Why Buy a Solid-state Drive?
The differences between solid-state drives (SSDs) and regular hard drives are vast and plentiful, but the differences can also be easily summed up in one word: speed. SSDs are much faster and use much less power than traditional mechanical hard drives. Furthermore, they are capable of finding information more quickly and are far less prone to failure.
Old mechanical hard disk drives, one of which may reside in the computer you're using to view this webpage, include a series of platters on a spindle that are constantly spinning. To find information on the disks, a motor-driven read/write head on an arm seeks data from those spinning platters. Mechanical failure is common due to the constantly moving parts found in these devices.
Conversely, SSDs contain no moving parts at all. In place of spinning platters and moving mechanical arms, they use electronic NAND flash technology to simulate those functions. Solid-state drives use far less energy because of this. Furthermore, they are not prone to the mechanical failures that often occur because of the components in traditional hard disk drives.
By evaluating the criteria listed below, we found the OCZ Vertex, the SanDisk Extreme and the Corsair Force GS to be among the best MLC NAND flash solid-state storage drives available today. Using any of the SSDs we reviewed will give you faster, quieter and more efficient memory and storage on your computer than a traditional hard drive. Also, be sure to check out our articles about solid-state drives and hard drives.
Solid-state Drives: What to Look For
Solid-state storage technology is constantly growing and changing. However, even with all the changes that have taken place, certain things, such as speed and reliability, will always be important to consider. As we researched and ranked each one of these computer storage devices, we found the following criteria to be the most important.
Many SSDs on the market don't perform as well because of poor construction. Make sure you choose a flash-based drives with the best components available. Controllers like the SandForce and Indilinx Everest are industry leaders offering the best available compatibility and speeds. The drive needs to be compatible with your computer. Many of the drives we reviewed featured both SATA III and SATA II interface compatibility.
Performance involves several factors: How fast can they read information? How fast can they write it? What is the life expectancy? How much abuse can they take? Look for a solid-state drive that offers fast sequential read and write speeds. More importantly, pay attention to the random write speeds. Most likely, your solid-state drive will be performing random writes much more frequently that sequential writes.
Every user will have a different purpose for their SSD. Some may use it as a primary storage drive, while others may only use it for a boot drive. The capacity you'll need will depend on how you plan to use the drive. Look for capacities of 64GB or less if you plan to use a solid-state drive as a primary boot drive, and opt for higher capacities if you plan to store large files on the drive The best solid-state drive manufacturers offer a variety of capacities so you can find the drive that best fits your needs.
Ease of Installation
Pay attention to how simple the drive is to use. Also, note whether the drive you're considering comes with a 3.5-inch mounting kit. Most solid-state drives have a 2.5-inch form factor, so the inclusion of a 3.5-inch mounting kit is vital for compatibility with most systems. Also, take into account a company's inclusion of online manuals, guidelines and resources that can help you install a solid-state drive.
Help & Support
If you encounter any problems while using solid-state storage, you'll want to have a solid help and support system available. Good technical support will help prevent any issues you may have before installing the device, and correct any problems when using it. The top manufacturers offer support via phone and email. Look also for online forums and manuals that you can download.
The world of SSDs can be intimidating if you don't feel informed. After all, this is like moving from a record player to an MP3 player. On this site, you'll find a variety of information to help you navigate the switch as we present the ten best solid-state drive options.