Just like any product in the world solid state drive (SSD) has many brands, some are good and some are bad, even the good ones are not on one level, they range between good and excellent. This can be tricky and confusing for many computer users who look forward to buying an SSD and enjoy the remarkable speed boost it delivers to the overall system performance. Previously we have addressed in this article a few things that you need to consider before buying an SSD, and the speech there was about choosing between the good SSD brands already presented in front of you, but here you will learn how to distinguish the good ones from the bad and limit your options. We’ll show you here a few basic standards that you have to bear in mind throughout this “mission”. We do not mind also at the end of this article to suggest you some of the best recommendations that fits to your requirements.
Foremost you have to know that all solid state drives are fast, even the worst one of them is at least 1.5x faster than the best traditional hard drive (HDD). Do not understand that as an invitation to buy just any SSD, as at the end of the day no one wants to waste money and effort on a device that will turn into a piece of garbage after a short term usage.
It’s no secret that SSDs are times expensive than HDDs because of the high price technology used in SSD architecture, so take a note here that you are going to pay notably more money and get less storage capacity. The other note you have to take is on reliability. You need a reliable drive that offers stable performance that will last for long without degradation. It is quite difficult to gauge these two if your experience in this field is limited or even does not exist at all. Below are the qualities you have to consider in an SSD when you go to purchase one:
High Maximum Speeds:
The good SSDs of today come in a maximum seq. read not less than 500MB/s and max seq. write speed not less than 300MB/s. You need then to have SATA 6.0 Gbit/s (aka SATA III) controller on your motherboard to support that speed, otherwise it will significantly reduce. If your controller is SATA 3.0 Gbit/s (aka SATA II) then let the SSD has a maximum seq. read speed around 250MB/s and seq. write speed around 150MB/s. Generally speaking, if your computer is made in 2011 or before then go for SATA II SSD.
You need to be cautious though that what you read on the device’s specifications datasheet is different to the real-world performance rates because what is on the datasheet is calculated using high performance premium systems that most consumers do not afford to have, so you have to expect slower real-world speeds than what’s already mentioned. Luckily there are on the Internet many reviews on almost every SSD drive written by experts, you can read them before deciding which SSD to buy, or you can find some on our website. To ease the way for you in this regard, if you find out that in the real-world test the read and write speeds are of about 2/3 of the maximum (in the 512KB block and sequential tests) this is a good sign. If you are going for a premium SSD and want to know whether it is worth the money or not, its real-world test speeds has to be higher than 2/3 of what’s written in the specs datasheet. Below is an example that clarifies this issue:
The official specifications of Crucial M500 480 GB SSD provided by the manufacturer is as seen below:
But in real-world test, according to “technologyx.com” it is different (it is even better in some tests):
MLC NAND flash memory:
Consumer-grade SSDs are coming into two types based on the NAND flash memory used in its constitution: MLC (Multi-Level Cell) & TLC (Triple Level Cell). The major difference between the two is that TLC memory is capable to store more information on each cell which gives production cost-efficiency advantage and thus a cheaper product price. But this does not happen without downsides that chip away at endurance and producing higher rate of errors. But no concern here as the modern SSD is released with error-correcting code that helps prevent these problems. So depending on your demands here, if you are an enthusiast or an addict gamer and want an SSD that will last for so long and can bear the toughest circumstances without losing a bit of performance, go for MLC. Otherwise if your usage is light-weight but you still look for the high speed of SSD, you better go for TLC.
We already have discussed this issue in our previous article and recommended that if your system supports SATA-III interface then go for a corresponding SSD that supports same interface to ensure the maximum possible speed out of the drive. But what we will add here is that SATA III-capable drives are backwards-compatible and will still work on any version of SATA controller. So if you plan in the future to upgrade your computer or its motherboard which will include a SATA III controller but you still want to experience the high speed of SSD on your current system, then go for a SATA III SSD. Otherwise if this upgrade is going to be after years from now, stick to a SATA II SSD as it is cheaper.
ECC memory is the label of SSD reliability. As what the name implies, Error-correcting code (ECC) memory helps your SSD detect and correct common types of data corruption which prevents any potential instability and removes unusable data on your drive.
Just similar to buying any kind of product, the reputation of the SSD manufacturer plays a major role in crediting its drives. According to my experience in this field I can tell you that currently the most reliable SSDs come from prominent manufacturers like Intel, Samsung, OCZ, Corsair, Crucial, SanDisk and a few others. Moreover, it is always good to read the reviews of consumers on the drive you want to buy. Many online shops like Amazon.com provide unbiased reviews on every products they have.