Storage Stories — Everything You Need to Know About SSDs

Storage Stories — Everything You Need to Know About SSDs

Storage Stories — Everything You Need to Know About SSDs

Ever felt like your old laptop or PC is running a marathon with a heavy backpack? It's time to lighten the load and supercharge that speed. Today, we're diving deep into the world of SSDs, your ultimate solution for a lightning-fast computing experience. From the different types of SSDs available to how the tech stacks up against HDDs, we’re here to answer all your burning storage questions. 

Types of SSDs: Understanding SATA, NVMe and M.2

Like most tech out there, you’ll be faced with some fundamental choices when it comes to finding the right SSD for your needs. Let’s explore the three key types of SSDs – SATA, NVMe and M.2 – unravelling their unique features and how they can elevate your computing experience.

Player 1: SATA

SATA SSDs pioneered the SSD revolution, offering a substantial upgrade from traditional hard drives. Operating on the familiar SATA III interface with a 6 Gb/s data transfer rate, they deliver read/write speeds up to 550 MB/s, running rings around HDDs in terms of performance. Their compatibility with older hardware, thanks to widespread SATA ports on modern and older motherboards, makes them an excellent choice if you’re seeking a cost-effective upgrade. Ideal for general computing tasks, office work and multimedia consumption, SATA SSDs offer faster boot times and overall system responsiveness.

Player 2: NVMe

Representing cutting-edge storage technology, NVMe SSDs leverage the PCIe interface, providing a direct line to the CPU for higher bandwidth and lower latency. With read and write speeds clocking in at over 3000 MB/s, NVMe SSDs offer a substantial level up from SATA counterparts. Commonly in the M.2 form factor, they are ideal if you’re chasing top-tier performance — we’re talking gamers benefitting from faster loading times or professionals requiring rapid file transfers and application performance.

Player 3: M.2

Want the best of both worlds? M.2 SSDs combine size efficiency with performance, connecting directly to the motherboard via the M.2 slot. Supporting both SATA and PCIe interfaces, M.2 SSDs are the versatile chameleons of the genre. SATA M.2 SSDs provide speeds similar to their 2.5-inch counterparts, while NVMe M.2 SSDs unlock speeds exceeding 3000 MB/s. Their compact form factor makes M.2 SSDs ideal for laptops, ultrabooks and space-constrained desktops. Whether opting for M.2 SATA SSDs for a minimalist system build or NVMe M.2 SSDs for top-tier performance, these drives cater to a wide audience with diverse storage needs.

Want a more in-depth breakdown? Check out our article comparing different types of SSDs.

Which SSD is Right For Me?

If you’re in the market for a new SSD for your computer or laptop, it can be a daunting task.

Choosing the right SSD comes down to a few top-line factors you need to consider — are you after the best price, the highest speeds or the maximum amount of storage? Here's a quick comparison of some top brands:

 

Brand

Storage Capacity

Read/Write Speed

Price

Samsung 990 Pro

2TB

7,450/6,900 MB/s

$329

Kingston NV2

2TB

3,500/2,800 MB/s

$219

Silicon Power P34A60

2TB

2,200/1,600 MB/s

$149

 

Balancing storage needs and budget, SSD capacity considerations range from basic use (120GB - 250GB) for light users relying on external storage to high-end use (500GB - 1TB and beyond) catering to power users dealing with large files. When you’re shopping for an SSD, anticipating your future needs is crucial.

When budgeting for SSDs, the trade-off between performance and capacity is vital. Higher-end SSDs with faster speeds and larger capacities come at a premium. Consider your priorities — it might be speed for gaming or capacity for extensive file storage. Brand reliability matters; trusted names like ADATA, Crucial and Samsung signify quality and dependable customer service.

Performance metrics should play a pivotal role in your choice. Read/write speeds (measured in MB/s) determine file transfer and application launch speeds. Higher speeds, like 3500 MB/s, are ideal for data-intensive tasks. Input/Output Operations Per Second (IOPS) gauges a drive's multitasking capability, crucial for servers or heavy workloads. For gaming or media editing, prioritise high read/write speeds, while high IOPS is essential for multitasking or server environments. Trusted brands like Kingston and Western Digital emphasise rigorous testing, ensuring consistent, high-quality performance and reliable customer support. 

Remember, the best SSD for you depends on your specific needs and budget. No matter which you choose, you're sure to see a significant boost in speed and performance — this hardware is designed to instantly improve your computing experience. This is just a top-line overview — for more comprehensive advice, read our article How to Choose the Right SSD.

SSDs and Gaming: A Love Story

Will an SSD improve my gaming? Short answer — an SSD will absolutely supercharge your gaming experience! Here are some quick notes on why you should take the plunge.

