Best M.2 SSD for Lightroom, Photoshop & Video Editing in 2023

*Last Update: August 17, 2023
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This article focuses on the best SSD for photographers and video editors РI have included the most popular and fastest M.2 Gen3, Gen 4, Gen 5, and SATA III storage drives.

Selecting the optimal M.2 SSD for video editing and photography hinges on aligning your budget with your editing requirements.

What kind of internal SSDs are available in today’s market?

  • Extreme-performance M.2 SSD: Gen5 M.2 with speeds up to 12,400MB/s
  • High-performance M.2 SSD: Gen4 M.2 with speeds up to 7500MB/s.
  • Budget-friendly M.2 SSD: Gen3 M.2 with speeds up to 3500MB/s.
  • Budget-friendly 2.5″ SSD: 2.5″ SATA III SSD with speeds up to 600MB/s.

NEW PRODUCT – EDITOR’S CHOICE

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The new Crucial T700 4TB Gen5 NVMe M.2 SSD is the fastest M2 SSD Drive on the market, with a read speed of 12,400MB/s and a write speed of 11,800MB/s!

Internal or External SSDs for editing?

Internal SSDs provide superior data transfer speeds and responsiveness due to their direct connection to the motherboard. They excel at handling large files and running resource-intensive software, which is ideal for photo and video editing!

External SSDs offer portability and flexibility, allowing you to edit on the go and collaborate easily. While they’re not as fast as internal SSDs, they are still significantly quicker than traditional HDDs and provide mobility for storing and sharing files.

In this article, we look into the top internal M.2 SSDs for editing photo and video projects ranging from small to professional scale.

Is NVME any good for Video Editing?

M.2 NVMe SSDs connect directly via PCIe. This will dramatically increase the speed of your photo/video editing process. The newest NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) SSD drives Gen4 & Gen5 give you better loading and export times in Adobe Lightroom, Capture One Pro, DaVinci Resolve 18, and other photo and video editing software.

Table of contents:

  1. Best Internal NVMe M.2 GEN 5 SSD Drives (FASTEST)
  2. Best Internal NVMe M.2 GEN 4 SSD Drives
  3. Best Internal NVMe M.2 GEN 3 SSD Drives
  4. Best Internal 2.5″ SSD Drives Sata III 6GB/Sec
  5. Which M.2 SSD is Best to Purchase for Video Editing?
  6. M.2 SSD with or without Heatsink?
  7. M.2 vs. NVMe – What are the main differences?
  8. Are SATA III SSDs good for video editing?
  9. Which SSD to choose for editing wedding photos from my Nikon D850?
  10. Is 512GB SSD enough storage space for video editing?
  11. Is video editing more reliant on RAM or SSD?
  12. Which M.2 SSD is best for my PC?

Note: Before buying a new SSD or NVME M.2 drive, ensure your motherboard supports it!

1. Best M.2 GEN 5 SSD for Video Editing

Select the fastest M2 SSD storage drives for video and photo editing in 2023. These are not budget-friendly options – it’s for those who want professional tools for their business!

  • CRUCIAL T700 NVMe Gen5¬†M.2 SSD (Fastest)

crucial t700 m2 ssd gen5

CRUCIAL T700 M.2 SSD Gen 5 – 1TB, 2TB, 4TB

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2. Best M.2 GEN 4 SSD for video and photo editing

It is guaranteed that the bigger the READ and WRITE speeds, the fastest your import/export time will be. Choose the PNY XLR8, Samsung EVO 990 Pro, or Fanxiang S770 – the three best Gen4 SSDs in the market!

Gen 4 M2 SSDs – sorted by Read Speed

  • PNY XLR8 CS3140 NVMe Gen4 M.2 SSD
  • SAMSUNG EVO 990 Pro NVMe Gen4 M.2 SSD
  • Fanxiang S770 NVMe Gen4 M.2 SSD
  • WD BLACK SN850 NVMe Gen4 M.2 SSD
  • CORSAIR MP600 NVMe Gen4 M.2¬†SSD
  • Gigabyte AORUS NVMe Gen4 M.2 SSD
  • SEAGATE FIRECUDA 520 – Gen4 M.2 SSD
  • T-FORCE CARDEA ZERO Z440¬†Gen4 M.2 SSD
  • INLAND Performance 3D TCL NAND Gen4 M.2 SSD
  • CORSAIR MP600 CORE¬†NVMe Gen4 M.2 SSD

