TFB Armorer’s Bench: Complete AR15 Assembly – Lower Receiver

Welcome everyone to the TFB Armorer’s Bench! As mentioned in the little blurb, this series will focus on a lot of home armorer and gunsmith activities. In this article sponsored by Wheeler, Tipton, Caldwell, and Frankford Arsenal, we’ll show how to completely assemble an AR15 lower receiver. Previously, I covered the disassembly of the lower receiver, bolt carrier group, and upper receiver. I am well aware that most of the folks who pass through these parts are into the new, cool, and tacticool. I personally love older and obsolete stuff but I also like to take things apart and put them back together. That being said, we here at TFB thought it would be nice to have a resource available for disassembling and assembling an AR15.
Smith & Wesson was gracious and kind enough to help us out and sent us one of their Sport II models. I asked for a very simple and frequented offering to demonstrate common upgrades and general assembly. Strike Industries has also joined the fold and sent out a whole host of their AR15 parts to showcase in this assembly. Let’s dive right into this Complete AR15 Assembly – Lower Receiver!

Disclaimer: It is stating the obvious when I say do not attempt this if you do not have confidence you can. There is no shame in not taking your assembled gun apart. Consult a competent gunsmith/armorer for advice or if they would do the goal you wish to achieve. Refer to the first Armorer’s Bench article So, You Like Taking Guns Apart? where we talk about knowing your limitations.
TFB Armorer’s Bench: Complete AR15 Assembly – Lower Receiver
Welcome to our recurring series of Armorer’s Bench which is made possible and brought to you by Wheeler, Tipton, Caldwell, and Frankford Arsenal who are our sponsors. Here, we at TFB hope to inform, entertain, and even inspire any would-be gunsmith or armorer out there. Ideally, with the information I provide and with the help of our sponsors, you can have some useful knowledge pertaining to the conservation and improvement of firearms technology while at the same time sharing experiences and teaching each other new tips and tricks along the way in the comments. Digging deep into what it is to be an armorer or gunsmith has significance but what is important is what those people do to show they’ve earned that title. I am happy to share my experiences and knowledge and hope it is informative!
Make your personal safety a priority:

Practice proper gun safety. Always make sure before the firearm hits your bench that it is unloaded and safe to be handled.
Wear the proper safety equipment. The main one would be safety glasses (decent ones) since parts are often under spring tension and you may work with high RPM tools. Other honorable mentions would be latex gloves or a respirator when working with potentially harmful solvents and oils. Also hearing protection when working with loud machinery or test-firing firearms.
Modifications, alterations, and customizations will void your firearm’s warranty 9.5 times out of 10. Please take that into consideration before attempting any at-home gunsmithing.
If you are unsure about proper safety practices, disassembly procedures, or warranty standards, stop, put down the tools, and consult a competent gunsmith.

Step One: Complete AR15 Assembly – Lower Receiver
The first thing is first! Safety. Yes, I know safety is boring and sooo mainstream but bear with me. Make sure your ammunition is stored and away from your bench. If starting out with an assembled firearm make sure to check the chamber, magazine, and space between. Then check again. As far as PPE, I highly recommend wearing safety glasses at the very least. Multiple parts in an AR15 are under spring pressure and are commonly flung across a room and it would sure suck to take one to the face or eye.
Step Two: Complete AR15 Assembly – Lower Receiver
Now that safety is out of the way, let’s make sure we have all of our parts. This time we have a mix of original Smith & Wesson Sport II parts, Strike Industries, and Anderson. As far as I know, there is not really a correct part to start with so take these “steps” more as mini demonstrations of how to install certain parts. Obviously, some need to be installed before others.

Step Three: Complete AR15 Assembly – Lower Receiver
I started out by installing the magazine release. I utilized the Wheeler AR15 magazine vise block and Delta Series Armorer’s stand to install the magazine release. The magazine release parts are shown below.

Start by inserting the magazine catch in the slot on the left side of the receiver.

On the right side, the magazine catch spring can be inserted around the magazine catch. Note that the end of the magazine catch is threaded to accept the magazine release button.

The button may now be inserted into its slot on top of the spring and threaded end of the magazine catch. You will keep it depressed to keep it in place while you thread the bolt catch into the button.

While depressing the magazine release button and bolt catch with a finger (a large punch allows you to depress it further) the bolt catch will extend out the left side of the receiver allowing you to rotate it and thread it into the button.

Thread the bolt catch in until you make contact with the left side of the receiver and then go back a turn until the catch can settle into its recess. Insert a magazine and eject it to confirm proper installation.
Step Four: Complete AR15 Assembly – Lower Receiver
Next, we move on to the bolt catch which is responsible for holding open the bolt when the magazine runs empty. The parts for that particular assembly are pictured below along with a roll pin starter punch which is very helpful for installing the bolt catch roll pin. If this bolt catch looks different compared to yours, it is because it’s an extended one offered by Strike Industries.

I find it prudent to apply grease to the bolt catch spring since it does not come in contact with much fouling or dirt in the field and it is often in use.

On the left side of the receiver the bolt catch, spring, and plunger can be placed into the pocket intended for it.

It may need to be held in with one hand while the bolt catch is installed over the top of it and then that held in place until the roll pin is installed.

Installing the bolt catch roll pin can be cumbersome and in the wrong hands, aesthetically destructive. Placing tape on the side of the receiver and using a roll pin starter punch will help to alleviate most issues.

Note: If you do not have a roll pin starter punch you can wrap the roll pin end and the tip of the punch in tape to temporarily hold onto it.

With the roll pin started, put it in the rest of the way ideally with a roll pin punch (Wheeler has a set and it is included in many of their kits) but a standard punch will work too but be aware it may slip off.

Wheeler’s AR15 bench block is handy to set the front of the lower receiver into.

The last step here would be inserting a magazine and testing the bolt catch by forcing it to push the magazine follower down.

Step Five: Complete AR15 Assembly – Lower Receiver
Next up is the installation of the trigger guard. Most of the time this can be slightly cumbersome and it involves a roll pin. The biggest concern with the roll pin installation is making sure that the trigger guard portion of the receiver is supported during installation. I plan to cover this specific roll pin style amongst others down the road but for now, the Strike Industries Fang trigger guard makes installation simple with three screws.

Two on the left side and one on the right.

Step Six: Complete AR15 Assembly – Lower Receiver
The pivot pin at the front of the receiver consists of the parts seen below.

The pivot pin spring and plunger are inserted as shown. Be very careful these are among the most common parts of the lower to be flung across the room.

One of the easiest methods of pivot pin installation comes in the form of placing a punch (or rod of similar diameter to the hole) from the left side of the frame and keeping the spring and plunger captive.

With the plunger and spring held captive, the pivot pin can be slid in replacing the punch.

With the pivot pin now keeping its spring and plunger captive, make sure to rotate it until it locks into place and test its function by working it back and forth. If installed correctly, the pivot pin should not slide out from the receiver.

Step Seven: Complete AR15 Assembly – Lower Receiver
The trigger install is up next and its parts and orientation are shown below. It consists of the trigger, trigger pin, trigger spring, disconnector, and disconnector spring.

Placing this assembly as shown into the receiver with a finger or thumb will help line up the disconnector and trigger hole so the pin can be put through.

Here is an over-the-top view with half of the trigger pin installed.

Step Eight: Complete AR15 Assembly – Lower Receiver
With the trigger assembly installed the hammer comes next. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the hammer assembly this time so below is one from the disassembly article.

Make sure the wings of the hammer spring rest on the flats of the hammer assembly and apply pressure downward onto the hammer in order to line up the holes for the hammer pin.

Insert the pin and persuade it into place with a hammer. Test its function by either letting the hammer down nicely with your thumb or by using an AR15 vise block with an accompanying hammer stop as shown below.

Step Nine: Complete AR15 Assembly – Lower Receiver
With the hammer installed we can move onto the selector switch. This one is an ambidextrous one from Strike Industries and it also optionally throws 60/90 degrees. The parts are shown below.

Insert one side of the ambidextrous into the frame and screw the other end into place which locks it into the receiver.

Step Ten: Complete AR15 Assembly – Lower Receiver
This step runs in tandem with the last one since it involves the selector plunger and spring. This is the part where we install the pistol grip which retains the selector switch plunger and spring. The pistol grip also applies pressure to those parts in order for the selector switch to function properly. The plunger is dropped into its hole which gets hidden by the pistol grip.

The selector spring is installed into a hole in the pistol grip as shown below.

The pistol grip itself usually fits just enough where it holds tight enough to the frame so you do not need to keep a hand on it while screwing it into place.

Screw the grip into the receiver.

Make sure to test your selector’s range and function after the pistol grip is installed.

Step Eleven: Complete AR15 Assembly – Lower Receiver
In this step, the buffer tube, castle nut, end plate, buffer retaining spring and plunger, takedown spring, takedown plunger, and take down pin are installed all at once.

Install the castle nut and endplate onto the threaded end of the buffer tube. This creative endplate assembly is a Strike Industries three QD slot endplate.

Place the takedown pin in its hole and the plunger into the hole in the rear of the receiver.

Screw the buffer tube into the rear of the receiver until you are about this far.

This is where the takedown pin spring is installed behind the plunger. Ignore that the buffer tube and endplate are not pictured.

Continue to screw the buffer tune into place and mind the takedown spring while you do it. Screw the buffer tube in until you are able to just barely cover the buffer retaining plunger and spring.

With the buffer retaining plunger captured by the lip of the buffer tube, slide the endplate forward which in turn compresses the takedown spring and plunger.

The castle nut can now be screwed down onto the endplate which keeps it captive. This castle nut and endplate combination does not need to be staked in place like most normal ones do (I will cover this process in a different article). Instead, it has two screws, one on either side, that get tightened down and lock it in place.

Note: Typically the castle nuts are torqued down to 35 to 40 foot pounds.

Step Twelve: Complete AR15 Assembly – Lower Receiver
After the buffer tube assembly is installed the buffer and buffer spring can be slid into the tube.

Note: If the buffer tube is over-tightened and against the buffer retaining plunger, it will most likely be unable to move, prevent the buffer’s installation, and/or produce malfunctions.

Step Thirteen: Complete AR15 Assembly – Lower Receiver
Lastly, the stock of your choosing can be installed. This one is another Strike Industries product. Most adjustable style stocks are installed the same way. The lever responsible for adjustment is pulled straight out as far as it can go in order to pass onto the rails on the buffer tube.

End of The Lower – Complete AR15 Assembly
I hate to leave anyone hanging with just the lower assembled but the upper will have to wait for a separate week. If anyone has their own tips and trick or recommendations for anyone out there that needs a hand with lower assembly, feel free to talk amongst each other in the comments. At some point, I plan to do a separate tips and tricks article! Keep in mind that some folks may be new to this sort of thing and be considerate of any questions they may have. Thanks for tagging along so far and see you next time!

