The 10 Best Solid State Drives

Updated May 22, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

10 Best Solid State Drives
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 36 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. Solid-state drives offer huge advantages over traditional hard disk drives, such as incredible transfer rates, impressive durability, and ultra-low power usage. Now that their prices have entered a sensible, consumer-friendly range, SSDs are finally a popular means of increasing system storage as well as overall speed. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best solid state drive on Amazon.

10. Samsung 860 Evo SATA

Though the Samsung 860 Evo SATA is not the newest member of its family, it is the best option for users looking to upgrade the tiny OEM unit that comes with most Ultrabooks. It's created with the modern M.2 form factor, the most compact format to date.
  • max capacity of 2 terabytes
  • less expensive than similar models
  • no faster than a standard sata drive
Brand Samsung
Model MZ-N6E500BW
Weight 8.8 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

9. Adata SE730H

The Adata SE730H is an ideal choice if your travels take you through jungles and deserts, or if you just have a penchant for dropping things. It features IP68-rated water and dust protection, in addition to military-grade shock resistance.
  • uses the latest usb-c standard
  • speeds up to 500 gigabytes per sec
  • pricier than non-rugged units
Model ASE730H-512GU31-CGD
Weight 3.2 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

8. XPG Gammix

The XPG Gammix is an inexpensive, yet powerful, addition to small form-factor, high-performance machines. It runs on the third-gen PCIe bus, eliminating bottlenecks and giving your hardware a fat pipeline for every last byte.
  • advanced layered flash memory
  • has a fixed heat sink
  • inconsistent speed and reliability
Brand XPG
Model S10 256GB
Weight 2.9 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

7. Samsung Pro

Meant for data-heavy projects that demand long-term reliability, the Samsung Pro series stores two bits in each cell, rather than the common three-bit operation. This results in a more thermally efficient module that holds up to prolonged use, with minimal errors.
  • consistent performance at all temps
  • twice the lifespan of most others
  • not intended for home consumers
Brand Samsung
Model MZ-V7P512BW
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Western Digital Blue

The newest Western Digital Blue is the company's foray into advanced technology that stacks multiple levels of NAND memory, allowing for more compact chips at lower costs. As such, this one's a frugal choice, and one that's backed by a respectable pedigree.
  • great value for a 1-terabyte drive
  • laptop-ready 7-millimeter profile
  • not the highest performing model
Brand Western Digital
Model WDS100T2B0A
Weight 5.6 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

5. My Passport

Western Digital's My Passport is a great solution for the traveler who needs a little entertainment, or the multimedia professional with tons of data to move. It's built with a single type C port, which is backwards-compatible with older USB versions.
  • especially thin and light
  • inexpensive for a portable option
  • a bit slower than the competition
Brand Western Digital
Weight 4.2 ounces
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

4. Samsung 860 Evo

Gamers herald the Samsung 860 Evo as a savior, due to its unmatched ability to drastically cut load times for nearly any desktop user. It communicates using the SATA III standard, and at 7 millimeters thick, it will also fit in most full- and mid-size laptops.
  • ultra-fast sequential write speeds
  • longer lifespan than prior models
  • limited by overall bus speed
Brand Samsung
Model MZ-76E500B/AM
Weight 0.6 ounces
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

3. Samsung T5

If you need fast access to files on various computers, the Samsung T5 is the number 1 choice. It outpaces most other self-contained drives, thanks to its cutting-edge connectivity protocol, which is based on the new and versatile USB-C connector.
  • built-in 256-bit hardware encryption
  • not much bigger than a credit card
  • rugged all-metal body
Brand Samsung
Model MU-PA500B/AM
Weight 6.4 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. 970 Evo

Samsung's flagship 970 Evo is about as evolved as end-user storage gets right now, and it moves ones and zeroes faster than almost anything else. It is a bit pricey, but if you have a PC that can take advantage of this speed demon, the added cost will likely be negligible.
  • leads the pack in tests
  • integrated sensor-controlled cooling
  • lasts a minimum of 600 full rewrites
Brand Samsung
Model MZ-V7E2T0BW
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Crucial MX500

The Crucial MX500 is the perfect way to revitalize any old PC, large or small, that gets bogged down while running today's resource-intensive programs. It's a remarkably affordable upgrade that will make everyday browsing smooth and seamless.
  • excellent real-world speeds
  • up to 2 terabytes of space
  • great for all new operating systems
Brand Crucial
Model CT500MX500SSD1Z
Weight 2.9 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Understanding How A Computer's Memory Works

In the most basic sense, a computer's memory has three parts: cache, the memory, and the hard disk. Each one of these parts performs a specific function.

