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1TB NVMe SSD For Gaming

Given the increasingly affordable prices, isn’t it an ideal time to treat yourself to the best NVMe M.2 SSD with a capacity of 1TB?

So, if you have decided to switch from a SATA SSD or HDD to a newer and faster storage device, the logical shift is towards the M.2 NVMe. Today, various manufacturers offer many quality M.2 NVMe drives at attractive prices.

Which M.2 NVMe SSD you take depends not only on your budget but also on the motherboard and processor you have in your computer. If you buy a new PC, make sure it supports PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD.

Unlike previous years, prices have dropped a lot so that purchasing won’t be a big blow to your wallet. Modern games’ appetites grow exponentially in the required computing power and storage space. In addition to gaming, professionals are also looking for the fastest storage space for their applications.

The latest NVMe SSDs use a PCIe 4.0 interface (Gen4) for data transfer while achieving superior performance. Older NVMe drives that use the PCIe 3.0 interface (Gen3) have been on the market for a long time, and it’s a mature technology with decent performance.

NVMe allows for much faster loading of games and applications as opposed to a regular SATA SSD, and to compare to an HDD would be ridiculous. Of course, you can use the HDD as a backup or storage solution in the internal or external version.

So, Windows 11 or Windows 10 with your favorite games will “breathe with full lungs” if you upgrade your PC to a modern NMVe drive. If you have the time and are unfamiliar with the NVMe SSD concept, read the FAQ at the end of this article.

6 Best 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD For Gaming 2022

Picture

Name

Pros

Price

Best Overall

Samsung 980 PRO 

  • PCIe 4.0 x4, NVMe 1.3c

  • Read: 7000 MB/s

  • Write: 5000 Mb/s

  • Endurance:  600 TBW / 1TB

  • Warranty: 5 Year

Runner Up

WD Black SN850

  • PCIe 4.0 x4, NVMe 1.4

  • Read: 7000 MB/s

  • Write: 5300 Mb/s

  • Endurance:  600 TBW / 1TB

  • Warranty: 5 Year

Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus

  • PCIe 4.0 x4, NVMe 1.4

  • Read: 7000 MB/s

  • Write: 5300 Mb/s

  • Endurance:  700 TBW / 1TB

  • Warranty: 5 Year

Best Gen3

Samsung 970 EVO Plus 

  • PCIe 3.0 x4, NVMe 1.3

  • Read: 3500 MB/s

  • Write: 3300 Mb/s

  • Endurance:  600 TBW / 1TB

  • Warranty: 5 Year

Runner Up Gen3

Kingston KC2500

  • PCIe 3.0 x4, NVMe 1.3

  • Read: 3500 MB/s

  • Write: 2900 Mb/s

  • Endurance:  600 TBW / 1TB

  • Warranty: 5 Year

Samsung SSD 980

  • PCIe 3.0 x4, NVMe 1.4

  • Read: 3500 MB/s

  • Write: 3000 Mb/s

  • Endurance:  600 TBW / 1TB

  • Warranty: 5 Year

1. Samsung 980 PRO – Best Overall 1TB NVMe Gen4 

Samsung 980 PRO 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD Gen4 for Gaming

 

Samsung 980 Pro 1 TB

Interface

PCIe 4.0 x4, NVMe 1.3c

Form Factor

Single-Sided M.2 2280

Controller

Samsung Elpis

NAND Flash

Samsung 1xxL V-NAND TLC

DRAM

1GB 1866 Mhz LPDDR4

Sequential Read (MB/s)

7000

Sequential Write (MB/s)

5000

Write Endurance

600 TBW

Warranty

5-Year 


Pros


Cons

  • PCI-Express 4.0

  • Excellent real-world performance

  • Sustained write speeds

  • AES 256-bit encryption

  • DRAM cache

  • PS5 compatible

  • Five-year warranty

  • Average endurance ratings

  • Uses TLC, Samsung 970 Pro used MLC

  • SLC cache could be a bigger

  • No included heatsink

  • PCIe 3.0 users better off with a cheaper NVMe

For many years, Samsung has established itself with its Pro series as a leader in producing quality, fast, and expensive NVMe SSDs. Of course, the competition isn’t sleeping, and with their aggressive pricing and quality policy, they are trying to take over the part of the market in which Samsung sovereignly rules.

