Complete Guide On How To Choose The Perfect SSD
Nowadays it is very common to have an SSD (solid-state drive) on your computer. I remember a couple of years back, the only storage option we had were HDD ( hard disk drive). Then the SSD arrived on the market, but like any new technology the prices were absurd, only people with a lot of money could purchase them.
However, as the years pass and the continuous price drop, SSDs have become accessible to virtually anyone now. To be honest, SSDs are more expensive per GB than regular hard drives, their incredible boost in performance definitely makes having one worth it.
SSD serves the same purpose as a standard mechanical hard drive. It just uses different technology to do its job a whole lot better. That is one of the main reason it is very popular among PC enthusiast and gamers. I remember the first time I installed an SSD on my gaming machine. I could not believe how quick it booted.
In this article, we are going to explore more in depth what is an SSD, how they compare to HDDs and what to overlook when purchasing one. Here is our guide on how to choose the perfect SSD.
Here is an awesome infographic on the difference between an HDD and an SSD.
What is a Solid State Drive?
A Solid State Drive is a data storage device that uses integrated circuits to store persistent data. A good example would be to think of an SSD as an oversized USB memory stick. SSDs have no moving mechanical components and information is fed into it is stored in microchips.
SSD uses a unique type of based memory. The NAND-based flash memory, which is a type of non-volatile memory that retains data when power is lost. That means the SSD does not “forget” information stored on it even when turned off. This is one of the most important characteristics of permanent memory.
To make it simple, the data in an SSD is stored in the form of blocks. As a result, its processes seem to be more efficient and direct unlike those in a mechanical hard drive. Every SSD includes a controller that incorporates the electronics that bridge the NAND memory components to the host computer.
The controller also know has embedded processor is one of the most crucial factors regarding the SSD performance. The controller performs several operations related to data reading and writing. Another important task the embedded processor does is the decision making related to how information is stored, retrieved, cached and cleaned up. Which is critical.
The Controller performs a lot of other important tasks such as error detection & correction, garbage collection, encryption and much more. The controller is crucial in determining the operating speed of the SSD. The difference between an excellent and a good SSD can be determined by the controller technology.
SSDs are a little bit smaller than a regular HDD. For desktop, SSDs are 2.5″ drives compare to mechanical hard drives of 3.5″ drives. Usually, the type of connector used for SSD this size is often SATA.
As I mentioned earlier the price of SSD has been going down over the years, making them way more accessible for everyone. However, they remain more expensive than your typical HDD (24 cents per GB as of 2017) to be exact. Consumer-Grade SSDs are (as of 2017) still roughly four times more expensive per unit of storage than consumer-grade HDDs.
Despite that, I still believe everyone should invest in an SSD, the benefits your PC will gain from having one are just incredible. I can’t see myself building a computer without one.
SSD VS. HDD
SSD and HDD have the same role on your computer. Both of them boot your computer, store applications, video games and personal files. Even if they do the same job, both of them have a unique set of features that make them different. We will overlook and compare various aspects of both storage devices.
Here is our comparison table between SSD & HDD
|Features||SSD (Solid-State Drive)||HDD ( Hard-Disk Drive)|
|Boot time/Speed||Almost instantaneous. No mechanical components to prepare. May need a few milliseconds to come out of an automatic power-saving mode. SSD have a better overall performance than HDD.||Disk spin-up may take several seconds. Even after booting, an HDD needs time to speed up to the operating specifications and slows down during normal operations.|
|Random access time||Typically under 0.1 ms. As data can be retrieved directly from various locations of the flash memory, access time is usually not a significant performance bottleneck.||Ranges from 2.9 (high end server drive) to 12 ms (laptop HDD) due to the need to move the heads and wait for the data to rotate under the read/write head.|
|Storage Capacity||The biggest SSD on the market at the moment is a 2TB SSD. Which is a lot but it can fill up fast, especially if you're a gamer.||The biggest HDD on the market at the moment is an 8TB HDD. Which is very massive even for a gamer.|
|Power consumption||High-performance flash-based SSDs generally require half to a third of the power of HDDs.||The highest-performance 3.5-inch drives can use up to about 20 watts.|
|Read/write performance symmetry||Less expensive SSDs typically have write speeds significantly lower than their read speeds. Higher performing SSDs have similar read and write speeds.||HDDs generally have slightly longer (worse) seek times for writing than for reading.|
|Noise and Vibration||An SSD does not have moving parts as does an HDD. As a result, there is no sound or vibration when the PC is processing data. Perfect for gamers.||Audible clicks, spinning, and vibrations are a common scenario in PCs with an HDD. Faster HDD’s make more noise due to the vigorous back and forth movement of the read arm.|
What to Look for When Choosing an SSD
As you may expect there is a lot of different SSD to choose from, and it can get confusing to pick the perfect one for your gaming machine. If you are unsure what to look for it could lead you to pay to much, or choose an unreliable SSD.
Here we are going overlook important point to overlook before purchasing an SSD:
- Price: This is a pretty important factor, especially if you’re on a budget. People who have a moderate budget go for SSD in the 128GB-250GB and pair it with a 1TB HDD combo. That is currently my setup and to be honest I never have room problem, even if I have over 20 games installed on my computer
- Maximum Speed: This is another crucial point when purchasing an SSD. Usually, when you’re shopping for an SSD you want to look for a maximum read speed of 550 MB/s, and a maximum write speed of 500 MB/s. Most average SSD have a common read speed of 550 MB/s, unlike the write speed, it tends to vary. However, even if you purchase an SSD with lower average speed, you will see an incredible increase in performance.
- Drive Capacity: This depends on your needs and your budget. Lower storage space means less expensive SSD, more storage means more expensive. For someone with an average budget, most people pick an SSD with 250GB of storage space, perfect to install your operating system and a couple of applications/video games. Another option would be to buy a 1TB SSD while doing that you won’t need to pair it with an HDD, as 1TB of space is more than enough.
- Manufacturer: Nowadays pretty much any SSD is good, but there’s always these no-names brands that are a little bit shady. I don’t want to judge, but when you invest a small amount of money on an important piece of hardware for your gaming PC, I’d rather go for a good brand. Samsung, Crucial or SanDisk are all good brands. There are many other good brands out there you just need to find them.
- SATA 3 Support: While pretty much all SSDs, use SATA interface, the difference in speed between SATA 1, 2 and 3 makes a noticeable difference. SATA 1 can transfer data at 1.5 Gbps (max), SATA 2 at 3.0 Gbps, and SATA 3 at 6 Gbps. SSDs connected using SATA 3 transfer data at double the rate of SATA 2. So if you have new motherboard that comes with SATA 3 interface, it is best that the SSD that you are purchasing supports it too.
This concludes our guide on how to choose the perfect SSD. As you may have seen above picking the right SSD can be a hard and difficult task, but with the right information, it can become pretty simple.
Like I always say to people who want to build their first gaming PC. You have to include an SSD, it will completely change your system’s performance, and you will likely never go back to an HDD-only machine, just like me.
Like I mentioned above, now that the price of SSDs is declining over the years, they are now more affordable than ever. So, if you’re looking for an overall performance boost for your machine, you should consider adding an SSD to your machine.
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