2022 was the year SSDs squeezed the last few morsels of performance from the PCIe Gen 4 protocol. Well, at least in terms of peak sequential throughput. When it comes to IOPS and random 4K performance, arguably there's still plenty of room for improvement.
Next year, we're looking forward to the arrival of Gen 5 drives and just maybe a decent step in up in terms of IOPS. But for now, Gen 4 M.2 drives are as good as it gets and there were indeed some excellent SSDs this year. But which M.2 SSD was actually the best we saw throughout 2022?
SK Hynix announced its arrival as not just an OEM supplier of SSD technology, but a major retail player with the SK Hynix Platinum P41, an all in-house affair based on SK Hynix's own flash memory chips and controller. It immediately made a mark with excellent all-round performance.
Meanwhile, the Silicon Power XS70 is one of the best of the horde of drives powered by the popular Phison E18 controller. Equipped with quality TLC NAND memory, it delivers all the usual E18 upsides at a competitive price.
And then there's WD's updated SN850X. Strictly speaking, this heatsinked M.2 drive is meant to appeal to console owners. But it is an all-round improvement on the already excellent SN850 and can often be had for a very appealing price. It's absolutely in with a shout of top honors.
Best SSD 2022: the nominees
SK Hynix Platinum P41
On the eve of a new generation of PCIe Gen 5 SSDs, SK Hynix has rolled out what proves to be one of the very fastest Gen 4 drives yet. Based on its own in-house TLC NAND memory and controller chip, while there are cheaper options that are only slightly slower, if you want the very best, you do sometimes have to pay that little bit extra.
Read our SK Hynix Platinum P41 review.
Silicon Power XS70
The Silicon Power XS70 2TB isn't revolutionary, but then nobody expects it to be. It's a highly competitive SSD with great performance, an attractive design and it offers good value for money. It's not perfect, it lacks its own software and hardware encryption but for a PS5 or PC gamer, that won't matter. Load it up with your game library and you'll love it.
Read our Silicon Power XS70 review.
WD Black SN850X
WD’s Black SN850 was already one of our favourite M.2 SSDs. This new WD Black SN850X isn’t a revolutionary step forward by most measures. It’s even a little disappointing when it comes to 4K random access performance. But it is all the PCIe Gen 4 SSD you’re ever likely to need and it does solve the old SN850’s one slight flaw, namely toasty operating temperatures.
Read our WD Black SN850X review.
The winner of the PC Gamer Hardware Award for the best gaming SSD will be announced on New Year's Eve. It's all to play for, and any one of these three is completely deserving of the crown.