So this time, Samsung has adjusted the prices and made the 980 Pro more affordable and desirable for any serious gamer or pro user. The 980 Pro is Samsung’s new flagship line of premium NVMe drives for the PCIe 4.0 interface.

Looking only at the specification, you will be amazed at the speed, like 7000 MB/s for reading and 5000 MB/s for writing. Samsung uses its NAND flash memory paired with its own Elpis PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe controller.

NAND flash memory is a 1xx-layer V6 V-NAND TLC that has 136 layers, as opposed to 92 layers in the 970 Evo Plus. According to Samsung, energy savings of 15% were achieved, unlike the V5 NAND. The new Elpis controller has 1GB of 1866 Mhz LP DDR4 cache.

The 980 Pro is available in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities. Durability for these models is set at 150 TBW, 300 TBW, 600 TBW, and 1200 TBW, respectively.

You would rightly expect such a fast drive to generate more heat, but Samsung still doesn’t use an aluminum heatsink but uses a copper heat dissipator on the back. Also, according to Samsung, the controller has a nickel coating that improves cooling by about 7%. The 980 Pro doesn’t heat up too much in actual operation, although it can pull 8.9 W under heavy load.

You should note that the 980 Pro will work without problems on the PCIe 3.0 interface. In that case, NVMe will work with a read speed up to 3500 MB/s and a write speed up to 3450 BM/s.

The only drawback, which greatly influenced the lower price, is the durability of the NAND TLC, which is approximately half of the previous 970 Pro series. However, it’s still at a desirable level. Only the 980 Pro model with 2TB has 1200 TBW, but I wish I had seen that on the 1TB model.

Overall, you get a fast, high-quality, affordable (for the PRO series) NVMe SSD that doesn’t heat up too much. You have to pair the 980 Pro with the appropriate chipset and processor to take full advantage of the PCIe 4.0 interface. 

2. WD Black SN850Runner Up 1TB NVMe Gen4 

WD Black SN850 1TB Gen4 NVMe SSD for Gaming

 

WD Black SN850 1TB

Interface

PCIe 4.0 x4, NVMe 1.4

Form Factor

Single-Sided M.2 2280

Controller

SanDisk 20-82-10035-A1 / WD G2

NAND Flash

Toshiba 96-layer 3D TLC BiCS4

DRAM

1 GB Nanya 2666 Mhz DDR4

Sequential Read (MB/s)

7000

Sequential Write (MB/s)

5300

Write Endurance

600 TBW

Warranty

5-Year 


Pros


Cons

  • PCI-Express 4.0

  • Excellent gaming performance

  • DRAM cache

  • Large SLC cache

  • Competitive price

  • Five-year warranty

  • Write speeds vary

  • No hardware encryption

  • Can get very hot under load

  • Heatsink is optional (costs extra)

Western Digital (WD) is better known as the market leader in the production of mechanical drives, but it’s undoubtedly moving in the right direction as far as SSDs are concerned. The second NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSD, which I can recommend, comes from WD and is labeled as SN850. This SSD is from the famous Black performance series that is primarily gamer-oriented.

The WD SN850 provides superior sequential read performance of 7000 MB/s and write of 5300 MB/s. It’s available in capacities of 500 GB, 1TB, and 2TB. The dynamic SLC cache is 300GB, similar to Sabrent’s Rocket 4 Plus model.

And WD, for its SN850, gives a five-year warranty with an endurance of 600 TBW. The 2TB model supports twice as much, that is, 1200 TBW. The SN850 also supports secure erasing of all data but lacks advanced AES 256-bit full-disk encryption, as Samsung has with its models.

WD_Black G2 is WD’s own 8-channel PCIe NVMe SSD controller paired with Kioxia (Toshiba) 96-layer 3D TLC NAND flash memory. The WD_Black G2 is a renamed SanDisk 20-82-10035-A1 storage controller.

