SSD is one of the most important components that a user must value in the purchase of a new computer or while updating an existing system. The advantages of these solid-state drives on hard disks are enormous, especially a much higher performance in access times, operating system startup, in the opening of applications or during data transfer. SSDs are built based on the technology of flash NAND memories which is attributed to the absence of moving parts, SSD provides us with various advantages, such as reduced noise, heat emission, and consumption. The improvement of its robustness and resistance to failures has made it one of the most trusted hardware and the latest generations are approaching the mean time between failures (MTBF) offered by a consumer hard drive.
In this article, we review everything a user should know about these units and also we have updated the purchase guide with the most interesting models in performance/price.
The most popular and versatile format is the one that uses the 2.5-inch standard (just like hard drives). If you are going to mount it on a laptop you just have to make sure that its height is supported, because there are units of 9.5 mm and 7 mm. For desktop computers, all existing ones will be compatible.
The second most popular format is the one called M.2. which is intended to replace mSATA. Its advantages in size, weight and consumption over those that use the 2.5-inch standard are huge and can be used in laptops or desktops. It also improves performance depending on the interface used as we will see later. Talking about its disadvantages, we can say that it is priced slightly higher and offers less versatility since not all motherboards support it.
A third format that we can find for desktops is the card type punched directly into a PCI slot on the motherboard. This format includes the units that mount their chips directly on the card or if it is used as accessories to mount the previous M.2 on plates that do not have a specialized connector.
Performance – Connection buses
Another distinctive element when buying an SSD is its connection bus. The 2.5-inch drives connect to the SATA interface (do not buy anything that does not support SATA-III – 6 Gbps), while M.2 can connect to SATA or PCIe.
The interface used ends up resulting in higher performance and is one of the main advantages of SSD. When you replace a hard drive you will see how your laptop “comes back to life” in times of startup, application opening, file transfer and overall machine performance.
However, not all SSDs offer the same performance even under the same connection bus, derived from the memories used and especially from its controller. The user who buys an SSD today, should not settle for less than one unit that does not reach 500 Mbytes per second on SATA in data transfer speeds in both reading and writing. There are very cheap SSDs that reduce this data, especially in writing. Avoid them, they are not worth it.
The M.2 that use PCI-e are the fastest units that you will find in the solid storage of consumption. They use the native PCI-e interface to trigger their performance up to a theoretical maximum that comes to multiply by five the number of solid-state drives connected to SATA. Although in its beginnings its price was prohibitive for the big consumption, the distances in front of SATA are being reduced and for them, they pass the future of the storage in PC.
Note that the new generations of M.2 PCIe SSD support the NVM Express standard, designed from scratch, taking advantage of the low latency and parallelism of PCI Express SSDs, they offer spectacular performance, they make the unit bootable, allowing to completely dispense with other storage units, such as hard drives.
If you are going to buy this type of SSD to completely replace the hard drive, make sure that your board supports or can be updated to support the NVM protocol and turn the unit into bootable. Otherwise, you can not use it as the main unit to install the operating system on it.
There is an important difference between the way data is handled by an SSD and an HDD. An SSD writes data into chunks called “pages.” A group of pages is called a block and in order to write new data in a busy block, the whole block has to be deleted first. To avoid data loss, all information that exists in the block must first be moved to another location before the block can be deleted. Once the data is moved and the block is deleted, only then can it be written.
This process is almost instantaneous but requires an empty free space to work properly. If there is not enough free space, the process loses efficiency and slows down. We discuss this technical section because it affects the capacity when we buy an SSD. To achieve maximum efficiency we should leave approximately 20 percent of the unit free.
That is why -actually- we recommend buying a unit of at least 250 Gbytes if we want to install it in a laptop to replace the installed hard disk. We would avoid the units of 128 and 64 Gbytes, except if the budget is critical.
In a desktop PC, the storage capacity needs are greater both if we replace all the hard drives (expensive but more effective) and if we make the SSD coexist (as the first boot unit for the system and applications) with the hard drives installed.
