Rate of penetration is an important parameter in drilling performance analysis. The accurate prediction of rate of penetration during well planning leads to a reduction in capital and operating costs which is vital given the recent downturn in oil prices. The industry is seen to embrace the use of novel technologies and artificial intelligence in its bid to be sustainable which is why this study focuses on the use of artificial intelligent models in predicting the rate of penetration. The predictive performance of three data-driven models [artificial neural network (ANN), extreme learning machine (ELM) and least-square support vector machine (LS-SVM)] were evaluated using actual drilling data based on three performance evaluation criteria [mean square error (MSE), coefficient of determination (R2) and average absolute percentage error (AAPE)]. The models were validated using the physics based Bourgoyne and Young's model. The results show that all three models performed to an acceptable level of accuracy based on the range of the actual drilling data because, although the ELM had the least MSE (1317.44) and the highest R2 (0.52 i.e. 52% prediction capability) the LS-SVM model had a smaller spread of predicted ROP when compared with the actual ROP and the ANN had the least AAPE (38.14). The results can be improved upon by optimizing the controllable predictors. Validation of the model's performance with the Bourgoyne and Young's model resulted in R2 of 0.29 or 29% prediction capability confirming that artificial intelligent models outperformed the physics-based model.