An SSD, or Solid State Drive, is a relatively new type of computer storage device. SSDs replace the mechanical, magnetic components that are found in HDDs (Hard Drive) with much faster, much more reliable solid-state components.
While SSDs are much newer than Hard Drives, they have been around long enough for the technology to mature a significant amount. In 2021 there are many SSD brands on the market that all offer solid-state drives with varying levels of performance and reliability.
So, if you are new to these new devices or you just don’t know much about computers, it can be hard to make a purchasing decision.
The three SSD brands to avoid would be Kingspec, Intel, and Western Digital. SSDs by these companies will often lack modern technologies and will provide an inconsistent user experience at best. Samsung, PNY, and Sandisk, however, are known to make some of the highest performance and best value SSDs you can get.
In this article, we will go over the most important things to consider when buying an SSD. We will also give some examples on what not to buy and why. After that, we will give our recommendations for some fantastic solid state drives.
A Little More on How SSDs Work
Even though they are solid state devices, reliability is still a vital aspect of an SSD. This is because the write operation in these devices so destructive. Every time you write to a NAND flash chip, you burn it up to a certain degree. This sound bad, but remember, these are precisely manufactured silicon devices.
So, the drives that are built with these chips can work for long, long after a hard drive would have died will running the same workload. So, when it comes to an SSD, you can trust it with your data. Also, they are faster and much compact than hard disk drives.
SDDs are more durable than HDDs and their small size and lower power consumption feature make it best to use for laptops and computers. Given below are the 10 points that you should consider before purchasing a solid-state drive.
What to Look For When Buying an SSD
SSD capacity ranges from 128GB all the way up to a 8TB. Various brands on the market offer different minimum and maximum capacities, all at different price-points. With an SSD, it’s important to choose capacity wisely and according to your needs.
An SSDs performance boils down to just one thing other than the performance of the NAND chips themselves, and that’s the SSD controller. An SSD controller is an entire computer system and its sole responsibility is to move your data in and out of the SSD’s flash chips. Like any computer comparison, they vary in performance.
Remember, when the drive reads, writes, or erases, its the controller doing all that work. So, it’s important to have a high performance controller in a high performance SSD as to not create a performance bottleneck.
P/E, or Program-erase cycles is the number of series events in which the data is written, erased, and then re-written that the NAND flash chips can handle. The more the better, and expect the best SSD to have P/E cycles ranging between 500 and 100,000.
Error Correction Code (ECC)
These days, SSDs are being built with ECC (Error Correction Code) and detection mechanisms. This helps protect the data that is stored inside the NAND flash chips from corruption. It’s always good to make sure to get an SSD that has ECC support.
Meantime Between Failures (MTBF)
Meantime between failures is a measure of how how reliable any component is expected to be. This applies to not only SSDs, but anything that wears out over time. You can think of MTBF as an SSDs expected lifetime.
Manufacturing technology is 2021 is pretty advanced, so companies are able to offer MTBFs well over a million hours! So, when you are looking to purchase an SSD, make sure to get one with the highest MTBF hours you can find.
Trim support is a feature in an SSD that enables them to perform constantly over long periods of time. This is made possible by cleaning and optimizing deleted files. This trim feature will be taken care of by any modern operating system automatically in software.
It’s important to remember that if you are purchasing an SSD for an old PC that has an old operating system then you need to make sure to get an SSD that internally supports the trim feature.
SSD use one of four different types of NAND cell technologies. The different types are SLC (Single-Level Cell), MLC (Multi-Level Cell), TLC (Triple-Level Cell), you guessed it, QLC (Quad-Level C). Each of these different arrangements has their own pros and cons.
Standard-sized 2.5″ SSDs come with a built-in ACHI compatible SATA controller. While NAND flash memory speeds can be blisteringly fast, any SSD that uses the 2.5″ formfactor is limited to maximum speed of the SATA controller on their motherboard.
Right now the SATA interface is on version 3. SATA version 3.0 has a maximum transfer rate of 6 gigabits per second.
Not gigabytes, but gigabits. Remember, there are 8 bits in a byte. So, if you do the math and consider the 8B/10B encoding that has to be used to keep the high-clock-speed SATA signal stable, this comes out to about 500 Megabytes per second.