Mounting an SSD of low capacity and price that works next to the hard disk is a good option to avoid spending too much. If your budget is wider and you want the best, you can bet totally for SSD. Units with 1, 2 and 4 Tbytes are already common; Fixstars has models with 6 Tbytes for sale; SanDisk or Samsung will market units of 8 Tbytes this year, the same as Intel in the hands of Micron will offer models with 10 Tbytes.
Resistance and Longevity
Despite its mechanical components, hard drives remain “standard and signal” in terms of storage unit strength and hence its massive use in servers and data centers 24/7 where reliability prevails over everything. In addition, they require tests and certifications that can last for months and therefore the entry of SSDs has been so far timid.
Unlike hard drives, SSDs have no moving parts, which gives them a great advantage in terms of mechanical failure. In contrast, SSDs are more prone to power failures while the unit is running, causing data corruption or even total failure of the devices. In addition, the memory blocks in an SSD have a limited number of write operations.
Fortunately, the new generations have improved a lot in reliability. All SSDs include free additional memory cells for when the others fail to lose capacity, reallocating damaged sectors. Manufacturers offer 3, 5 or up to 10 years warranty and the official half-life of an SSD is estimated between 5 or 7 years.
Latest resistance tests have confirmed this increase in reliability with some series of units surviving after supporting a massive writing test above 2 petabytes. A huge amount of data that a user in real conditions (normal use) would take tens years to complete.
In the latest generations of SSD, manufacturers are betting on NAND TLC flash memory, triple level per cell. This technology increases the density of storage and reduces costs, but reduces the resistance of previous formats such as MLC and especially SLC, Single-Layer Cell that only stores one bit per cell and that you will no longer see in the consumer market.
Best SSD below $50
Only a few years ago, a large outlay had to be made to buy a solid state disk, even when it was a small capacity one. But today we can count on one of these discs at a ridiculous price, to the point that many models do not reach $50.
Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GB
The Kingston SSDNow UV400 comes to take over from the successful SSDNow V300. Its reading and writing rates are 550 MB / s and 500 MB / s according to the manufacturer’s specifications, although in practice it is even faster, which makes it difficult rival to beat for its 30 dollars, approximately.
They come with the latest technology based on the NAND TLC system, allows you to reduce the size of the unit and therefore also the costs.
Transcend SSD220S 120 GB
The Transcend brand is usually more recognized in niche markets other than computing, such as SD cards. However, in recent years has been cast among the most prestigious SSD disk manufacturers thanks to models like this.
It reaches 550 MB / s of reading and 450 MB / s writing and incorporates the DevSleep system, focused on saving energy when the equipment is not used with a quick return to activity.
Best SSD between 50 and 100 dollars
In this price range, SSDs usually present a better balance between price and storage.
It is SSDs with enough space for most users but at the same time for files such as photos, videos, music or other heavier data, it is better to continue using a larger HDD disk.
It may also be a good idea to start with one of these discs and in the future, as you continue to lose price, get a higher capacity if you consider it necessary.
Samsung 850 EVO 250 GB
This Samsung 850 EVO is permanently occupying the first place in the category of most sold SSDs,since it is one of the best SSD gaming discs in the market.
It offers incredible performance with very low power consumption, which makes it ideal for laptops; it achieves sequential read and write speeds of 520 MB / s and 540 MB / s, respectively, and has an approximate life of 75 TBW (Total Written bytes), which without being spectacular, is a quite acceptable figure.
This series has a five-year guarantee in all its capacities and comes with the innovative 3D V-NAND memory architecture.
Crucial MX300 275GB
Crucial makes its first appearance in this list, and it will not be the only one since it is one of the best SSD disk manufacturers in the world. In regard to its MX series, we are debating between MX300 of 275 GB or its predecessor and MX200 of 250 GB. While it is true that the latter has a higher reading speed (550 MB / s compared to 530 MB / s), at the time of publishing this guide this model could be found much cheaper. That factor, taking into account that it offers 25 GB more storage, makes us opt for this MX300.
In addition, it incorporates a more advanced technology, based on the 3D NAN flash architecture of Micron, which ensures a much higher energy efficiency than most.
