SSDs have become so much cheaper now that there is no reason not to get one. SSDs are much faster than conventional HDDs in that data is stored in flash memory and there are no moving parts. That is the general idea of an SSD, but it is a bit more intricate than that. An SSD works by having a flash controller, that actual NAND chips where data is stored, a plethora of IC’s (Integrated Circuits), Capacitors, SATA Headers, and the PCB.
The main things you want to consider here are the flash controller and the NAND being used. The flash controller is the “brain” of the SSD which controls how the SSD performs its read and write cycles, wear leveling and other things that the SSD needs to do. The NAND chip is where the data is stored and there are different types of NAND which I will cover in the next section of the article.
Different Types of NAND For Solid State Drives
There are currently three different types of NAND being used in modern SSDs. These are the TLC, MLC, and SLC.
1. TLC (Triple-level Cell)- most commonly found in cheaper SSDs, the TLC NAND stacks 3-bits of data per cell. This type of NAND Flash memory has the lowest endurance among the other types and they also tend to be the slowest performing one.
2. MLC (Multi-level Cell)- do not be confused with the name as the MLC NAND can only write 2-bits of data per cell. That being said, this is the most common type of NAND as it is much more durable than the TLC NAND and it is able to perform faster as well. It is also relatively inexpensive that is why this is the current best choice if you’re looking for an SSD that is nearly the best of both worlds (in terms of price and performance).
3. SLC (Single-level Cell)- This is the least popular NAND Flash memory because of the fact that it is too expensive. It is expensive because it is the fastest type of NAND Flash memory and it is also the most durable. SSDs that use this type of NAND Flash memory are so expensive that only corporate and enterprise level entities are able to buy them in bulk. Because of their higher durability and performance, they are usually used in servers.
The different types of NAND Flash memory are differentiated based on the bits of data that can be read and written per cell. As mentioned above, the most commonly used types of NAND are the TLC and MLC because they are much cheaper, although the performance and the durability are relatively slower and poorer than the SLC NAND.
If there are different types of NAND Flash memory used in SSDs, there are also different types of SSDs as well. The most common consumer SSDs are the SATA SSDs, although there are other types that are more expensive and offer more performance. In the next section, I will cover in more detail the different types of consumer SSDs.
Different Types of SSDs
1. SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment)- the most common type of consumer SSD and also the cheapest. SATA SSDs have a theoretical read speed of 550MB/s and write speeds of up to 500MB/s. That is due to the limitation of the SATA port and not on the actual SSD. All modern SATA SSDs use the SATA 3.0 port which has a speed limitation. If motherboards are going to be equipped with, say, SATA 4.0, there might be substantial speed boosts. But for now, SATA SSDs have the aforementioned theoretical speeds.
There are two other common types of SSDs and they are both using the NVMe or the “Non-Volatile Memory” express. Both of these SSDs are much faster because they are using a different port. What are these two SSDs that makes use of the NVMe standard?
2. PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect express)- PCIe SSDs use the PCIe slot of your motherboard. The PCIe slot offers more bandwidth which translates to a much faster and better performance compared to the SATA express port. Because of this, you can get a hold of an SSD that can reach a maximum of 4GB/s performance, although there aren’t any SSDs as of the time of writing that reaches that speed as of yet.
3. M.2- The M.2 SSD is a much smaller SSD that can be used on both desktops and laptops. Unlike the PCIe SSDs, M.2 SSDs come in different sizes. They are usually denoted by a 4-digit number like the conventional 2242 (42mm), 2260 (60mm), and 2280 (80mm). The first two digits give you the width of the SSD and the last two digits denote the length. They also have different “keys” but the most common ones used are the B Key and the M key. The former uses up to two PCIe lanes while the latter can utilize up to four. The M.2 SSD can also use either the SATA and the PCIe slot, provided that you have the right adapters. Newer motherboards come with a dedicated M.2 slot that makes use of the PCIe lanes. Theoretically, if the M.2 SSD is plugged into a PCIe 3.0 (4) lanes, it should have a maximum read and write speed of up to 4GB/s. As of the time of writing, no M.2 SSD can reach that speed yet.
Now that you know the different types of NAND flash memory and the types of SSDs, I am now going to recommend some of the best SSDs you can find on the market. I will categorize the different SSDs based on their total storage capacity so that you can easily sift through the best ones based on the capacity of the drive you want. Also, I will not include 120GB SSDs because they are not cost effective and you can only put a few key applications there. I will start with the 250GB drives and I will work my way up to the 1TB SSDs. So, without further ado, let’s start with my SSD recommendations!
Best 250GB SSDs 2017
1. Samsung 850 EVO SATA SSD
Pros: One of the fastest SATA SSDs, reliable, durable
Cons: Expensive, only 232GB usable
If you’re into 250GB SATA SSDs, then the Samsung 850 EVO should definitely be considered. This is one of the best performing SATA SSDs on the market and it is also very reliable due to the company’s own V-NAND technology. For those of you who do not know, V-NAND is just a proprietary term that refers to the 3D NAND, which stacks the layers of flash cells on top of each other so you can have a lot of them in just a small die.
