The best PCIe 4.0 SSD also happens to be the best SSD in general. They’re wildly fast, relatively cheap, and ready for future technologies like Direct Storage. For gaming, expect loading screens for some of your favorite games to zip by in mere moments. A speedy PCIe 4.0 SSD won’t let you down until PCIe 5.0 drives start hitting the market soon.
We recommend 1TB as a bare minimum of storage capacity these days. Game sizes are only getting bigger, meaning you shouldn’t even consider picking up 256GB and 512GB SSDs. It’s better to have more storage than you need instead of constantly needing to prune your gaming library. Write performance improves with capacity, too, so that’s another reason to go for a bigger drive.
To take advantage of these PCIe 4.0 SSDs, you’ll need a PCIe 4.0 platform. That means having an AMD Ryzen 3000- or 5000-series CPU and X570 or B550 motherboard. Likewise, Intel CPUs have support for these SSDs with the Z690, H670, and B660 motherboards, as well as older 500-series motherboards. These SSDs will still work in the PCIe 3.0 platform but expect performance to take a hit due to interface limitations.
I’ve exhaustedly tested all the PCIe 4.0 SSDs listed below. I do this to ensure they’re up to our standards and worthy of recommendation. Everything on this list is something I’d happily put into my gaming rig.
Best PCIe 4.0 SSD for gaming
1. WD Black SN850
The WD Black SN850 1TB drive is the fastest PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD you can buy right now. It may not top every test in every benchmark, but when it comes to real-world benchmarking, there’s nothing else that can touch it. Don’t get me wrong, it does well across the synthetic benchmarks, topping plenty of them, but there are a few places where the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus or the Samsung 980 Pro have the edge, but overall that doesn’t take away from the fact that this is the pinnacle of storage right now.
Any SSD is ultimately defined by its performance and it’s here that the WD SN850 really stands out from the crowd. The synthetic benchmarks, spearheaded by ATTO and AS SSD, show that this is very much a second-generation PCIe 4.0 drive, with peak sequential read speeds knocking on 6,750MB/s and 5,920MB/s respectively. Writes are lower than the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus, but still healthy, at either side of 5GB/s. The 4K write performance in AS SSD manage to flip this over as well, with the WD SN850 managing to outpace the Sabrent drive.
It’s the real-world performance tests that impress the most though, with PCMark 10’s Quick and Full storage tests putting the SN850 way ahead of the field. With an overall throughput of nearly 495MB/s in the Quick test and 550MB/s in the Full benchmark, this is a drive that just keeps powering on in day to day use.
The fact that this performance is echoed in the Final Fantasy XIV benchmark, which has the SN850 loading the five different scenes in a shade under seven seconds for the first time, impresses no end. When plenty of ‘fast’ SSDs still take 12 seconds to complete the same task, that proves what difference the latest technology can have on gaming performance.
The SN850 builds on Western Digital’s previous SSDs to stand head and shoulders above the others to be the performance drive you want in your gaming PC. The Samsung 980 Pro, which had the edge for a few months, is left out in the cold, especially as it costs the same as the SN850, but loses out to the newer drive in every metric (apart from operating temperatures). Neither is a bad drive, obviously, but if we had to recommend a next-gen SSD right now, there’s only one clear option, and that’s the WD SN850. It’s simply the best drive you can buy today.
2. The Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus
The Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus is the first drive to use the new Phison E18 controller. This is the follow up to the immensely popular Phison E16 controller found in basically every first-gen PCIe 4.0 drive. No, seriously, that’s the controller you’ll find in everything from the Corsair MP600 to the Gigabyte Aorus to the Addlink S90 as well as plenty of Sabrent’s drives.
This new Phison E18 controller ups the ante significantly, offering sequential throughput of up to 7,100MB/s reads and 6,600MB/s writes. The theoretical limits of the interface are 8GB/s for both, so those figures aren’t far off how fast you can expect PCIe 4.0 to go. It’s incredibly fast basically, and on paper at least, the fastest drive to be released so far.
Sabrent’s latest drive impresses almost effortlessly, especially when it comes to the synthetic throughput. The sequential read and write figures in both benchmarks are impressive, but it’s the write performance that stands out most, leaving the competition eating dust. The Samsung 980 Pro in particular really struggles to keep up with the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus.
As we’ve seen with previous drives, this synthetic throughput doesn’t always translate to the real world, and this is partly the case here. While the copying of 30GB of files (a Steam game install made up of lots of tiny files as well as a few chunky ones), comes in competitively at 2 minutes and 16 seconds (equating to 225MB/s).
The PCMark 10 storage tests are a bit more off the pace though, with both the Full and Quick benchmarks showing the Sabrent lagging behind the Samsung 980 Pro and the WD Black SN850. The Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers benchmark loaded the levels in just over seven and a half seconds, which is notably quicker than the first generation drives, although behind the WD Black SN850.
This is still a fast drive, make no mistake, but the promise of those class-leading synthetic read and write speeds don’t quite translate to class-leading real-world performance. It’s not far off the pace, and your own usage cases may have this in the lead—especially if you need to write out a lot of large files—but for day-to-day gaming, it has to make do with fifth place.
3: WD Black SN770
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, although 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.
4.Samsung PCIe 4.0
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.
5. Silicon Power M.2 PCIe 4.0 x4
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.
6. Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus
Best PCIe 4.0 SSD FAQ
What’s the difference between PCIe 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0 SSD?
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.