The gaming performance is excellent. The SN850 runs brutally fast but lacks a few finesses to set it apart as a winner over the 980 Pro. The already mentioned encryption can mean a lot to someone, but higher heating and consumption are also noticeable.

In actual operation under full load, the SN850 can reach a very uncomfortable 88 °C (190 °F), leading to performance degradation. WD charges more if you want a suitable passive cooler for the SN850, and believe me, you need it.

So for those who will use an SSD only for gaming, the WD SN850 is the perfect choice for a fast PCIe 4.0 bus.

3. Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus

Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 1TB Gen4 NVMe SSD for Gaming

 

Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus  1TB

Interface

PCIe 4.0 x4, NVMe 1.4

Form Factor

Single-Sided M.2 2280

Controller

Phison PS5018-E18 

NAND Flash

Micron B27B 96L TLC 

DRAM

Hynix 1600 MHz DDR4

Sequential Read (MB/s)

7000

Sequential Write (MB/s)

5300

Write Endurance

700 TBW

Warranty

5-Year 


Pros


Cons

  • PCI-Express 4.0

  • Sequential performance

  • DDR4 DRAM cache

  • Large SLC cache

  • Competitive price

  • PS5 Compatibility

  • Five-year warranty

  • Random read

  • Not quite as responsive or efficient as 980 Pro or SN850

  • Thermal throttling under heavy loads

  • No AES 256-bit encryption

  • 1-year warranty without registration

Another interesting NVMe SSD PCIe 4.0 comes from Sabrent, which with its Rocket 4 Plus, is a direct competitor to the Samsung 980 Pro and WD SN850. The 1TB Sabrent NVMe comes with a Phison PS5018 controller and Micron NAND flash memory labeled B297B 96L TLC.

Rocket 4 Plus comes in capacities of 1 TB, 2TB, and 4TB so that everyone can choose according to their capabilities and needs. We are currently interested in the 1TB model, which reaches an impressive 7100 MB/s for reading and 6600 MB/s for writing. SLC cache is also generous to one-third of the disk capacity (300GB).

Sabrent also gives the maximum durability guarantee of 700 TBW or a five-year warranty for the 1TB model (registration required on the manufacturer’s website). Like all 1TB NVMe drives on the list, the Rocket 4 Plus comes in single-sided M.2 2280 format.

The central part of the Sabrent NVMe drive is the excellent eight-channel Phison PS5018-E18 controller. Sabrent has equipped the controller with 1GB of DRAM cache for faster performance. DRAM is DDR4 Hynix and runs at 1600Mhz.

In terms of speed, the Sabrent is great in real work, but you’ll need to have good cooling inside the case or mount a passive heatsink on the drive. In terms of gaming performance, the Sabrent stands shoulder to shoulder with the 980 Pro and WD SN850.

So for gaming, it doesn’t matter if you take the Rocket 4 Plus, 980 Pro, or WD SN850. If gaming is your primary goal, choose the best price from these three PCIe 4.0 NVMe drives.

However, I would recommend the 980 Pro for better handling at higher loads, faster random reading, and less warm-up for professional use. Also, if you’re looking for additional support features, like AES 256-bit disk encryption, go for the 980 Pro.

4. Samsung 970 EVO Plus – Best Overall 1TB NVMe Gen3 

 

SAMSUNG 970 EVO Plus 1TB Gen3

Samsung SSD 970 Evo Plus 1TB

Interface

PCIe 3.0 x4, NVMe 1.3

Form Factor

Single-Sided M.2 2280

Controller

Samsung Phoenix

NAND Flash

Samsung 9x-layer V-NAND TLC

DRAM

1GB Samsung Low Power DDR4

Sequential Read (MB/s)

3500

Sequential Write (MB/s)

3300

Write Endurance

600 TBW

Warranty

5-Year 


Pros


Cons

  • Solid overall performance

  • Low latency

  • Good endurance

  • AES 256-bit encryption

  • DRAM cache

  • Good software package

  • Five-year warranty

  • Sequential write speeds slow under load

  • The price could be lower

  • No included heatsink

The Samsung 970 Evo Plus is one great SSD that delivers its maximum in the PCIe 3.0 interface. It’s an older model that has been on the market for two years but has now entered this selection due to its exceptional performance and the most affordable price so far.