As always, thank you for reading TFB! Be safe out there, have fun while shooting, and we will see you next time for the TFB Armorer’s Bench brought to you by Wheeler, Tipton, Caldwell, and Frankford Arsenal! Also, let us know what you think in the comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.

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The Wheeler 72 Piece screwdriver set features 54 hollow-ground flat bits, 4 phillips, 3 torx, and 8 specialty bits all made from durable S2 tool steel with a 56-58 Rockwell “C” hardness rating. The precision-engineered bits have a concave shape that allows for insertion all the way into the screw slot of rmaximum contact to prevent burred, buggered, busted up screw slots. The kit also includes 2 non-slip, overmolded plastic handles that come in a convenient hinged storage case whcih includes a bit location guide.
AR Armorer’s Bench Block
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Tired of trying to secure your AR parts while installing a pin, detent or spring? The AR-15 Bench Block is the answer! Specifically designed for AR-15 assembly and disassembly, the AR-15 Bench Block is the perfect tool. It securely holds the upper receiver, lower receiver, front sight and charging handle during assembly, disassembly and maintenance.
Hammer and Punch Set, Plastic Case
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The Wheeler® Hammer and Punch Set includes a polymer/brass combination hammer, eight precision brass punches, four steel punches and two plastic punches. It comes in a handy molded case. It makes for a great tool for driving pins or drifting sights at the shooting range, or on your gunsmithing bench.
AR Bolt Catch Install Punch Kit
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Wheeler® Engineering Bolt Catch Install Punch Kit starts bolt catch roll pins easily with the starter punch and finishes installation flush with the finishing punch.
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Friday Night Lights: ABNV RPNVG – Ruggedized Panning Night Vision Goggle

If you have been following along with us here at Friday Night Lights, I have posted about a couple of different panoramic night vision options. Quadtubes are the ultimate way to have panoramic NVGs but they are usually cost-prohibitive. It was Noisefighters who came out with a bridge that made panoramic binos a reality. Well, AB Night Vision (ABNV) has finally come out with their ABNV RPNVG. A ruggedized panning night vision goggle. Today we’ll take an in-depth look at this new offering from ABNV.
Panoramic NVG @ TFB:


ABNV is known for their RNVG (Ruggedized Night Vision Goggle) If you are not familiar with it, click here. It has become the most popular fixed bridge housing in the commercial night vision market. With the popularity of the Noisefighters Panobridge, it was only a matter of time before panning was implemented in a binocular night vision goggle housing. In fact, in my Panobridge article, I mentioned that the future would involve a panning bino goggle only now it comes from a different place than I had anticipated. ABNV has crossed that finish line first with their RPNVG.
We saw the prototype of the RPNVG at SHOT Show last January. And most of it seems the same but the pods are a little bit different. ABNV sent in their RPNVG housing for us to take a look at.
Production RPNVG housing before optics and tube installation.
I was surprised to see that the ABNV RPNVG housing comes with D-Collar objective focus stops. These are scalloped, unlike the DEP/RQE D-Rings. What this does is perform double duty. It is both infinite focus stop and close focus stop.

Normally this ring does not have that step that covers a bit of the pod. It simply acts as a stop for your objective lens for when you focus to infinity. Often you can turn the objective past infinity so the infinite focus stop ring is set at the right length to act as a stop for the objective lens. Well, when you focus close, you are unscrewing the objective lens and without a close focus stop, you can unscrew the objective all the way out. The D-ring lip hits a ridge around the shaft of the objective lens so it functions like a close focus stop. Why would you want to do this? The regular close focus stop is a separate ring that is screwed onto the back of your objective lens.
When you fully assemble a night vision goggle, you have to install the objective lens and tighten the close focus stop ring onto it. Then you can install your tubes, light pipe, retaining ring and finally the eyepiece. The problem is if you need to change your objective lens, you have to remove your eyepiece, tube retaining ring, light pipe and image intensifier just to get access to that regular close focus stop. Well, with the D-ring focus stop, you simply loosen the set screws in the ring and unscrew the objective as well as the D-ring. Now you can swap out objective lenses without disturbing the tube or eyepieces. You maintain collimation as well by doing this.

The ABNV RPNVG shares some design elements with the RNVG like the LEMO battery port and IR illuminator.

Unlike the RNVG or MOD3, the RPNVG uses a new style of pupillary adjustment. The RNVG and MOD3 are both older ABNV designs loosely based on the ANVS-6/9 goggle. They use screws for each pod to translate the pods left and right. Instead, the ABNV RPNVG uses a spring-loaded toothed catch and matching teeth on the back trailing edge of the RPNVG bridge. See the picture below.

See that square button just above that hex bolt? Push that in and that disengages the teeth so you can slide the pods left or right. Since this catch is spring-loaded, this allows the pods to move in if the pods bump into something with rough force. Rather than breaking something, the teeth will move out of the way and the pods will slide over making a ratcheting sound as the catch drags across the teeth.

ANBV simplified the controls on the RPNVG. Instead of the traditional rotary switch, ABNV switched to a two-button configuration. One button for power and a fenced-in button for IR illumination. You can feel the difference between these buttons even through gloves.

Tube retaining rings and light pipes are typical ABNV designs like in their RNVG and MOD3.

The dovetail is offset a bit. Similar to their recent offset adapter for their RNVGs, however the design is a little different since the RPNVG bridge pivots underneath the dovetail. See the threaded hole under the battery cap tether? That is a set screw for the pivot bolt. You can remove the dovetail above that, loosen the set screw and adjust the tension/friction of the RPNVG pivot.

The slot is just there for production/manufacturing reasons, in order to get clearance for an Allen wrench to unscrew the two forward screws that sit just below that slot. The Dovetail only engages with your mount on the trapezoid cross section and the lip at the rear so the slot will not cause any issue or compromise anything.

If you look at the ends of the bridge, ABNV relocated the bungee anchors to the bridge. Before, on the RNVG, the bungee anchors were machined lobes that protrude from the monocular pods. This can apply a slight torque on the pods and potentially cause some issues with the power connectivity. Well, not the anchors are bolted onto the sides of the bridge. This also makes more sense since you will be sliding the pods left and right to adjust when you go to Pano mode. Just in front of the bungee anchors are these PD stops. It is the round screw with the square block below it.

Pull that PD block out a little bit and rotate up toward the front of the ABNV RPNVG housing. Now you can slide the monocular pods off the bridge.

You can see the bridge has four gold-plated rails that line up with the four contact pins on the pod.

I was a little bit concerned about these lines being scratched into the gold contact rails by the pogo pins in the modular pods. You will be sliding the pods left and right on a regular basis if you utilize the panning feature. However talking to the owner of ABNV, Adam Barker, he is confident it will not be an issue. My friend Cajer pointed out an obvious analogy. Think of your phone charger and how many times you plug and unplug that cable into your smartphone? As long as ABNV uses hard gold and a low enough contact force for their pogo pins, this should not be an issue even though you will be sliding the pods a lot.

I used RPO lightweight lenses on the RPNVG so they appear shorter in length than the Carson optics on the RNVG to the right.

Panning The RPNVG

Switching from parallel binos to panning binos is easy. You simply move the pods further out and bend the bridge.

Why do you need to move the pods out? It is due to the pupillary distance of your eyes (the distance between pupils). Since the RPNVG bridge folds in the middle, this will cause your eyepieces to move closer together. If you want to go back to parallel pods, you have to bend the bridge straight and slide the pods back inwards. There is no PD stop for this so you have to slide them until you are satisfied. This is why I mentioned earlier that the RPNVG pods will be sliding side to side on the bridge. On RNVGs or MOD-3 you just set the PD to your eyes and you forget it. The only time you need to slide the pods is for a new user with a different PD than you. RNVGs and MOD-3 all use a similar powered rail design as the RPNVG.
While the RPNVG uses a spring-loaded ratcheting mechanism to hold the pods onto the bridge, it is easier to adjust for panning than the Panobridge. The Panobridge relies on two articulating swing arms for PD adjustment. When you spread them out for pano mode, you have to roll the pods up a bit to get the PD set properly. This changes the height of your pods and you need to adjust the height of your mount. If you switch back to parallel binos, then you have to reset the height on a Panobridge again. This is a compromise for the Panobridge but you don’t have to do this with the ABNV RPNVG. Since the bridge is set at a fixed height and the pods are too articulating, you simply slide them out and bend the bridge. No need to adjust the height at all.

You can see the teeth on the back of the bridge. Below you can see the matching dual teeth that engage with the teeth on the bridge.

One minor difference between the Panobridge and RPNVG is the degree of separation. Panobridge can pan to give you up to 70º FOV. The ABNV RPNVG only goes up to 65º. Normal parallel binos and monoculars only show you 40º FOV. I never pan to the max, not the Panobridge nor the RPNVG. I move the pods inward a bit and adjust the angle they are panned to minimize the cat’s eye Venn diagram. When you pan them to the extreme, you can get a sort of shadowing around the middle of the two overlapping image circles.

Modularity Of RPNVG
Since the RPNVG monocular pods can be removed without tools, you can rock one as a monocular.

Another added benefit to the RPNVG design is that you can swap the left and right pods to the other side.

Why would you swap them over? This is a sort of hack to the RPNVG. The spring-loaded catch for the teeth is not centered over the monocular pod. So by moving the pods to the opposite sides, the spring-loaded teeth on the pods do not engage with the teeth on the bridge. Now you can slide the pods left and right with ease. Normally you need to depress the button on the monocular bridge to free it so you can slide it left or right. I found pressing the button inwards a bit awkward, especially when the goggle is mounted on your helmet and in front of your face. I would have to use the sides of my index fingers to push the buttons inwards while my thumbs press up against the bottom edge of my eyepieces. Also with toothless adjustments, I can adjust the pods’ position more minutely rather than rely on the position of the teeth.
See the pins just below the power rails? To the left is the square protrusion that houses the spring-loaded teeth. See how far away it is from the matching teeth on the bridge?
I am not sure if this issue is only on their demo housing or if it is across the board, but if you swap the pods to the other side, the right side will disconnect power if you move it all the way to the end of the bridge. Even with the PD stop. This only seems to affect the right-hand side of the bridge, the left side power rails are long enough that the PD stop will hit the pod before the contacts slide past the edge of the power rails.
See how the contact pins are just past the gold rails?
Nocorium RPNVG Wraps
I brought the ABNV RPNVG to Nocorium to get patterned for his wraps. Here is the install video.
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Just like his other NVG wraps, the Nocorium RPNVG wraps are custom designed to fit the housing. Some of the wraps are still the same like the objective lens focus stop ring, eyepiece lock ring and the wrap for the IR illuminator is the same for the RNVG. The IR illuminator wrap has been slightly tweaked to make it easier and less prone to bullying up when applied and Nocorium will be updating his RNVG wraps going forward.

