Expert Author Richard Peck
There are many SSD's on the market.
They're basically extremely high capacity USB flash drives. They are designed to be the size of a "laptop" hard drive (3.5") (which means you require an adapter if you put them into an ATX-style desktop), and don't require anywhere near the power that standard HDD's do. They're also quieter.
To this end, if you're looking at a relatively inexpensive "speed boost" for your system, purchasing one is definitely an option you should consider.
In terms of which drives you should consider, they all basically work in the same way, with varying degrees of speed & data-capacity difference. The most popular drives have "3D NAND" technology, which essentially stores the data in a different way, allowing users to benefit from both longer lifespan of the drive, and more effective data storage.
In terms of the drives you should look at, there are several which are leading the market, the rest are competing on price:
  • Samsung (lead the market in both price and functionality)
  • Intel / Western Digital / Crucial / Kingston (provide close competition and basically trade off their massive brand names)
  • Toshiba, HyperX, OCZ, SanDisk, Corsair, PNY (some have reputable names but tend to try and snipe sales with cheaper prices)
All prices are typically very closely packed.
The market is very harsh with its punishment of over-priced drives, meaning that if you want to ensure you're getting a good deal, you need to look at the median prices for the various drives and their trends etc. Whilst they're not dropping very quickly, their prices are generally coming down every week / month.
The best SSD's in 2018 include the following:
  • Samsung 860 EVO
    These were just released. The last version of Samsung's SSD lineup (the 850) was THE defining product in the market, providing both the functionality and price to entice 10,000's of users to buy it. The 860 improves on the technical advances of the 850, with several core innovations in terms of the way the system is able to connect with your device, and how it's able to store data for extended periods. If you're building for anything ranging from an office environment, to working on intensive graphics rendering, or even the likes of software development (where you need a reliable storage system), this is by far and away the most effective tool to do it with. Pricing is slightly on the high end (if you need a cheaper version, just go for the 850 EVO instead). However, the quality and reliability is unsurpassed.

  • Samsung 850 EVO
    The original "SSD" that hit the market back in 2015 - a highly capable device which provides a high powered storage device at a very competitive price. The 850 EVO was one of the first "winners" in the market, instantly becoming a hit thanks to the way it was able to replace many of the ailing laptop HDD's at the time. As word spread about the quality and speed boost delivered by the drives, it became massively successful - one of the all-time best sellers in the space. The most important thing about this drive is that it's able to come in a number of different capacities; from 120GB to 250GB and even up to 2TB. Whilst not the cheapest, it's certainly one of the most effective SSD's out there, and highly recommended for professional and consumer use-cases. The good news is that since the 860 pretty-much cannibalized the market share this once enjoyed, the price of this range of drives has steadily dropped. Not only does this make it one of the more effective, but it ensures that you're able to get the best deal possible.

  • Crucial MX500
    This is the second "choice" if you're looking at buying a Samsung drive, but don't want to pay Samsung prices. It's designed by "Crucial" who have been in the "memory" business for decades - a highly capable company who have designed a large number of important market-defining products over the years. The MX500 is the cheapest "NAND" SSD you can buy. Obviously, it's not going to have as longer-lifespan as the likes of the Samsung offerings, but is going to give you just as much benefit without having to consider all the different features that the higher specified component may have. This drive comes in 120GB, 250GB and 500Gb capacities. It's finish is a "brushed" aluminium and it's extremely light. The speed is limited to the speed of your SATA connection, and thus isn't such a problem when you compare it against some of the more renowned drives.

  • WD Blue 3D NAND
    Western Digital is a brand that has been around for a very long time. Back in the hard drive days, they were always #1 or #2, compared to Maxtor - who seem to have died a death now. The point is that this drive is a little pricier than the others, but still provides an effective tool through which to store your data. These drives are typically recommended for "larger" consumers of data; people who may require the drive for the likes of storing graphics, videos or other important professional data. Whilst we don't really use WD any more (we've had them before), there is no question that their current SSD drives are some of the most robust. Further, the 3D NAND (a rare determinant of quality) is present on all their products.

  • Kingston V300
    Another well-known memory manufacturer, Kingston have provided SSD's for a good number of years. They are seen as a reputable company with - although somewhat high - prices that are generally amicable. The most important thing about Kingston is the way in which the company has kept to its roots no matter what technology they end up working on. Most people end up looking at specifications, and don't realize that the underlying way in which a product is worth the time or money, is typically due to the way in which it's been designed and built. Kingston's commitment to quality was evident - especially when it was just producing RAM. Now that it's in the SSD market, it appears it is also a company to be reckoned with here. Their V300 being a great example of this.
Again, these drives all work in a very similar way - they provide people with the ability to store data (via a SATA connection) in an SSD. This means that if you're looking at getting one, the above are really all you need to be looking at.



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