The NVMe 970 Evo Plus incorporates all Samsung manufactured components; 3D NAND flash memory (V-NAND) and Phoenix 8-channel storage controller, so there’s no room for any incompatibilities or performance surprises.

NVMe SSD is available in capacities of 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB. Durability for these models is set at150 TBW, 300 TBW, 600 TBW, and1200 TBW, respectively.

The NVMe drive from Samsung Kitchen has a 1GB DRAM DDR4 cache and an SLC cache of up to 42GB. As might be expected, performance is in the range of the best SSDs for the PCIe 3.0 interface.

Such a fast disk’s biggest drawback is heating, which can reach a very unpleasant 80°C (176°F)  under a more extended load. I recommend using an appropriate passive cooler.

The price isn’t tiny, but looking at the quality and speed and the five-year warranty given by the manufacturer, the price isn’t too offensive for PCI 3.0 users.

5. Kingston KC2500 – Runner Up 1TB NVMe Gen 3 

 

Kingston KC2500 1 TB Gen3

 

Kingston KC2500 1TB

Interface

PCIe 3.0 x4, NVMe 1.3

Form Factor

Single-Sided M.2 2280

Controller

Silicon Motion SM2262ENG

NAND Flash

Toshiba 15 nm, 96-layer 3D TLC

DRAM

2x 512 MB Kingston DDR3-1866

Sequential Read (MB/s)

3500

Sequential Write (MB/s)

2900

Write Endurance

600 TBW

Warranty

5-Year 


Pros


Cons

  • Solid performance

  • XTS-AES 256-bit hardware encryption

  • Large SLC cache

  • Excellent sustained write performance

  • DRAM cache

  • Good software package

  • Five-year warranty

  • The price could be lower

Kingston also has something to offer in terms of performance for an NVMe SSD 1TB capacity. The KC2500 is a PCIe 3.0 NVMe drive that is very competitive with the Samsung Evo 970 Plus and SSD 980 models.

Kingston NVMe comes in the usual M.2 2280 format and uses 96-layer Toshiba 3D NAND TLC high-performance flash memory. The drive is very suitable for gaming computers but also for high-performance workstations.

A Silicon Motion SM2262ENG storage controller for the PCIe 3.0 interface is built-in. The controller achieves excellent results with reading speeds of up to 3500 MB/s and writes up to 2900 MB/s.

Like Samsung for the 970 Evo Plus and SSD 980 models, Kingston gives a five-year warranty on all capacities of 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB. Durability for these models is set at 150 TBW, 300 TBW, 600 TBW, and 1200 TBW, respectively. Two 512 MB DDR3-1866 DRAM chips provide 1 GB of cache on the controller.

In addition, Kingston offers a good set of advanced security features, including support for TCG Opal 2.0, XTS-AES 256-bit, and eDrive.

In terms of performance, the KC2500 is a very high-performance NVMe drive that comes close to PCIe 4.0 drives. Most importantly, the disc doesn’t heat up too much under prolonged load, and you don’t have to put a heatsink on it. In addition, consumption is very moderate. That is why the KC2500 is also ideal for installation on laptops.

All in all, Kingston Kc2500 is an excellent and cost-effective NVMe SSD that gets the most out of the PCIe 3.0 interface.

 

6. Samsung SSD 980 1 TB

SAMSUNG SSD 980 1TB

 

Samsung SSD 980 1TB

Interface

PCIe 3.0 x4, NVMe 1.4

Form Factor

Single-Sided M.2 2280

Controller

Samsung Pablo

NAND Flash

Samsung 128L 512Gb TLC

DRAM

Only HMB(Host Memory Buffer)

Sequential Read (MB/s)

3500

Sequential Write (MB/s)

3000

Write Endurance

600 TBW

Warranty

5-Year 


Pros


Cons

  • Solid performance

  • Large dynamic SLC cache

  • Fast random writes 

  • AES 256-bit encryption

  • 980 Pro durability

  • Five-year warranty

  • Slow write speeds after the SLC cache fills

  • PCIe 3.0

  • Expensive for DRAM-less drive

According to Samsung, the new SSD 980 is the successor to the successful 970 Evo series. The clean label without the Pro or Evo suffix means the new Samsung entry-level series of fast NMVe drives.

