The Best & Fastest M.2 Solid State Drive (SSD) | 2015

Best M.2 SSDConsumer SSD storage seems to flourish dramatically within this year. Competition is increasing, prices are lowering, and speeds are getting much faster—well they will be. By now, many are aware that there is a new SSD standard known as NGFF or M.2. NGFF is actually a slang term that started the process rolling and means ‘next generation form factor’ and was a working name for the new generation of PCIe solid state drives, now affectionately known as M.2 SSDs.

With blistering speeds well in excess of SATA’s maximum, the M.2 interface theoretically lets SSDs stretch their legs and explore the technology’s full capabilities. This has left M.2 drive manufacturers struggling to catch up, with many shipping products producing numbers only slightly faster than quality SATA SSDs.

While many imagined the M.2 to be industry standardization for mSATA and similar small SSDs today seen in ultrabooks, a closer look at PCIe demonstrates that unbelievable performance will soon be seen in a M.2 design even smaller than mSATA.

We have started observing a stronger push in the entry level market and there are quite a few SATA 6Gb/s M.2 SSDs available, however, there hasn’t been much push in the enthusiast market with M.2 PCIe SSDs. For those new to M.2 SSDs, M.2 marks the standardization of smaller form factor SSDs to sizes smaller than what we have seen in mSATA. M.2 accommodates both SATA and PCIe performance, while at the same time offering capacities as high as 1TB.

It is said that 2015 will be the year of the M.2 SSD form factor and, by all indications, this assumption seems to be correct. This is a very big plus for the SSD industry, as well as a very clear demonstration of the progress made in flash technology within the last few years. The M.2 form factor is more versatile than a 2.5″ SSD and we find it the most appealing of all form factors. There is something to be said for a drive that just disappears into your motherboard. No data cable, no power cable, just a tiny 22mm x 80mm PCB.

Our Best M.2 Solid State Drive (SSD) Recommendations

As computers become ever smaller, their storage devices shrink as well. The Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF), aka m.2, provides not only a smaller envelope for storage devices to fit in, it defines new PCI-E based interfaces as well as the legacy SATA 6G interface. I can’t emphasize enough how much better your computer will run with a PCIe SSD on board. Grab a small-capacity model, run your operating system off of it, and flesh out your storage needs with mid-range SATA SSDs or hard drives. You’ll be glad you did.

Below are our list of what we consider the best M.2 solid state drives (SSD) on the market. We based our judgement mainly on the users’ ratings on Amazon.com and we divided this section into two categories, one for M.2 SATA SSD and the second is for M.2 PCIe SSD.

Note: The products prices are as of 23-Aug-2015 at 08:06 GMT -

** The Best M.2 SATA-III SSD **

Samsung 850 EVO M.2 SATA-III SSD

Capacity Price Where To Buy
120 GB $79.99
$77.99
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250 GB $119.99
$99.99
Buy On Amazon
500 GB $199.99
$174.99
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Product Manufacturer’s Description: Upgrade virtually every aspect of your computer’s performance with Samsung’s new 850 EVO, designed with state-of-the-art SSD advancements including 3D V-NAND technology. As the next generation beyond the bestselling 840 EVO, you’ll get the 850 EVO’s new 3 dimensional chip design that enables superior performance, greater reliability and superior energy efficiency so you can work and play faster and longer than ever before.

Basic Features
  • The World’s First Consumer 3D V-NAND SSD
  • Ultimate Read/Write Performance
  • Enhanced Endurance and Reliability
  • Efficient Power Management supporting DevSleep Mode
  • Form Factor: M.2 (80mm) – ideal for mobile computing
  • RoHS compliant
  • 5 year limited warranty

 


Intel M.2 SATA-III Solid State Drive (SSD)

Capacity Price Where To Buy
120 GB $89.59
$79.55
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240 GB $149.99
$119.99
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360 GB $217.50
$189.99
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Product Manufacturer’s Description: The Intel SSD 535 Series M.2 SATA drive with transfer rate of 6Gb/s combines quality, performance, and low power consumption for outstanding performance in a small form factor. With power-efficient performance and the latest 16nm NAND technology, the Intel SSD 535 Series is designed for consumer and embedded platforms with demanding consumer client applications including Ultrabook, traditional desktops and laptops, mini computers, and digital signage as well as the latest tablets and small form factor mobile systems. The Intel SSD 535 Series M.2 form factor delivers outstanding performance for thin and light computing devices. Intel’s SSD M.2 form factor requires far less space than a traditional 2.5-inch form factor storage device.

