ASUSTOR Lockerstor 2 Gen2 (AS6702T)

Best M.2 SSDs for NAS in 2023

Most network-attached storage enclosures can work with 3.5-inch hard drives or 2.5-inch and M.2 solid-state drives. To utilize the best possible performance in terms of reading and writing data on the server, we’d recommend using speedier SSDs. But not all SSDs are designed for use inside a server so I’ve compiled a shortlist of the best M.2 SSDs for NAS.

What is the best NAS M.2 SSD?

Best M.2 SSDs for NAS
Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus. (Source: Sabrent)

The drive is the most important part of any NAS as it’s what contains your data. It’s important to choose the right drive for the job. For NAS (and general server deployment), I’d always recommend HDDs or SSDs designed for this use. They may be more expensive than their desktop and laptop counterparts, but it’s worth it in the long run.

Seagate and Western Digital make NAS hard drives and 2.5-inch SATA SSDs, but the companies also pump out some M.2 NVMe drives. That’s where I’d recommend starting your search for populating spare M.2 slots inside your NAS. It is technically possible to use any old M.2 drive you may have lying around the house, however.

Where you must be careful is using older drives that have already taken a beat. SSD wear is different from that of a hard drive in that it slowly loses capacity over time. The better the drive endurance, the slower this process and the longer you’ll be able to utilize the SSD before encountering failures. NAS-specific drives help shield against this.

I’ll be recommending both M.2 NVMe SSDs designed for NAS and those that are marketed for general PC use.

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Our top NAS M.2 SSD recommendations

Seagate IronWolf 525

Best NAS M.2 SSD

Seagate IronWolf 525
Seagate IronWolf 525. (Source: Seagate)

The Seagate IronWolf series of drives is an excellent choice for NAS owners and the IronWolf 525 is a solid, reliable SSD. It’s PCIe 4.0 and offers speeds up to 5,000 MB/s.

Capacity500 GB – 2 TB
Endurance0.8 DWPD
TypeTLC
Speed5,000 MB/s
Warranty5 years
  • Great performance
  • Good endurance
  • Limited capacities
  • Expensive

Seagate is responsible for some of the best storage drives on the market, especially when it comes to storing data on NAS. I believe the Seagate IronWolf 525 to be the best M.2 SSD money can buy for your NAS thanks to its balance of performance, endurance, and price. Backed by a five-year warranty, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your data is safe.

Where this drive falls short is the choice of capacities. The range tops out at 2TB which may not be enough when only a few M.2 slots are likely available. It’s also considerably more expensive than even 2.5-inch SATA SSDs designed for use inside a NAS

DriveSpeedEnduranceWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Seagate IronWolf 525 500 GB5,000 MB/s0.8 DWPD5 years$100$0.20
Seagate IronWolf 525 1 TB5,000 MB/s0.8 DWPD5 years$204$0.20
Seagate IronWolf 525 2 TB5,000 MB/s0.8 DWPD5 years$310$0.16

Western Digital Red SN700

Best NAS M.2 SSD for caching

Western Digital Red SN700
Western Digital Red SN700. (Source: WD)

Western Digital’s Red SN700 series of M.2 SSDs are brilliant for storage and caching. They have decent endurance ratings, come with a five-year limited warranty, and are in capacities that top out at 4TB.

Capacity250 GB – 4 TB
Endurance~1 DWPD
TypeSLC
Speed~3,430 MB/s
Warranty5 years
  • Good value
  • SLC
  • Capacities up to 4 TB
  • Expensive for an SSD
  • Not the fastest drive

The Western Digital Red SN700 can be used for storing data on a NAS over hard drives or it can also be put to use as a caching drive. SSD caching is a way to improve the performance of a NAS enclosure without upgrading RAM (or if there’s no possibility to do so). The system would then be able to use this drive as a means to store data for quicker access.

With capacities up to 4 TB, the SN700 range of SSDs offers a great choice, but all this reliability comes at a price. You’ll be paying out up to $0.26 per GB, which may seem like a good deal compared to the Seagate IronWolf 525, but there’s a slight performance penalty for reading and writing data.

DriveSpeedEnduranceWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Western Digital Red SN700 250 GB3,100 MB/s1 DWPD5 years$64$0.26
Western Digital Red SN700 500 GB3,430 MB/s1 DWPD5 years$53$0.11
Western Digital Red SN700 1 TB3,430 MB/s1 DWPD5 years$85$0.09
Western Digital Red SN700 2 TB3,400 MB/s0.7 DWPD5 years$152$0.08
Western Digital Red SN700 4 TB3,400 MB/s0.7 DWPD5 years$280$0.07

Synology SNV3410

Best M.2 SSD for Synology NAS

Synology SNV3410
Synology SNV3410. (Source: Synology)

Synology makes storage drives for its own NAS, though they can be used in other branded enclosures too. Manufactured by Seagate, the SNV3400 range of M.2 drives is a good choice for those who prefer to stick with Synology.

