The emergence of solid state drives (SSD) in the storage subsystem space has caused a blatant and tremendous performance improvement in every computer system configured with this flash-based and non-mechanical storage device. That’s because the major bottleneck and the slowest part of a computer is the primary non-volatile storage device featured usually by a rotational hard disk drive (HDD) that fetches requested data mechanically which has a major bad impact on the overall performance of the drive.
Now, as SSDs become affordable and larger, they feature a viable and strongly-recommended alternative to traditional hard drives in laptop systems. You’ll learn more about that in detail if you keep reading this article. But so far we’d like to present our top SSD recommendations for laptop computers that will take your laptop to levels of performance that you wouldn’t believe possible.
The Best SSDs for Laptop
The SATA-III interface is still deployed in most modern laptop computers despite the emergence of new smaller form factor SSDs that employ either mSATA or M.2 interface and are found in the most sophisticated high-end laptops.
In this article though we’ll exclusively spot the light on SSDs with SATA III interface because they are the most popular and current SSDs nowadays.
Our Criteria for Selecting the Best SSDs
There are many SSD brands dispensed on the market and each brand claims high-end performance with amazing features.
While we believe that the slowest SSD is still much faster than the fastest laptop hard drive, we’ll follow a strict method though for choosing the top-notch SSDs for our roundup below. This method is mainly based on the verdicts of IT professionals such as Tom’s Hardware, Anand Tech, Storage Review, Tweak Town and others who reviewed the chosen drives and published their reports on their websites. You can view some testimonials of these experts once you click the view more details button below each particular drive you focus on.
Moreover, we have only authorized three SSD manufacturers that are some of the highly-reputed and the most prominent in the industry, that’s to make sure you’ll just get the top-notch and highest quality SSDs on the market.
Additionally, we have classified the SSDs below into two categories:
1. ENTHUSIAST— where the highest-end SSDs designed for power users are placed. These SSDs come with a so long warranty (between 5 to 10 years) and most solid endurance that entitle them to handle the toughest data workload without degradation in performance. These SSDs are good for addict gamers who only play highly-sophisticated resource-demanding games so often, professional video editors who work on huge high-definition movies, and webmasters who manage small network servers.
2. MAINSTREAM—where the SSDs designed for the overwhelming majority of users placed. These SSDs are good for those who consider themselves non-enthusiasts but want, at the same time, to increase their computer’s speed and have a quickly-responsive system for their personal preferences. These SSDs usually come with a warranty between 3 to 5 years limited.
What’s in Our List
We have chosen 10 SSD drives, half of them are for enthusiasts and the other half are for regular users (mainstream).
Below is a table that manifests a quick overview of the certain drives we have selected.
|Manufacturer||Brand Name||Class||Available Capacities||Price Range|
|Samsung||Samsung 850 Pro||Enthusiast||128gb, 256gb, 512gb, 1tb, 2tb||$80 to $700|
|Samsung 850 EVO||Mainstream||128gb, 256gb, 512gb, 1tb, 2tb||$80 to $700|
|SanDisk||SanDisk Extreme Pro||Enthusiast||240gb, 480gb, 960gb||$80 to $700|
|SanDisk Ultra II||Mainstream||240gb, 480gb, 960gb||$80 to $700|
|OCZ||OCZ Vector 180||Enthusiast||240gb, 480gb, 960gb||$80 to $700|
|OCZ ARC 100||Mainstream||240gb, 480gb, 960gb||$80 to $700|
About the Top Two Selections
We have placed Samsung 850 Pro on the top of our list because it’s the fastest SATA III SSD ever made. The SanDisk Extreme Pro though is its bitter rival and it outranks it on some benchmark tests.
Being the fastest doesn’t necessarily mean the strongest. In heavy workload environments SanDisk Extreme Pro beats Samsung 850 Pro, but as a laptop user this issue should not be of your concern, it concerns only network server managers.
Here are two quotes from two renowned SSD experts and reviewers who testified the above fact:
The goal of the Extreme Pro was to be the fastest client SATA drive on the market, and it succeeded in that (before the 850 Pro came out, although the two are very close).
[“Anand Tech” on September 16, 2014]
The SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD currently sits at the top of every High-Performance SATA slot in our Best SSDs of 2015 ranking. The drive is an amazing performer that retains its high performance even under extreme load. Because of that, we’ve chosen it over Samsung’s 850 Pro that can lose performance after heavy use. The Extreme Pro has everything you would expect to find in a workstation SSD, so seeing them at mid-level prices gets us excited.
