Solid state drives have been out for a few years now and with their falling prices they are becoming a much more affordable option for everyone. If you don’t know what a solid-state drive (SSD) is, it’s the latest in storage technology. They are significantly faster, smaller and lighter than the older style hard disk drives. They also contain no moving parts. This is especially an advantage in laptops, because when dropped you won’t knock out your hard drive. You can think of SSD’s as similar to a USB flash drive except they’re internal and higher capacities. There are multiple types of connections for SSDs, however, this article will focus only on the SATA connection for now.
Solid state drives can vary pretty dramatically in price. On the low end, you’ll see 120GB run you around $50-$60. A terabyte can range anywhere from $250 to $500. Besides just sheer storage capacity you will see variances in read/write speeds and longevity. Most companies will break these down into different series. For instance, Samsung has their Evo series and Pro series, with the Pro series being more expensive because of the increased speed. However even a cheap one is a serious boost from your old hard drive. At the minimum, you can buy one just to put your operating system on. This helps many functions and especially boot up times. A 120GB one is more than enough to fit a Windows OS on with room left over. If you’re a gamer I would invest in at least a 500GB so you can put your favorite games on it because it will greatly improve loading times. So, let’s discuss some of the most popular brands and options you will find out there today.
Samsung, by far, seems to be the most popular among people looking for SSD’s. They are reliable and however generally more expensive than the competition while pushing out some similar speeds. The two main brand options you will see are the Evo and the Pro. The have almost identical read and write speeds. The only difference between the two is the Pro runs a 2bit MLC vs the Evo 3bit TLC which basically means the Pro will last you longer and is more reliable. However, for the money, the Evo provides a great boost in speed if you are moving from a normal hard drive. The price per Gigabyte difference between the Evo and Pro ranges between $0.10-0.20/GB based on the overall size of the drive. A 2 TB Evo drive will run you around $799 while the 2 TB pro is $999.
Crucial SSD’s are a bit slower than your Samsung ones by roughly 30 MB/s on the read and write side. They are significantly cheaper with a 2TB one going for $549. You can also find 280GB models for under $100. However, the reliability of the Crucial brand hasn’t always proven to be the best. But if you are building a budget gaming PC it’s still better than using a normal HDD. Just make sure to keep a backup handy.
SanDisk is quite similar to Crucial. Except it’s write speeds are significantly lower than either Samsung or Crucial. While it maintains a decent read speed of 540 MB/s the read speed is almost 100 MB/s slower than the competition at 450 MB/s. SanDisk does offer an Extreme Pro edition that takes the write speed up to 515 MB/s which is still slower than both Crucial and Samsung. With the Extreme Pro edition coming in at $699.99 for just 960 GBs I’d definitely get the 2 TB Samsung EVO for an extra $100. The regular SanDisk Plus addition is very competitively priced however and another good option for budget builds.
The Kingston entry level A400 series SSD is one of the slowest I have seen with a read speed of 500 MB/s and a write speed of 450 MB/s. In total that’s 150 MB/s slower than your Samsung or Crucial. The entry level cards also only range in sizes from 120-480GB. A 240GB one will run you $89 in which case you are better off going with a different brand. Their mid-level UV400 takes the speeds up to a more competitive level with the read speed at 550 MB/s and the write speed at 500 Mb/s. A 960 GB one will run you around $400 which is much better pricing than SanDisk but not quite as competitive as Crucial. However, Kingston does have a reputation for making reliable products which may offer a better value to the buyer over Crucial.
There are a few other brands worth mentioning that are not as common or popular as those above.
Corsair: While Corsair makes some outstanding PC hardware such as cases and all-in-one liquid coolers their SSDs don’t seem to perform as well as other brands.
Intel: While Intel makes great drives that are very reliable they are generally incredibly overpriced in today’s market. You can easily save money and buy a drive from another brand that is just as good.
PNY and Western Digital: You should do yourself a favor and not waste money on either of these brands. There is a reason they are incredibly cheap and you will certainly notice it.
Mushkin: Mushkin is also an inexpensive smaller brand. The difference is they seem to make a more quality product. However, I would give them a few more years to try and establish themselves as a major player in the SSD world before fully buying into them.