I think Nocorium got a decent amount of coverage and it is aesthetically pleasing.

Final Thoughts On The RPNVG
The RPNVG functions similarly to the Panobridge. You are panning monocular pods to produce a sort of image intensifier Venn diagram. The images overlap and you get a cat’s eye in the middle. You lose a bit of depth perception, especially in the regions that do not overlap.

The other compromise is that you are now looking through the edges of your image intensifier and not down the center. Resolution drops down a bit at the edges and your best resolution is in the center of the tubes. You can always push the pods back together for parallel use for better performance.
One minor issue I noticed is when I used the RPNVG with my Crye Nightcap. It has a Wilcox G69 so the dovetail shoe extends a bit further than a regular G24 but because of the offset dovetail, the RPNVG eyepieces still sit closer to my face than I would like. It is fine when running parallel pods but if I pan the bridge for pano mode, the eyepieces touch my eye socket. I hope ABNV offers a non-offset dovetail in the future.
At the time of writing this article, ABNV is working on monocular pod adapters to convert the RPNVG pods to single monoculars. Similar to his MOD-3 concept. Adam Barker is not sure if he will continue making the MOD-3. I don’t see any reason to since the RPNVG is now here. If you don’t like the panning feature, you don’t have to use it. The pods will still disconnect without the need for tools and the monocular pod adapters will convert them into PVS-14-like devices.
ABNV will continue to make the RNVG since it is so popular and simple. The RNVG is also a little bit cheaper. The RNVG housing retails for around $1,200 while the RPNVG housing retails for $1,920 and that is without the monocular adapters. A fully built RPNVG will most likely be around $7,000. Depending on the tubes, it could be under or above that price but the average will probably be around $7,000. Compare that to twin PVS-14s. You could be spending anywhere from $4,000 – $8,000 depending on the tubes inside and then you add the $500 Panobridge. The RPNVG is more rugged and lighter. Fully built with RPO lenses my RPNVG weighs 18.8 oz. Dual 14s with a Panobridge are around 25 oz. With lightweight lenses on the 14s, you are still heavier than the RPNVG.
I think the RPNVG will be very popular. It is a little bit more expensive than an RNVG but now you can go pano mode if you want to and you can convert them to be monoculars if that floats your boat. For more information check out @ABnightvision. The RPNVG will be available at all AB Night Vision dealers. […]


Creality Halot-One Plus 3D Printer Review: 4K Resolution, Sub-$400 Price

Today’s best Creality Halot-One Plus dealsThe Creality Halot-One Plus is the flagship printer in the Halot line of MSLA printers, offering 4K resolution, a 7.9-inch mono LCD with a 3 second exposure time, and other high-end features in a package that retails for just under $400. The Halot-One Plus appears to have been designed for the prosumer market, with features like Wi-Fi connectivity, air filtration, and other features that don’t typically appear in printers in this price range. During testing, this printer proved to be a logical next-step in resin 3D printing, showing how these features can be successfully implemented at a lower price point while still maintaining functionality. We had issues with the Creality Cloud platform and the lack of attribution on published models, but the printer hardware itself places this among the best resin 3D printers. Creality Halot-One Plus Specifications

Machine Footprint9.29″ x 9.57″ x 16.46″ (23.6cm x 24.3cm x 41.8cm)Build Volume6.77″ x 4.02″ x 6.30″ (172mm x 102mm x 160mm)ResinMSLA Photopolymer ResinUV Light4,500 uw/m2 Integral Light SourceMasking LCD Resolution4320 x 2560 Masking LCD Size7.9-inchXY Axis Resolution.04mm Interface5-inch LCD Touchscreen

Included in the Box of Creality Halot-One Plus(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)The Creality Halot-One Plus ships with everything you need to get started printing, including a set of Allen keys, plastic and metal scrapers to remove parts from the printer, a printed user guide, and a power cable, and some paper funnels for pouring resin back into the bottle from the vat. The printer itself is well-packed and protected, with a protective plastic covering over the UV-resistant lid. Unlike with many other resin printers, including the Elegoo Mars 3, the Halot-One Plus does not include any consumables such as gloves, masks, or other cleaning supplies. This isn’t a large omission, but it means first time users will want to make sure they have all the proper supplies before they start printing.Design of Creality Halot-One PlusOne of the first features I noticed on the Creality Halot-One Plus was the large LCD screen. The 5-inch screen is bright, responsive, and feels like the type of capacitive screen you’d expect to see on a tablet or mobile phone. This screen is easy to read and use, and immediately sets the Halot-One Plus apart from similarly priced machines that use smaller screens. The Halot-One Plus also includes an onboard ARM Cortex-M4 quad-core 64 bit processor, which gives it more processing power than other similarly priced machines.Image […]


Apple Denies Any Wrongdoing in $50M Butterfly Keyboard Settlement

Apple has agreed to pay off disenchanted customers who were irked by its problematic butterfly keyboard key-switch design, reports Reuters. Late on Monday, a preliminary settlement for $50 million was filed, still awaiting the judge’s approval, that will compensate class-action customers in California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Washington.Apple introduced the butterfly keyboard design back in 2015. At its unveiling, it was heralded for facilitating slimmer laptop designs (it debuted in the MacBook Air), as well as greater precision, quietness and stability. Unfortunately, these keyboards quickly gained a reputation for being unreliable, with keys failing to register actuations or becoming sticky, and so on. An inherent problem (opens in new tab) in the design was that it was susceptible to dust and particulate matter ingress. Though Apple went through several generations of butterfly switches, with additions such as dust membranes, Apple laptop enthusiasts were relieved when simpler and more reliable scissor switches returned in 2019.From our potted history of butterfly mechanism keyboards, above, you won’t be surprised that the class action lawsuit covers the full period that these switches were equipped in new Mac portables; from 2015 to 2019.(Image credit: iFixIt)So, if you bought one of the Mac laptops with a butterfly keyboard during the period stated in the US states this class action covers, what can you hope to gain by way of compensation? The answer is that most will get very little. Lawyers expect the highest compensation amount will be $395 for those who replaced multiple MacBook keyboards. More common will be those affected by a single laptop needing a keyboard replacement, and these people will get up to $125 in compensation. Lastly, Mac users who replaced keys rather than the whole keyboard are in line for $50. Obviously, the $50 million cake is being cut into very thin slices. Conversely, lawyers working on this class action suit may seek fees of up to $15 million, says Reuters.If you still suffer from butterfly keyboard blues, you have our sympathies, and you’ll remain eligible for four years of free keyboard repairs.Has justice been done? If they are lucky enough to be covered by this class action suit, those affected by unreliable keyboard issues multiple times over multiple replacements probably won’t be impressed by the compensation. Lastly, according to the source report, Apple denies any wrongdoing as part of its settlement agreement. It must be hoping to sweep this design flaw under the carpet, with a few people in a few US states receiving a paltry sum. […]


Western Digital Ships 22TB HDDs for Mass Market

When Western Digital introduced its 22TB hard drives earlier this year, the company only offered them in its Ultrastar lineup. This drive family is designed primarily for server makers and is not widely available in the channel or retail. However, this week Western Digital began (opens in new tab) to ship 22TB WD Gold, WD Red Pro, and WD Purple Pro HDDs that will be available to a considerably wider audience. Western Digital’s 22TB HDDs share the same 10-platter 3.5-inch helium-filled platform that relies on energy-assisted perpendicular magnetic recording (ePMR) technology and triple-stage actuators (TSA) to deal with a very high track density. The drives are enhanced with OptiNAND technology to improve real-world performance by moving repeatable runout (RRO) metadata from magnetic media to NAND flash memory and improving reliability. The hard drives feature a 7,200-RPM spindle speed and a 512MB cache. Since Western Digital’s 22TB WD Gold HDDs (opens in new tab) feature the highest areal density to date, it isn’t surprising that they also offer a maximum sustained transfer rate of 291 MB/s, the highest we’ve ever seen on a hard drive. As for power consumption, these drives consume 5.7W (in line with lower-capacity drives) in idle mode and 9.3W in operational mode (significantly higher than lower-capacity drives). Meanwhile, the 22TB WD Red Pro (opens in new tab) and WD Purple Pro (opens in new tab) are rated for a 265 MB/s sustained transfer rate and 6.8W/3.4W and 6.9W/5.6W operational/idle power consumption, respectively. Image […]


Intel Announces CPU Price Hikes, Hopes to Spur Near-Term Purchases

According to a report by DigiTimes, Intel is having an oversupply problem with its best CPUs and wants to reduce supply as quickly as possible. As a result, Intel announced plans to raise CPU prices in the near future. This appears to be an attempt to push PC vendors into purchasing more CPUs now, in advance of the price increases, which would reduce the oversupply.This strategy isn’t new and has been used quite often to accelerate sales when needed. However, the side-effect of this strategy is a noticeable reduction in sales later in the year, since PC vendors will have already bought up more supply than they need. Nonetheless, this strategy should theoretically allow Intel to reduce its oversupply issues, which seems to be the top priority for Intel right now.DigiTimes sources note that Intel’s success with this strategy is unclear, but prices are believed to be rising for both consumer and server processors, as well as Wi-Fi chips later this fall. Success will depend on each vendor’s requirements, and how many additional CPUs each vendor will need or can use.It’s unclear if Intel’s CPU price hikes will affect both the OEM market and the DIY market, but DigiTimes has not made a distinction between the two, so there is a chance it will affect both. That’s not all, as Intel also indicated it will be raising prices on its mobile processors to combat inflation and it has already notified its customers about the price changes. As a result, we could see notebook prices increase slightly in the near future.Despite this, DigiTimes estimations say notebook volume in the 3rd quarter will increase by 14.3% quarterly thanks to reduced demand in the second quarter due to COVID restrictions in China, not to mention the impending back to school shopping season. This will especially impact Apple and HP, with expected 43% and 25% shipment increases thanks to a rebound from material shortages in Q2.Intel’s price hikes have taken a bit of time to arrive. AMD reportedly considered increasing prices for its customers in late 2021, similar to what Intel is doing right now, but it backfired and vendors refused to comply with the higher prices. That also perhaps influenced Intel and led to it keeping CPU prices at low levels.Now it looks like Intel will execute a price increase on all its processors near the end of 2022, despite material shortages evaporating. However, there’s also a chance it won’t happen, according to DigiTimes sources. These plans are projections and potential options, in other words. If anything, we will probably see a temporary price hike with Intel CPUs in the early fall, but then prices would drop into discount territory — just in time for Black Friday and the Christmas season.Also note that upcoming Intel Raptor Lake processors are slated to launch in the near future. It’s not clear whether these reported price increases also apply to Raptor Lake, but logic would suggest that Intel will mostly want to clear out existing Alder Lake inventory in advance of Raptor Lake’s launch. […]