What is great about Samsung SSDs is that they produce every component used in their flash storage devices. From the flash controller to the chips, Samsung is able to have full control of their products, integrating every component to work in unison without any hiccups.
As previously mentioned, the Samsung 850 EVO is one of the fastest SSDs on the market garnering a read speed of 510MB/s and a write speed of 499MB/s. That is really fast and considering that this is a bit cheaper than its Samsung 850 Pro counterpart, this is a good addition to any gaming rig.
Even though this SSD makes use of the TLC NAND, due to its optimizations, it is still one of the best performing SSDs on the market. You can safely say that Samsung has incorporated their magic in this drive because of how well it performs in either synthetic benchmarks or real-world use.
Because of the proprietary technology and top-notch integration, the Samsung 850 EVO is one of the most expensive SATA SSDs on the market. Still, you are getting your money’s worth.
2. PNY CS1311 SATA SSD
Pros: Uses the Phison S10 controller, inexpensive, sleek design
Cons: Random Read and Write speeds are slower compared to the class-leading Samsung 850 Series SSDs.
If you want a sub $70 SSD that is not only great for putting your operating system in it but also good when it comes to gaming performance, the PNY is a good option. This SATA SSD uses the Phison S10 controller which, for those of you who do not know, uses what is known as the “Direct-to-die” approach wherein performance is improved by writing the data directly to the NAND and bypassing the SLC buffer. Even though this SSD uses the TLC Flash memory, performance is dramatically improved due to the aforementioned approach.
The PNY CS1311 has a read speed of 484 MB/s and a write speed of just under 450 MB/s. It is not bad considering that this SSD is priced a bit lower than the Samsung 850 EVO SSD I mentioned above.
Its performance suffers, however, when you look at its random read and write speeds. Sometimes, its performance is fast while in some occasions, the performance drops much lower than advertised speeds. This is not something to worry, though, as it would be negligible in real-world use. The random read and write speeds are only evident using SSD benchmarking utilities.
Despite its issue regarding its random read and write speeds, its performance in the real world is still quite good. If you do not believe me, just check out its customer reviews on Amazon. People get this SSD mainly because of its price-to-performance ratio. Some people even bought this SSD for only $60 flat and it also comes with a free license key so that you can get the Acronis drive cloning utility.
If you’re on a tight budget but you still want a good performing SSD, then the PNY CS1311 is a good choice.
3. Kingston HyperX Savage
Pros: High-performance, MLC, Phison S10 controller, lots of freebies
Cons: 3-year warranty (other companies offer more than 5), only one color scheme, IOPS performance could be better
Kingston is another popular brand when it comes to high-performance SSDs. The Kingston HyperX Savage is another great 240GB SSD and is definitely worth your money. It uses the MLC NAND which is faster and is more durable than the common TLC NAND chips found in other SSDs.
The Kingston HyperX Savage uses the same flash controller as the PNY SSD above (Phison S10). Other features that this flash controller is capable of is a much-improved wear leveling mechanism, advanced error correction, and it also has the “end-to-end data path protection” which safeguards your SSD and your data through certain algorithms.
This SSD is blazing fast and it even defeated the popular Samsung 850 EVO in terms of sequential read and write performance. It has a read speed of 546MB/s and a write speed of 527 MB/s. Even though this is the case, the SSD falls short when it comes to IOPS performance.
What is also good about the HyperX Savage is that it comes with a wealth of freebies. When you purchase this product, you will get an SSD external enclosure, some USB cables for the enclosure, and you will even get a handy magnetic screwdriver (which looks like a pen) so that you can easily install this SSD to your computer without any hassles.
Probably, the only two things you should think about is the inconsistent IOPS performance and the 3-year warranty. Most SSDs come with at least a 5-year warranty but the company said that their warranty is “unconditional” with free technical support and service.
Its read and write speeds are blazing fast and it also comes with some great additions, that is why the Kingston HyperX Savage is one of the must-haves when it comes to 240-250GB SSDs.
4. Samsung 950 Pro
Pros: Insanely fast read and write speeds, impressive Endurance, small form factor
Cons: Expensive, needs an M.2 slot
If you fancy one of those M.2 SSDs, then the Samsung 950 Pro is definitely one you should buy. In the 250GB SSD category, nothing beats the Samsung 950 Pro in terms of raw performance. How fast is this SSD, you ask? Well, it has a sequential read speed of 2170 MB/s and a sequential write speed of 938 MB/s. That is 4 times faster read speeds than the fastest SATA SSDs and 2 times faster than the fastest SATA SSD in terms of write speed.
The Samsung 950 Pro comes in an 80mm 2280 form factor and it can even be put inside a laptop if there is an available port that supports it. The IOPS performance of this M.2 SSD is also superb, though, there are other PCIe SSDs that topple it.