The cache, which is the innermost memory unit, performs the calculations and procedures of your computer as it operates. It is a component of the high-speed static RAM, also known as SRAM. The majority of programs a computer uses access the same data again and again, storing this data in the SRAM allows the computer to access this information as quickly as possible, without having to access the DRAM, which is slightly slower.

This makes a computer more efficient when running commonly used programs. The electrical pathways to the cache are shorter than the pathways to the memory or the hard disk, making data available nearly instantaneously.

The memory, most often referred to as RAM, is where a computer stores information that is related to processes and programs that are currently active. RAM storage is temporary and it is only stored while a computer is powered on. It helps a computer run memory-extensive programs more quickly by temporarily transferring that programs information from the hard disk to the RAM. RAM can achieve speeds exceeding 15,000mbps, making accessing information on it much faster than accessing memory on a standard hard drive, which can reach speeds somewhere in the area of 1,000mbps.

All other information on a computer is stored in the hard drive, including program data, files, images, settings, etc. In order to access this information, a computer must first load it from the hard drive to the RAM, which makes the process take longer. The cache and RAM operate in nanoseconds, while the hard drive operates in milliseconds.

With traditional hard disk drives, the computer has to wait for the hard drive to spin and its arm to locate the exact place on the disk to access the memory needed before it can be transferred to the RAM. A solid state drive has no moving parts and can access the necessary data 10 times quicker than a spinning hard disk drive.

Why Solid State Drives Are Faster Than Hard Disk Drives

Hard disk drives (HDD) store their data on a series of spinning magnetic disks. To access or add information onto one of these drives, an actuator arm has to move into position over the correct spot on the disk. It works in a very similar manner to a record player. This causes a significant wait time when accessing or writing data on a hard disk drive.

Not only must the computer wait for the disk to spin into the proper position, but sometimes data is stored in multiple locations, which takes even more time to access because the actuator has to move from place to place. If a drive is in sleep mode, it takes additional time for it to spin up to full speed. On average, it takes from 10 to 15 milliseconds for a traditional hard disk drive to find data and begin accessing it.

Solid state drives (SSD) have no moving parts, hence the name solid state. Data on solid state drives is saved to a pool of NAND flash memory, which is comprised of floating gate transistors. These are different than the transistors in DRAM, which need to be refreshed multiple times per second and only store memory when powered on.

NAND flash memory is non-volatile and can store data whether it is powered on or not as it always retains its charged state. Because solid state drives have no moving parts, there is no lag time while a computer waits for the disk to spin and the actuator arm to locate the data on the disc. This allows a computer to work faster and access needed data quicker. An SSD is still slower than cache and DRAM, but easily outpaces hard disk drives.

Drawbacks Of Solid State Drives

Solid state drives are able to access data faster than hard disk drives, and when new can also write data faster, but overtime SSDs will slow down. This is because of the processes an SSD must perform before it can write to a drive. In an HDD, data can be written to any location, at any time, even if there is already data there. SSDs aren't able to overwrite data directly. They can only write data to empty page blocks. If there is no empty page blocks, the SSD must create one by deleting data before it can write new data.

SSDs read and write data at the page level, but can only erase data at the block level. This is because it requires too much voltage to erase data at the page level and it can stress the individual cells around the page cells being rewritten. For an SSD to write data onto a previously used page, it must copy all of a block's contents and save it to memory. Then it deletes the entire block, and rewrites the entire block data along with the updated page.

This is why SSDs start off being able to write data much faster than HDDs, but over time slow in performance. New SSDs are filled with empty, or mostly empty pages, but as they are used the pages and blocks begin to get filled up. Luckily there are steps you can take to increase the lifespan of your SSD's top speeds.

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Last updated on May 22, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

A traveling chef, musician, and student of the English language, Chris can be found promoting facts and perfect copy around the globe, from dense urban centers to remote mountaintops. In his free time he revels in dispelling pseudoscience, while at night he dreams of modern technology, world peace, and the Oxford comma.

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