Unlike the 970 Evo, the SSD 980 uses NAND Flash memory but no cache on the controller, i.e., it has no DRAM. In this way, production is cheaper, but this is nothing new with other OEMs.

The SSD 980 comes in three capacities of 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB. Of course, if you decide to buy, choose the largest capacity. As with the older 970 Evo Plus, Samsung offers a five-year warranty or 600 TBW (about 300GB/day) for this new NVMe drive.

As with the 970 Evo Plus, Samsung has built a controller called Pablo into this model. Unlike Phoenix, which is eight channels, Pablo has only four and doesn’t have a DRAM interface. Thanks to the high speeds of NAND memory, the controller manages to sufficiently load the PCI 3.0 interface even though there are no eight channels.

To compensate for the lack of DRAM, Samsung has enhanced SLC caching on the SSD 980 by three times more than the 970 Evo Plus. Regarding performance, on more leisurely tasks, i.e., load, the SSD 980 is competitive with the 970 Evo Plus primarily thanks to its larger SLC cache.

Of course, at a high load, which involves working with a lot of data at once, it will be slower than with an SSD with a DRAM cache. It is also slower in various searches without indexing, antivirus scans, etc.

If you plan to put the SSD 980 as the primary drive with the operating system, favorite games, and frequently used applications, it’s better to choose some NVMe with a DRAM cache. If it has to be Samsung NVMe, let the choice be the timeless 970 Evo Plus, which shows more.

 

M.2 NVMe SSD FAQ

 

1. Whether to choose SATA SSD or M.2 NVMe SSD (Non-Volatile Memory Express)?

Classic SSDs are 2.5″ format storage devices with a SATA interface to the motherboard, similar to an HDD. The current SATA III standard provides a maximum bandwidth of 600 MB/s. The advantage of SSDs is that they are cheaper per gigabyte of storage space compared to NVMe drives. Also, you can get classic SSDs in large capacities of up to 100TB.

M.2 indicates the connector or slot on the system board where you physically mount the NVMe drive. The NVMe is most reminiscent of the memory module you install in the motherboard.

This small NVMe board has built-in NAND flash memory chips, a DRAM cache, and a controller. The most common format used today is 2280, where the last two numbers determine the length – 80 mm. There are also 40mm and 100mm lengths, but all modern boards will accept these dimensions without any problems.

Keep in mind that you can still find old NVMe drives with a SATA interface on the market, so apart from the ease of installation in motherboards, they don’t have a speed higher than classic SATA SSDs.

Modern M.2 NVMe SSDs use a much faster PCIe bus, and we can’t compare them in speed with a classic SATA SSD. The advantage is that NVMe disks are easy to install on both desktops and laptops. It doesn’t need SATA cables or an additional power supply from the PSU.

The only drawback compared to SATA SSD is that for the same capacity, NVMe costs more but also offers much more.

In short, I advise you to choose an NVMe PCIe SSD over a SATA SSD for top performance.

2. PCIe 3.0 or PCIe 4.0 M.2 NVMe SSD?

If you want uncompromising performance in terms of the speed of your NVMe drive, the choice falls on the PCI 4.0 PCIe bus. These discs appeared about two years ago and represented the best you can take for money.

So, to use the theoretical bandwidth of 8 GB/s (8000 MB/s) at all, you must have the appropriate chipset on the motherboard and processor. For this speed, you must have a minimum Ryzen 3xxx processor, and B550 chipset for AMD, and a B560 chipset for Intel 11th generation processor.

Of course, M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0 drives will work correctly on older chipsets, but with data transfer limited to the PCIe 3.0 standard (up to 4GB / s).

So, another cheaper variant is PCIe 3.0 NVMe drives which are more extended present and more numerous in the market than the new PCIe 4.0 standard. PCIe 3.0 NVMe drives on all newer motherboards, which aren’t older than a few years and have an M.2 interface, will improve performance.