Basic Features
  • Sequential reads of up to 540 MB/s and sequential writes of up to 490 MB/s
  • Form Factor: M.2 22 x 80mm
  • Mean Time Between Failures 1.2 Million Hours
  • Power Consumption reduced greater then 90% compared to traditional hard drive
  • 5 year limited warranty

 


Crucial Technology MX200 M.2 SATA-III SSD

Capacity Price Where To Buy
250 GB $249.00
$108.62
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500 GB $249.00
$202.07
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Product Manufacturer’s Description: Make your computer faster and more efficient with the Crucial MX200 SSD, which delivers the industry’s best balance of performance, endurance, and efficiency. Leveraging leading specs on all fronts, along with the Dynamic Write Acceleration technology, the Crucial MX200 is loaded with innovative features and immediately increases your system’s performance. With sequential reads up to 555 MB/s and an endurance rating that’s up to 5 times greater than a typical client SSD, the Crucial MX200 is engineered to never let up.

Basic Features
  • Do more faster and longer
  • Transfer and save large files in a matter of seconds
  • Max out performance and increase reliability
  • Encrypt and protect your data at the highest possible level
  • Efficiency & reliability
  • Run your system longer than ever before – using less power
  • Push your drive to the limit and avoid overheating
  • Keep your memories, photos, and files safe
  • 3 year limited warranty

 


Transcend MTS800 M.2 SATA-III Solid State Drive (SSD)

Capacity Price Where To Buy
128 GB $87.99
$62.93
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256 GB $168.99
$114.99
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512 GB $336.99
$194.99
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Product Manufacturer’s Description: The MTS800 M.2 SSD’s space-saving M.2 type 2280 form factor (80 millimeter × 22 millimeter × 3.5 millimeter) is designed to meet future market demands of ultra-thin and light mobile devices that require an SSD, including Ultrabooks, notebooks, tablets, portable gaming systems, and smartphones. As the needs for memory space have increased, the MTS800 model features an outstanding storage capacity of up to 512GB. It boasts the latest SATA III 6GB/s specification, a powerful Transcend TS6500 controller, a DDR3 DRAM cache, and is comprised of high-quality MLC NAND Flash chips. With exceptional transfer speeds of up to 560MB/s read and 310MB/s write, MTS800 can easily handle everyday computing tasks as well as demanding multimedia applications.

Basic Features
  • SATA III 6Gb/s interface & high speed DDR3 DRAM cache.
  • MTS800 offers high capacity of up to 512GB.
  • Max. Read 560MB/s, Max. Write 310MB/s.
  • Space-saving M.2 Type 2280 form factor.
  • Supports DevSleep ultra low power state and Intel Smart Response Technology.
  • Supports, TRIM & NCQ, S.M.A.R.T. commands and power shield mechanism.
  • 3 year limited warranty

 


 

** The Best M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD **

Samsung SM951 AHCI PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD

Capacity Price Where To Buy
128 GB $126.99 Buy On Amazon
256 GB $206.97 Buy On Amazon
512 GB $375.99 Buy On Amazon

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Product Manufacturer’s Description: The Samsung SM951 M.2 PCIe SSD (AHCI model) is the new performance leader in M.2 form factor SSD’s, providing up to 2150MB/s read and 1500MB/s write sequential data transfer rates.