It is available in SATA and SATA M.2 versions
SanDisk SSD Plus 240 GB
It is not the newest model of this manufacturer, nor the one that offers more performance in this segment of capacity, but the SanDisk Plus 240 GB is one of the most affordable SSD disks on the market, so we have decided to include it among our recommendations. Its reading speed defends itself quite well against the competition, with 520 MB / s, although it is in the script where it most limps: only 350.
Adata SP550 120 GB
For just over 40 euros we can get this Adata 120 GB SSD, so it is one of the most recommended options for tight budgets. It may not be the best-known manufacturer in the world, but the quality of this disc is more than proven, and if you still have doubts, offers three years of warranty, the standard time in the market.
It has a sequential read speed of 560 MB / s and a write-up of 410 MB / s, even higher than other models of better-known brands with much less expensive prices.
Best SSD between 100 and 200 dollars
With this capability, in addition to the operating system you can also allow to install all your programs on your SSD, and not just the main ones, as in the previous cases. And of course, also your games, so you can access them almost instantly and load times are drastically reduced.
If your priority is gaming, before you should have well covered the other aspects of your computer: CPU, graphics card, motherboard, power supply … All these components are more important than an SSD. If after choosing all that you still have enough budget and you are not enough with 120 or 240 GB, go for the below options.
Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB
The Samsung 850 EVO returns to make its appearance in this list, this time in its version of 500 GB, although it is true that it could appear in each section since in any of its capacities it is a highly recommended model, although yes, for more comfortable budgets.
The 500 GB model maintains many of its features, such as its low consumption, its reading speed of 540 MB / s and writing of 520 MB / s of the 240 GB version, but this time it doubles its useful life until it reaches the 150 TBW. It is true that giving a normal use that can have a PC gaming never get to exhaust your life, it is always good to know that we have a good SSD for many years.
SanDisk Extreme Pro 480 GB
Among the best SSD drives geared towards enthusiastic use, the SanDisk Extreme Pro occupies a privileged place. It provides an extraordinary performance even in multi-tasking environments with large loads, which makes it ideal for gamers and multimedia professionals. It has a speed of 550 MB / s of reading and of 520 MB / s of sequential writing and of 100,000 IOPS and 90,000 IOPS in random speed.
Its main competitor is the Samsung 850 Pro 512 GB, another great SSD, but this is currently around 130 dollars more expensive. Not even that extra GB justifies that difference since the SanDisk Extreme Pro surpasses it in many ways.
Crucial MX200 500 GB
The cheapest option in this segment comes from the hand of this Crucial MX200, which at the current price, around 120 dollars, is a safe value. It is true that in the 240 GB segment we recommended the MX300 above this, mainly because of its price difference and its extra 25 GB. The problem is that in this capacity the difference is still 25 GB, and in a model of 500 GB we no longer think it is such an important factor to compensate for its lower speed.
In addition, it still offers 20 GB more than most competitors, and costs little more than the BX200, a series aimed at more casual users and leaves much to be desired for its high latency and low writing speed (in the real world, and not on paper). Its read and write speeds are worth 555 and 500 MB / s, respectively.
Best SSD above 200 dollars
Samsung 850 EVO 1 TB
I could not miss the Samsung 850 EVO either in this last segment of SSDs. Among its many pros, we find 40 GB extra in front of many of its rivals, who offer 960 GB; its V-NAND 3D memory architecture, AES 256-bit hardware encryption, great durability and the fact that it has its own driver, the MEX, which guarantees good performance and speeds of 540 MB / s and 520 MB / s. s of writing.
In short, this model is a safe value for its balance between quality, capacity, and price, and although there are other faster and better features, such as the Samsung 850 Pro 512 GB or the SanDisk Extreme Pro, few users will need more than what the 850 EVO offers, so it is not worth paying the extra price that these supposed.
SanDisk Ultra II 1 TB
It is one of the best price per gigabyte offer within this segment, with approximately 0.24 euros / Gb. This SanDisk Ultra II and Samsung 850 EVO fight a tough battle to be crowned as the best SSD in this range, and the truth is that the price difference, significantly lower in the case of SanDisk, can tip the balance in your favor.