[“Tom’s Hardware” on November 27, 2015]
Other experts though may disagree with Tom’s Hardware like bit-tech who considers Samsung 850 Pro the best SSD in all aspects:
The SSD 850 PRO is still the best drive on the market – no other manufacturer can yet compete with what its 3D V-NAND offers in terms of performance and endurance.
[“bit-tech” on March 24, 2015]
If you ask about my personal opinion, I would adopt Tom’s Hardware‘s opinion because they conduct robust testing in different environment for each SSD they review which highly raises the credibility of their verdicts.
About the Third Selection (OCZ Vector 180)
This drive is a better fit for desktop computer than laptops due to the relatively higher power consumption compared to other high-end SSDs. This drive though is the best ever in terms of reliability (it has the lowest failure rate an SSD could have) and warranty (an outstanding warranty plan that is not found in any other brand).
Our Laptop SSD Roundup
Samsung owns 50% of the solid-states storage market share. When it comes to client-oriented drives, that percentage increases, and in some countries goes as high as 80%. Samsung manufactures roughly 50% of the world’s NAND memory supply, too. Not all of the flash goes into SSDs; much of it goes into cell phones, tablets, children’s toys, SD cards and even automobiles.
|The Samsung SSD 850 PRO is a 2.5” form factor SSD for enthusiasts that is the first drive to be powered by 3D virtual NAND technology. It comes in capacities ranging from 128GB up to 1TB. Not only does it boasts some pretty impressive speeds, it has a high endurance, secure encryption, RAPID mode to enhance user experience, and a 10-year warranty. It also claims to be one of the most energy efficient drives on the market, which the real-world testings conducted by many IT professionals proved to be mostly true with its very low idle power usage. This makes it undoubtedly the most suitable SSD for portable computers.|
SanDisk Corporation is a company that designs, develops and manufactures flash memory storage devices and software. SanDisk is the third-largest manufacturer of flash memory in the world. In October 2015, Western Digital agreed to buy SanDisk Corp in a $19 billion deal. [Wikipedia]
|The SanDisk Extreme PRO SSD is designed specifically for gamers, PC enthusiasts, and media professionals who require consistent, top-in-class real-world performance out of their storage. With its quoted sequential read speed of 550MB/s and write speed up to 520MB/s, the SanDisk’s new Extreme PRO certainly is specced to deliver the performance needed for graphics-intensive applications in addition to speedy gaming load times. The Extreme PRO also boasts an industry first a 10-year warranty to assuage any concerns about the drive’s expected longevity and SanDisk’s commitment to the drive.|
OCZ Storage Solutions – a Toshiba Group Company is a leading provider of high performance client and enterprise solid-state storage products and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Toshiba Corporation. Offering a complete spectrum of solid-state drives (SSDs), OCZ Storage Solutions leverages proprietary technology to provide SSDs in a variety of form factors and interfaces to address a wide range of applications.
|The Vector 180 SSD (currently available in 120GB, 240GB, 480GB and 960GB capacities) is based on the latest Barefoot 3 NAND flash controller by OCZ (runs at 397MHz as opposed to the 352MHz of the one found in the ARC 100) paired with A19nm MLC NAND flash modules by Toshiba—a combo which produces excellent read/write performance numbers (550MB/s & 530MB/s respectively), superior endurance (has a MTBF rating of 2.3 million hours and an write endurance rate of up to 50GB per day) and finally offers SMART/NCQ support and AES-256bit encryption. Of course OCZ fully covers their flagship model with their 5-year ShieldPlus warranty.|
MORE LAPTOP SSD OPTIONS
There are still powerful SATA III SSD in the market that we did not lay out in our list above because they have their own disadvantages compared with the above items, but the brilliant name and glowing reputation they own allures us to list them here as additional options for our readers.
Why You Need an SSD for Your Laptop
Many people would underestimate the major advantages of SSDs and belittle what an SSD can do to a laptop computer in terms of performance, battery life preservation, and reliability. Basically this trend occurs due to the steep price of SSDs compared to that of HDDs which dissuade many from just thinking of getting one in the near future, therefore people try to convince themselves of settling for mechanical hard drives which are cheaper and larger in capacity.
Let alone the ignorance about the whole matter and why people prejudge things before they truly and deeply investigate about them.
