The cost of buying an SSD (solid state drive) has continued to fall over the last few years. At the same time, the storage capacity of these devices has been steadily increasing. The combination of these two factors has resulted in SSDs becoming a very interesting alternative to a traditional hard disc drive (HDD). It is an alternative that has a multitude of advantages, especially as they continue to become more and more affordable.

It won’t be a long until SSD technology completely replaces the use of HDDs in portable and desktop computers. The advantages it offers are unquestionable, and manufacturers have found ways to circumvent most of the disadvantages associated with early models of SSDs. With the cost of these storage drives set to fall even further, they will continue to be used by more and more consumers.

Key Facts

  • SSD is an acronym for Solid State Drive, meaning it is a drive that works without any moving parts.
  • The price of these drives has not stopped falling in recent years, and it is expected to continue to get even cheaper.
  • SSDs offer faster read and write speeds than traditional hard disc drives. They are also more reliable than HDDs, however they usually have a smaller capacity. However, this difference in storage capacity between the two systems is increasingly narrowing.

Ranking: The best SSDs on the US market

In this section, we rank the five best SSDs available on the market right now. Each drive is a great option and they all offer slightly different features. We have only selected products that offer great value for money, so just pick the one that best suits your needs and be confident that you are getting a great deal.

No. 1:Samsung SSD 970 EVO 2TB – NVMe PCIe M.2

Accelerate into next-gen computing with the best product currently available on the market. The Samsung 970 EVO delivers breakthrough speeds, best-in-class reliability, and a broad range of capacity options up to 2TB. The latest V-NAND, new Phoenix controller, and Intelligent TurboWrite technology enhance high-end gaming and 4K & 3D graphic editing.

Great feedback for this product, which is perfect for anyone who needs serious speed and a large storage capacity. Keep in mind though, that this is an M.2 device and is only suitable for desktops with a compatible motherboard.

No. 2:Samsung 850 EVO 1TB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD

Here we have another great product from Samsung. It is not surprising that SSDs from this manufacturer occupy the top two positions on our list. The 850 EVO optimizes performance for your daily computing tasks, boasting sequential write speeds up to 520 MB/s with TurboWrite technology and sequential read speeds up to 540 MB/s.

This 2.5″ SSD is a great option for people that want a drive for their laptop (although it can still be used in desktop computers as well). It has fantastic reviews and is considered the best SATA SSD currently available on the market.

No. 3: Crucial MX500 250GB 3D NAND SATA M.2

Do you want the speed of a M.2 SSD for your desktop, but don’t need a lot of storage space? This drive is great value for money, and is large enough to install operating systems for both PC and Mac. Sequential reads/writes up to 560/510 MB/s and random reads/writes up to 95K/90K with all file types. 

Fantastic reviews for this quality product that has a very affordable price tag. Users are especially positive about how easy the installation process is with this device. As with all M.2 SSDs, make sure it is compatible with your computer.

No. 4: Samsung T5 Portable SSD – 2TB – USB 3.1 External SSD

Here we have another excellent SSD from Samsung. This model is an external hard drive, meaning that it connects to your computer via USB. This is a great option if you need more storage space, but don’t have any more slots available to install an additional internal drive in your laptop. Or perhaps you want a storage drive you can quickly plug into different computers to share files.

Users absolutely love this product. It is reasonably priced for such a quality device, and it is tiny, compact and lightweight.

No. 5:SanDisk 1TB Extreme Portable External SSD 

Here we have another great external SSD that connects to your computer via USB. It is cheaper than the Samsung product, but has less capacity. The rugged SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD delivers high-speed transfers with up to 550MB/s read speeds. With an IP55 rating, it also stands up to rain, splashes, spills and dust.

This SSD has great reviews from happy users. Its rugged, yet sleek, design is very popular, and great for people with an active lifestyle who are looking for something durable.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about SSDs

If you are thinking about purchasing an SSD, you probably have a few questions. Considering the fact that SSDs are available in many different formats, you might need some help to choose the one that is right for you. In this section we address the most frequently asked questions from people who are planning to buy an SSD. Armed with this information, you will definitely make the best possible choice.

The average life span of SSDs is between 5 and 7 years.
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What is an SSD exactly?