Basic Features
  • M.2 Interface: PCIe 3.0 x4 lanes, up to 32Gb/s
  • Sequential Read: 2150MB/s, Sequential Write: 1500 MB/s, Random Read (QD=4): 90K IOPS, Random Write (QD=4): 70K IOPS
  • Works with most motherboards and notebooks with a compatible M.2 PCIe interface slot. Includes Z97 and X99 motherboards and pre-cylindrical Mac Pro. IMPORTANT NOTE: “NOT Compatible” with the MacBook, MacBook Air or MacBook Pro
  • Supports Standard AHCI driver, APM and L1.2 Power Saving Mode, End-to-End Data Protection, Supports TRIM Command, RoHS Compliant, Halogen-Free Compliant
  • 3 year limited warranty

 


 

** The Best M.2 PCIe 2.0 x4 SSD **

Samsung XP941 AHCI PCIe 2.0 x4 SSD

Capacity Price Where To Buy
128 GB $119.99 Buy On Amazon
256 GB $199.99 Buy On Amazon
512 GB $499.99
$359.99
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Product Manufacturer’s Description: For maximum speed in a small package, look no further than the Samsung XP941 M.2 PCIe SSD. Providing up to 1170MB/s read and 950MB/s write sequential data transfer rates, the Samsung XP941 far exceeds the performance bottleneck of SATA-based SSDs. First released to the market in August 2013, the XP941 is compatible as a boot device in a wide variety of desktop systems, and as additional storage in almost any desktop with a spare PCIe slot. The Samsung XP941 is compatible as a boot device in the following computer models and motherboards: Most Gigabyte, ASrock, and ASUS brand Z97 and X99 chipset based motherboards with an available M.2 socket All pre-cylindrical model Apple Mac Pro Tower computers (requires a PCIe M.2 to PCIe Standard adapter) Sony Vaio Pro 13 models with an SSD model number starting with MZHPU.

Basic Features
  • M.2 Interface: PCIe Gen2 5Gb/s, up to 4 lanes
  • Sequential Read: 1170MB/s, Sequential Write: 930 MB/s, Random Read (QD=32): 122K IOPS, Random Write (QD=32): 72K IOPS
  • Works with most Z97 and X99 motherboards and Mac Pro. Not compatible with the MacBook Air or Retina MacBook Pro
  • Support Standard AHCI driver, Support Toggle2.0 interface, End-to-End Data Protection, Support TRIM Command, RoHS Compliant, Halogen-Free Compliance
  • 3 year limited warranty

 


Plextor M6e Series AHCI PCIe 2.0 x4 SSD

Capacity Price Where To Buy
128 GB $149.99
$119.99
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256 GB $249.99
$219.99
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512 GB $458.87 Buy On Amazon

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Product Manufacturer’s Description: Plextor’s M6e M.2 PCIe Gen2 x2 is an ultra-fast SSD using the latest generation of components and a native PCIe interface for extremely high performance. Perfect for ultra-thin notebooks and motherboards supporting 2280 sized form factors, gamers and high-power users will appreciate the responsiveness and ultra-fast loading times the powerful M6e M.2 delivers.

Basic Features
  • Sequential Read Rate: Up to 770 MB/s, and Sequential Write Rate: Up to 625 MB/s
  • Random Read Rate (IOPS 4KB): Up to 105,000 IOPS, and Random White Rate (IOPS 4KB): Up to 100,000 IOPS
  • Lightning-fast boot-up times, application launches, and system responsiveness for an unbeatable feeling of speed.
  • Maximum reliability with industry’s highest 5 year warranty. Take the M6e to the limits with Plextor’s best quality components and extensive failure testing.
  • 5 year limited warranty

 


Kingston HyperX Predator AHCI PCIe 2.0 x4 SSD

Capacity Price Where To Buy
240 GB $382.00
$219.99
Buy On Amazon
480 GB $764.00
$439.99
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Product Manufacturer’s Description: HyperX Predator SSD offers large capacities and incredible speeds with both compressible and incompressible data to take your system to the edge. Faster than SATA-based SSDs, it delivers speeds up to 1400MB/s read and 1000MB/s write for ultra-responsive multitasking and an overall faster system. It features a PCIe Gen 2.0 x4 interface for high performance and an M.2 form factor to fit the next generation of desktops with an M.2 PCIe slot. A Half-Height, Half-Length (HHHL) adapter that works with many existing motherboards with at least a PCIe x4 slot open is available. The HHHL adapter comes with both standard and low-profile brackets to fit in slim profile desktop builds. Prey on the competition for years to come. HyperX Predator SSD comes with a three-year warranty and free technical support to keep you winning.

