SN770 sits in our testing. So it should be good, and for the money, it’s very tempting. If you’re a serious gamer though, we’d recommend going a little bit higher up the product stack, and grabbing that WD_Black SN850.
Read our full WD Black SN770 1TB review (opens in new tab).
Samsung has been the go-to brand for plenty of generations of SSD storage, so its first PCIe 4.0 offering was hotly anticipated. It managed to top the synthetic performance charts at release but didn’t impress quite so much in the real-world tests and was too expensive. It has also seen its performance lead destroyed by the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus and the WD Black SN850, pushing it into third place in most tests.
That said, this is still an impressive drive, and if you don’t mind spending slightly over the odds for a second-generation PCIe 4.0 drive, you’ll be rewarded with a speedy chunk of storage.
The 980 Pro uses Samsung’s Intelligent TurboWrite 2.0, which has a five times larger buffer than the previous generation (90GB versus 22GB), which helps the drive hit that 5,000MB/s write speed. Once the intelligent buffer is exhausted, the performance drops back down to 1,000MB/s on the 500GB drive sent for testing or 2,000MB/s on the 1TB model.
There is one figure that is slightly less impressive from the specification sheet for the 980 Pro though, and it’s the Total Bytes Written of 300TB. It’s good to see the 5-year warranty now a standard Feature across the market, but if you take that 300TB across those five years, you’re looking at 168GB per day, which certainly has you covered for normal use, but when you’ve got Sabrent’s Rocket PCIe 4.0 drive offering 850TBW, we can’t help but have more confidence in the Sabrent drive.
That said, the 980 Pro is much faster than the first generation of PCIe 4.0 SSDs in every synthetic test, although the improvements in the real world can be marginal. AS SSD produced peak sequential reads of 5,495MB/s, which is great, and writes of 3,805MB/s.
It’s worth taking a moment to heap some praise on Samsung for its Magician software (opens in new tab). It may be a small point, but Samsung’s drive companion looks great, has loads of information on the health of your drive, and also includes a benchmark, so you can easily make sure that your drive is working as intended.
Samsung has since released the 2TB version of this drive and reduced the price to $290, which represents better value for money ($0.15/GB). The writes are notably better on this larger drive, although they still lag behind the SN850 and Rocket 4 Plus. It would seem that for this generation, Samsung is content to pass the banner to Western Digital for the best SSD money can buy.
Read our full Samsung 980 Pro 500GB review (opens in new tab).
Silicon Power isn’t as big a name for consumers as some of the storage behemoths here, but with pricing as good as this, it’s not a brand you should ignore. Silicon Power basically took the same components as every other first-generation PCIe 4.0 manufacturer and bundled them cheaper than anyone else.
Compare the specs of this drive to those of the first-gen Sabrent Rocket, and you’d be forgiven for thinking we’d copied and pasted them. They’re essentially the same drives, apart from the price. This 2TB model is a lot cheaper.
You do get slightly less for your money—there’s no drive migration software to be found here, and where Sabrent has a thin copper heatsink on its drive, the US70 has a sticker. Still, there was no evidence of heat being an issue, and if you’re buying a new SSD, then reinstalling Windows 10 or 11 afresh isn’t a bad idea.
Performance is healthy too, and indistinguishable from other drives using the same core of the Phison E16 controller and Toshiba 96-layer TLC NAND. You’re looking at sequential read and write speeds of 4,172MB/s and 3,794MB/s in AS SSD, which are both healthy for incompressible data, and well above what you’ll see from even the latest PCIe 3.0 drives.
Silicon Power offers simply stunning endurance with a TBW (Total Bytes Written) of 3,600TB. Over the lifespan of the 5-year warranty, that equates to 1.99TB a day. Or to put it another way, you can completely fill this drive every day for five years and Silicon Power still has you covered. That’s incredible.
The fact that this is one of the cheapest PCIe 4.0 NVMe drives out there right now would make it an interesting proposition in its own right. That it doesn’t hold back when it comes to the performance makes it even more interesting. Follow that up with the frankly incredible warranty, and you have a drive that ticks all the important boxes. Yes, it may be lacking in the extras department, but that’s a hit I’m happy to pay for a lower price tag.
Read our full Silicon Power US70 2TB review (opens in new tab).
Sabrent has plenty of quality drives in its arsenal, but the Rocket 4 2TB stands out for offering a great all-around package at a great price. Now we’re beset with second-generation PCIe 4.0 SSDs it has lost some of its shine, but only in the sense that it’s no longer up there with the best drives around when it comes to peak synthetic throughput.