An SSD is crucial for high-level gaming

Upgrading to a Solid State Disk (SSD) can significantly boost the performance of older machines or laptops with mechanical hard drives. If you've experienced delays in game loading or stuttering during background tasks, switching to an SSD can eliminate these issues. With the decreasing prices of SSDs, now is an opportune time to enhance your machine's speed and responsiveness, particularly if you're running an older system that could still benefit from this performance upgrade, whether for gaming, multitasking, content creation, or other computing tasks.

You get real, instant gaming performance results

The headline specifications of an SSD, particularly its data transfer speeds, will significantly impact your gaming performance. For example, a PCI Express 4.0 drive reaches over 5000 MB/s compared to a hard drive's approximate 250 MB/s — you just can’t compete with those numbers. While high transfer speeds enhance game loading times, what truly contributes to the perceived speed of an SSD are its access times and In/Out Operations Per Second (IOPS). 

Unlike hard drives, which can take milliseconds to access data, SSDs achieve this in fractions of a millisecond or microseconds, eliminating delays in various aspects of gaming, such as environment pop-ups, stuttering and loading icons. Seagate's FireCuda, with its class-leading IOPS, exemplifies how these metrics influence everyday use, providing a faster and smoother experience during gaming or general Windows usage. Additionally, the absence of the typical hard drive noise is another advantage of SSDs.

Your whole system benefits

The higher performance of SSDs means that they take a bunch of the everyday operating strains off your machine. When gaming, SSDs outshine mechanical hard drives in multitasking, as the constant read and write demands of Windows can burden traditional disks. Hard drives struggle with multitasking, leading to performance issues — in contrast,  SSDs offer seamless operation. Beyond enhanced performance, SSDs consume less power and boast greater durability due to their absence of moving parts. The example of Seagate's FireCuda illustrates this durability, with a mean time between failures (MTBF) of 1.8 million hours – now that’s a testament to longevity!

Want more information on how an SSD will level up your gaming rig? Check out our article on why you should use an SSD for gaming.

How Long Does an SSD Last?

SSDs outshine traditional hard drives in durability thanks to their lack of moving parts, and their lifespan is often measured by a metric called 'TBW' (Terabytes Written). This metric indicates how much data can be written to the SSD before it begins to wear out. Most modern SSDs boast a TBW in the hundreds, and on average, they last between 5 to 7 years under normal usage conditions. 

That being said, factors such as SSD quality, usage intensity and specific conditions can influence this lifespan. To estimate an SSD's lifespan, you can refer to the TBW rating provided by the manufacturer or use monitoring software to track data written and assess remaining lifespan. Despite their durability, regular backups remain crucial to safeguard data, as SSDs, like any superhero, are not invincible.

For more information and some maintenance tips to keep your SSD in top form, check out our article on SSD Lifespan and Maintenance.

SSD vs HDD: Comparing Storage Technologies

You might be thinking there’s been a bit of comparison between SSDs and HDDs in this article — but how do they stack up next to each other? We’ve created a handy table so you can compare the pair at a glance. 

Feature

SSD

HDD

Speed

Faster data access times, quicker boot and load times.

Slower data access times, longer boot and load times.

Multitasking

Excellent performance in multitasking due to lack of moving parts.

Struggles with multitasking; performance can degrade.

Durability

More durable with no moving parts, resistant to physical shocks.

Susceptible to physical shocks and vibrations due to spinning disks.

Noise Level

Silent operation; no mechanical noise.

Audible spinning noise during operation.

Power Consumption

Lower power consumption.

Higher power consumption, especially during spin-up.

Size and Weight

Compact and lightweight, suitable for slim devices.

Larger and heavier, limiting use in slim devices.

Cost per GB

Generally higher cost per GB.

Lower cost per GB, more economical for large storage capacities.

Still looking for more comparisons? Check out our article on SSDs vs. HDDs

FAQs about SSDs

Why should I upgrade to an SSD? 

Upgrading to an SSD is a no-brainer if you want to quickly and easily improve your computer’s performance. You'll experience faster boot times, quicker file transfers and smoother overall operation.

Is it hard to install an SSD? 

Not at all! Installing an SSD is a straightforward process. Just remember to back up your data before you start.

Are SSDs more expensive than HDDs? 

While SSDs can be more expensive upfront than HDDs, the performance benefits they offer make them a worthwhile investment.

Future-Proof Your Storage: Exploring the Potential of Next-Gen SSDs

As we look to the future, SSDs are only going to get better. We're talking bigger capacities, faster speeds and even more features designed to boost your computer's performance. By upgrading to an SSD now, you're not just improving your current setup — you're also preparing for the future of tech.

Ready to give your computer the upgrade it deserves? Check out our range of SSDs and get ready to experience speed like never before. Feeling stuck? If you need any help along the way, our customer service team is always here to assist.