The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide For Solid-State Drive (SSD)

We live in a world of information and as the adage goes “Knowledge is power”, knowledge or more precisely, information can be a headache as well. Due to this overwhelming information that greets us at every corner, making informed choices has become a lot harder than before.

 

 

This guide takes on a journey for the prospective buyer of what things to consider before buying Solid State Drive, solid state drive types, solid state drive benefits, where to buy affordable solid-state drive, and plenty more. At the end of the day, you will be nearer to possessing the latest in SSD technology that is suitable for your needs.

 

 

What You Need to Know About Solid State Drive (SSD)?

SSD state solid drives disk

 

Solid State Drives are usually in a 2.5-inch form factor. Their way of communicating with the PCs is through the same SATA ports which are used by mainstream hard drives.

 

 

But one of the stark differences between the two is that, on the very forefront of NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) drives, there are tiny “gum stick” SSDs that fit in M.2 connections on the modern-day motherboards, SSDs that sit on a PCIe adapter and slot into your motherboards like a graphics card or sound card, futuristic 3D Xpoint drives, and more. Storage types of SSD include single, multi and triple-level cells.

 

What Is Solid State Drive SSD Storage?

what is ssd?

 

Solid State Drive is the recent development in the realm of storage devices used in computers. This new generation of storage devices has proved to significantly increase the previously slow speed of the computers.

 

 

These Solid State Drives have replaced the mainstream mechanical hard disks by using a faster technology known as flash-based memory. Previous generations of hard-disk technologies have a low running speed, which ultimately makes the computer run slower too. Solid State Drives are known to significantly speed up computers as their read-access time is low and so they generate fast throughputs.

 

 

Mechanical hard drives have been in use for decades. People all over the globe have used these for storing and retrieving data. These older hard drives are usually based on moving parts, i.e. a read/write head that moves back and forth to gather data.

 

 

Due to this, HDDs are considered to be the likeliest component of computer hardware to fail. Storage types of SSD differ in the amount of data they can hold for processing.

 

 

Things You Need To Consider Before Buying SSD

  • The first and foremost thing to consider before buying SSD is the kind of technology used to connect the Solid-State Drive to your PC. Making a wise purchase for an SSD is imperative as the simplest way to affect the working of a computer system with a fast CPU is to connect it with a slow SSD.
  • The processor is capable of handling billions of cycles per second, but often it takes quite some time waiting for your drive to provide it with the crucial data to process.
  • Other important factors to consider are the capacity and price, along with a warranty that is long enough to lessen any fear of an early data death.
  • Many of the SSD manufacturers offer a 3-year warranty, while others have a guarantee of a good 5 years. However, unlike the older versions of SSDs, the latest drives don’t wear out with normal consumer usage.

 

 

Benefits Of Having A Solid-State drive

Solid-state drives are the best upgrade anyone can make to their system. It doesn’t matter which Solid-State Drive types you use or whether it is a high end one, all SSDs improve your PC’s performance. Here are some of the solid-state drive benefits:

 

 

  • Higher read/write speeds compared to optical storage devices. Even the least costly SSD is 3 times as fast as an optical drive, while the high-end devices have speeds of more than 10 times as compared to these old devices.
  • These read/write speeds ensure faster boot time for operating systems.
  • Programs load must faster and you can enjoy gaming without any hitches.
  • Users can perform multitasking without any visible decrease in performance.
  • The rate of file transfer is much quicker.
  • There is no observable sound compared to the whizzing of the optical disk drives.
  • They have a sleek design with no mechanical parts susceptible to breaking.

 

 

Types Of Solid State Drive (SSD)

 

One of the oldest interfaces which were particularly designed for storage purposes is Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA). It has a speed of about 600MB/second.
Peripheral Component Interconnect Express or PCIe refers to a fast-speed expansion card, that enables a computer to attach to its peripherals. It has a point-to-point structure which significantly lessens latency and enhances data transfer speed between storage and server.