SSD is an acronym of solid state drive, meaning that by definition these drives have no moving parts. In more general terms, SSD is the term used to refer to the new generation of hard drives. These devices use flash memory chips, which is similar to the system used in USB sticks and SD cards .

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Hard drives are a type of storage device designed especially for saving and storing your files and data. An SSD has no moving parts, while a HDD has one or more internal discs that spin during operation.

How does an SSD work?

SSDs have two memory zones. All the information is stored in one zone, even when the device is not receiving any electric current. While the other zone, which is much smaller in size, works as a cache that speeds up access. This system is managed by a controller which has the function of coordinating all the elements of the SSD.

What are the main uses of SSDs?

One of the most interesting ways to use an SSD is as a boot disk, on which only the operating system is installed. This makes the startup and shutdown of the operating system much faster. They are also a great way to improve the performance of an older computer. Replacing an HDD with an SSD offers amazing results.

SSDs are the new generation of hard drives.
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What are the advantages and disadvantages of SSDs?

SSDs offer many advantages over traditional hard drives. For starters, they are much more reliable. Additionally, they offer significantly faster read and write speeds. This higher speed is particularly noticeable during system startup, and also when running programs that require a large amount of data to be read and written to a hard drive.

They are also much more shock resistant, due to the fact that they contain no moving parts. This feature is very important for people who travel regularly, or often take their laptop out of the office for work. The only big downside to SSDs is their higher price per gigabyte (compared to HDDs), and they also have a limited number of write operations.

Advantages Disadvantages
They are much more reliable. Higher price per GB than HDDs.
They offer faster read and write speeds. After a few years the read and write speeds diminish.
They do not require any maintenance. They have a limited number of write operations. Although, this is not an issue for the majority of applications.
As they have no moving parts, they are less noisy and heat up less.

What types of SSDs are available on the market?

There are two types of SSDs, differing only in the method they use to connect to a PC. PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) is a direct data connection to the motherboard. This type of connection allows a much faster transfer speed. The other type of SSDs use Sata to connect, just like a traditional HDD.

Type Characteristics
PCIe SSD Connects using a PCI Express port. This type of connection allows a faster transfer speed. They will soon become the most common type of SSD in use.
Sata SSD They connect just like traditional HDDs. At the moment they are cheaper than PCIe SSDs.

How is an SSD installed?

When installing your new SSD, it is recommended that you also reinstall the operating system. This is a better idea than cloning the previous hard drive, as the operating system may become unstable. Ideally, you should make a backup of the old hard drive. Now you just simply connect the SSD and install the operating system on it. If you have previously been using an HDD, you will notice that the operating system loads much faster with your new drive.

Who should buy an SSD?

If you are about to install a new operating system on your PC, now is the perfect time to buy an SSD. Thanks to the higher speed of these deivces, you will get significantly better system boot and shutdown times. As operating systems do not require a large amount of storage space, a 64 GB or 128 GB SSD will be large enough – if you only need your drive to perform this function.

It is also highly recommended to install an SSD if you use your computer for gaming. SSDs are also a fantastic option to improve the performance of older equipment. The difference in performance is a big jump. Basically, if you can afford an SSD, they are well worth the investment.

What precautions do I need to take with an SSD?

For an SSD to maintain a high level of performance, it is a good idea to leave at least 20% of free disk space. This is important because of the way SSDs store information. However, the latest SSDs only require a reserve of 10% for optimal performance.

Shopping Criteria

Choosing an SSD is no easy task. It is a fairly new technology, which is not yet well understood by the general public. This is why it is important that you keep several factors in mind when making your purchase. Understanding the features and specifications of the product you are thinking about buying, will help you to make the right choice.

  • How it will be used
  • Memory capacity
  • Read and write speeds
  • Size
  • Connection bus
  • Controller
  • Durability
  • Brand

How it will be used

You will need a different SSD for a laptop than for a desktop computer. If you just want to install your PC’s operating system on an SSD, you don’t need to pay for a larger drive suitable for mass storage. If you only use your computer for simple applications (like emails, word processing, etc.), then a drive with a lower capacity will be sufficient for you.

If you just want an SSD to install the operating system on your PC, purchase one with a 64GB or 128GB capacity. In the case of Mac OS, the minimum recommended capacity is 250 GB. If you are upgrading an older computer, you should install a drive with a greater capacity (of at least 500 GB), that has enough storage space for all your existing files and programs.