Here, in this brief guide, you’ll learn why having your laptop configured with an SSD is an obligation not just a choice if you really want to boost the performance/speed.
The Traditional Hard Drive is the Main Culprit
It just needs you to be a computer savvy to realize that modern computers don’t have issues with the CPU speed, neither with RAM memory. Both of them are quite fast and meet the high standards. But what hinder their performance is the slow transfer speed from/to the storage device where the data is stored.
You can simply conclude to this result if you try a slow USB flash drive with a high-end computer. No matter how fast/strong your computer is, as long as the transfer rate of the thumb drive is slow, your computer performance will be slow as well.
That’s quite the exact case with traditional hard drives in modern systems, especially laptop computers where the 2.5-inch hard drive with which they are configured are way slower than hard drives in 3.5-inch form factor found in desktop systems. That’s because the compact size of laptop hard drives impede their development, particularly when the manufacturer must bear in mind working around three significant issues that can damage any mobile hard drive: shock/vibration, power consumption and generated heat.
Moreover, on the other hand, all traditional hard drives operate mechanically, which means that fetching/accessing data on them requires mechanical operation to be accomplished. And like the case with all mechanical stuff in the world, this mechanicality cuts down on the speed of the whole process and makes the drive more prone to failure, errors, data loss and degradation in all aspects.
The downsides of mechanicality are not only that, there are more in fact, such as the limited potential of handling multiple tasks simultaneously at the same level of performance, the high power consumption and generated heat during heavy workload, and the weak resistance to shock/vibration that can simply impair the ongoing mechanical process.
All of that leads us to say confidently that the traditional hard disk drive (HDD) isn’t the best fit for portable devices like laptops, notebooks and ultrabooks.
The Advantages of Solid State Drive (SSD)
As far as Solid State Drive (SSD) is concerned, these particular issues either don’t exist or are way less effective. That’s because, unlike mechanical hard drives, solid-state drives don’t employ any moving/mechanical part, and there where the major advantages of SSDs over HDDs stem from.
- SSD is way faster than HDD. This is an intuitive result of the architecture of SSD that doesn’t make use of any mechanical part. Rather, the data transmission happens through piles of microscopic transistors in flash memory chips compacted together in blocks that are placed so tightly beside each other. This means your operating system and other heavyweight applications installed on it will load much faster and you’ll enjoy also a high external transfer rate from/to your computer, especially when you use an external SSD.
- SSD has much lower failure rate. That makes SSDs the most reliable storage devices for long-term storage purposes. And as a sufficient indication for this fact, modern consumer SSDs like Samsung 850 Pro comes with a 10-year limited warranty, whereas the best enterprise hard drives—Seagate Enterprise Capacity v4 barely provides a 5-year limited warranty.
- The endurance of SSD is unparalleled. Yes, this is a blatant fact. SSD can bear the toughest and heaviest workloads in difficult mediums without failing, unlike hard drives. This feature concern mostly enthusiasts and professional video editors and server managers.
- SSD is more resistant to vibration and shock. This is a critical trait that adds up to the superiority of SSDs over HDDs in the portable environment, and it’s obvious enough to the extent that it doesn’t require any additional elaboration.
- SSD consumes up to 40% less power than HDD. Consequently this means an SSD will extend the lifespan of you laptop battery by a maximum range of 40%.
- The less generated heat by SSD helps keep the laptop inner atmosphere cooler. As a result of that, the laptop inner components, including CPU, will not suffer from an additional heat, thus they will function better.
- Multitasking with SSD is seamless and flawless. Unlike that of HDD that can handle a few multiple tasks simultaneously but with a sacrifice of performance for each task, SSD can do that brilliantly without any performance hit. This feature will help mostly enthusiasts who work on multiple applications at a time.
These are basically the benefits your laptop will acquire from using an SSD, and if you want more expatiation and details on this topic, I suggest you read two of our articles: Is Solid State Drive (SSD) Eventually Worth it? and The Advantages And Benefits Of Solid State Drive (SSD).
Also it’s worth to say that although a laptop SSD would fit into PS4 console, the SSD’s advantages laid out above will not be as effective as that with laptops. You may want to read more details on that on our PS4 Solid State Drive (SSD) Guide.