PNY XLR8 CS3140 Gen4 x4 – 1TB, 2TB, 4TB at 7500MB/s
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SAMSUNG 980 Pro – 1TB, 2TB at 7450MB/s
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Fanxiang S770 – 1TB, 2TB at 7300MB/s
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WD BLACK SN850 – 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB at 7000MB/s
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Corsair MP600 – 500GB, 1TB, 2TB at 5000MB/s
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Gigabyte AORUS – 500GB, 1TB at 5000MB/s
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Seagate Firecuda 520 – 500GB, 1TB, 2TB at 5000MB/s
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T-FORCE CARDEA ZERO Z440 – 1TB, 2TB at 5000MB/s
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Inland Performance M.2 SSD – 500GB, 1TB, 2TB at 5000MB/s
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Corsair MP600 CORE M.2 SSD – 1TB, 2TB at 5000MB/s
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M.2 NVMe SSD GEN 4  READ SPEED (MB/s)  WRITE SPEED (MB/s)  WARRANTY 
PNY XLR8 CS3140 

 7500

6850

5 YEARS

SAMSUNG 990 PRO 

 7450

6900

5 YEARS

Fanxiang S770

7300

 6800

5 YEARS

WD BLACK SN850

 7000

5300

5 YEARS

CORSAIR MP600 

 4950

4250

5 YEARS

GIGABYTE AORUS 

 5000

4400

5 YEARS

SEAGATE FIRECUDA 520 

 5000

4400

5 YEARS

T-FORCE CARDEA ZERO Z440 

 5000

4000

5 YEARS

INLAND PERFORMANCE 

 5000

4300

3 YEARS 

CORSAIR MP600 CORE 

 4950

3800 

5 YEARS

Also Read: Best laptop for photo and video editing

Here’s a fun fact about M.2 SSDs: M.2 stands for the size and shape of the SSD. The “M” stands for “Module,” and the “2” represents the width of the card in millimeters. However, the length of M.2 SSDs can vary significantly, coming in various sizes such as 2242, 2260, and 2280, where the numbers represent the dimensions in millimeters. This flexibility in length allows M.2 SSDs to fit into different devices while utilizing the same connector interface.

3. Best M.2 GEN 3 SSDs for Photo Editing

The following Gen 3 M2 SSDs are more budget-friendly and suitable for professional work. You still get great speeds up to 3500MB/s, especially if you upgrade your laptop!

This year’s new option is the NEW WD Green SN350 with speeds up to 3200MB/s!

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More Gen 3 M2 SSDs – sorted by Read Speed

  • XPG GAMMIX S11 Pro 3D NAND NVMe SSD Gen3 M.2
  • Corsair Force Series MP510 NVMe SSD Gen 3 M.2
  • Samsung 970 EVO Plus NVMe SSD Gen 3 M.2
  • WD BLACK SN750 NVMe SSD Gen 3 M.2
  • Crucial P5 3D NAND NVMe SSD Gen 3 M.2
  • PNY XLR8 CS3030 NVMe SSD Gen 3 M.2
  • Seagate Barracuda 510 NVMe SSD Gen3 M.2
  • Silicon Power 3D NAND NVMe SSD Gen3 M.2
  • WD Blue SN550 NVMe SSD Gen3 M.2 (Best Value)

XPG GAMMIX S11 Pro 3D NAND – 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB at 3500MB/s
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Samsung 970 Evo Plus – 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB at 3500MB/s
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PNY XLR8 CS3030 – 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB at 3500MB/s
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Corsair Force Series MP510 ‚Äď 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB at 3480MB/s
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WD BLACK SN750 – 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB at 3470MB/s
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Crucial P5 – 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB at 3400MB/s
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Seagate Barracuda 510 – 250GB, 500GB, 1TB at 3400MB/s
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Silicon Power – 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB at 3400MB/s
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Crucial P2 – 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB at 2400MB/s
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Western Digital WD Blue SN550 ‚Äď 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB at 2400MB/s
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M.2 NVMe SSD GEN 3  READ SPEED (MB/s)  WRITE SPEED (MB/s)  WARRANTY 
XPG GAMMIX S11 Pro  3500  3000  5 YEARS 
SAMSUNG 970 EVO Plus  3500  3300  5 YEARS 
PNY XLR8 CS3030  3500  3000  5 YEARS 
CORSAIR Force Series MP510  3480  3000  5 YEARS 
WD BLACK SN750  3470  3000  5 YEARS 
CRUCIAL P5  3400  3000  5 YEARS 
SEAGATE BARRACUDA 510  3400  3000  5 YEARS 
SILICON POWER  3400  3000  5 YEARS 
CRUCIAL P2  2400  1900  5 YEARS 
WD BLUE SN550  2400  1750  5 YEARS 