In terms of endurance, the 950 Pro excels as it is rated to last up to 200TB of written data. Based on average consumer use, this SSD can last you more than 20 years.
Even though there are a lot of positives to this product, you can only tap its true potential if you have the necessary requirements. For the SSD to reach its full potential, you will need to have a motherboard with an M.2 Slot. Furthermore, the said slot should have the full PCIe Gen.3 lanes (x4) and you need to have the latest BIOS as well should you wish to use this as your boot drive. Otherwise, this SSD can only be used as a secondary storage medium.
Samsung also puts a 5-year carry-in warranty for this particular product so you are assured that the company has full faith that this SSD will not disappoint even the most top-level PC gamers and enthusiasts.
If you want the best 250GB M.2 SSD in the market, then the Samsung 950 Pro is the one you should definitely purchase.
5. Samsung 960 Evo
Pros: Fast performance, TurboWrite Technology
Cons: TLC NAND instead of 3D V-NAND, endurance is reduced
Last on the list of the best 240-250GB SSDs is the Samsung 960 Evo. The 850 Evo was a SATA SSD and its speed was limited because of the SATA bus it requires. Samsung knows that people want great performance more than anything when it comes to storage drives, thus, they have created a somewhat budget oriented SSD that makes use of the new M.2 NVMe technology.
The Samsung 960 Evo has just been recently released and it is, as you guessed it, much faster than the 850 series SATA SSDs due to the fact that it uses the M.2 PCIe bus. It also comes in a variety of storage options from 256GB up to the 1TB SSD.
What is interesting is that even if this SSD is a Samsung SSD, it doesn’t come with the company’s proprietary V-NAND architecture. Instead, it is using the conventional TLC NAND which was known to have reduced endurance and uses up more power.
But, do not worry about its performance because the company incorporates their TurboWrite technology, which essentially treats these NAND chips as SLC memory to improve write speeds. This technology is pretty good and in some tests, the 960 Evo even beats its older 960 Pro brother in some write tests.
Performance-wise, the 960 Evo flies. It has a read speed of 3,272 MB/s and a write speed of up to 1,617 MB/s which not only makes this SSD great for gaming but also for other tasks like video production and photo editing as well.
In terms of endurance, the Samsung 960 Evo takes a nosedive from the Pro. For its 256GB variant, the SSD can last only up to a 100TB worth of writes. Still, this SSD will last you a couple of years; more than enough time for you to buy a new and probably better SSD.
Despite not using the company’s 3D V-NAND, the Samsung 960 Evo still performs pretty well thanks to the TurboWrite Technology.
Best 500GB SSDs 2017
1. Samsung 960 Pro
Pros: Fastest 512GB SSD you can buy, Long lifespan, MLC
Cons: Expensive, Availability
You might see a trend in this article in that Samsung SSDs are always mentioned. That is because Samsung’s SSDs offer the best performance among all other brands and they have innovations that truly bring the best in Solid State drives.
The 950 Pro was once touted to be the best SSD money can buy but a new king in the block has arrived. Enter the Samsung 960 Pro, a hefty upgrade over the last generation M.2 SSD. This new product promises blistering speeds and with great performance comes a great price tag.
This SSD has a standard size of 80mm (2280) so it should fit with most motherboards that have a dedicated M.2 slot. Do note that this SSD will work best if you give it the four PCIe lanes it needs. Once that is covered, you can unlock its full potential.
The Samsung 960 Pro, at the time of writing this article, is the fastest consumer SSD on the market. It boasts of 3,469 read MB/s read speeds and an average of 2007 MB/s write speeds. That is insanely fast! A few years ago, you would think that this SSD is only reserved for enterprise solutions, but today, you now have the power to get one of these things!
An interesting thing to note here is that this SSD makes use of the company’s 3D V-NAND technology which stacks 48 layers of dies; one layer on top of each other so the SSD has a lot of room for storage and to improve performance as well. Moreover, this SSD makes use of four of these NAND together which is the reason why this SSD performs really well.
The NAND is preprogrammed to perform in MLC mode, which as you may have known, use 2-bits per cell. But, Samsung worked its magic in that at times, the SSD performs in a sort of SLC mode where performs vastly improves across the board.
That is thanks to the new Polaris controller that is embedded inside the SSD. In short, this flash controller not only ensures that the SSD is optimized for extreme performance; the Polaris controller also makes sure that the drive will last for a very long time. How long will it last? Theoretically, up to 200TB of writes (the higher the capacity, the better the lifespan).
The only downsides to this SSD are its price and availability. Since this SSD is still relatively new and it promises to bring the best performance, the drive is still scarce as of the time of writing. Availability is still a problem and the price, well, is expensive. But seriously, with its impressive performance, every dollar you spend on the Samsung 960 Pro is worth it.
2. Crucial MX300
Pros: Affordable, 3D TLC NAND, Considerable Endurance, free Acronis True Image key, Marvell 88SS1074 controller.