Laptop HDD vs SSD
You may not be able to fully conceive the tremendous performance boost an SSD offers to your laptop until you compare between the two drives, and here’s exactly what we have done below where we compare the fastest laptop hard drive—HGST Travelstar 71000k that spins at 7200RPM rate, and Samsung 850 EVO SSD.
|Features||HGST Travelstar 7k1000 1TB HDD||Samsung 850 EVO 1TB SSD|
|2MB Seq. Read||123.56 MB/s Max.||490.68 MB/s Max.|
|2MB Seq. Write||122.46 MB/s Max.||448.17 MB/s Max.|
|2MB Ran. Read||50.63 MB/s Max.||479.33 MB/s Max.|
|2MB Ran. Write||57.49 MB/s Max.||455.05 MB/s Max.|
|4k Rand. Read [MB/s]||0.252 MB/s Max.||36.84 MB/s Max.|
|4k Ran. Write [MB/s]||0.506 MB/s Max.||112.57 MB/s Max.|
|4k Ran. Read [IOps]||64.57 IOps Max.||9,431 IOps Max.|
|4k Ran. Write [IOps]||129.58 IOps Max.||28,817.51 IOps Max.|
|4k Write Latency [Avr.]||7.72 ms||0.0344 ms|
|4k Write Latency [Max.]||19.11 ms||1.91 ms|
**The benchmark result numbers are acquired from storagereview.com
As you can see, SSD easily beats HDD in all performance test with HUGE numbers. That’s why we strongly recommend SSDs to everyone whose main concern is performance and reliability, especially laptop users.
Types of SSD Used in Laptops
You may not be aware that there are varied types of SSD used in laptop computers. The currently most common type is the 2.5-inch form factor SSD with SATA III interface. This particular type of SSD is deployed in almost all regular modern laptop computers nowadays.
In more compact modern laptops, such as notebooks or ultrabooks, other interfaces may be employed— mSATA and M.2. We’ll not go now into explaining these new technologies because our focus here is merely on SSDs with SATA III interface. Therefore if you’re looking for an SSD interfaced with any of these newer technologies, try one of our articles below:
How to Pick The Right SSD for Your Laptop
In the pursuit of picking an SSD for your laptop, you need to bear in mind a few factors that will determine the best fit for your laptop computer:
- Make sure that the SSD manufacturer is prominent and highly-reputable in the market. We authorize the following SSD manufacturers Samsung, SanDisk, Crucial, Corsair, OCZ, Intel and Plextor as the are renowned to produce the most reliable and fastest solid state drives. There are other manufacturers though that produce good SSDs, such as Mushkin and MydigitalSSD but we prefer to stay away from them when our main concern is the highest quality.
- Determine your needs and title yourself. Once you find out what you need an SSD for after gauging your needs according to the class of users you belong to (i.e. regular/mainstream or enthusiast) then you can pick the right SSD brand that suits you best. It’s not only about brand, but also about capacity. Don’t go for a capacity larger than 256gb if you are just a regular user who only carry out lightweight tasks such as web-browsing, basic photo editing, watching movies, playing small games and so on. Always bear in mind that you can always store your extra data externally via an external hard drive or an external SSD.
- Investigate the SATA version of your laptop. It’s just not worth going for a high-end SSD while your laptop is old enough to not support SATA III. If you don’t know how to find out about it, simply just know the year of manufacturing, if it’s before 2012 then most probably it’s SATA II.
- Find out whether your laptop has another room for an additional hard drive. If this is the case, then you are lucky. You’ll be able to combine an SSD with the old hard drive in a hybrid mode where they will work together as a single drive where an SSD is made to cache the most frequently used files/applications and keep other files on the hard drive. All of that is after using a special software for this purpose. That way you’ll not have to pay for a large capacity of an SSD, and a 128gb or 256gb SSD capacity is pretty sufficient.
- Specify your budget. Finally, if you have found the most suitable SSD for you, see how much you can pay for it. I strongly suggest not going for less than 256gb if you only have one room in your laptop unless you are a very basic computer user then it will be enough for you.
I believe that SSD is a great and significant addition to every laptop computer for the blatant benefits it offers to portable systems in specific.
Desktop computers though are not as needy for SSD as laptops because, in terms of performance, they have vast space to use RAID-0 array with multiple hard drives (say 3 or 4 HDDs together) and that will provide a similar performance boost to an SSD with a much larger capacity and lower price. Also they have more options of cooling and dissipating the generated heat by hard drives, which helps remarkably keep the system running at peak performance, but this is obviously not the case with laptops.
Desktops are more robust and laptops are more sensitive, that’s why SSDs fits best in laptops in all means.