M.2 comes in the shape of a gum stick and serves as a form factor for SSDs. These are relatively faster, smaller in size, and come in a variety of storages and sizes to suit your computer system

The U.2 drives share a lot of similar characteristics as M.2, but they are available in 2.5’’ form factors, similar to most SATA SSD drives. They were once used exclusively by high-end workstations but are now mainstream with their newly released chipset.
A mini version of SATA has been developed by SATA International Organization which offers low power consumption and comes in a small size. The mSATA has a small form factor than the regular SATA SSDs.
SATA Express has been introduced by SATA International Organization to make it compatible with all the existing SATA cables and drives. Also, the same connector can be used by PCIe SSDs. Even the cheapest SATA Express is 3 times faster than a traditional hard drive.

 

 

 

Best Of The Best SDD In Market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Are The Storage Types Of SDD?

There are 3 storage types of SSD; single-cell, multi-cell, and triple-level cells. These cells hold data in the form of bits, in the form of a one or zero. The fastest and most durable amongst these are the single-level cells (SLC) which happen to be the most expensive as well. Multi-level cells (MLC) pack more data physically but their write speeds are lower than SLC. The least durable amongst the three is the Triple-level cells (TLC) which can hold three bits of data in a cell. This makes it vulnerable to ‘bit rot’ and considerably lower speeds.

 

 

Where To Buy Affordable Solid-State Drive?

Solid State Drives since their inception have been thought of as premium material. This tag is believable given a 20 megabits of Solid State Drive was sold for a staggering 1000USD in 1991.

 

 

Technological advancements and improved production techniques have considerably brought these prices down. SSD’s are still considered quite expensive compared to the more run of the mill optical drives. However, with an increased demand for better boot times and overall performance, SSD’s have gained a lot of momentum on their counterparts.

 

 

Despite the more high-end products, there are also many affordable options on the market. 

 

 

How To Buy The Right SSD?

Things to consider before buying SSD include form factor, BUS type, and interface type among others. These three factors are a good starting point to check your technical requirements in the things to consider before buying SSDs.  These factors will help you narrow down the right solid state drive types for your needs.

 

 

The form factor is the shape of the different SSDs available on the market. The varieties include the PCI express card that directly slots into the motherboard, the 2.5-inch drive that is similar to a laptop hard drive, and thirdly the M.2 drive forms. The M.2 drive form is a blend of the other two varieties and can be installed in desktops as well as laptops.

 

 

The next thing to consider before buying SSD is the interface of the solid-state drive and the BUS type. Interface type can be of three types, the PCI Express interface, the Serial ATA or SATA interface, and the M.2 drive interface with the single-bladed connector on the end. BUS type is the data pathway from the SSD to the system; it can be either classified as PCI-express or SATA.

 

 

It is also important for the prospective buyer to consider the capacity of the solid-state drive as well as the cost per gigabyte. Also, the warranty periods may vary which translated to premium quality in the higher warranty solid-state drive.

 

 

Things to consider before buying SSD can become a hassle for a newbie as the variety of products can easily confuse anyone. The above text explains briefly what factors you need to consider before setting your eye on the perfect SSD for you.

 

 

How To Install Your SSD?

Installing the solid-state drive on a PC is pretty straightforward. Your personal computer contains a few dedicated slots where you can house your hardware. The solid-state drive is no exception, it usually comes as a 2.5-inch drive whereas the PC slots are designed for 3.5-inch drives.

 

 

The 2.5-inch drives usually come with mounting brackets that help slot the SSD in the drive bay with ease. Regardless of the brackets, the tightened screws will hold the drive in its place. There are two cables to be attached to the SSD, the SATA cable and a connector from the power supply. 

 

 

Securing these two cables and connecting the SATA cable to your motherboard will make the SSD ready to be used. It is important to keep the drive in the lowest-numbered SATA port for it to become the priority booting device. This will ensure maximum performance levels and improved boot times.

 

 

Installing a solid-state drive on a laptop may be a bit tricky but it’s still quite easy if you know your way around the hardware. Opening the laptop, you can easily swap the SSD with your optical drive. Moreover, the optical-dive to SSD kits allow for the removal of DVD or CD drives in place of SSD.