How to Build a Gaming PC for Under $500 With GPU

The global economy may be experiencing inflation, but the price of key PC components is actually quite low and, in many cases, going lower. Because GPU prices are dropping rapidly while SSDs, RAM (at least DDR4 RAM) and power supplies remain inexpensive, there has rarely been a better time to build a low-cost gaming PC than right now. With today’s prices,you can configure a solid, 1080p-capable gaming PC for under $500 that includes both discrete graphics and a 12th-gen Intel CPU. We’re also able to configure a very-capable gaming PC for under $400 using AMD integrated graphics.Below, we’ll show you how to build a gaming PC for under $500, or even under $400 using parts available from major U.S. retailers today. Please note that the prices we list were current when we wrote this, but may go up or down slightly by the time you read this. Because these lists are based primarily on pricing, we have not tested every specific part listed, nor have we tested them all together. The cost of an operating system is not included, but you can get Windows 10 or 11 for free or cheap. And, if you are willing to spend much more than $500, please check our list of the best PC builds for more powerful recommendations.Gaming PC Under $500 With Discrete GraphicsOur under $500 gaming PC is built around two key components: an Intel Core i3-12100F CPU and an AMD Radeon RX 6400-powered graphics card (ours is from XFX but any RX 6400 should perform similarly). While the other parts are good values for the money, you can easily substitute a similarly specked PSU, SSD, RAM kit or H610M motherboard and get the same performance.With 4 performance cores, a 4.3-GHz boost speed and a budget price, Intel’s Core i3-12100 is the best cheap CPU right now and the Core i3-12100F is a variant that comes without integrated graphics (which we won’t need). In writing our Intel Core i3-12100 review, we put Intel’s processor through a bevy of benchmarks and found that its single-threaded performance – the type which matters most for gaming – was better than processors which cost twice as much, including the Ryzen 5 5600X and Intel’s last-gen Core i5-11600K. The Core i3-12100F also comes with a CPU cooler in the box, so you don’t need to spend more money there. (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)We’re going with the Radeon RX 6400, because it’s the cheapest current-gen GPU on the market, not because it’s one of the best graphics cards. In our tests, the RX 6400 averaged a very-playable 56 fps when we benchmarked it in 8 popular games at 1080p resolution with medium settings. That’s not blazing fast, but it’s good enough to play AAA titles without stutter.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)We chose the RX 6400 so we could configure a gaming PC for under $500, but if you can stretch your budget just another $20, the much-faster Radeon RX 6500 XT is available for as little as $179 and is 30 percent faster and a much better buy. Both GPUs have a boost clock of 2.8 GHz and 4GB of VRAM, but the 6500 XT has 1024 GPU cores to the 6400’s 768, and its VRAM operates at 18 Gbps instead of 16 Gbps.To support our 12th-gen Intel CPU, we need an inexpensive motherboard with an LGA 1700 socket. The lowest-end chipset with that socket is Intel’s H610 and we found it cheaply in the $89 MSI PRO H610M-G. This is a basic board with just two RAM slots and a single M.2, PCIe Gen 3 slot for storage. We saw a board that was $10 cheaper but iy didn’t have the M.2 slot we needed for our choice of SSD.Our storage drive of choice is the TeamGroup MP33 at 512GB capacity. We reviewed the TeamGroup MP33 back in 2020 and found that it offers really good performance for the money, and it’s more affordable now than it was back then. This NVMe SSD boasts rated sequential read and write speeds of 1,700 and 1,400 MBps respectively, about triple what you get from a SATA SSD.To hit our $500 price, we had to stick with a modest 8GB of RAM, in the form of a 2x4GB DDR4-3200 kit from Crucial. Any low-cost kit of DDR4-3200 RAM would fit the bill here. However, if you can splurge just another $15 to $20, you can get 16GB of RAM as we spotted TeamGruop’s T-Force Zeus DDR4-3200 RAM in a 2 x 8GB kit for just $48. Considering that the motherboard only has two RAM slots, you’d be wise to spend a little extra now rather than upgrading later.Our case is the Rosewill FBM-X2 (opens in new tab) which was $44 at Newegg at the time we wrote this. Admittedly, this is a very low-end case as it has no window for viewing your components. However, it does have enough room for four 120mm fans  or two 120mm fans and a 240mm radiator. Its slick, gunmetal gray color is, at least, solid-looking and you have to make some sacrifices to build a gaming PC for under $500.The final piece of our under $500 gaming PC is a 430W power supply from Thermaltake. Any 400 to 500W power supply from a reputable brand will get the job done here. The Thermaltake Smart 430W is 80+ certified, though not Bronze or Gold, which means it has some degree of efficiency considerations.If you can stretch your budget just a little bit father, up anywhere from $20 to $80, we recommend swapping out the RAM, GPU and storage for slightly better parts. Our first priority is going from 8GB of RAM up to 16GB, because the motherboard only has two DIMM slots so you’d have to throw away your current RAM if you wish to upgrade later on. Moving up to TeamGroup’s $48, 16GB (2 x 8GB) kit costs less than $20 more and will make all aspects of your computing life easier, from surfing the web to document editing and gaming.Adding another $20 to move up to a Radeon RX 6500 XT from the RX 6400 is another no-brainer. You gain about 30 percent more performance for a very minimal outlay. The lowest priority upgrade, though still a good one, is moving from a 512GB SSD to a 1TB capacity, which in the case of the TeamGroup MP33, is just $30 more. You can certainly get by with a 512GB SSD, but if you plan to install more than three or four AAA games, you’ll likely need the extra storage.Gaming PC Under $400If you want to build a gaming PC for under $400, there is no way that you can afford a graphics card. That’s why you need a relatively-cheap CPU with excellent integrated graphics, in our case the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G. The $160, 65-watt CPU has 6 cores, 12 threads and a maximum boost clock of 4.4 GHz. It also comes with a cooler in the box so you don’t need to spend money on one. In our multi-threaded application tests, the Ryzen 5 5600G beat the pants off of many competitors including the quad-core, Core i3-12100 we use in our under $500 gaming PC.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)More importantly, the Ryzen 5 5600G’s integrated RX 7 Vega GPU is good enough to play games well at 720p and passably at 1080p. On our 720p gaming test suite, the 5600G averaged 75.4 fps, which is more than playable. When we bumped the resolution up to 1080p, the average fps dropped to a still-respectable 43.5 fps. But on many games, you’ll be able to dial down some more settings to get the frame rate higher.Image […]