Also read: How to take advantage of these 3 PNY storage tools made for content creators.

4. Best SSD SATA III for Photographers (120GB Р4TB)

Even though the speeds of SATA III SSDs are not as those of the M.2, photographers will find them useful for backup storage as they are 50% cheaper than PCIe.

For computer systems that don’t support M2 SSD storage drives, you can still take advantage of the fastest SATA III SSDs!

  • Seagate BarraCuda 2.5″ SATAIII 120 SSD
  • Samsung 870 EVO 2.5″ SATAIII SSD
  • WD Blue 3D NAND 2.5″ SATAIII SSD
  • PNY CS900 3D NAND 2.5″ SATAIII SSD
  • Crucial MX500 3D NAND 2.5″ SATAIII SSD
  • ADATA SU635 3D NAND 2.5″ SATAIII SSD
  • SanDisk SSD PLUS 3D NAND 2.5″ SATAIII SSD
  • Kingston 240GB A400 2.5″ SATAIII SSD
  • Silicon Power 3D NAND A55 SLC 2.5″ SATAIII SSD

Seagate BarraCuda 120 – 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
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SAMSUNG 870 EVO – 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
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Western Digital BLUE SSD – 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB
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PNY CS900 3D NAND SSD – 120GB, 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
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Crucial MX500 3D NAND SSD – 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
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ADATA SU635 3D NAND SSD – 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
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SanDisk SSD PLUS 3D NAND SSD – 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
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Kingston 240GB A400 – 120BG, 240GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
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Silicon Power 3D NAND A55 SLC SSD – 256GB
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5. Which M.2 SSD is Best to Purchase for Video Editing?

The ideal M.2 SSD depends on your specific needs and usage patterns. If you’re looking for speed and performance, consider an NVMe M.2 SSD Gen5.

These offer incredibly fast data transfer rates and suit tasks like video editing, gaming, and multitasking. Opt for a higher capacity if you edit 8K or ProRes format because they take more space to load, edit, and export large projects.

Additionally, during extended editing sessions, consider M.2 SSDs with built-in heatsinks for better temperature management. Speed, capacity, and efficient cooling will greatly enhance your workflow and productivity in professional editing endeavors.

6. M.2 SSD with or without Heatsink?

By investing in an M.2 SSD with a heatsink, a professional videographer safeguards against performance drops due to overheating, extends the SSD’s lifespan, and ensures a more efficient and productive workflow for handling the intricate demands of 4K or 8K video editing.

The high data transfer demands of editing 8K footage generate substantial heat, impacting performance and potentially leading to thermal throttling.

A heatsink-equipped M.2 SSD effectively manages heat, ensuring consistent and stable performance during prolonged editing sessions. This translates to smoother playback, faster rendering, and an overall improved editing experience, which is crucial when delivering high-quality content to clients.

7. M.2 vs. NVMe – What are the main differences?

M.2 is a form factor for SSDs, while NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) is a protocol that accelerates data transfer between storage devices and a computer’s CPU.

NVMe drives, often in the M.2 form factor, offer significantly faster data transfer speeds than traditional SATA SSDs, thanks to the protocol’s efficient communication with the CPU.

This speed advantage makes NVMe M.2 SSDs ideal for tasks that require rapid data access and high-performance computing, such as video editing, gaming, and data-intensive applications.

Click here to see the infographic and understand the SSD Technology from Kingston.

Source: Kingston Technologies (click to download the full PDF)

8. Are SATA III SSDs good for video editing?

SATA III SSDs are better than traditional hard drives for video editing due to faster data transfer speeds, but for demanding tasks and high-resolution footage, NVMe SSDs are a superior choice.