It has a lower write rate than Samsung, with 500 MB / s compared to 520 MB / s, but in exchange, it offers slightly more reading speed, with 550 MB / s per 540 MB / s. And in terms of random speed, they are also even. While it is true that the performance, in general, is higher in the 850 EVO, you will hardly notice the difference in daily use.
Sandisk X400 1TB
SanDisk repeats in this segment, although with a model that had not appeared until now in this list: the X400 of 1TB. In this capacity is where it reaches a better price, at about 240 dollars. It is located in an intermediate point between the SanDisk Ultra II and Extreme Pro, so it is a good alternative to the Samsung 850 EVO and also at a better price.
Although according to its specifications it is slightly faster than the Samsung model (545 MB / s of reading and 520 MB / s of writing), in practice it remains behind, although it is still one of the best TLC discs in the market. In addition, at random speed, he steps on his heels and has an impressive resistance of 320 TBW.
Best SSD M.2 NVME
If the SSD disks already accounted for a revolution in the storage sector, M.2 NVME SSDs can be considered as the second stage of this great progress.
This type of units goes a step further in terms of speed, reaching to offer read and write rates up to six times faster than conventional SATA SSD.
However, there are still two impediments that make it unfit for all teams. The first is that they require a motherboard compatible with these new storage units (something you will only find in the most recent ones). And the second is the price since they are still considerably more expensive than SATA SSDs.
Therefore, these discs are only recommended for high-end equipment. If instead, you are more tight budget, it is better to opt for a normal SSD, or you would have to sacrifice part of the budget dedicated to the processor or the graphics card.
Another point that we must make is that in this section we refer exclusively to M.2 NVME SSDs. There are also M.2 SATA models, but the difference with respect to the common SATA is not so great (and in some cases, they even perform worse than these). Therefore, if you want a disc that offers true speeds of vertigo, today the only option is the NVME.
Samsung 960 Pro M.2
As you can imagine, with a cover letter like this, it can not be a cheap product, so your purchase is probably forbidden to anyone who is not professional or needs the best of the best.
The specifications indicate a sequential reading of 3,500 MB / s and a writing of 2,100. These numbers may disappoint more than one, since the gap with his younger brother, the 960 EVO, is not too big. Where is the trick then? Well in that these speeds are reached in synthetic tests in which the EVO version helps its software to achieve them, while the 960 Pro goes “over”, with pure and hard power and without any help.
Also, the differences do not just stay in the speed. The Pro version presents double (or more than double, depending on capacity) endurance rate than the basic model, with no less than 800 TB.
Samsung 960 EVO M.2
The Samsung 960 EVO is one of the best discs for those who want to go one step beyond what SATA SSDs offer. It reaches ridiculously high speeds (3,200 MB / s sequential reading and 1,900 MB / s of writing) but without reaching the abusive prices of other models based on NVMe technology.
With this new disc the Korean brand has continued with the path traced with its Samsung 850 EVO in the case of SATA SSD, but now in the PCIe M.2 interface: in terms of quality-price, it is difficult to fight. Much of the fault is the success of the combination between its 3D TLC chip and its controller with TurboWrite technology, which surpass many SLC models, and also being cheaper.
WD Black PCIe
Western Digital’s WD Black is one of the most affordable NMVe SSDs in the market. And certainly, its performance is on a par with its price, since it is quite far from the leaders of the sector. Despite this, it outperforms other models that have a similar price, or even higher, such as the Intel 600p, so we can not stop recommending it as an entry model.
We find a sequential read speed of 2050 MB / s, which seems pretty decent at this price, and a writing of 700 MB / s (800 MB / s in the case of 512 GB models) that we fancy something short.
Therefore, we recommend it especially for users who will perform mostly reading tasks and not so much writing, and seek to make the first foray into the world of SSD NMVe without spending a fortune.
It is also a good option for laptop users who want to add or replace their SSD since its high energy efficiency will consume very little battery.
So far our best gaming SSD guide of the moment. As you can see, there are many options to choose from, whatever your budget may be. In addition, prices vary constantly and new models are launched every few months, so it’s worth paying attention to all the news. Sure your PC appreciates it!