Best SSDs 2022: From Budget SATA to Blazing-Fast NVMe

Among the key components in any PC, the storage drive is slowest: transferring bits in a fraction of the time your CPU and GPU take to process it or your RAM takes to load it.  A poor-performing storage drive often leads to a big bottleneck, forcing your processor (even if it’s one of the best CPUs for Gaming) to waste clock cycles, waiting for data to crunch.Finding the best SSD or solid-state drive for your specific system and needs is key if you want the best gaming PC or laptop, or even if you just want a snappy productivity machine. To find the best SSDs for gaming and productivity, we test dozens of drives each year and highlight the best ones here. We’ve also added in a best SSD for NAS category. Picking the Best SSD for YouThe latest NVMe SSDs have undercut mainstream drives on the slower SATA interface (which was originally designed for hard drives), but we shouldn’t expect to see the end of SATA drives in the near future. Companies are still doing new things with SATA, like Team Group’s cavernous 15.3 TB drive. Existing SATA drives will have to continue to get more affordable in order to at least compete on price, but they can’t hope to keep up with newer NVMe drives on performance.Blazing-fast PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSDs, which offer up to double the sequential speeds of the older PCIe 3.0 standard, have become common with Intel and AMD’s current platforms both supporting them. In a desktop, you’ll need either an X570 motherboard or B550 board on the AMD side, or a Z690 motherboard from Intel.If your desktop system can handle a PCIe 4.0 drive and you can pay a little extra for it, they’re the best SSDs for gaming.  For example, the SK hynix P41, our current choice for best SSD overall, is rated for 7,000 MBps reads, 6,500 MBps writes and 1.4 / 1.3 million IOPS. That means less time waiting for game levels to load or videos to transcode. For most laptops, PCIe 3.0 drives are the best SSD choice, because they use less power.Believe it or not, raw speed isn’t everything. In regular productivity tasks such as web browsing or light desktop work, you may not even notice the difference between a PCIe 3.0 SSD and one with a 4.0 interface. Ultimately, the best SSD for you is one which provides enough capacity to hold your data at a price you can afford. Consider that a high-end, AAA game can use more than 100GB of data and Windows 11 all by itself may need 60GB.When choosing an SSD, consider the following:Pick a compatible interface (M.2 PCIe, SATA, Add-in Card): Look at your user manual or a database like the Crucial Memory Finder to determine what types of SSD your computer supports.500GB to 2TB: 1TB is the practical minimum any PC build (perhaps one of the best PC builds) that costs more than $500. 2TB is the best SSD size for anyone that can spend $200+ on a drive. 500GB is the bare minimum anyone should consider at any price. 4TB drives are an expensive luxury at this point.SATA is slowest: SATA isn’t as fast as M.2 PCIe or a PCIe add-in card, but the majority of desktops and many laptops can take 2.5-inch SATA drives and many doing typical mainstream tasks users won’t notice the difference between a good recent SATA drive and a faster PCIe model anyway.For even more information, check out our SSD Buyer’s Guide. Or if you’re looking for an external SSD, you can check out our Best External Hard Drives and SSD page, or learn how to save some money by building your own external SSD. Below, you’ll find our recommendations for drives with all three major interfaces.Best SSDs You Can Buy TodayTop SSDs OverallBest Overall / Best M.2 SSD: SK hynix Platinum P41 (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Best Overall / Best M.2 SSDSpecificationsCapacities: 500GB, 1TB, 2TBForm Factor: M.2 2280Transfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMeSequential Reads/Writes: Up to 7,000 MBps / 6,500 MBpsWarranty/Endurance: 5 Years / Up to 1,200 TBWToday’s Best DealsReasons to buy+Fastest drive we’ve tested to date+Exceptional power efficiency+Competitive pricing+Good warranty and software packageReasons to avoid-No heatsinkSK hynix managed to one-up themselves by improving on the already-great Gold P31. The Platinum P41 takes the basic elements that made the Gold P31 so great and turns the dial to 11. The Platinum P41’s performance is excellent with few if any pitfalls, providing excellent balance for a PCIe 4.0 consumer SSD. SK hynix also provides a SSD toolbox and Macrium-based imaging software to round out the package, all with a reasonable warranty.The Platinum P41 does run a bit hot under sustained load and SK hynix doesn’t provide a heatsink in the box. We recommended buying one. It can also be difficult to find SK hynix’s drives in some regions, at least at a reasonable price. However, availability in the U.S. already seems sufficient with competitive pricing. If you want the best all-around drive, this is the one to get.Read: SK hynix Platinum P41 ReviewFastest SSD: Kingston KC3000 (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Fastest SSDSpecificationsCapacities: 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TBForm Factor: M.2 2280 Double-sidedTransfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4Sequential Reads/Writes: 7,000 MBps / 7,000 MBpsWarranty/Endurance: 5 Years / Up to 3,200 TBWToday’s Best DealsReasons to buy+Fast PCIe 4.0 performance and cool operation+Attractive design+5-year warranty and high-endurance ratingsReasons to avoid-Costly-High power use-Lacks AES hardware encryptionIf you’re looking for the fastest SSD on the market, Kingston’s KC3000 fills that role, especially now that Intel has stopped producing its Optane products. The KC3000 is a  high-performance PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe SSD that radishes out bleeding-edge speeds of up to 7 GBps of read and write throughput, along with up to one million IOPS. Similar to the Seagate FireCuda 530 and Corsair MP600 Pro XT, the Kingston KC3000 is powered by the Phison PS5018-E18 and comes paired with Micron’s 176-Layer TLC flash. However, the KC3000’s flash is faster at 1,600 MTps than the MP600’s 1,200 MTps, giving it a tactical advantage. The 2TB Kingston KC3000’s endurance and performance comes out on top of the Samsung 980 Pro, but that comes at the cost of efficiency. That translates to shorter battery life for laptop applications. The KC3000 also doesn’t come with OPAL-compliant AES hardware encryption and comes in a double-sided form factor at higher capacities. That means the KC3000 may not be the best pick for your mobile device, but is a fantastic SSD for those building a high-end desktop for gaming or workstation for productivity. Read: Kingston KC3000 Review Best M.2 SSD Alternative: WD Black SN850 (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Best M.2 SSD AlternativeSpecificationsCapacities: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TBForm Factor: M.2 2280 Single-sidedTransfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4Sequential Reads/Writes: 7,000 MBps / 5,300 MBpsWarranty/Endurance: 5 Years / Up to 1,200 TBWToday’s Best DealsReasons to buy+Competitive performance+Large dynamic SLC cache+Black PCB+Software package+5-year warrantyReasons to avoid-Hot under heavy load-High idle power consumption on desktop test bench-AES 256-bit encryption not supportedWith ever-so-much faster random performance, a more consistent write profile, and higher efficiency, Samsung’s 980 PRO earned the title as our top pick for a next-gen PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe, but WD’s Black SN850 makes for a top-tier runner-up. Depending on the price, you can’t go wrong with either one for your high-end gaming or workstation build.WD’s Black SN850 paired with the company’s new 16nm WD Black G2 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe 1.4 SSD controller marks a substantial improvement in the company’s SSD architecture. WDs Black SN850 can sustain speeds of up to 7/5.3 GBps and deliver very responsive random performance enabling the SSD to go toe-to-toe with our top pick. Although, that is at the cost of high idle power consumption on our desktop test bench. Also, unlike the Samsung 980 Pro, the WD Black SN850 lacks AES 256-bit encryption.Read: WD Black SN850 ReviewBest PS5 SSD: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus + M.2 NVMe Heatsink (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Best PS5 SSDSpecificationsCapacities: 1TB, 2TB, 4TBForm Factor: M.2 2280Transfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMeSequential Reads/Writes: Up to 7,000/6,600 MBps (PC)Warranty/Endurance: Up to 5 Years / Up to 3,000 TBWToday’s Best DealsReasons to buy+Up to 4TB of capacity+Specialized heatsink for the PlayStation 5+Exceeds PlayStation 5 performance requirementsReasons to avoid- Not the cheapest option Sabrent takes its flagship PCIe 4.0 drive and makes it better with a bundle that includes thermal tape and a PS5 heatsink. This heatsink is designed specifically to fit the PS5 and makes use of its natural airflow. Thermal tape is included for tight bonding, ensuring better thermal dissipation. This combination means you can have a fast PS5 drive without worrying about the drive overheating.While the heatsink is available separately and will work on other drives, the bundle makes it easy to get the very best performance out of the box. The Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus now comes with even better 176-layer TLC flash, boosting its peak performance. It is also available up to the PS5’s current capacity limit of 4TB for an expansion drive. The primary caveat is that there are significantly cheaper options that will get the job done with the PS5, like the Silicon Power XS70.Read: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus ReviewBest Value PS5 SSD: Silicon Power XPower XS70 (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Best Value PS5 SSDSpecificationsCapacities: 1TB, 2TB, 4TBForm Factor: M.2 2280Transfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMeSequential Reads/Writes: 7,300 MBps/Up to 6,800 MBpsWarranty/Endurance: Up to 5 Years / Up to 3,000 TBWToday’s Best DealsReasons to buy+Good capacity range+More than meets the PS5’s performance requirements+Attractive heatsink designed to fit the PS5+Relatively cheap for what it isReasons to avoid-Still not the cheapest option for the PS5 We like the Silicon Power XS70 because it hits all the right notes: great performance, an attractive heatsink, and solid pricing. This SSD has an excellent controller for PS5 usage and the newest flash, all with a heatsink designed to fit the PS5. Pricing at 1TB and 2TB is more than reasonable and is better than the competition, all considered, although cheaper but slower options still exist.We consider drives using the Phison E16 controller to be a significant budget option for PS5 use, but problems with speed have been reported. The strongest alternative would be the S70 Blade. That drive is also a good fit here, but we find the XS70 more compelling on the whole.Read: Silicon Power XPower XS70 SSD ReviewM.2 PCIe NVMe DrivesThese small, rectangular drives look like sticks of RAM, only smaller. They are usually 80mm long by 22mm wide, described as size 2280, but some may be shorter or longer, so make sure you get one that matches your slot. You can get M.2 drives that support SATA, but most modern desktops and laptops with M.2 slots support the faster PCIe NVMe standard.Best Value PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD: Crucial P5 Plus (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Best Value PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSDSpecificationsCapacities: 500GB, 1TB, and 2TBForm Factor: M.2 2280 Single-sidedTransfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4Sequential Reads/Writes: Up to 6,600 MBps / 5,000 MBpsWarranty/Endurance: 5 Years / Up to 1,200 TBWToday’s Best DealsReasons to buy+Competitive pricing+Hardware-based AES 256-bit encryption+Blacked-out aesthetics+5-year warranty+Software suiteReasons to avoid-Unimpressive sustained write performance-High idle power consumption-Less-than-average efficiency under loadCrucial’s P5 Plus is an evolution of the P5 with a focus on improved performance, especially where the original P5 let us down. Built for gamers and creative professionals who want faster load times and more efficient workflows, Crucial’s P5 Plus is a solid PCIe 4.0 x4 SSD that is priced well for its feature set.Although it banks on value more than flat-out performance, the P5 Plus proved capable of keeping up with the best in most applications. It features a host of specialized algorithms for data protection and hardware-based, OPAL 2.0-compliant AES 256-bit encryption for data security. If you can’t quite afford the Samsung 980 Pro or WD_Black SN850, the P5 Plus is a solid performing alternative that’s worthy of your consideration. Read: Crucial P5 Plus Review Best Value PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD Alternative: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Best Value PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD AlternativeSpecificationsCapacities: 1TB, 2TB, 4TBForm Factor: M.2 2280 Double-sidedTransfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4Sequential Reads/Writes: 7,200 MBps / 6,900 MBpsWarranty/Endurance: 5 