NVMe SSDs offer significantly faster performance (up to 20 x times), making them more suitable for handling large video files and resource-intensive editing tasks.

9. Which SSD to choose for editing wedding photos from my Nikon D850?

For a wedding photographer handling large RAW files from a high-resolution Nikon D850 camera, an NVMe M.2 SSD Gen4 or Gen5 is optimal. These drives offer vital data transfer speeds for efficient editing. Aim for 2TB to 4TB capacity for comfortable storage.

Prioritize models with heatsinks for heat management during extended editing. Reputable brands like PNY, Samsung, Western Digital, and Crucial offer reliable NVMe SSDs. Choosing a high-capacity NVMe M.2 SSD prioritizing performance and heat management greatly enhances workflow and editing efficiency for wedding photography.

10. Is 512GB SSD enough storage space for video editing?

Depending on variables, a 512GB storage capacity suits professional video and photo editing. Space adequacy hinges on media resolution and quantity‚ÄĒhigh-res videos and RAW photos need more room. Frequent work with large files might fill 512GB swiftly.

Consider concurrent projects, editing flow, and cache space. While 512GB works efficiently, assess current and future needs. For data-intensive projects or preserving archives, larger SSDs or external storage could better serve professional editing demands.

11. Is video editing more reliant on RAM or SSD?

A balanced combination of CPU, M.2 SSD, and RAM is vital for optimal photo and video editing. The CPU’s processing power affects rendering and speed, while an M.2 SSD, particularly NVMe, reduces loading times and improves editing with high-res media.

Adequate RAM aids multitasking and complex projects, enhancing responsiveness and large file playback. Balance depends on software, project complexity, and budget.

A powerful CPU accelerates rendering, an M.2 SSD boosts file access, and ample RAM aids multitasking. Prioritize components for a seamless workflow based on your specific needs.

12. Which M.2 SSD is Best for my PC?

To determine the best M.2 SSD for your PC, consider factors like your specific usage needs, budget, and system compatibility. If you’re seeking high performance, an NVMe M.2 SSD is recommended.

Reputable brands like Samsung, Western Digital, Crucial, and Kingston offer reliable options. Prioritize models with sufficient capacity for your storage requirements.

Ensure the M.2 SSD is compatible with your motherboard’s M.2 slot and supports the appropriate interface (PCIe Gen3, Gen4, or Gen5).

Look for models with features like built-in heatsinks if you engage in intensive tasks like video editing. Your choice should align with your needs for speed, capacity, and any specialized tasks you intend to undertake.

Summary

Top contenders in the world of M.2 SSDs for video and photo editing include Samsung, Western Digital, Crucial, and PNY. Opt for NVMe M.2 SSDs for swift read/write speeds, vital for seamless playback and speedy editing.

Prioritize PCIe Gen4/5 models for peak performance and opt for 2TB to 4TB capacities for ample space. Seek built-in heatsinks for sustained performance during long edits. The right M.2 SSD can elevate your editing prowess‚ÄĒan unwavering ally in your creative journey.

If you found this article valuable, consider sharing it or your thoughts in the comments below. We wantto know which M.2 SSD you utilize and whether you’re satisfied with its performance. Your insights contribute to a broader understanding of these tools in real-world usage.

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11 Replies to “Best M.2 SSD for Lightroom, Photoshop & Video Editing in 2023”

  1. Really Helpful with multiple specs scenario given to take an informed decision, and very accurate information. Thanks for sharing

  2. Several studies out there show that performance improvement with Gen.4 over Gen.3 is minimal. The SSD is NOT the bottleneck in our workflow. Regardless of the SSD speed importing and exporting still requires the CPU to crunch the numbers (pixels). Getting the files to and from the cards and drives are faster with an Gen.4 SSD but the difference is nano=seconds….we still need to wait for the CPU to do it’s thing.

    1. Thank you for this excellent feedback! I might write about how important the CPU is for editing, especially for exporting projects.

  3. I’m currently using an SSD for my video editing and photography work. I’ve found that it’s really helped speed up my workflow. I would definitely recommend investing in an SSD for your video editing and photography needs.

  4. I’m currently using an SSD for my video editing and photography work. I’ve found that it’s really helped speed up my workflow. I would definitely recommend investing in an SSD for your video editing and photography needs.

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