So if you want the best and fastest now and in the future, go to PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD. If you are on a tight budget, look to take PCIe 3.0 NVMe, which will not leave you disappointed in real work.

3. Which capacity to choose?

Some minimums you should consider today are 512 GB NVMe drives. Trust me; this capacity will fill up quickly with your games and frequently used apps faster than you think. Also, keep in mind that more than 50% disk fullness leads to slight performance degradation.

If you have the opportunity, go for purchasing a 1TB disk or more because that will be the optimal choice for you in terms of capacity and speed. Anything over 1TB is desirable if your budget allows it.

So avoid NVMe disks of 512 GB or less; go immediately to 1TB or more.

4. Which memory is built into M.2 NVMe SSD?

As already mentioned, on the NVMe disk, there are NAND flash memory chips that manufacturers can arrange as single-sided or double-sided. Each NVMe disk has a built-in storage controller that allows multi-channel access to NAND, enabling top performance.

Interestingly, the first SSDs to appear used SLC (Single Level Cell) memory chips. SLCs allow only one bit of data written to each NAND flash memory cell. The advantage of this production method is reliability, and the disadvantage is expensive production, so the manufacturer sought a cheaper alternative.

After SLC, new technologies for making NAND memory chips, MLC (Multi-Level Cell) and TLC (Triple Level Cell), appeared.

Today’s modern NVMe disks use TLC technology, which means that method can now write three bits of data to a single cell of NAND chips.

Unfortunately, NAND memory cells are not long-lasting because they support a limited number of write and erase cycles before they become unusable. So, the biggest problem is how to extend the service life of NVMe SSDs, and the mentioned storage controllers jump on the scene again.

5. What is the role of the storage controller on the M.2 NVMe SSD?

In addition to providing top speeds and durability, the controllers are also in charge of maintaining the health of the NVMe disk through various advanced technologies such as garbage collection, over-provisioning, wear-leveling, etc.

Every modern controller has an important wear-leveling mechanism that ensures the even wear of NAND cells. In this way, the controller prevents excessive wear of individual blocks of NAND cells, thus extending the durability and reliability of the SSD.

Each manufacturer specifies the TBW (Total Bytes Written) value as the maximum data written before the SSD fails.

From version 7 onwards, the Windows OS supports maintaining SSDs with the TRIM command. The task of the TRIM command is to give “the green light” to the OS, which data blocks on the SSD are no longer used and can be safely deleted. These blocks then become available for entering new data.

Also, all SSDs have some space reserved for the controller firmware, additional write operations, and other controller features. This function is called over-provisioning. So don’t be surprised if the actual capacity of the SSD is less than the nominal one. For example, when you format a new NVMe SSD with a nominal capacity of 1TB, the actual capacity after formatting will be 931 GB.

Conclusion

Regarding the PICe 4.0 interface, I recommend the Samsung 980 Pro 1TB as generally the best all-around NMVe drive. The drive isn’t without flaws, but you get the most from the invested/won at the moment.

WD SN850 is the right choice if you buy NVMe SSD exclusively for gaming and aren’t interested in some advanced features, and right behind it’s also the remarkable Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus.

For those who are still on the PCI 3.0 interface and don’t intend to upgrade to PCI 4.0, you also have great NVMe drives at reasonable prices.

If you are looking for the best, it is a timeless but still powerful and competitive Samsung 970 Evo Plus. The Kingston KC2500 is also an SSD that I can unreservedly recommend as it’s on par with the Samsung 970 Evo Plus while heating less.

The new SSD 980 is also a good NVMe SSD, but the lack of cache in demanding operations can be a performance problem. It’s excellent as a secondary NVMe SSD if you can afford such a combination.

Pay special attention to heating the NVMe SSD under load as this can lead to performance degradation and shorten service life. The M.2 slot is located in a heated motherboard and usually under a discrete graphics card that additionally heats the entire system.

I recommend using a passive heatsink for any M.2 NVMe SSD, especially a PCIe 4.0 interface.

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