In practical terms, this is still a great offering, and if your budget doesn’t quite stretch to the newest drives, this is worth picking up. Powered by the powerful combo of the Phison E16 controller and Toshiba 96-layer TLC NAND flash, this is the drive that really put Sabrent on the map for us and showed that having the right components is key to a quality SSD.
The fact that you get a copy of Acronis TrueImage means that migrating to the new drive is a breeze, while the Sabrent Toolbox makes checking your SSD straightforward.
Performance is impressive, thanks to a healthy amount of overprovisioning, SLC cache, and DRAM. In testing, it managed peak sequential read and writes in AS SSD (using incompressible data) of 4,205MB/s and 3,749MB/s, which is decent for a first-gen drive.
As with Sabrent’s other offerings, you can also pick this up with a heatsink bundled for an extra $20—useful if your motherboard doesn’t come with a heatsink for the M.2 slots.
Overall, the Sabrent Rocket 4 is still a solid offering. Strong first-gen performance, with decent software, and at a reasonable price, makes this a drive worth considering still.
Read our full Sabrent Rocket 4 2TB review (opens in new tab).
Best PCIe 4.0 SSD FAQ
What’s the difference between PCIe 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0 SSD?
Bandwidth, essentially. A PCIe 4.0 SSD can theoretically offer double the bandwidth that a PCIe 3.0 SSD can, and a PCIe 5.0 SSD double a PCIe 4.0 SSD.
Here’s a comparison of bandwidth for a single lane (connection):
PCIe 3.0: ~1GB/s
PCIe 4.0: ~2GB/s
PCIe 5.0: ~4GB/s
Most motherboards run an SSD in a 4 lane slot, meaning a PCIe 4.0 drive would be theoretically able to run up to ~8GB/s.
In real-world terms, the exact read/write speed of an SSD is not exactly double a previous generation one, but that’s down to the speed of the controller and NAND on the SSD itself. We tend to see later drives in the release cycle really max out the full capability of a PCIe x4 connection.
For Gaming, some of that speed is wasted. The difference in loading times between top M.2 speeds on different PCIe generations isn’t all that great. However, technologies such as DirectStorage could change that, making better use of speedy SSDs. A faster drive will be better for other non-Gaming operations, for sure, like moving massive files.
Is PCIe 4.0 worth it for SSDs?
If you want the absolute fastest drives available, then PCIe 4.0 SSDs are the way to go. They’re quicker than any PCIe 3.0 drive and will make large file transfers for such things as video editing lightning fast. They will also be prepared for the future of Gaming. The DirectStorage Feature is used to take the load off the CPU and fire data directly at the graphics card to improve performance and shorten, or even remove, load times in tomorrow’s open-world games.
Which CPU/chipsets support PCIe 4.0 SSDs?
For Intel-based systems, PCIe 4.0 support is included on 11th Gen Rocket Lake processors and 12th Gen Alder Lake processors. Just make sure to double check your chip and motherboard online to be sure, as there are always exceptions.
Can you put a PCIe 4.0 SSD in a PCIe 3.0 slot?
Yes, you can. The M.2 socket is identical between the two generations of interface, and so a PCIe 4.0 SSD will fit comfortably inside a PCIe 3.0 slot. They will also function perfectly well, except the Gen4 drive will be limited by the speed of the older interface.
That is is theoretically 4GB/s, but it is closer to 3,500MB/s due to various overheads. PCIe 4.0 SSDs do cost more than their PCIe 3.0 counterparts, though, so unless you’re planning to upgrade to a supporting platform soon, it’s probably worth sticking with a more affordable PCIe 3.0 drive.
How do we test PCIe 4.0 SSDs?
We put every SSD we get in the PC Gamer labs through their paces in various benchmarks made up of a mix of synthetic tests and real-world applications. To ascertain a drives sequential throughput, we use ATTO SSD Benchmark for compressible data (a best-case scenario) and AS SSD for incompressible data (more realistic). We also test random throughput with AS SSD and a combination of CrystalDiskMark 7.0 and Anvil Pro.
When it comes to real-world tests, we time how long it takes to copy a 30GB game install across the drive and use PCMark10 and Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers, which includes a level load test. We also check operating temperatures to ensure that the drive isn’t getting too hot and throttling.
How big a PCIe 4.0 SSD should I buy?
As big as you can afford. At the very least, you want the room to install Windows 10 and a few of your most played games. As games get bigger, we increasingly see 500GB as being a bit cramped, and if you’re buying for the long term, then a 1TB makes more sense. Newer models appear to start at 500GB, so there are not many options below that much of the time anyway.