Choosing the SSD: Easy and helpful hints

If you want to enjoy working on your computer, we suggest replacing your hard drive with an SSD. SSD installation will speed up system performance many times over. All that remains is to decide on a specific model. And don’t buy a drive that is not supported by your hardware.


SSD Varieties

Originally all solid state drives belonged to the same form factor. They were connected to the motherboard via a SATA interface, like all hard drives. However, the bandwidth of this connector soon became insufficient. As a result, you can now find three varieties of SSDs on store shelves:

  1. External SSD – usually connected through a USB 3.0 or USB 3.1. is mostly used for storing all sorts of media files. Not worth buying if you want to get a faster experience with your operating system.

  2. The internal SSD with SATA interface is a familiar drive in a 2.5-inch form factor. It has a rather modest, but still not record-small size. SSDs like these are hitting the ceiling of the interface in use, preventing them from reading data at speeds higher than 550 MB/s.

  3. SSD with an M.2, these drives are now becoming more and more popular. They have the smallest size and work through PCI-Express lines allows you to read data at speeds measured in gigabytes per second! But not every motherboard will have one of these connectors.

Of course, these are actually not all kinds of SSDs. There are just not many more plugs available on the market. But let’s mention them anyway:

  1. SSDs that connect to PCI-Express – most often at 780 MB/s or better. Used in PCs and servers.

  2. SSD for the mSATA connector – small in size and as fast as 550MB/sec.

  3. SATA Express SSD – offering up to 40% faster performance than a standard SATA III SSD. However, this parameter may no longer suit the modern user, so the corresponding connector has become relatively rare in motherboards.

  4. SSD with an M connector.2 SATA can not boast a particularly high speed reading and writing, so it will not be of particular interest to the modern PC owner.

  5. M connector drives.2 PCI-Express SSDs have data transfer rates comparable to SATA Express SSDs.

In short, gradually the range of SSDs has expanded considerably. How to choose the right SSD for you?

Examine Your Computer

The first thing you need to know is which SSDs are supported by your PC. If you are using a laptop, it is better to look at its manual, or read the characteristics listed on the official website of the manufacturer.

As we wrote above, two types of SSDs are the most popular right now. Most desktop computers will have an SSD designed for the SATA connector, as almost every modern motherboard has one. This is also the interface into which most notebooks connect their hard drives – so you can easily swap it out for an SSD.

But if your laptop or desktop computer is equipped with an M.If you buy a SATA 2 HDD, you must buy the correct one. Just do not forget to pay attention to the type of memory used by it – some SSD for this slot can not boast a particularly high speed of reading and writing. However, the M connector itself.2 can also be different, and therefore the speeds it can support vary greatly. Check the specs of your motherboard or notebook computer in detail. You need to check what kind of key has the M.2:

  1. The B-key indicates that the interface takes advantage of PCI-Express 2.0×2. This means you can expect a throughput of no more than 800 MB/sec. Buy a faster SSD only if you expect to buy a new motherboard soon.

  2. Well, the M-key says that a PCI-Express 3 bus is used.0x4, which has a maximum supported bandwidth of about 3 GB/s.

B-key SSDs have a notch in the contact area on one side, and M-key SSDs on the other. However, nowadays products with notches on both sides are becoming more and more popular, thanks to which they can be inserted into the slot M.2 with any key.

But that’s not all! If you have a laptop, then under the installation of SSD with socket M.2 will be allocated very little space. As you have already guessed, SSDs are of different lengths, so the model you bought can suddenly not fit into the allocated space. Such SSDs are divided mainly into three types according to their size: 2242, 2260 and 2280. The first two numbers indicate the 22 mm width and the last two numbers indicate the length. Try not to make a wrong purchase, taking a 2280 formatted drive, when the board is only allocated space for 2260.

Memory capacity

Memory capacity

Almost the first thing you must decide is how much memory you need. This is what determines how much you will have to spend.

If you are going to store only the operating system on the SSD, you will be fine with the 250 GB model. You can save even more, but in this case you run the risk that some very large program, such as video editing, may not want to be installed on the C drive. And you need to reserve some space for restore points, so that you can get your operating system up and running if something happens to it.

If you want to put not only the OS but also a couple of games on the SSD, it is better to buy a model with 500 GB of memory. In this case, we recommend that you also transfer all of your photos to the new drive. Afterwards they will boot in any viewer almost instantly.