Cons: Performance varies
A few years ago, SSDs were only reserved for enthusiasts mainly due to its higher prices. But nowadays, SSDs have become more affordable and even budget-minded people are getting one because the performance of SSDs is just way better than their conventional HDD counterparts.
If you are a person who wants to try out an SSD for the first time and you want something that is not only affordable but has a considerable performance as well, then you might want to consider getting the Crucial MX300 525GB edition.
This SSD targets the mainstream market in that it is not expensive but it is also not a slouch either. It uses the 3D TLC NAND and has an SLC caching mechanism to improve its performance. It also uses the Marvell 88SS1074 which is quite a good flash controller that has loads of features; most notably its Low-Density Parity-Check (LDPC) technology which vastly improves error correction and the controller is also known to have an amazing performance for the price.
The Crucial MX300 has read speeds of 484 MB/s and write speeds of 478 MB/s. It is considerably faster than entry level SSDs although it is lagging behind the more premium ones like the Samsung 850 Evo and the Kingston HyperX SSDs.
The SSD is also durable and it is reported to have a 160TB endurance rating. So, who is this SSD for? Well, the MX300 is geared towards people who are looking for their first SSD and for people who are on a tight budget.
For a sub $150 SSD, the Crucial MX300 performs really well for the price. It may have some hiccups here and there but for the most part, this SSD is one of the best budget SSDs you can find on the market.
3. Kingston Digital HyperX Predator PCIe
Pros: Fast sequential speeds, comes with its own PCIe adapter, Impressive Endurance
Cons: Pricey, Not suitable for laptops
Most of the SSDs I’ve recommended above are SATA and M.2 SSDs but there are no PCIe SSDs yet. This one is the first, the Kingston Digital HyperX Predator. Technically, this is an M.2 SSD but when you purchase this, there will be an included PCIe adapter so that you can plug it in a PCIe slot on your motherboard.
Now, there are two versions of this drive in varying capacities but what I am going to talk about here is the 480GB version. What I really like about this SSD is that it has an impressive endurance rating. For the 480GB variant, you’re looking to see a TBW (Total Bytes Written) rating of a whopping 882TB which means that you’re going to make use of this SSD for a long, long time.
Included in the package is its HHHL PCIe adapter and it also has a bracket should you wish to install this in a smaller motherboard or a laptop. Even though you can install this on a laptop, I do not recommend it because it has a slightly inflated power consumption as opposed to other M.2 SSDs. If you worry much about your laptop’s battery life, you might want to look at other options.
Anyway, the HyperX Predator PCIe’s sequential speeds are 1212 MB/s read and 855 MB/s write. It is pretty impressive and couple that with its equally impressive endurance rating, and you will have one of the most bang for the buck SSDs.
This SSD is suited for people who not only play games but also for varying workloads such as photo and video editing, content creation, etc. This might be a pricey SSD, but the Kingston Digital HyperX Predator makes a stand that a premium price makes for a premium product.
4. Toshiba OCZ Vector 180
Pros: Barefoot 3 Controller, Pretty fast for a SATA SSD, A19nm MLC, Free disk cloning software, Power Failure Management (PFM+)
Cons: 480GB, slower than other top-of-the-line SSDs
OCZ is another reliable brand when it comes to SSDs but they have since been bought by Toshiba. So from now on, the OCZ drives will be carrying Toshiba’s brand name. They are still relatively the same product but some of the newer ones will be carrying some new Toshiba components.
Anyway, the Toshiba OCZ Vector 180 is popular amongst many gamers because it has a relatively inexpensive price but its performance and its add-ons are really good. Its performance is great thanks to the Barefoot 3 controller which handles data really well. Because of the flash controller, the Vector 180 has impressive IOPS performance at a relatively affordable price. It also uses Toshiba’s A19mm MLC NAND flash which is quite common in other high-end drives.
It comes with a 3.5mm HDD drive bay (for really old chassis), a license key for the Acronis True Image HD software, and it has all the screws that you need in order to have this SSD up and running on your PC.
One interesting thing of the Vector 180 is that it has a feature called “Power Failure Management Plus” or otherwise known as “PFM+”. What this feature does is that it protects the data integrity of the drive should the power be cut off abruptly (such as in the case of blackouts). It is interesting because there is only a handful of SATA SSDs that offer this feature and not even the Samsung 850 Evo has this.
Durability is also good and is rated to last at a 160TB amount of writes so it is still pretty standard stuff. This SSD is popular among gamers because of its impressive and consistent read and write speeds. It has read speeds of 505 MB/s and write speeds of up to 499 MB/s which is pretty good. But the OCZ Vector 180 truly shines because of its sustained performance all throughout.
What does this mean in the real world? Well, games load consistently faster than any SATA SSDs, files run faster, programs execute quicker, and so on.
Where does the OCZ Vector 180 fall short? Well, it only has a 480GB capacity storage and it is a bit slower than other top-of-the-line SSDs. Still, its steady performance coupled with a high endurance rating and the PFM+, the Toshiba OCZ Vector 180 is a good choice, especially if you value your data so much.
