10 Best Solid State Drives | March 2017

We spent 24 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. Solid-state storage is something we've come to expect in our smartphones and tablets, where its tiny and rugged form factor is essential. But with the capacity to read and write data at up to hundreds of times faster than traditional hard drives, it’s the speed of an SSD that makes it especially worth the upgrade in your laptop or PC. Skip to the best solid state drive on Amazon.
10 Best Solid State Drives | March 2017


Overall Rank: 8
Best Mid-Range
★★★
Overall Rank: 5
Best High-End
★★★
Overall Rank: 10
Best Inexpensive
★★★
10
The Adata SU800 3DTLC is one of the first consumer models to incorporate vertically stacked memory cells for increased density which, in combination with efficient architecture, improves write performance and readability over previous generations.
9
The Kingston Digital UV400 is an ideal way for people on a budget to upgrade their computer. It is surprisingly affordable, coming in at under $100 at its lower capacities, promises 10x performance over traditional hard disks, and is backed by a 3-year warranty.
8
Offering application and operating system load speeds up to 20 times faster than spinning hard disks, the PNY CS1311 offers a good balance of price and performance. It's also made in the USA, very rare for components of its type.
7
The Transcend SSD370 has a compact and lightweight design, packed into a shock and vibration-resistant casing. It also has built-in data loss prevention in case of power outages, and error correction to protect your files during transfers.
  • includes mounting kit
  • improves laptop battery life
  • warranty is particularly limited
Brand Transcend
Model TS512GSSD370S
Weight 5 ounces
6
Ideal for users with write-intensive PC environments, the Toshiba OCZ VX500 boasts well-balanced speed and features that will take system performance to the next level. It uses MLC, or multi-level cell, technology for improved reliability over most of its competition.
  • drastically lowers power consumption
  • great for gaming
  • a bit pricier than comparable models
Brand Toshiba OCZ
Model VX500-25SAT3-256G
Weight 3.5 ounces
5
For gamers and professionals who can afford it, the Samsung 850 Pro is the ultimate in SSD technology. It offers up to two terabytes of storage, and noticeably boosts your computer's response time so you can access files and programs in fractions of a second.
  • unmatched read and write performance
  • powerful encryption technology
  • industry leading 10-year warranty
Brand Samsung
Model MZ-7KE1T0BW
Weight 2.9 ounces
4
With cool and quiet operation, a shock and vibration-resistant construction, and an easy setup, the SanDisk G26 Plus is a top performer when it comes to storage. Great speed and wallet-friendly price points at all capacities make it a no-brainer for your next upgrade.
  • notably bolsters laptop battery life
  • includes system monitoring tools
  • backed by a three-year warranty
Brand SanDisk
Model SDSSDA-120G-G26
Weight 2.1 ounces
3
The Crucial MX300 features best-in-class encryption technology to keep your files secure. It is capable of loading most documents and programs almost instantaneously, and includes Storage Executive software for monitoring and providing additional performance enhancements.
  • available with up to 2 tb capacity
  • dynamic writing acceleration
  • great value for its price
Brand Crucial
Model CT525MX300SSD1
Weight 3.5 ounces
2
Unleash the full potential of your machine with the Samsung 850 EVO, a bestseller since its debut. It includes a five-year limited warranty, and just in case you have the need, it's available in capacities of up to 4 terabytes.
  • optimized for everyday computing
  • reliable and energy efficient
  • intuitive data migration software
Brand Samsung
Model MZ-75E250B/AM
Weight 3.2 ounces
1
Long considered a leading name in the world of hard disks and external storage, Western Digital waited many years to enter this product category, but they've started off strong with the WD Blue. Optimized for multitasking and high-end computing, it will not disappoint.
  • best in the industry for reliability
  • universally compatible
  • won't slow down under pressure
Brand Western Digital
Model WDS500G1B0A
Weight 5.6 ounces

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: 03/26/2017 | Authorship Information

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