The best PCIe 4.0 SSD: If you have this cutting-edge interface, this drive is ready for it


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Most computers and storage drives still use the common SATA or PCIe 3.0 interfaces to sling your bits of data around, but if you’re lucky enough to own a relatively modern PC, you might be able to upgrade to a solid-state drive (SSD) built on the insanely fast PCIe 4.0 protocol. We’ve tested several PCIe 4.0 SSDs, and the best one to cross our labs thus far is the Samsung 980 Pro in a field of tough contenders.

“The Samsung 980 Pro is a great NVMe SSD—the fastest we’ve ever tested using the PCIe 4.0 bus,” we said in our review (though it has since been unseated by the far pricier Seagate FireCuda 530). “If you’re lucky or smart enough to own a late-gen Ryzen system, it’s the one you want.”

Best PCIe 4.0 SSD: Samsung 980 Pro

Enough said, really—though it’s worth noting that Intel’s new 11th-gen “Rocket Lake” Core processors also support PCIe 4.0 now, joining AMD’s Ryzen 3000 and Ryzen 5000 desktop chips. PCIe 4.0 support is becoming commonplace on the latest PC platforms. You’ll also need a compatible motherboard with PCIe 4.0 support. If you install a PCIe 4.0 SSD in a computer that lacks PCIe 4.0 support, the drive will operate over the slower PCIe 3.0 interface instead.

980 pro1tb2 IDG

Normally we don’t show CrystalDiskMark results as screen grabs, but this is so impressive we had to. Amazing.

PCIe 4.0 SSDs are more expensive than their PCIe 3.0-based rivals—the Samsung 980 Pro costs $90 for 250GB, $120 for 500GB, $181 for 1TB, or $342 for 2TB of capacity on Amazon—but the difference in performance can melt your face. Traditional SATA SSDs top out at around 600 megabytes transferred per second, while our favorite PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD, the SK Hynix Gold P31, ups that to 3.5GBps read and write speeds. The Samsung 980 blows both of those out of the water, exceeding 7GBps read and 5GBps write speeds in our synthetic tests. Truly remarkable.

Those fantastically fast speeds make the biggest difference during file transfers. If you move a lot of data around, you’ll love the Samsung 980 Pro, which can blaze through those tasks before you know it.

If you mostly stick to gaming and normal day-to-day tasks, however, you may be better off with a standard SATA or PCIe 3.0 drive. Upgrading from a pokey mechanical hard drive to any SSD can give you a big quality-of-life increase with faster boot speeds, game loading times, and application performance. Most of those crucial benefits don’t get tangibly faster if you opt for a PCIe 4.0 model over a slower (but still fast) SATA or PCIe 3.0 drive—though that could change when Microsoft’s radical, Xbox-inspired DirectStorage API rolls out for Windows games later this year.

Fear not: Modern PCIe 4.0 SSDs won’t die on you more quickly despite their blistering speeds. “The drives carry a five-year limited warranty,” we said in our 980 Pro review. “The limit is 150TBW per 256GB of capacity rating. TBW stands for TeraBytes Written over the life of the drive. That rating is a bit low for a premium-priced drive. Still, it represents 41GB written per day over 10 years—a lot more data than the average user will write (reads don’t count).”

The 980 Pro’s benefits don’t end there. Samsung’s “Magician” suite of tools and features remains one of the best SSD management applications around.

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