Samsung 850 EVO (500 GB), Intel 750 PCIe (400GB), AMD Radeon R7 Series (480GB), Kingston Digital SSDNow V300 (480GB)
Best 1TB SSDs 2017
1. Intel 750
Pros: One of the fastest PCIe SSDs, Professional design, Hefty Storage
Cons: Very expensive, Slightly bigger than other PCIe SSDs
When you’re the pioneer of something, then you have the warrant to jack up the prices. Intel was one of the first companies to ever produce a consumer NVMe drive that delivers top-notch performance at a premium price.
The Intel 750, as you may have known, is one of the best NVMe PCIe SSDs on the market. Before there was the Samsung 960 Pro, the Intel 750 reigned supreme. We are talking about more than 2000 MB/s of read speeds and nearly 1300 MB/s write speeds.
The drive not only has an insanely fast sequential read and write speed but it also has a pretty good IOPS performance of more than 330,000 IOPS (4L-64Thrd when using the AS SSD Benchmarking tool).
It is also good to know that this SSD has a hefty storage of 1.2TB as well. Just note that you will not get the actual 1.2TB of storage because of overprovisioning, among other things.
The SSD has a professional looking design with a green PCB encased in a solid aluminum material. There are also some LED lights right next to the port which will further improve the aesthetics of your gaming PC.
Putting the Intel 750 SSD into your computer is very easy. Just place it on a PCIe 3.0 x4 port and you will unleash the beast that is hidden inside that professional looking case. The only thing to take note of when setting it up is that it is slightly larger than any other PCIe SSD. This can be a problem if you’re using a rather large graphics card. So, always keep in mind your PC’s chassis and the clearance before purchasing this particular product.
You also have to make sure that you’re downloading the latest NVMe driver from Intel’s website. The SSD will work with what Microsoft already has but to truly tap its potential, you will be needing the original drivers from Intel.
With its blazing fast performance, hefty storage space, and a professional looking aesthetic, the Intel 750 is definitely one of the best SSDs when it comes to speed. Just be ready to dish out a huge amount of money to get one, though.
2. Mushkin Reactor
Pros: Inexpensive, 1TB storage
Cons: A bit slower than the competition, Packaging
People always ask the question, “when will SSDs replace HDDs as a storage device?” Well, I can say that it will not be a distant future. 1TB SSDs, at least a few years ago, are only really popular for people who have a lot of money. Thankfully, that is not the case as there are companies that are committed to bringing inexpensive SSDs that have hefty storage capacities at a relatively inexpensive price.
Introducing the Mushkin Reactor. This SATA SSD only comes in one capacity and that is the 1TB storage space. Now, do not worry, this drive is one of the cheapest 1TB SSDs you can find on the market. But, you’re probably wondering about the performance of the drive considering that I used the word “cheap”. You see, when people deem the product as cheap or inexpensive, there are usually some compromises to be had.
Well, there are some compromises to this SSD but not to the point that this product is not worth your money. Some of the compromises include slower read and write speeds, somewhat inconsistent IOPS, and a simple packaging.
But then again, you are looking at one of the cheapest 1TB SSDs on the market, so that is something that is already in the minds of consumers. Still, its performance is not bad at all. It managed to reach a read speed of 468 MB/s and write speed of about 383 MB/s.
What is the company’s target market for this SSD? Well, if you look at their website, they are specifically targeting gamers who want a hefty and relatively fast storage device. You see, games nowadays have become quite heavy and requires a lot of storage space. Triple A titles would require more than 50GBs of storage which can prove to be too much for drives with lower than 500GB capacity.
For the price of only $260, you’re getting a 1TB SSD with considerable performance. The Mushkin Reactor is great for people who want to download as many games as they want without ever worrying about storage.
3. Toshiba OCZ RD400
Pros: PFM+, SSD Guru, Reliable, One of the fastest in this storage category
Cons: Speed falls short when compared to the Samsung 960 Pro, Hot thermals when doing heavy workloads, Expensive
OCZ has been down in the slumps until Toshiba took them under their wing. With a renewed outlook and a new branding, does OCZ have an SSD that will redeem themselves? I think they actually have such an SSD.
The Toshiba OCZ RD400 is an enthusiast-class SSD that promises more than 2000 MB/s read speeds and 1600 MB/s write speeds. Plus, this SSD comes with the PFM+ I mentioned above as well as an SSD Guru program that does a lot of things like securely erase the SSD, perform SSD maintenance tasks, among others.
The RD400 is an M.2 SSD with the 2280 form factor. This means that it can be put on an M.2 slot or it can even be placed inside a laptop if you so desire. If you do not have an M.2 slot on your motherboard, you can add a few more dollars so that you can get its PCIe daughter board. After getting that, you can just plug it in a PCIe slot on your mobo. Again, for best performance, you would want to plug this SSD on a PCIe 3.0 x4 slot.
This SSD performs really well, especially when it comes to IOPS performance. Then again, its speed falls short when compared to other brands like the popular Samsung 900 series SSDs. Still, this is a reliable performer.