 

 

Ways To Optimize Your SSD For Best Performance

Most advice on the internet regarding the optimization of SSD revolves around tweaking some Windows functionalities. These measures aim to limit the number of writes to the SSD. A solid-state device has a finite number of writes before it can’t be written upon. However, the number of writes that these tweaks save by sacrificing important Windows functions such as hibernation is inconsequential.

 

 

The TRIM feature in modern Windows system (7 and beyond), is responsible for the automatic deletion of files from the solid-state drive once you delete the file in your operating system. This is one of the main differences between a solid-state drive and an optical drive, where bits and pieces of deleted data remain on the drive.

 

 

Another important optimizing process for optical drives, defragmentation, is useless when trying to optimize solid-state drives. Windows 10, in particular, knows about this and won’t let you defrag SSD by turning off this feature. Hence, the best bet for an optimized SSD is basically to install a modern version of Windows, for example, 8 and 10.

 

 

Windows 10 will also disable the SuperFetch service for the solid-state device even if its remains turned on in the settings. It automatically enables this feature for the slower mechanical drives. Windows will also automatically update the hardware drivers, thereby making regular checks for driver updates redundant.

 

 

As the solid-state drive depends on using empty blocks for writing, over-writing or filling the solid-state drive will result in a lowering of performance. To avoid this, SSD manufacturers often set aside a fixed amount of flash storage that is unavailable to the user. It is known as overprovisioning and helps maintain the SSD’s performance by keeping empty blocks to be written whenever required.

 

 

To summarize, Windows 10 will optimize your SSD for you automatically. The best of the best SSD with enough overprovisioned resources will never run out of empty blocks to be written thus enhancing performance even if the drive is near to full. SSDs can last for a decade or two with ease given their write/re-write capacities.

 

 

What Are The Dos And Don’ts In Using SSD?

Do's and Dont's

 

If you want to keep enjoying solid state drive benefits, here’s a list of ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ that you need to adhere to. You will see they are similar to the actions taken to optimize the SSD. They are:

 

 

Dos:

  • Make sure there is some space on your SSD. This ensures that the SSD writes to these empty blocks instead of looking for partially filled blocks, which in turn decreases performance.
  • Upgrade your SSD’s firmware before installation to your system. This will remove any compatibility issues with the old drives.
  • Enable TRIM functionality that is available on all modern Windows systems. It helps increase the life of your SSD by removing clean the blocks that are not used by your system.
  • Storing large files on your hard-drive storage instead of the solid-state drive will greatly increase the performance of the SSD. You will able to reap true solid state drive benefits if large files that are seldom deleted, not stored on it.
  • Similarly, the temporary files of your system are written continually. This process will increase the number of write and re-writes to your solid-state drive. Hence, they must be assigned a storage location on hard-drive storage if possible.
  • Make sure to disable the auto-defrag option if you are using older versions of an operating system. Modern operating systems don’t allow SSD’s to be defragmented.

 

 

Don’ts:

  • Don’t defrag SSD. Solid-state drives do not need to be defragmented as a fragmented SSD is quicker.
  • Do not wipe clean your solid-state drive as this functionality is already provided by the TRIM feature in modern operating systems.
  • A major don’t when using SSD is to run an older version of operating systems. They do not support TRIM functionality as well as other optimized processes regarding SSD performance.
  • Continuous writing operations will minimize the life of the solid-state drive, as the SSD has a finite number of write cycles.
  • Do not write large files that you will only use sparingly. These include media files that do not require the fast functionality of an SSD.
  • Do not fill your SSD to the brim, leave enough space for the SSD to maintain its peak performance.

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Solid State Drive 

FAQ"S

 

1. What storage capacity (GB) should I get for my SSD?

Storage capacity is a subjective assessment/analysis of need. The solid state drive types vary from 128 GB to 4TB with 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB variants in between. If you are a beginner and not willing to break the bank, the 128GB variant may be suitable for you.

 

 

It is recommended to get a higher capacity as it promises better performance. To use heavy software, the 2TB variant must be employed at least. To this date, the 4TB variant is the most costly and only used by professionals and enthusiasts.

 

 

2. Is it okay to defrag the SSD?

It is not okay to defrag SSD. The foremost reason to defrag your device is to optimize a storage device and remove inconsistencies and consolidate clusters. However, the solid-state devices work on a different principle and hence don’t need to be defragmented.