Years (with registration) / Up to 2,800 TBWToday’s Best DealsReasons to buy+Fast sequential performance+Competitive pricing+Large and consistent dynamic cache+Attractive designReasons to avoid-1-year warranty without registration-Not quite as responsive or efficient as Samsung / WD-No AES 256-bit encryption-Slow write speed after write cache fillsPowered by Phison PS5018-E18 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe SSD controller and Micron’s 96L TLC flash, the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus boasts some serious hardware that enabled it to shatters write speed records in our testing. Not only is it fast, with its black PCB and matching black PCB and copper tone heat spreader, but it’s also a very attractive M.2. At prices that undercut both WD and Samsung, it’s a great value for those looking to save some cash, but still, get that responsive PCIe 4.0 performance. Plus, it comes in a spacious 4TB capacity, unlike the WD and Samsung, too. But, bear in mind that at its lower price point it lacks AES 256-bit hardware encryption and comes with a 1-year warranty without registration within 90 days.Read: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus ReviewBest M.2 SSD for Laptops: SK hynix Gold P31 (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Best M.2 SSD for LaptopsSpecificationsCapacities: 500GB, 1TB, 2TBForm Factor: M.2 2280 Single-sidedTransfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3Sequential Reads/Writes: 3,500 MBps / 3,200 MBpsWarranty/Endurance: 5 Years / Up to 1,200 TBWToday’s Best DealsReasons to buy+Class-leading power efficiency+Top-tier performance+Competitive endurance and 5-year warranty+Single sided-form factor+Low cost+AES 256-bit encryptionReasons to avoid-The 2TB model is a little slower than the 1TB model-Black PCB only for 2TB capacity-Encryption is not OPAL compliant SK hynix’s Gold P31 touts market leadership as the first retail SSD product to launch with 128-Layer flash. With SK hynix’s newest flash reaching incredible bit density, the Gold P31 hits the market at very low pricing. Listed at competitive prices, the Gold P31 is a fantastic value that will make you think twice about spending that extra $25-$50 on the Samsung 970 EVO Plus.SK hynix’s Gold P31 is great if you’re looking to increase your laptop storage, not only to gain capacity but to gain battery life, too. While some drives may perform well against the Gold P31 in benchmarking, the SK hynix is much more power-efficient, which will lead to longer off-the-charger sessions. Laptop users who prioritize battery life should definitely put the new SK hynix Gold P31 at the top of their drive list. Additionally, the Gold P31’s very strong write performance and ultra-high efficiency make it a well-rounded choice for many desktop users as well. Read: SK hynix Gold P31 Review Best Performance PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD: Samsung 970 EVO Plus (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Best Performance PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSDSpecificationsCapacities: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TBForm Factor: M.2 2280 Single-sidedTransfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3Sequential Reads/Writes: 3,500 MBps / 3,200 MBpsWarranty/Endurance: 5 Years / Up to 1,200 TBWToday’s Best DealsReasons to buy+Solid overall performance+Black PCB+Excellent software packageReasons to avoid-Could use further efficiency optimizationWe’re quite impressed with the Samsung 970 EVO Plus. Like the WD Black SN750, Samsung’s drive carries over the same controller as its predecessor. But instead of refreshing it with the same flash, Samsung decided to switch things up a bit with its new 9x-layer flash. Just as the flash is stacked to new heights, performance hits new highs, too. The resulting drive is exactly what its name says: a big Plus.As the first widely-available retail SSD to hit the market with Samsung’s latest 9x-layer flash, the Samsung 970 EVO Plus delivers the same performance as the 970 EVO, plus more. The drive consistently proved that it has some of the strongest write performance on the market and can handle tough workloads. It even beat out Samsung’s own 970 PRO in a few tests, which is quite the feat considering the PRO slots in as Samsung’s workhorse for workstation-class applications.Read: Samsung 970 EVO Plus ReviewBest Value PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD: Crucial P5 M.2 NVMe SSD (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Best Value PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSDSpecificationsCapacities: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TBForm Factor: M.2 2280 Single-sidedTransfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3Sequential Reads/Writes: 3,400 MBps / 3,000 MBpsWarranty/Endurance: 5 Years / Up to 1,200 TBWToday’s Best DealsReasons to buy+Competitive pricing+Hardware-based AES 256-bit encryption+Blacked-out aesthetics+5-year warranty+Software suiteReasons to avoid-Runs hot-Not quite as performant as SK hynix or SamsungCrucial’s P5 is a mainstream PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 NVMe SSD that has a lot of engineering put into its design with Micron’s in-house designed six-core NVMe controller and some of the latest 96L TLC flash available, but ultimately, the company banks on its value to entice its purchase. While it isn’t as bleeding edge fast as the newest Gen4 SSDs on the market and it can get quite hot under heavy loads, the P5 still holds its own for what it is. Crucial’s P5 is capable of delivering sequential read and write speeds of up to 3.4/3 GBps, looks great with its blacked-out aesthetic, and comes in a slim, single-sided M.2 form factor for broad compatibility. It also comes supported with a standard 5-year warranty and average endurance ratings, along with some value adder software as a bonus. It even features hardware-accelerated AES 256-bit encryption that is OPAL complaint. But, best of all, in recent times it’s gotten even more affordable than ever. Gamer, prosumer, or just your average PC user looking for a storage upgrade, the Crucial P5 is priced to sell at a very lost cost, making it a solid value for those trying to save a few bucks over the absolute best SSDs.Read: Crucial P5 Review Best RGB M.2 SSD: Patriot Viper VPR400 (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Best RGB M.2 SSDSpecificationsCapacities: 512GB, 1TB, 2TBForm Factor: M.2 2280Transfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMeSequential Reads/Writes: Up to 4,600 MBps / 4,400 MBpsWarranty/Endurance: 5 Years / Up to 1,600 TBW (estimated)Today’s Best DealsReasons to buy+RGB!+Able to sync RGB with major motherboards using software+Attractive heatsink+Solid performance+Good warrantyReasons to avoid-Very expensivePatriot’s Viper VPR400 could be seen as the successor to their now-retired VPR100. The heatsink is essentially the same, as is the RGB. Patriot’s sync software works with ASRock, ASUS, Gigabyte, and MSI. In practice, enabling this mode does draw more power and produce more heat but neither should be a problem in a well-ventilated desktop case. Patriot backs all of this up with a 5-year, 800TBW-per-TB warranty.Performance is good, as would be expected from a drive with InnoGrit’s IG5220 controller and Micron’s 176-layer TLC flash. While DRAM-less and not as fast as high-end PCIe 4.0 drives, this combination remains competitive and more than enough for most users. However, the aesthetics come at a price: the Viper VPR400 is very expensive for what it is. This is therefore a drive for the gamer who is willing to pay more for the perfect thematic build.Read: Patriot Viper VPR400 ReviewBest High-Performance High-Capacity M.2 SSD: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 8TB SSD (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Best High-Performance High-Capacity M.2 SSDSpecificationsCapacities: 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TBForm Factor: M.2 2280Transfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMeSequential Reads/Writes: Up to 7,000/6,850 MBps (4TB)Warranty/Endurance: Up to 5 Years / Up to 6,000 TBWReasons to buy+Very high capacity+Uses TLC and not QLC for such a large capacity+Absolute performance remains strongReasons to avoid-Expensive-Some performance pitfallsSabrent is no newcomer to high-capacity SSDs. The company first hit 8TB with their Rocket Q, but now it has a TLC drive at that capacity. Currently, no other manufacturer offers a consumer 8TB TLC drive. As such, this drive offers the best of both the capacity and performance worlds, but it comes at a steep price.The Rocket 4 Plus has a powerful controller and newer flash, but there are some downsides from pushing the capacity envelope: it has lower power efficiency and weaker all-around performance than some of its lower-capacity peers. That means other drives with this controller and Micron’s 176-layer flash do perform better, but they don’t offer nearly the same capacity. Overall, the 8TB Rocket 4 Plus is the fastest 8TB SSD we’ve ever tested, offering the highest performance available at this capacity point. If you’re looking for a better value, though, turn to the QLC version of this same drive.Read: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus SSD ReviewBest High-Capacity M.2 SSD: Sabrent Rocket Q (8TB) (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Best Value High-Capacity M.2 SSDSpecificationsCapacities: 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TBForm Factor: M.2 2280 Double-sidedTransfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3Sequential Reads/Writes: 3,300 MBps / 2,900 MBpsWarranty/Endurance: 5 Years (with registration) / Up to 1800 TBWToday’s Best DealsReasons to buy+Highest-capacity M.2 SSD available+Competitive performance and efficiency+Software support+Up to five-year warrantyReasons to avoid-Expensive-Slow write speed after write cache fills-Low endurance-per-GB compared to TLC-May throttle without coolingSabrent’s 8TB Rocket Q slots in as the industry’s highest-capacity M.2 NVMe SSD. The pint-sized monster is obviously best suited for the data hoarder on the go, but at $1,500, it’ll set you back about as much as some of the best gaming laptops. The drive doesn’t just push capacity to the highest we’ve seen with a slim M.2 SSD; it also impresses with great performance and efficiency, thanks to the new Phison E12S controller and 96-Layer QLC flash. That said, you can look to the Rocket 4 Plus (listed above) if you’re after the fastest 8TB SSD on the market.QLC flash does have its downfalls, like lower endurance and slower write performance after the SLC write cache gets filled up during large file transfers, but the Phison E12S controller helps push the Rocket Q to deliver respectable performance. The pricing is far more amenable than faster alternatives at this capacity, too. Read: Sabrent Rocket Q ReviewBest DRAM-less M.2 SSD: WD Black SN770 SSD (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Best DRAM-less M.2 SSDSpecificationsCapacities: 250GB, 500GB, 1TBForm Factor: M.2 2280 Single-sidedTransfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4Sequential Reads/Writes: 5,150 MBps / 4,9003,000 MBpsWarranty/Endurance: 5 Years / Up to 1,200 TBWToday’s Best DealsReasons to buy+Fast performance and cool operation+Competitive pricing+Single-sided PCB at all capacities+Software support+5-year warrantyReasons to avoid-Slow write speed after write cache fills-Lacks AES hardware encryption-Not available in 4TBPowered by WD’s in-house four-channel DRAM-less architecture and packing the latest BiCS5 TLC flash, WD’s Black SN770 breaks the mainstream mold. Although its peak bandwidth is a bit limited due to its four-channel controller, the SN770 still trades blows with the best, dishing out sequential speeds of up to 5.15/4.9 GBps read/write and up to 740,000/800,000 random read/write IOPS. Not only is the SN770’s peak performance exceptional, but its QD1 performance is also exceptional, meaning the drive is plenty snappy. With Game Mode enabled via WD’s SSD Dashboard, the Black SN770 can dish out random read speeds that rival the more costly Black SN850. It is also backed with the same endurance ratings and a five-year warranty. Overall, the WD Black SN770 delivers exceptionally fast performance and is a solid choice for both gamers and mainstream users looking for a consistent-performing SSD at a reasonable price. Read: WD Black SN770 Review Best DRAM-less M.2 SSD Alternative: Silicon Power UD90 (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Best DRAM-less M.2 SSD AlternativeSpecificationsCapacities: 250GB, 500GB, 1TBForm Factor: M.2 2280Transfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMeSequential Reads/Writes: Up to 4,800 / 4,200 MBpsWarranty/Endurance: 5 Years / Up to 600 TBWReasons to buy+Value champion for its segment+Good performance+Power efficientReasons to avoid-Limited capacities-Runs a little hotSilicon Power’s UD90 enters an increasingly-crowded mid-range PCIe 4.0 SSD market segment, but this drive manages to stand out anyway due to its low price. The 1TB SKU, available on Amazon, undercuts other drives within its performance range. This makes it suitable as a budget PlayStation 5 or PC drive, but capacity options are limited. It can also run a bit hot when pushed to its limits, although this should rarely be an issue.The UD90 demonstrated strong performance marks across most benchmarks with some peaks and some valleys versus competing drives. This is the first drive based on Phison’s E21T controller that we reviewed and we were pleasantly surprised: not only did it keep up with the competition in performance, it did so while being extremely power efficient. The warranty is also competitive, meaning this drive is a strong option if you want to save a few dollars without compromising on performance.Read: Silicon Power UD90 ReviewBest DRAMless M.2 SSD: WD Blue SN570 (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Best Value DRAM-less M.2 SSDSpecificationsCapacities: 250GB, 500GB, 1TBForm Factor: M.2 2280 Single-sidedTransfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 3.1 x4 / NVMe 1.3Sequential Reads/Writes: 3,500 MBps / 3,000 MBpsWarranty/Endurance: 5 Years / Up to 1,200 TBWToday’s Best DealsReasons to buy+Competitive pricing and performance+Single-sided PCB at all capacities+Software support+5-year warrantyReasons to avoid-Small SLC cache and weak sustained write speedWD’s Blue SN570 is a solid choice for mainstream builders putting together a new system or even gamers on a budget. The Blue SN570 delivers snappy performance in most consumer work thanks to its BiCS5 TLC flash and an improved NVMe SSD controller design. This pairing makes for a forty percent improvement in sequential performance and solid gains in 4KB random read workloads, positioning it shoulder-to-shoulder against Samsung’s 980. However, at lower prices than the Samsung 980 and also backed with a solid warranty, support software, and decent endurance ratings, the WD Blue SN570 is an even better value.  