SSDs store files using microchips.
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Memory capacity

The memory capacity of a hard disk is typically measured in gigabytes (GB) or terabytes (TB). We advise that for a laptop you should buy a drive with a capacity of at least 250 GB. However, bigger is better when it comes to storage drives, so 500 GB or more is preferable. In the case of a desktop computer, you should purchase an SSD with a minimum 1 TB of storage capacity.

However, if you only want the SSD to install the operating system of your computer, you can purchase a smaller drive. In this case, as we mentioned previously, the requirements are different for PCs and Macs. For a PC, a 64 GB or 128 GB SSD will be sufficient. However for installing Mac OS, you will need a drive with a capacity of at least 250 GB.

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“It’s hardware that makes a machine fast. It’s software that makes a fast machine slow”.

Read and write speeds

If you are buying an SSD in today’s market, you should not settle for a device with speeds below 500 MB per second over SATA for both reading and writing. You can find very cheap SSD drives on the market that offer lower speeds. However, in our opinion they are not worth buying – as speed is the main benefit of an SSD.

When buying an SSD, it is vital that you know the specifications of your motherboard. It won’t help if you buy a very powerful drive, if you have a very old motherboard. As this mean that you will not be able to benefit from the maximum power of the SSD.

Size

SSDs are made in the same standard sizes as used by traditional hard disk drives. These are the 2.5 and 3.5 inch formats, which are the most versatile. If you need an SSD for a laptop, you must buy a 2.5 inch drive. For desktops you can opt for either size.

M.2 is another very popular format, and has the advantages of an even smaller size and weight, while consuming less power. Its dimensions are 3.1″ x 0.9″ x 0.1″. However, they are more expensive and less versatile than drives of a standard format. This option, although only suitable for desktop computers, can connect directly to a PCI slot on the motherboard – giving the fastest possible read and write speeds.

Some hard drives have innovative and modern designs.
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Connection bus

2.5 and 3.5 inch discs are connected via the SATA interface. These days, it is not worth buying anything that does not support SATA-III at 6 Gbps. The M.2 can connect via both SATA and PCIe. An M.2 drive with a PCIe interface offers the best possible performance.

M.2 drives with a PCIe interface can reach speeds up to five times faster than a device connected to SATA. The current price for this type of system is significantly more expensive, however the difference continues to narrow. In any case, they are the future of storage drives for PCs, and will soon be the industry standard.

Controller

The controller is a fundamental component of an SSD. It ensures proper functionality and is essentially the “brain” of the device. In this way, it is in charge of indicating the place where each package of data should be read or written. A good controller will help to prolong the life of an SSD disk.

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Did you know that the first company to market hard drives was IBM in 1956?

Durability

Unfortunately, one of the disadvantages of SSDs is that they only have a limited number of write operations. In addition, they are more vulnerable to power failures, which can cause data corruption or failure of the drive. However, in the last few years the reliability of SSDs has greatly improved.

To make sure you buy equipment that will last, you can check the manufacturer’s warranty. Some of the leading brands offer guarantees of up to 5 years. Professional models often offer warranties up to 10 years. In general, the estimated average life of an SSD is between 5 and 7 years.

Brand

The top manufacturers of SSD hard drives are Samsung, Kingston, OCZ (Toshiba), SanDisk (WD) and Crucial. These brands all sell drives at very reasonable prices, with solid levels of performance and decent capacity. In addition, all these brands tend to update their products frequently.

Of all the brands we mentioned, without a doubt, the manufacturer that stands out above the rest is Samsung. Especially with the Samsung 970 EVO and Samsung 970 PRO models, which offer excellent performance. As always, we advise avoiding cheap brands that offer very poor reliability.

Summary

SSDs are here to stay and will be a part of our lives for a long time. At the moment, they are a fairly new technology, which is why most people still don’t know very much about them. This can make buying an SSD drive a difficult task for some people.

It is important that you at least have a basic understanding of the characteristics of SSDs and how they work. You also need to take into account several factors such as speed, size and connection bus. Price and the brand of the drive you decide to buy are also key factors that will influence your decision.

We hope you have found this guide useful, and that it has helped you decide which SSD you are going to purchase. If so, please be sure to share it with your friends and family.

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