There are some major weaknesses to the OCZ RD400. For one, when you do extremely taxing workloads, the drive can get pretty hot, reaching up to a maximum of 70C! Furthermore, M.2 SSDs have dropped in price and this drive is a bit on the expensive side. A few dollars more and you can get the Samsung 960 Pro; a faster drive in terms of performance.
But then again, there are some nice strengths. The OCZ RD400 has the PFM+ that will ensure that your data is secure should a power outage occur. It also has the SSD Guru that has a nice intuitive interface and can do pretty much everything you need with regards to the SSD. And lastly, this drive is reliable as it can withstand a total of 500TB of writes.
If you want a reliable SSD drive in terms of endurance and performance, the Toshiba OCZ RD400 should be part of your consideration.
4. Samsung 850 Pro
Pros: Fastest SATA SSD, Impressive Endurance Rating, Energy-efficient, Consistent performance
The Samsung 850 Evo SSD I mentioned above is a cut-down version of this next SSD. The Samsung 850 Pro is arguably the fastest SATA SSD money can buy today. It has the 3D V-NAND architecture and this drive now uses the MLC NAND flash which effectively improves drive endurance as well as performance and longevity. Samsung is also confident about this product in that they include a 10-year warranty as opposed to the 5-year warranty on the Evo drive.
Anyway, the SSD comes with Samsung’s MEX controller which promises a quick and consistent performance. How well does it perform? The drive averages 530 MB/s read speeds while reaching up to 515 MB/s write speeds. Its 4K random read and write performance is also quite good and it just shows how the controller is able to make this drive fast while at the same time reliable.
The company has also improved the thermals of the drive. The problem with the OCZ RD400 above is that although it is fast, it can get pretty hot when it is under heavy workloads. But with the Samsung 850 Pro, no matter what you do (play games or write to the drive with an insanely huge file), the thermals will never exceed 50C. In other words, the thermals are always in check so that the drive will not throttle and performance remains consistent. The drive remains relatively cool thanks to the company’s “Dynamic Thermal Guard” protection which is a set of algorithms ensuring the drive will not burn out in the case of heavy tasks.
This SSD is also power-efficient as well. Thanks to the DEVSLP (Device Sleep Mode for Ultrabook), the SSD can turn on its “internal” sleep mechanism which significantly reduces its power draw down to a bare minimum. This means that this drive is not only suitable for gaming rigs but it is also suitable for laptops that support the 2.5-inch drive size.
The Samsung 850 Pro is also great for server and database workloads because of its amazing endurance and consistent performance. If you are on the lookout for such SSDs, then the 850 Pro is definitely the one you should get.
Overall, the Samsung 850 Pro is the best SATA SSD you can buy on the market. It has a fast and steady performance, low thermals, and low power consumption. Because of its amazing performance, the SSD has gained a lot of praises from many reputable review sites like Tom’s Hardware, Guru3D, Anandtech, and much more. So if these review pundits praise this SSD, then there’s no doubt that this SSD is great for your gaming PC or laptop.
Best 2TB SSDs 2017
In this category, I will just mention the SSDs that you can buy. I’ve pretty much covered the best brands you can find on the market and some of them have a 2TB variant. For the best 2TB SATA SSD, you can go for the Samsung 850 Pro. If you want the best M.2 SSD, then you can go for the Samsung 960 Pro, though, it is still quite expensive as of the time of writing this article. But of course, its price is warranted considering that it is THE fastest SSD you can buy.
What to look for when buying an SSD?
SSDs are far greater in performance than the HDDs mainly because it uses a flash controller and flash chips in order to perform read and write tasks. SSDs are highly favored in gaming, especially online games since faster loading times would mean an edge in battle.
If you’re now convinced to get an SSD, hold your horses. You need to know first what you should look for before buying one for your gaming PC or laptop. Here are the key things you should look at and consider first:
1. Storage Capacity- Determine first what storage capacity you want. Most modern games, especially Triple-A titles, often require 50GB or more disk space. If you are fond of playing games with that kind of file size, then you will need a hefty drive. Once you thought it out how much storage space you will need, the next thing to consider would be…
2. Price- the price of an SSD is important because it will tell you what kind of SSD you’re going to buy. If you want the cheapest, definitely go for the SATA SSDs. Take the Mushkin Reactor, for example. The SSD was made for people who wants to install a lot of video games and who also love to put them on an SSD for faster loading times and performance. If speed is more important to you, then you better get ready to spend a lot of money as NVMe drives are not cheap.
3. Type- The next thing you want to consider is the type of SSD. As mentioned earlier in the article, there are three common types of SSD: SATA, PCIe, and M.2. SATA drives are the cheapest but are also the slowest and they usually sport a 2.5-inch form factor; PCIe SSDs are great if you have a dedicated PCIe slot for it, and M.2 SSDs are perfect for motherboards that have an M.2 slot and for laptops or ultrabooks as well.