Read: WD Blue SN570 Review Best NAS M.2 SSD: WD Red SN700 (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Best NAS M.2 SSDSpecificationsCapacities: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TBForm Factor: M.2 2280Transfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMeSequential Reads/Writes: Up to 3,400/3,100 MBpsWarranty/Endurance: 5 Years / Up to 5,100 TBWToday’s Best DealsReasons to buy+Up to 4TB of capacity+Good warranty and endurance+Consistent sustained performance+Efficient+Good pricing for 4TB of TLCReasons to avoid-Poor peak and general performance-Old technology-No power loss protectionThis drive is effectively an updated WD Black SN750, which was known for its consistent performance and good efficiency, but it’s tailored for NAS usage. That combination makes it a nice choice for a NVMe NAS SSD, especially when coupled with TLC up to 4TB.The WD Red SN700 doesn’t offer anything special for the general user, but is great for use in a NAS. The underlying technology is also starting to show its age, but that maturity is important for critical storage systems like a NAS where performance isn’t as much of a focus. The WD Red SN700 also doesn’t have power loss protection, although that isn’t surprising as this drive isn’t for an enterprise application. However, the warranty and rated endurance are strong, which makes this a good buy for the right usage, which in this case is in a NAS.Read: WD Red SN700 SSD ReviewSATA DrivesYou can get a SATA drive in the M.2 form factor, but most SATA drives are 2.5-inch models, which allows them to drop into the same bays that hold laptop hard drives. SATA drives are the cheapest and still the most popular.Best Consumer SATA SSD: Samsung 870 EVO (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Best Consumer SATA SSDSpecificationsCapacities: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TBForm Factor: 2.5-inch 7mmTransfer Interface/Protocol: SATA 6Gbps / AHCISequential Reads/Writes: Up to 560 MBps / 530 MBpsWarranty/Endurance: 5 Years / Up to 2,400 TBWToday’s Best DealsReasons to buy+Reliable and responsive architecture+Appealing aesthetics+AES 256-bit encryption+Capacities up to 4TB+5-year warranty+Software suiteReasons to avoid-Premium priceSamsung continues to show us that it has the best SATA SSDs on the market. Following in the footsteps of its predecessor with top-ranking performance, great power efficiency, and all the features you could want out of SATA SSD, the 870 EVO dominates. While not as endurant as the PRO models, the 870 EVO comes with enough endurance for most users. Whether you’re a gamer or a prosumer, with high capacities of up to 4TB available, there’s a capacity for almost any need. You don’t need to look farther for a better SATA SSD – this is your best pick.Read: Samsung 870 EVO ReviewBest Consumer SATA SSD Alternative: Crucial MX500 Best Consumer SATA SSD AlternativeSpecificationsCapacities: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TBForm Factor: 2.5” 7mmTransfer Interface/Protocol: SATA 3 / AHCISequential Reads/Writes: Up to 560 MBps / 510 MBpsWarranty/Endurance: 5 Years / Up to 700 TBWToday’s Best DealsReasons to buy+Mainstream performance+Competitive pricing+SSD Toolbox and cloning software included+Host power failure protection• Hardware AES-256 Encryption+TCG Opal 2.0 SED SupportReasons to avoid-Smaller capacities slightly slower than larger-The design could use a makeoverIf you don’t want to dish out big bucks on something in the NVMe flavor but still want strong SATA performance, the MX500 is a great choice. As an alternative to the Samsung 860 EVO, it offers similar performance and has a strong history of reliability. Usually priced to sell, the MX500 is a top value at any capacity you need. Read: Crucial MX500 ReviewBest Prosumer SATA SSD: Samsung 860 Pro Best Prosumer SATA SSDSpecificationsCapacities: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TBForm Factor: 2.5” 7mmTransfer Interface/Protocol: SATA 3 / AHCISequential Reads/Writes: 560 MBps / 530 MBpsWarranty/Endurance: 5 Years / Up to 4,800 TBWToday’s Best DealsReasons to buy+Highest SATA performance for sustained workloads+High endurance+Consistent performance+SSD Toolbox and cloning software included TCG Opal, eDrive encryption supportReasons to avoid-Extremely high costRestrained by the SATA interface, but still need the absolute highest endurance and performance you can get? As the pinnacle of SATA performance inside and out, Samsung’s 860 PRO is the SSD to buy.Like the Samsung 970 PRO, the 860 PRO uses Samsung’s 64L MLC V-NAND, which helps propel it to the top of the charts in our rounds of benchmarking and makes for some incredible endurance figures. You can get capacities up to 4TB, and endurance figures can be as high as 4,800 TBW. But with prices that are triple that of your typical mainstream SATA SSD, the 860 PRO is mainly for businesses with deep pockets.Read: Samsung 860 Pro ReviewAdd-in Card SSDsThese drives are add-on cards, just like graphics cards or sound cards, so they only work with desktops with a spare PCIe 3.0 x4, x8, or x16 slot. However, because they are larger than other form factors, they have room for more chips and better cooling, making them the fastest drives around.Best Workstation SSD: Intel Optane SSD DC P5800X
(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Best Workstation SSDSpecificationsCapacities: 400GB, 800GB, 1.6TBForm Factor: U.2 15mmTransfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3dSequential Reads/Writes: 7,200 MBps / 6,200 MBpsWarranty/Endurance: 5 Years / Up to 292 PBWToday’s Best DealsReasons to buy+Top-notch PCIe 4.0 performance+Ultra-high endurance ratings+AES 256-bit encryption support+5-year warranty+Software supportReasons to avoid-Low efficiency-High cost per GB-Limited capacitiesYou could get by with using one of our top M.2 picks for workstation use, but flash devices have rather limited capabilities in mixed workloads, so they can still bottleneck the most grueling workloads. For those who don’t want to just ‘get by,’ but absolutely remove storage as a potential bottleneck, then Intel’s Optane SSD DC P5800X is for you. This is a U.2 design, so you’ll find it in most workstations riding on a U.2-to-PCIe carrier, essentially transforming the drive into an add-in-card. Powered by the company’s second-generation Optane storage media. Intel’s Optane SSD DC P5800X is a supercharged NVMe SSD that can take on nearly any workload you throw its way and ask for more. Capable of delivering sequential performance figures of up to 7.2/6.2 GBps, hitting upwards of 1.5 million random read/write IOPS, and warrantied to withstand up to 292 petabytes, Intel’s Optane SSD DC P5800X is the fastest and most endurant NVMe SSD we’ve ever tested. But it’s pricey, very power-hungry like its predecessors, and has limited capacity compared to its NAND flash counterparts.Read: Intel Optane SSD DC P5800X ReviewBest Workstation SSD Alternative: Seagate FireCuda 530 (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Best Workstation SSD AlternativeSpecificationsCapacities: 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, and 4TBForm Factor: M.2 2280 Double-sidedTransfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4Sequential Reads/Writes: 7,300 MBps / 6,900 MBpsWarranty/Endurance: 5 Years / Up to 5,100 TBWToday’s Best DealsReasons to buy+Very fast PCIe 4.0 performance+Very impressive sustained write speeds+Impressive endurance ratings+5-year warranty w/ 3-year data rescue service+Appealing aesthetics+Cool operationReasons to avoid-Costly-Lacks hardware-based AES 256-bit encryption-Less efficient than competitorsThe Samsung 980 Pro and WD_Black SN850 are our Best picks, but that doesn’t mean they are the fastest SSDs on the market. We know Optane’s DC P5800X is unearthly fast, but has limited capacity and doesn’t come in the same efficient M.2 form factor. The FireCuda 530, on the other hand, is available in capacities of up to 4TB, comes in that small M.2 form factor, and delivers incredible sustained write speeds for a flash-based SSD.  If you don’t have that deep of pockets for Optane, or maybe just want to out-benchmark your friends, the FireCuda 530 might be up your alley. Sporting Phison’s beastly, penta-core PS5018-E18 NVMe SSD controller and Micron’s fast 176-Layer TLC flash, the FireCuda 530 outperforms both the Samsung and WD across the board and it comes backed by better warranty and support service. However, its high-performance,  endurance, and data rescue support add quite a bit to pricing, making it a very premium buy targeted for the professional crowd rather than the average gamer. Read: Seagate FireCuda 530 Review Best Value Workstation SSD: Corsair MP600 Pro XT (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Best Value Workstation SSDSpecificationsCapacities: 1TB, 2TB, 4TBForm Factor: M.2 2280Transfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe x4.0 x4 / NVMeSequential Reads/Writes: Up to 7,200/6,800 MBpsWarranty/Endurance: 6 Years / 3,000 TBWToday’s Best DealsReasons to buy+Strong performance+Strong warranty+AffordableReasons to avoid-No heatsink by default-No software, frills, optional featuresWe have tested both the original version of this drive, which had a heatsink and 96-layer flash, as well as the updated Gaming version which has a heatsink and 176-layer flash. Inland also has updated this model with that flash and now offers a 4TB capacity option, sans heatsink for all capacities. We do recommend a heatsink for heavier workloads, which can be added yourself if you don’t fancy the Gaming model of Inland’s line or need a 4TB option.The combination of the Phison E18 controller and 176-layer TLC flash from Micron is a match made in heaven: unrivaled peak performance and, with the right cache design as on the Gaming model, strong sustained performance. That is ideal for workstation tasks, and Inland’s drives are cheaper than competitor offerings while maintaining a decent warranty. This is a barebones drive but will get the job done.Read: Inland Performance Plus ReviewBest RGB Add-in-Card SSD: WD Black AN1500 (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Best RGB Add-in-Card SSDSpecificationsCapacities: 1TB, 2TB, 4TBForm Factor: Half-Height, Half LengthTransfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 3.0 x8 / NVMe 1.3Sequential Reads/Writes: 6,400 MBps / 4,100 MBpsWarranty/Endurance: 5 Years / N/AToday’s Best DealsReasons to buy+Aesthetic appeal+Competitive performance+5-year warranty+Software suiteReasons to avoid-Not quite as fast as native Gen4 SSDs-Takes up 8 PCIe lanes for full performance-Power hog-Runs hot, but not too hot-ExpensiveWD’s Black AN1500 is a unique NVMe SSD that combines two of the company’s SN730 NVMe SSDs and pairs them into a RAID 0 with an enterprise-grade RAID controller. The drive delivers the speed of the PCIe Gen4 interface to systems that only support PCIe Gen3.The drive delivers up to 6.4/4.1 GBps in sequential read/write performance, providing PCIe Gen4-like performance over its PCIe 3.0 X8 interface – but for systems that don’t support PCIe Gen4. However, while the drive offers up incredible performance, it consumes a lot of power and is rather pricey. Fortunately, endurance ratings don’t restrict its warranty coverage, and there is, of course, that well-implemented RGB lighting. Read: WD Black AN1500 ReviewFinding Discounts on the Best SSDsWhether you’re shopping for one of the best SSDs or one that didn’t quite make our list, you may find savings by checking out the latest Crucial promo codes, Newegg promo codes, Amazon promo codes, Corsair coupon codes, Samsung promo codes or Micro Center coupons.Round up of today’s best deals […]