 

 

3. Is it enough to have SSD for gaming purposes?

Gaming purposes for SSD isn’t enough on its own. SSD does not help to enhance frame rates, which is the role of GPU. Even the CPU is pivotal in some gaming parameters. Most gaming companies have streamlined their gaming requirements and hence most do not require the fast speeds of SSDs.

 

 

4. Why aren’t all SSDs used by all PCs?

Every PC is configured uniquely with the motherboard, the interface and BUS types.  There usually arises an issue regarding the compatibility of BUS type and the interface.

 

 

Most SSDs use the Serial ATA (SATA) interface but to ensure better performance it should be compatible with SATA III. The physical space of your motherboard and the solid-state drive must be compatible with each other. This is the reason that all SSDs cannot be configured on all PCs.

 

 

5. What is the best SSD for your desktop?

Most desktops can only support the SATA 2.5-inch drives. This makes them the best choice for your desktop. If you have an up-to-date motherboard and CPU architecture, it can benefit from the speeds that the M.2 drives can provide.

 

 

For normal functioning and from the point affordability, the SATA SSDs are the best. This ensures you don’t need a high-end device to host the SSD and enjoy the solid-state drive benefits. Depending on the cost per GB, capacity, and compatibility with the desktop, the best SSD could vary but having the SATA 2.5-inch drive is the best and most reliable bet.

 

 

 

6. Is it worth to buy SSD external hard drive?

Even if you could work out the cost of storage in terms of cost per GB, the differential is minimal between SSDs and optical drives. The speed of SSDs alone is all the differential you need to buy it.

 

This speed translates to faster boot-up times, faster loading of programs, no stuttering during games, and ease of opening large files. SSDs promise data transfer speeds between 300mb/s – 40gb/s which is a phenomenal upgrade from your existing storage devices.

 

 

7. Which are the 3 Best SSD for gaming PCs?

Here are the best of the best SSDs in gaming:

 

 

8. What difference does a 4tb SSD make?

Gaming storage capacity for SSD varies with the nature of the game being played. Some games require extreme graphics and hence high-end configuration of the PC for them to work properly.

 

 

Having a 4 TB SSD drive can help your system reach the most high-end requirements of any game. Gaming storage capacity for SSD is not the only function that requires a 4TB storage, other uses of this ultra-storage device include that of using high-end software. These software require large storage capacities as well as high CPU requirements.

 

 

9. Fastest SSD brands the market can provide you?

  • Intel for affordable U.2 SSD and boot SSDs,
  • Samsung for NVMe SSD, SATA 3 SSD, and External SSD,
  • Toshiba for PCIe SSD
  • Adata for M.2 SSD,
  • HP as the best endurance SSD.

 

 

10. Which are the top applications where you can run a SSD speed test?

 

 

AS SSD Benchmark

AS SSD Benchmark lets you measure your SSD drive’s performance by conducting several tests. These include the sequential or random read/write performance test without using the cache. It also reads/writes a 1 GByte file as well as randomly chosen 4K blocks.

 

 

jDiskMark

The features of this application include the testing of disk IO read/write performance, Java cross-platform solution, single or multiple file option, sequential or random option, and measuring adjustable block size.

 

 

Parkdale

The Parkdale application lets you monitor write speed from your hard disks, CD-ROM devices and network servers in Kilobyte, Megabyte or even Gigabyte per Second. The test shows you the sequential read & write access speed and the random access speed using 4KB blocks and 32 concurrent threads.

 

 

11. Why do you need SSD for laptop?

Laptops like desktops also need a fast storage system for optimum performance. The read and write speeds of an optical drive are not enough to provide this level of performance.

 

 

The solid-state drive is the recommended option in this scenario. It enhances the read and write speeds, makes the laptop boot-up quickly and makes lesser noise. Laptops are usually more fragile than desktops, and having an optical drive with moving parts has the added risk of getting more wear and tear than a solid-state device.

 

 

 

We hope this guide helps you make a more informed purchasing decision when buying your solid-state drive. 

 

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