In our SSD buying guide, we arm you with all the knowledge you need to help you make an informed buying decision. We’ll help you choose the right brands, explain the different SSD technologies, and explain how much you should spend on different types of SSD.
Hopefully by the end of our guide, you will know everything there is to know about buying solid state drives. If you are not going to buy a solid state drive today, be sure to bookmark this page so you have information when you decide to buy it.
Why buy an SSD?
It’s pretty straightforward – SSDs are much faster than standard hard drives and are generally less likely to fail. Solid state drives use flash cells that are charged with electricity. The cells remember their state forever. Your computer reads a charged cell as 1 and an uncharged cell as 0 in binary.
On the other hand, hard drives are more like turntables with moving parts. The real hand has to press down on the disc to physically write to it. When reading a disc, do the same.
As you can imagine, moving parts do not contribute to durability. Hard drives can slow down over time and fail completely. Solid state drives can also break down as cells are used and reused over and over again, but they are predicted to last much longer.
Obviously, longevity isn’t the main benefit of SSDs. It’s all about speed. In comparison, a high-performance 7200 RPM drive has read / write speeds up to 210 MB / s, while an entry-level SSD like the Crucial CT250MX has read / write speeds up to 560/510 MB / s. More advanced solid state drives can perform much faster.
In terms of real-world performance, this means several things:
- Much faster load times
- Programs load faster
- Less stuttering and freezing in video games.
- Shorter file transfer times.
- Programs run better side by side.
What types of solid state drives are there?
Aside from the various form factors for a second, there are two SSD technologies on sale right now. We have the typical SATA 3 AHCI SSD and then we have the NVME SSD. Both NVME and AHCI are types of software “controller” used to communicate with drives.
AHCI is an older and older technology, whereas NVME is much newer and faster. As a result, an NVME solid state drive is significantly more expensive than a SATA solid state drive. To complicate matters, NVME’s full potential is only achieved when navigating through large files. We’ve explained more in our SSD technology review.
For boot times, gaming or light office work, the difference in speed between NVME and AHCI SSD is only a few seconds. When moving large files or editing videos and photos, the difference will be very noticeable. We speak almost 7 times faster. Below is an overview of the various file transfer speeds and download times.
Read / Write Speed:
- 7200 RPM HD – up to 210 MB / s
- SSD SATA 3 – up to 550 MB / s
- SSD NVME – up to 3500 MB / s.
Boot time (estimated):
- 7200 RPM HD – 36 seconds
- Sata 3 SSD Boot time – 9 seconds
- NVME SSD – 6 seconds
Loading times based on this video
As you can see, the boot time from HDD to SSD has been significantly reduced. The transition from SSD to NVME is very small. However, NVME still has a big advantage in file read / write speed when it comes to larger files.
So with that in mind, choose NVME if you want the fastest possible speed to move large files. If you don’t have to, you can spend the same budget on a larger SSD.
How much should i pay for a Sata 3 SSD?
Although prices for solid state drives have been steadily declining, they are still more expensive than traditional hard drives. The amount you pay per gigabyte will depend on the brand and capacity of the drive you choose. At the time of writing, we have been tracking the prices of various SSD drives on Amazon and have found that the average price to pay for a drive of varying capacities is shown below.
- 1TB Disk: Average $ 135
- 500GB Disk: Average $ 67
- 250GB Disk: Average $ 44
- 120GB Disk: Average $ 24
How much should an NVME drive?
As mentioned earlier, NVME drives are more expensive than standard SSD drives. You should also make sure you have a suitable M.2 connector on your motherboard before purchasing one. An M.2 connector looks like this:
While the standard prices for SSDs are very similar from one manufacturer to another, NVME drives are different. For example, you can pay around $ 250 for a 1TB Samsung 970 PRO or $ 145 for a 1TB Crucial P1.
If prices are below $ 200, there is usually a catch. Take the P1 for example – it has a maximum speed of 2000 MB / s reading and 1500 MB / s writing. The Samsung 970 PRO, by contrast, has read / write speeds of up to 3500 MB / s.
For a true NVME SSD with full speed potential, you are looking at the following average prices:
- 1TB Drive: Average $ 240
- 500GB Drive: Average $ 130
- 250GB Disk: Average $ 80
- 120GB Disk: Average $ 50
If you see a product at a significantly slower speed, read the description carefully and read the reviews online to understand why.
Which SSD Brands Are Trusted?
Buying an SSD from a reputable manufacturer is important because fixing your flash memory can be tricky. If longevity is your concern, you should target brands that have proven track record in producing durable actuators.
An interesting experiment showed that Kingston, Samsung and Corsair drives survive after writing 1000 TB of data. Keep in mind that this is a lot of data. Other lesser known brands may not last very long.
The best thing you can do when choosing a drive is to read customer reviews for durability and research brand information online for potential issues. After all, is a small price cut really worth it when you might prefer a less reliable brand over a trustworthy one?
Although this study was conducted on typical AHCI SATA 3 drives, we are confident that similar results will be obtained on an NVME drive.
Thanks for reading our SSD buying guide. We hope this guide was informative enough to help you make your next purchase.
More questions about SSDs? You can tweet me and I’ll be happy to answer. Enjoy!