The formfactor of the SSD can be a make or break situation in terms of compatibility. As stated above, if you are getting a 2.5″ SSD the best you can expect is 500MB per second. The bad thing is, is you may not have an option. If you have a laptop that has a SATA Hard Drive and no M.2 slot, then you are going to have to buy a 2.5″ drive. M.2 and PCIe drives are much faster, though.
Warranty and Support
SSDs are not all created equally and under the hood they are quite complex. So, its important to buy an SSD that uses the latest technology that is made by a reputable company. This way you will get better performance and a longer life. So, before you make your purchase, read customer reviews. The best SSDs are usually from brands like Toshiba, Silicon Power, and Samsung.
Great, so now that we have all the terminology understood, lets take a look at some low-quality SSDs.
Kingspec is among the top SSD brands to avoid on a lot of internet buying guides for a good reason. Kingspec is known to be a very low-end manufacturer of SSDs. This company is known for using bottom of the barrel NAND chips and controllers that are several generations behind other manufactures. These drives have poor reviews on Amazon for a good reason.
Kingspec drives are known to fail prematurely and offer lackluster performance that, often times, doesn’t even max out the 500MB per second bandwidth limit of the SATA bus.
2. Western Digital
You don’t want to buy an SSD from a hard drive manufacturer. While Western Digital makes some of the best Hard Drives you can get, the same cannot be said about their solid state drives.
Being such an entrenched company in the mechanical storage industry, Western Digital was late to the game when it came to making SSDs. Like Seagate, Western Digital was hoping that SSDs were just a fad or would remain niche fields due to their high cost.
But considering the fact that SSDs are made with the same technology that the microprocessor is built on, they enjoy many of the same aspects of Moore’s law.
Intel is a company that used to be known for making the best CPUs you can get. However, its rival AMD long ago knocked Intel off the top of the performance charts with its far superiors Ryzen processors. Since then, it has been a ‘Tortes and The Hair’ situation with Intel.
The company got complacent in all aspects and many sectors of their business is suffering today as a result. The Intel modem chips that were used in some popular iPhone models were known to have performance and reliability issues, and they have not been able to make a good CPU for many years now.
You can bet yourself a million dollars and one cent that some of the mismanagement that has driven Intel into the ground will manifest itself in your SSD in one form or another. Don’t buy intel products.
With all that being said, there are some really great SSD manufacturers out there. Samsung makes the most reliable and highest performance SSDs, while Sandisk makes long-lasting high-value SSDs. PNY lies somewhere in between the two in terms of a cost to performance balance.
The Best SSDs That You Can Buy Right Now
1. SAMSUNG 870 EVO 500GB 2.5 Inch SATA III Internal SSD
This is one of the best selling Internal SSDs that was ever made. The Samsung Evo series is seriously built for endurance. It’s not uncommon to find one of these drives living 5 or 10 times longer than Samsung rates it for.
These drives offer some of the longest MTBF you can get for an SSD. In addition to being rock solid, Samsung Evo drives are also known to be quite fast. Yes, the maximum speed the SATA3 bus can deliver, but that is often not the only bottleneck for a SATA SSD.
If the controller and NAND memory cannot perform read and write operations fast enough, actual drive performance will drop far below the SATA limit.
Thats when the power of the Samsung Evo comes into play. These controllers in these drives (and the NAND chips Samsung uses) are of the highest quality. You won’t be seeing any slow-downs hear.
2. PNY CS900 500GB 3D NAND 2.5″ SATA III Internal Solid State Drive
PNY is an excellent second choice to Samsung. If you are on a budget but still want fast, consistent SSD performance, PNY is the way to go. PNY finds an almost perfect balance between price, storage size, and speed.This low-cost SSD can turn a 10 year old PC into a quite fast machine. This is possible because the components that make your computer feel ‘slow’ are usually not its CPU or memory. It’s the storage sub-system.
Read and write speeds are a little slower on this drive. Sandisk says 535MB read and 450MB/s write, but you can expect real-world figures to sit around the 350MB per second mark. That is still substantially faster than a hard drive.The great thing about Sandisk SSDs is they come with a 3 year warranty. You can pick this drive up on Amazon today.
These days, there are a lot of SSD brands on the market, so if you are less familiar with computer technology, it can be hard to know which one is the best one to buy.
The SSD brands to avoid are Kingspec, Intel, and Western Digital, while Samsung, PNY, and Sandisk, have some pretty attractive offerings that are both reliable and high performance.
We hope learning a little more about SSDs and what what SSD brands to avoid helped you make a better buying choice.