Among the many brands in the SSD industry, choosing the suitable solid state hard drive for your computer does not seem that easy, and it’s somewhat confusing and overwhelming to most less savvy computer users. But relax, it is not something that gets on one’s nerves while you can easily find lots of guides that lead you to the right path in this regard, and this is just one of these guides. In this post you will learn the things you have to look for when planning to buy an SSD, alongside with a few recommendations that help in this regard. [Click Here to view the list of top-rated-by-experts SSDs]
You need to know firstly that even the slowest and worst solid state hard drive is considered really FAST compared to the fastest available platter-based hard drive. Amazing, is not it? And even upgrading to that WORST SSD will make you feel a tangible boost occurs to the overall performance of your system. But even though, you cannot just take any SSD without subjecting it to inspection to eventually deduce if it is the right drive for you or not.
Here are the standards you ought to look for in an SSD before you make the decision of purchase:
[*]. Multi-Level Cell (MLC) NAND flash memory: When shopping for SSDs, you’ll run into two kind of memory: multi-level cell (MLC) and single-level cell (SLC). The primary difference is that MLC memory can store more information on each cell. The advantage here is that it is cheaper to produce, and SLC is often cost-prohibitive for the average consumer. The downside is a higher rate of error, but an SSD with error-correcting code (we’ll discuss this momentarily) can help prevent these problems.
[*]. High maximum speeds: Max read speeds are around 400MB/second, and max write speeds are around 300MB/sec (note: that’s megabytes per second). These numbers do not have to be exact. A little faster or slower won’t make a significant difference.
[*]. Good real-world speeds: The SSD manufacturers generally will not provide real-world read and write speeds, as they’re guaranteed to be slower than the maximums. Fortunately, many online reviews contain speed test results. On Amazon, you can often find users who’ve posted screenshots of their test results (here’s an example). Seeing this data can often be discouraging because the real-world rates are quite a bit lower. If the test results reveal read and write speeds of about 2/3 of the maximum (in the sequential and 512KB block tests) you’re good to go. If you apply this to our maximum speeds above, that comes out to read speeds of about 265MB/sec and write speeds of about 200MB/sec. If you want to figure out if a more expensive SSD is worth the money, its real-world test speeds will be higher than 2/3 of its reported maximum capabilities.
[*]. ECC memory: Error-correcting code (ECC) memory does what the name implies: it provides your SSD with the ability to detect and correct common types of data corruption so you don’t end up with unusable data on your drive. An SSD with ECC memory is more reliable.
[*]. SATA III Support: Most SSDs use the Serial ATA (SATA) interface, but not all use the latest version and this can limit the performance of your SSD. This is because SATA I can transfer data at 1.5 Gbps, SATA II at 3.0 Gbps, and SATA III at 6 Gbps. To ensure your SSD has enough bandwidth to transfer data as quickly as possible, you want it to be compatible with SATA III. You’ll also want to make sure your computer is SATA III compatible as well. If not, SATA III-capable drives will still work as all versions of SATA are backwards-compatible. Just know that you may not get the most out of your SSD if your computer doesn’t support the most recent SATA specification.
[*]. A history of reliability: Reliability is a very hard thing to gauge, but there are a few tricks you can employ to get a good idea. First, look for an SSD that is made by a manufacturer who has been in the business for a while (I like OCZ and Crucial). The technology is fairly new, so you don’t want to go with just any company who has recently decided to jump on the solid-state bandwagon. Additionally, look at the rating each SSD receives in online shopping reviews. If it is rated a 3.5 out of 5.0 or higher, this is often points to a reliable drive. When the ratings are lower, you may want to look elsewhere. Even reliable companies make unreliable SSDs sometimes, so keep an eye on reviews to avoid buying a lemon.
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Now you may ask: But how can I know then if the drive meets these standards or not? Well, the answer is easy, you can read the reviews of geeks in the SSD industry to distinguish the best SSDs from the bad, or just simply pursue our ever-updating Best & Fastest SSD List on this link, where you can find the latest and most awarded solid state hard drives out there, and I suppose this should be a big time saver for everyone who looks for quality SSDs.
Anyway, there are many brands of SSDs available. If you have plenty of time and would rather to make your own research on each drive, that’s fine, just keep the above criteria mentioned in this section in mind as they will certainly help you find a good, reliable drive.