Capacity400 – 800 GB
Endurance491 TBW
TypeTLC
Speed~3,000 MB/s
Warranty5 years
  • Designed for Synology NAS
  • Great endurance
  • Limited capacities
  • Not the fastest SSD

Synology offers first-party support for its NAS enclosures and the company will be able to expand this scope when its own SNV3400 drives are in operation. Though capacities are severely limited to up to 800 GB, they’re excellent for use as cache drives. That said, should you only have some data that needs to go on an SSD, they’re a fine choice.

Just be prepared to pay a small fortune for the luxury of having the Synology brand attached. If you’re using the best Synology NAS, I’d suggest considering these excellent SSDs.

DriveSpeedEnduranceWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Synology SNV3410 400 GB3,000 MB/s491 TBW5 years$150$0.38
Synology SNV3410 800 GB3,000 MB/s491 TBW5 years$280$0.35

Samsung 970 EVO Plus

Best value NAS M.2 SSD

Samsung 970 EVO Plus
Samsung 970 EVO Plus. (Source: Samsung)

I’d recommend the Samsung 970 EVO Plus for desktop and laptop PCs, but there’s also a place for one inside a NAS if you don’t mind saving some money for weaker endurance and lack of any real support.

Capacity250 GB – 2 TB
Endurance0.3 DWPD
TypeTLC
Speed~3,500 MB/s
Warranty5 years
  • More affordable
  • Good selection of capacities
  • Weaker endurance
  • Not the fastest SSD

I wouldn’t typically recommend a storage drive not designed for NAS or server use, but when you need to save money Samsung’s 970 EVO Plus range of M.2 drives are killer for storing data. They’re designed for use inside a desktop or laptop PC, but they’ll work just fine inside a NAS. Where things become interesting is with endurance.

These drives are rated for just 0.3 drive writes-per-day (DWPD), which means you’ll be able to write up to a third of the drive’s capacity each day to keep within optimal limits and enjoy a lengthy lifespan of the drive. Still backed by a five-year warranty, I would only recommend this drive for storing data — do not attempt to use it for caching.

DriveSpeedEnduranceWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Samsung 970 EVO Plus 250 GB3,500 MB/s0.3 DWPD5 years$30$0.12
Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500 GB3,500 MB/s0.3 DWPD5 years$38$0.08
Samsung 970 EVO Plus 1 TB3,500 MB/s0.3 DWPD5 years$70$0.07
Samsung 970 EVO Plus 2 TB3,500 MB/s0.3 DWPD5 years$97$0.04

Western Digital Blue SN570

Best budget NAS M.2 SSD

Western Digital Blue SN570
Western Digital Blue SN570. (Source: WD)

Western Digital’s Blue series of SSDs are among the most affordable in the market. The SN570 is a budget-friendly M.2 NVMe SSD with plenty to offer at a reasonable price.

Capacity250 GB – 2 TB
Endurance0.3 DWPD
TypeTLC
Speed~3,500 MB/s
Warranty5 years
  • Affordable
  • Good selection of capacities
  • Not the fastest SSD
  • Weaker endurance

So long as you don’t have high expectations when buying and installing a Western Digital Blue SN570 SSD, you’re bound to have a great time. These drives are designed for use inside a desktop or laptop PC, just like the Samsung 970 EVO Plus, but they can be used inside a NAS enclosure.

Capacities top out at 2 TB, which isn’t terrible and speeds of up to 3,500 MB/s ensure you’ll be beating hard drives and SATA SSDs all day long. With the 2 TB model costing just $0.05 per GB, it’s almost as affordable as a NAS hard drive.

DriveSpeedEnduranceWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Western Digital Blue SN570 250 GB3,300 MB/s0.3 DWPD5 years$22$0.09
Western Digital Blue SN570 500 GB3,500 MB/s0.3 DWPD5 years$40$0.08
Western Digital Blue SN570 1 TB3,500 MB/s0.3 DWPD5 years$45$0.05
Western Digital Blue SN570 2 TB3,500 MB/s0.3 DWPD5 years$93$0.05

TLC, MLC, QLC, or SLC: Which is best?

When shopping around for a solid-state drive for your NAS, you’ve likely come across SLC, MLC, TLC, and QLC but what do these terms mean? Not every SSD is designed and built the same. They all use NAND flash cells, but how they’re populated differs between drives.

  • Single-Level Cell (SLC): one bit per cell.
  • Multi-Level Cell (MLC): two bits per cell.
  • Triple-Level Cell (TLC): three bits per cell.
  • Quad-Level Cell (QLC): four bits per cell.

The technology as to how data is stored on SSD matters, especially for use inside a server that’s continuously online and accessed by remote connections and local services. While the best SSD for NAS caching takes into account performance and endurance, for storing data we want to prioritize capacity and value.

SLC is best for caching whereas any technology can be used for storing data safely. It all comes down to how much data you wish to store on your NAS, how much you’re willing to spend on drives alone, and how often you’ll be writing to these drives. For most people, any of our recommended SSDs in this guide will work well.

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