4. Performance- If you’re a speed junkie, definitely get either a PCIe or an M.2 SATA SSD. That is because these SSDs will offer the best performance due to the fact that it doesn’t suffer from the same limitations to that of the SATA SSD. The SATA SSD is only limited up to 600 MB/s theoretical read and 550 MB/s theoretical write speeds because of the speed limitation of the SATA3 port.
5. Warranty- Even though SSDs do not have any moving parts, it can still fail due to a number of reasons. If you want peace of mind, get SSDs that have solid warranties. Fortunately, most SSDs have at least a 3-year warranty.
6. Extras– Though not really that necessary, it is still nice to have some extras. Some SSDs come with a 3.5-inch bracket, daughter boards for M.2 SSDs, and so much more. Heck, there are even SSDs that come bundled with a magnetic screwdriver!
Important information about SSDs
Solid State Drives are already pretty common in most PCs and laptops but people still do not know a lot of information about them. In this section, I will talk about the most important information about SSDs that you might not know.
1. What is SSD Overprovisioning and why is it a crucial feature?
When you purchase an SSD and you’ve installed it on your computer, you will find that the drive doesn’t really have its advertised storage space. For example, if you’ve bought the 250GB Samsung 850 Evo, you will notice that you only have 232GB of usable storage space. Where did the extra 18GB go? Well, that taken space is actually reserved and it is what is called as the “overprovisioned” space. Overprovisioning is crucial to an SSD because it is where the drive performs its wear-leveling and garbage collection. For more information about this, here’s a great article from Gamer’s Nexus.
2. Are HDDs more durable than SSDs? Why do they have a finite number of written space?
In terms of physical aspects, the HDD is much more durable than an SSD. But, in terms of its internals and how they both function, an SSD is far superior than a conventional HDD. HDDs use a mechanical arm to read data and can prove to be slow during complex workloads. SSDs, on the other hand, work electrically and are much, much faster than HDDs.
It is true that SSDs have a finite number of writes before they fail. Solid State Drives have a certain number of P/E or “program/erase” cycles before they are electronically discharged, and thus, die. Do not worry, though, as Techreport did an amazing set of tests to determine how much data can be written to an SSD before it dies. You can read their findings here (clue: the rated endurance rating supplied by the manufacturers’ is just a worst-case scenario).
3. What is 3D NAND and why is it increasing in popularity?
3D NAND is a type of flash Memory wherein the orientation of its memory cells are stacked vertically. This translates to bigger memory cell densities and it lowers down the cost of the memory cell. It has a lot of pros such as increased reliability, vastly improved write speeds, reduced power consumption, among others.
4. What is IOPS?
IOPS is an acronym which means “Input/Output Operations Per Second” and it is essentially how fast the solid state drive is able to process incoming Input/Output workloads. The higher the number, the better the performance.
In most cases, you shouldn’t concern yourself with the IOPS of an SSD because it will not be apparent in the usual consumer workloads. However, IOPS is important if you plan to use the SSD for things such as heavy workloads like servers and databases.
5. How do SSDs improve its lifespan?
You already know that an SSD’s lifespan depends on its P/E cycles. If a certain block on the chip has been written to a certain number of times, the entire SSD will die. In order to improve its lifespan, SSDs have a feature called “wear-leveling”.
Wear-leveling is an innate feature of solid state drives wherein it ensures that the data is stored equally among the NAND memory cells. If new data is to be written on the drive, it will write that data to a flash cell that was used the least.
6. Why is defragmenting bad for the SSD?
As was mentioned earlier, solid state drives have a finite number of P/E cycles and if data were to be written and erased, it will have an impact on the lifespan of the drive. Defragmenting, by its very nature, arranges blocks data in a logical manner. This is akin to “writing” the data on an SSD. Defragging is not really necessary on SSDs since it doesn’t use a mechanical arm to access data; data is accessed digitally/electrically.
7. What is TRIM and why is it essential for SSDs?
When a file gets deleted on an SSD, it isn’t technically deleted because it will have to be aggregated to a block before it gets the boot. The problem with this is that over time, performance will degrade due to the fact that the SSD has to do a lot of cleaning (the blocks need to be deleted first before the SSD can write new data).
In order for SSDs to stay fast, the TRIM command is used. Without getting too technical, the TRIM command tasks the SSD to do the background cleaning beforehand so that the drive will not have to delete files when you need to write on the SSD. Fortunately, modern SSDs come with this feature and popular operating systems have this feature turned on by default so you do not have to.
8. What happens when the SSD’s P/E limit has been reached?
SSDs have a finite number of total P/E cycles before it “dies” but the drive isn’t going to be totally dead. It will only turn into a “read-only” drive, meaning, all data that was stored prior to it reaching its maximum write cycles can still be accessed. But, you will not have the ability to write new data anymore. If this happens, you should buy a new SSD.