Basic Features
  • PCIe connection provides higher speeds than SATA-based solid-state drives for the ultimate computing experience
  • M.2 form factor to fit in newer motherboards
  • Powered by Marvell controller
  • Speeds up to 1400MB/s read and 1000MB/s write
  • 3 year limited warranty

 


 

The New Era Of M.2 SSD

M.2 SSD WorldThe initial predictions of 500MB/s performance for M.2 drives have now grown to unbelievable speeds of 1800MB/s. Looking at this from the most rudimentary viewpoint, a laptop today is much lighter, smaller, cooler, quieter, and faster than that of only a year ago, the result of flash technology and SSDs. Adding M.2 storage to the mix, vice SATA III which had a performance bottleneck at just above the 500MB/s mark in data transfer, today’s MacBook Air is a shining example of what can be accomplished with it’s 12+ hour battery life and 800MB/s transfer speeds.

When we consider the fact that a native M.2 PCIe SSD can provide more than twice the performance of a SATA based M.2, the question that comes to mind was why manufacturers wouldn’t simply make the move to native M.2 SSDs completely. The answer for that is the increased power usage that the native M.2 will require in its high transfer speeds, reducing precious battery life. The fact that SATA wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, as well as SATA-III speeds being more than enough power for the typical user, are also valid points considered.

The Difference Between mSATA and M.2 SSD

M.2 SSD and mSata SSDBoth mSATA and M.2 are interfaces for small SSDs. You typically find these types of connectors in laptops, but will also occasionally find them on specialized high-end desktop motherboards. mSATA is a specification that allows storage to attach to mini PCI Express ports. It conforms to either SATA revision 2 or 3 specs (either 300 MB/s or 600 MB/s maximum transfer). M.2, also known as Next Generation Form Factor or NGFF, is a port designed to move either storage or connection data over PCI Express.

The M.2 form factor was created to provide multiple options for small form factor cards, including SSDs. SSDs previously relied on mSATA for the smallest form factor, but mSATA was unable to be scaled up to 1TB capacities at reasonable cost. The answer was the new M.2 specification that allows for different M.2 SSD card sizes and capacities. The M.2 specification allows system manufacturers to standardise on a common small form factor that can be extended to high capacities where needed.

Depending on wiring and implementation, storage attached to an M.2 port can either be accessed via standard SATA rev. 3 rates (600 MB/s), SATA Express rates (1000 MB/s), or NVMe rates (2000 MB/s). While both mSATA and M.2 allow transfer of storage information over PCI Express, mSATA is an older and slower solution that will be phased out over the next few years in favor of M.2.

Note that the difference between the two connector types doesn’t really matter at this point. You don’t really get to “choose” which connector type you want in a laptop. Laptop manufacturers will use either mSATA or M.2, with strong trending towards M.2 in laptops these days.

M.2 supports both SATA and PCIe storage interface options, while mSATA is SATA only. Physically, they look different and cannot be plugged into the same system connectors. Additionally, there are 2 physical sizes of mSATA storage and 3 sizes of M.2 storage, so it is important to ensure that your system has the correct size clearances for the particular mSATA or M.2 SSD you wish to install.

How To Choose The Right M.2 Solid State Drive (SSD)

Choosing the Right M.2 SSDWithin the M.2 standard, there are two separate SSD configurations. On one hand we have SATA M.2 SSDs capable of 6Gbps speeds above 550MB/s while, on the other, native PCIe M.2 SSDs can reach as high as 2GB/s through the use of four PCIe 2.0 lanes. The easy way to differentiate between the two is by the interface, SATA having two notches whereas native PCIe has one.

More importantly, however, we think the consumer should be aware that there are different M.2 PCIe SSDs as motherboards are now available with the M.2 connector integrated. While M.2 slots have the same connections, it doesn’t mean they will work with all M.2 SSDs. Some M.2 slots are PCIe only and others are SATA only. This means they only allow for the M.2 SSD to transmit information over the PCIe bus or SATA bus. This can cause some issues for consumers when they buy the wrong type of M.2 drive for their computer and it isn’t recognized by the motherboard or adapter.

Disclaimer

Products prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on amazon.com as applicable at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.