SILENCER SATURDAY #236: Knight’s Armament 556 QDC CQB – Full Auto KAC SR-15

Good afternoon everyone and welcome back to TFB’s Silencer Saturday, brought to you by Yankee Hill Machine, manufacturers of the YHM Turbo K rifle suppressor. Last week we brought you the Knight’s Armament KAC 7.62 QDC legacy rifle suppressor. This week we return to the world of Knight’s with a look at the KAC 5.56 QDC/CQB rifle suppressor on both the 11.5″ carbine length gas and the intermediate length gas KAC SR-15.
SILENCER SATURDAY #236: Knight’s Armament 556 QDC CQB – Full Auto KAC SR-15
Parts List:


Special Thanks: Freedom Trading Co.
If you are a fan of top-tier long guns and upper receivers, you know that trying to acquire anything from Knight’s Armament is on par with finding a diamond in your backyard. The good people at Freedom Trading Co went above and beyond great customer service to get me a 14.5″ SR-15 upper receiver group for this review (no discounts or anything, they just saved my place in line). If you are a fan of Silencer Saturday, please support the dealers that support us. Follow them on Facebook and Reddit for information on the next KAC drops.

SILENCER SATURDAY #236: Knight’s Armament 556 QDC CQB – KAC SR-15
SILENCER SATURDAY #236: Knight’s Armament 556 QDC CQB – Full Auto KAC SR-15
As the saying goes, life is all about balance. Too much or too little of a good thing and everything around you will start to make adjustments. In the world of firearms, especially semiautomatic carbines and rifles, the balance between suppressor length and barrel length is an important consideration. On one end of the spectrum, a long barrel with a rifle length gas system paired with a long suppressor may provide the quietest report and the smoothest recoil impulse. But unless you are strictly a benchrest shooter, a combined barrel/suppressor length of ~30″ is impractical.
On the other hand, a short barrel with a carbine length gas system and a short K-sized suppressor has the potential of being both loud and gassy for the shooter. In the middle of these scenarios is a delicate calculation of a shorter barrel with a longer suppressor to arrive at the sweet spot between quiet and compact. The length of the gas system, the internal geometry of the suppressor, the barrel’s gas port size, and to a lesser extent the recoil buffer weight, all play a combined role in the overall system’s performance.
The 5.56x45mm cartridge was initially designed for 20″ barrels with rifle length gas systems. As mission requirements changed, barrels became shorter, gas system lengths became shorter, and dwell times adjusted. I am neither an historian nor an engineer, so the full details on the development of the AR-15 gas system should be left to someone more qualified (such as TFB’s  very own Matt Moss).
SILENCER SATURDAY #236: Knight’s Armament 556 QDC CQB – Full Auto KAC SR-15
From a laypersons point of view moving the gas system farther down the barrel allows for a more complete burn of powder, reducing the amount of gas a debris that can be forced down the gas tube, the barrel, or into a suppressor. Of course as barrels get shorter, the gas system must be reduced (it is impossible to run a rifle length gas system on a MK18 for example. And even if there is enough barrel real estate for a longer gas system, there still needs to be enough distance between the gas port and the muzzle to provide enough dwell time to cycle the action.
What are the gas system lengths of some of the most common AR-15 models and common barrel lengths? Let’s take a look at a chart that details six of the most popular combinations.


Barrel Length (Inches)

Gas System

Gas System Length (Inches)













Geissele URG-I




KAC 14.5








As you can see from the above chart, the M4 and M16 have the longest gas port to muzzle lengths and the MK18 followed closely by the KAC 14.5” have the shortest span between the gas port and the muzzle. As an interesting aside, NSWC-Crane testing showed that a M4A1 mid-length gas system had rate of fire and lifespan performance benefits over the standard M4 carbine gas system.
SILENCER SATURDAY #236: Knight’s Armament 556 QDC CQB – Full Auto KAC SR-15
Today’s review is of the KAC 556 QDC CQB suppressor which has a total length of five inches, including the mount. In my opinion, this is a K-sized suppressor that is built to optimize length over maximum sound reduction performance. Is it better suited for the KAC SR-15 CQB 11.5″ carbine gas system or the KAC SR-15 14.5″ intermediate gas system? The answer is yes.
First, let’s take a look at the numbers.
KAC SR-15 14.5″ Upper Receiver Group

KAC SR-15 11.5″ Upper Receiver Group

KAC 5.56 QDC/CQB Suppressor

The mission dictates the gear*. It sounds like the line from an action movie, but it is one of the most important factors in procuring guns and gun parts and one of the most overlooked considerations. While three inches of barrel length is not a huge difference, the reality is that extra time the bullet spends gaining velocity can make all the difference in terminal performance.
* Your mission can be purely fun and entertainment. It doesn’t have to be about fighting enemies.
SILENCER SATURDAY #236: Knight’s Armament 556 QDC CQB – Full Auto KAC SR-15
ABOVE: A reminder for those of you who want to swap out muzzle devices on your SR-15. Use the KAC Knight Stick barrel extension wrench and not an AR-15 barrel extension wrench. The lugs on the KAC E3 bolt are rounded. Or send the upper off to a certified KAC armorer.
Ammunition, especially bullet designs, are optimized to react in tissue at certain velocities. Besides making incredible fireballs, one of the reasons there are not many 5.56x45mm barrels shorter than 10.3 inches is that velocities at usable engagement distances are not adequate for expansion, tumbling, and wounding channels. Again, I’m not an expert in this area and there have been multiple books written on this exact subject.
The fact remains that if your mission is defense, added barrel length is important, up until the point where your weapon becomes unwieldy. In my opinion, when choosing to suppress supersonic rifle rounds, I would rather choose a shorter silencer paired with a longer barrel versus a longer silencer with a shorter barrel.
As expected the KAC 5.56 QDC/CQB on the 14.5″ upper with the Knight’s proprietary intermediate gas system is objectively quieter than the 11.5″ with the carbine gas system. Again, in my opinion, the KAC 14.5″ upper with the KAC 5.56 QDC/CQB is as close to the perfect “fighting rifle” as you can get, balancing length, suppression and muzzle velocity. If you are ok with sacrificing velocity, the 11.5” SR-15 paired with a KAC 556 QDC or a SureFire SOCOM RC2 iOS a solid setup.
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A couple of notes on the above video. I forgot to swap buffers between the 11.5” and the14.5” strings of fire. And these are the first rounds through the 14.5” upper; there may be some oil or protectant burning off the barrel. Big thanks to my boys and silencer models Luke C. and Hop.
Thanks for reading. Be safe, have fun, and we’ll see you next weekend for another Silencer Saturday.

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TFB Review: XS R3D SA-35 Night Sights – Worth the Upgrade?

The SA-35 handgun from Springfield Armory made waves late last year when it was officially unveiled to the public. Those who had been seeking a Hi-Power pistol were finally able to get their hands on something authentic to the original design, but with a few modernized changes. My initial experiences with the handgun did in fact give me that authentic Hi-Power feeling with its natural pointability, fit in the hand, and crisp, light single-action trigger pull. If you’re planning on carrying the SA-35 or find yourself struggling a bit to quickly pick up a sight picture, perhaps a small upgrade is in order. XS Sights recently released their XS R3D night sights for the SA-35 pistol, and today we’ll be taking a quick gander at them on the SA-35 to see what kind of benefits they offer over the standard sights Springfield currently offers.
More from XS Sights @ TFB:

TFB Review: XS R3D SA-35 Night Sights – Worth the Upgrade?
Before we can talk about the XS R3D sights, let’s talk about the factory sights that come on the SA-35. The SA-35 ships with metal low-profile Novak-style sights that feature serrated blacked-out rears and a single white front dot with a similar snag-free design. These sights work very well and as a testament to that, TFBTV Executive Producer James Reeves has also noted that the sights were “easy to pick up but don’t look out of character.” If you’re happy with the sights on your brand new SA-35, stop reading here and get back out to the range and keep shooting, there isn’t anything wrong with them. If you’re interested in having a bit more adaptability between bright light, and low light, continue on.

The sights, while great from the factory, do leave a bit to be desired in the low-light compatibility department. During the day, the factory sights on the SA-35 provide you with a clear sight picture and as stated before, an easy pickup by virtue of its front sight. You do start to see diminishing returns in either the early morning or waning hours of the day when bright light isn’t providing you with enough contrast to line up the sights. This is where the XS R3D sights come in.

R3D SA-35 Sights
The XS R3D night sights for the SA-35 have a nearly identical shape and size as the factory sights and this means that you should have no issues with holster compatibility or snagging when drawing from concealment. I took a couple of range sessions to test this out and I found no issues with the R3D sights when drawing from an OWB holster mounted on my hip. I think it’s worth mentioning that you’re not really sacrificing anything by upgrading to the R3D sights as the function of the pistol and the visibility of the sights remain largely the same during the day. Like the factory sights, the XS R3D sights seem to be optimized for a 25-yard zero and a combat sight picture.

The rear tritium lamps do next to nothing during daylight hours or when bright light is around. Instead of the serrations featured on the factory SA-35’s rear sights, the XS sights feature a slight rearward cant that provides the same darkening effect that serrations normally would. Both methods help your eye to keep a heavy front-sight focus. Meanwhile, the real meat and potatoes of the R3D sight system is the front sight. The front sight is extremely bright and stands out through all sorts of shooting conditions.

In low light conditions, it becomes more difficult not only to pick up a good sight picture but also to keep that focus on your target with the factory sights. Blacked-out sights on a poorly lit or darkened target (think a black hoodie) make it difficult to keep a clean sight picture. On the converse side, I found the bright front dot to be easy to pick up across a wide array of lighting conditions and also found that when transitioning from a dark to a light area, I was able to keep a clear focus on the front sight throughout. This can be a boon to those who choose to carry the SA-35 for defensive purposes. For this review, I put about 500-rounds or so through the pistol, and during this time I didn’t notice any loosening or breakage of any of the tritium lamps installed on the sights.
The rear tritium lamps lack the outer dot which makes them noticeably smaller and less likely to draw you away from the much brighter front dot.
Final Thoughts
So while the SA-35’s factory sights are quite good, they can be improved if your goal is to use the pistol as a defensive carry option, or you just have degrading eyesight and need a little bit of help picking up a good sight picture and don’t want to opt into a red dot optic equipped pistol quite yet. I would say that if you’re planning on carrying the SA-35, and want a solid upgrade to the existing sights that won’t break up the sleek aesthetic lines of the pistol, the XS R3D sights are a solid choice.

XS Sights sells their R3D Sights for the SA-35 for a price of $116, and they come with a 10-year no questions asked warranty as well as a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. Let us know what your experiences have been so far with either the SA-35 factory sights or XS Sights R3D sights and let us know if you’d ever combine the two down in the comments below.

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