9. What do I need to look at when using Benchmarks?
Using SSD Benchmarking tools is a great way to have a gauge on how your particular SSD performs. When looking at benchmark numbers, the most important things you need to look at are its sequential read and write speeds, 4K performance, and IOPS (if you’re using the SSD for heavy workloads such as databases and servers).
10. Which SSD Benchmarking tools should I use?
There are plenty of benchmarking tools for SSDs out there but here are just some of the most widely used:
ATTO Disk Benchmark- One of the oldest and most reliable SSD benchmarks out there. It measures storage performance with near-perfect accuracy and there are a lot of options if you want to hammer the SSD with a battery of tests.
Crystal Disk Benchmark- This benchmark has a nice and simple interface and it measures the Sequential read and write speeds as well as the 4K performance of the SSD.
IOMeter- As you’ve probably guessed by the name of the benchmark, the IOMeter hammers the SSD by creating various IO workloads. This tool measures the IO performance of the solid state drive.
Anvil’s Storage Utilities- A comprehensive benchmarking tool for the SSD that gives you a lot of information about its performance.
SSD Tips and Optimizations
An SSD is always going to be faster than an HDD, but there are some things that you can do to further improve its performance. Below, I will highlight some of the things that you can do to optimize the performance of your solid state drive/s.
1. Installation- Proper installation of your SSD is crucial. What I mean is that you have to use the right ports in order to get the most out of your SSD. If you’re using a SATA SSD, make sure to plug it into a SATA III port. If you’re using an M.2 SSD, make sure that you have an M.2 slot on your motherboard and make sure that you have enough PCIe lanes to power the device properly. Research your CPU and your motherboard to know how much PCIe lanes you have. For PCIe SSDs, plug it into a PCIe 3.0 X4 slot and make sure that you have enough PCIe lanes for maximum performance.
2. Enable TRIM- TRIM is an OS command that tells your SSD to properly delete the files so that the cells can be written to again. If you’re using Windows 8 and Windows 10, the feature should be turned on by default. If you’re using Windows 7, however, you may want to check if the TRIM command is enabled. To check if TRIM is enabled, right-click on the Start button and select Command Prompt (Admin). Next, copy this command and paste it in the command prompt: fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify. Check if the DisableDeleteNotify is set to 0. If it is not, paste this command in the command prompt to enable the feature: fsutil behavior set DisableDeleteNotify 0.
3. Do not use all of the available space- It is very tempting to fill up the SSD and use all of its available capacity, but this is just bad practice. You see, filling up the SSD will leave you with partially written blocks which can hamper the SSD’s ability to write new data. As a rule of thumb, leave at least 20% of storage space to ensure maximum write performance.
4. Disable the operating system’s Disk optimization features- All operating systems come with some form of disk management features and although its intention is good, it can be detrimental to your SSD. You see, Disk management optimizations were originally created for use on HDDs to improve its performance. But, since SSD’s have a finite P/E cycles, it can actually reduce the lifespan of your solid state drive. What features should you disable? Well, disable the Prefetch, Superfetch, Drive Indexing, and Defragmentation.
5. Always make backups- An SSD is also a storage drive and it can fail at any time depending on a number of circumstances. It is always good practice to make regular backups of your files. You can place your files on an external disk or you can make use of an online backup solution. Whatever it is, make sure to backup your files, especially the most important ones often.
6. Only use the SSD for important games and applications- If you play online games most of the time, it is best that you put them on an SSD for faster loading times and in-game performance. However, if you are only using an SSD with a limited capacity (say a 250GB variant), then only put two of your most played games and only your operating system and important applications on that SSD. If you plan on installing a lot of games but you really do not have enough money to buy an SSD with a hefty storage capacity, then you may want to opt for an SSD and HDD combo where all of your crucial applications and games are put on the SSD while everything else is placed on the HDD.
7. Migrate your OS- Did you know that you can clone your entire operating system and then place it in a new drive? If you’re still using the conventional HDD and you want to migrate your OS on an SSD, there are programs that allow you to do that. Such programs will clone your existing operating system so that you can place it in the new drive. Some popular cloning programs are EaseUS Todo Backup and Acronis True Image.
8. Update the Firmware- Some SSDs work flawlessly out of the box but there are some that have issues. One solid way of fixing the problems of an SSD is by updating its firmware. Visit the manufacturer’s website and download the latest firmware available for your SSD. Do note that you have to back up your data first before updating the firmware as there are updates that will wipe the SSD clean.
9. Update the BIOS- If you have an older motherboard, you may have to update the BIOS to make the SSD run. This is especially true if you’re using the newer drives such as the PCIe and M.2 SSDs.
Solid-State Drives (SSDs) are always going to be much better than hard disk drives in terms of performance.
Whether you use the drive for gaming or even professional applications, having an SSD would mean faster loading times and an overall responsive gaming PC or laptop.
SSDs are much more expensive per GB compared to HDDs but the pros outweigh the cons. And, as previously mentioned, solid-state drives have dropped prices dramatically through the years.
So, what are you waiting for? I hope that this article has helped you get the best SSD for your gaming PC or laptop.