Finally, those who are going to store even the media data on it will need a 1TB SSD or even more will need it. Or for those who are not going to limit themselves to a couple of games. And it is also the only sensible option for owners of laptops where it is not possible to use two drives. Of course, you may still choose a model with a smaller capacity – in this case you will need to have an external hard drive on hand at all times. Or install an SSD instead of an optical drive, if you have one on your laptop.

By the way, do not forget about the existence of external SSDs. For professional video work, it is better to get a pair of these accessories, connecting them through one or the other high-speed interface.

Type of flash memory

If you thought this was the end of the SSD selection process, we are sorry to disappoint you. You will also need to think about the type of flash memory the drive is designed for.

The main difference between different memory chips is how many bits each cell stores. The most popular types of memory are as follows:

  1. SLC – one cell stores only one bit, but supports up to 100 thousand bits. overwrite cycles;

  2. MLC – one cell stores two bits, but only 3000 overwrite cycles are supported;

  3. TLC – one cell stores up to three bits and supports only 1000 write cycles.

And the more bits each cell contains, the longer it takes to read and write. SLC memory is the most expensive. At the same time, its structure does not allow for chips larger than 64 GB. That is why almost all manufacturers have opted for the other two types of memory.

Do not be frightened by the insufficient number of read cycles! If the creators of the SSD said 3000 cycles, it means that their 100GB drive will “digest” 300 TB of data. Or twice as much if the SSD is 200 GB. Yet another reason to buy a drive with more storage capacity nowadays.

It’s worth pointing out that TLC technology comes from traditional USB flash drives. That is why this memory is quite inexpensive. At the same time for the sake of creating SSD with a large amount of memory technology has been slightly redesigned, while at the same time making it more reliable. But this does not change the fact that it is very slow – usually from it squeeze out no more than 500 MB / s. However, if your computer only has SATA connectors, that will be enough for you. And do not forget that it is certainly faster than hard disks can achieve.

Memory controller

Memory controller

Another important component of any SSD is a controller. Roughly speaking, it’s the chip that processes the contents of the memory. If the controller is slow, not even the best type of memory can save you, the SSD will be comparable to a regular flash drive.

Nowadays memory controllers are created by nearly a dozen large and not so large companies involved in the manufacture of electronic components. We recommend you pay attention to the following brands:

  1. Samsung – the South Korean giant builds its controllers into its own drives and also sells them externally. These chips usually have a decent amount of cache. For a long time, controllers have suffered from slow, inconsistent data writes. But starting with the chips implemented in the 850 EVO and PRO series SSDs, this problem has been solved.

  2. SandForce – controllers from this company have no “external” cache. They perfectly tolerate multi-threaded writes, not to mention reads. If the memory itself is good, you can expect extremely high write speeds. But it does crash in busy areas, not recovering even after deleting data, shrinking by about a third.

  3. Intel – this company was one of the first to produce SSDs. As they say, the company has already made memory controllers and other SSD components. No wonder, since its products are actively used in servers. Their controllers are maximum stable when reading data. But not always they can boast high write speeds.

  4. Indi

  5. nx – this company has a very high write performance. The speed in this mode is almost equal to what is shown when reading information! That’s what allows us to recommend SSDs with this chip to store large files, such as videos shot in high definition. Indi controllers have
  6. nx and cleanup support, but this technology works – slightly worse than Intel’s controllers. It is also worth noting that the performance will depend on the amount of memory.
  7. JMicron is the worst choice. Nowadays the controllers of this company are extremely rare in SSDs. They belong to the first generation. Usually have a tiny amount of cache memory, so the drive will regularly think. High performance will definitely have to be forgotten.

  8. Marvell – this company produces very fast controllers which do not scare SSD creators by their price. They are best when used in a server environment. In write mode, however, they are not the best – the speed will be much lower than that shown when reading data.

We won’t even tell you about the other companies. But not because their products are almost never found in SSD-drives sold in our country. On the contrary, the situation is simply changing at an unbelievable rate. For example Realtek has joined the production of memory controllers. And there’s no doubt that other semiconductor giants will enter this market.

Well, what is installed there by Chinese SSD manufacturers represented in the relevant online stores – you should not be interested. We recommend to buy only the SSD from a famous company, moreover with a warranty, because then you can be sure of its quality.


From now on you understand that choosing an SSD is not such a difficult task. Now there are not so many varieties of these drives, if not divide them by the type of memory used. The hardest thing to decide is how much you are willing to spend.

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