How to choose an SSD drive for a laptop

How to choose an SSD drive

Recommendations for choosing the optimal price / quality ratio of an SSD disk for a computer or laptop, its main parameters. speed, type of memory, manufacturer.

If you have not yet decided whether you need an SSD drive, you want to know how and how much it differs from a conventional and hybrid drive, whether it can completely replace it, we recommend that you first read our article “How to choose a drive (HDD, SSD, SSHD)”.

Clipboard

A clipboard (cache) based on DDR3 or DDR4 memory speeds up the performance of an SSD disk, but makes it somewhat more expensive. The DRAM buffer is used primarily for storing the address translation table, which increases the speed of accessing flash memory and writing files.

For every 1 GB of SSD storage, there must be 1 MB of cache. Thus, an SSD with a volume of 120-128 GB must have 128 MB, 240-256 GB. 256 MB, 500-512 GB. 512 MB, 960-1024 GB. 1024 MB cache.

The cheapest SSDs without a buffer have the problem of significantly degrading performance during long write operations of small files (for example, when installing a game). over, the speed can be several times lower than that of a conventional hard drive. Therefore, it is better to purchase an SSD with a buffer based on DDR3 or DDR4 memory.

SSD disk capacity

Volume is the most important parameter of an SSD disk.

For a gaming computer, you need to purchase an SSD with a volume of at least 240-256 GB, and if you are an avid gamer and want to keep a lot of games on your disk, then 480-512 GB.

In the future, focus on your needs (how much space you need for your programs, games, etc.) and financial capabilities. It is not advisable to use an SSD for data storage, for this you need a more capacious and cheaper hard disk drive (HDD) with a volume of 1-6 TB.

13. Supported Technologies and TRIM Function

An SSD drive, depending on the model and the controller installed in it, can support various technologies designed to improve its performance. Many manufacturers design their proprietary technologies to deliver more marketing value than actual value to users. I will not list them, this information is in the descriptions of specific models.

An SSD with TRIM support, having received a notification from the operating system about the deletion of data, also marks the cells in which they were unused, but clears them not before writing new data, but in advance in free time (when the disk is not used very actively). This is called garbage collection. As a result, the write speed is always maintained at the highest possible level, and now all SSDs can do it.

17. Package contents

If you are purchasing an SSD for a computer and there are no mounts for 2.5 ″ drives in the case, then pay attention to the presence of a mounting frame in the kit.

choose, drive, laptop

Most SSDs don’t come with a mounting frame or even screws. But the included screw mount can be purchased separately.

The presence of a mount should not be a weighty criterion when choosing an SSD, but sometimes a better SSD complete with a mount can be purchased for the same money as a budget SSD with a separate mount.

As for SSD for laptops, now everything is made with a thickness of 7 mm, sometimes there is a thickening frame by 9 mm (depending on the laptop), but it can be purchased separately.

  • Go to the “SSD drives” section on the seller’s website.
  • Select recommended manufacturers (Samsung, Intel, Crucial, Plextor, HyperX, WD, SanDisk, A-DATA).
  • Select the desired volume (120-128, 240-256, 480-512, 960-1024 GB).
  • Memory type (TLC 3D NAND).
  • Sort the sample by price.
  • Browse SSDs starting with cheaper ones.
  • Choose several models suitable for the price and speed (from 450/300 Mb / s).
  • Read their reviews (is there a DRAM buffer, what is the size of the SLC cache and the speed outside of it) and buy the best model according to the test results.

Thus, you will get an SSD disk that is optimal in terms of volume and speed, meeting high quality criteria, at the lowest possible cost.

Memory types and SSD resource

SSD drives use several types of flash memory. MLС, TLC, QLC. One MLC cell can store 2 bits of data, a TLC cell can store 3 bits, and a QLC cell can store 4 bits. The more data is stored in one cell, the cheaper the memory is, but at the same time, its speed and the number of rewriting cycles are significantly reduced.

So TLC can be rewritten about 3 times less than MLC, and QLC memory can be rewritten 3 times less than TLC. Thus, MLC is the most durable, TLC is less durable (but costs less), and QLC is even less durable (but costs even less).

In addition, MLC is the fastest memory, TLC is somewhat slower, and QLC is even slower, which significantly affects the performance of SSD drives using one or another memory. Even if the maximum speed values ​​are the same, in reality there will be a difference.

The first MLC and TLC chips were planar (single-layer), but now three-dimensional (multilayer) chips MLC 3D NAND, TLC 3D NAND and QLC are used almost everywhere. This allows you to increase the capacity of the chip and at the same time, such memory turns out to be somewhat more durable than its planar predecessors, which have become an anachronism, but are still found on the market.

So, the main types of SSD memory today are:

MLC 3D NAND is the most expensive, durable and fastest memory with an estimated resource of 10,000 rewriting cycles, recommended for highly loaded professional systems where an SSD disk can be completely rewritten within a day.

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TLC 3D NAND. a cheaper type of memory with an average speed and a rewrite resource of about 3000 cycles, found in most mid-range SSDs with an optimal price / durability ratio, recommended for ordinary home PCs.

In general, we would recommend not purchasing SSDs on outdated planar MLC and TLC memory, as well as on too slow and unreliable QLC memory. In most cases, TLC 3D NAND should be preferred.

There is also a myth that SSD drives wear out very quickly. Therefore, you need to choose models with the maximum possible resource and use all sorts of tricks in the operating system settings to extend the service life of the SSD disk, otherwise it will quickly work out its resource and fail.

In fact, the resource of modern SSDs matters only when they are installed in servers, where the disks are worn out around the clock. In such conditions, due to the colossal number of rewriting cycles, SSDs really serve an order of magnitude less than their older brothers. mechanical hard drives. But we already know that in computers of ordinary users, the number of write operations, due to which wear and tear occurs, is 20 times lower than read operations. Therefore, even with a relatively heavy load, the resource of any modern SSD will allow it to work for 10 or more years.

Despite the fact that the data on rapid wear is quite exaggerated, it is not worth buying an SSD based on the cheapest QLC memory. Today, the best option would be an SSD drive with TLC 3D NAND memory. And the actual lifespan of an SSD disk will depend more on the quality of production and the computer’s power supply. Pay more attention to brand and warranty period.

14. SSD manufacturers

The best manufacturer of SSD drives is Samsung, but they also cost more than anyone else. But they are the fastest, most reliable, have a long and hassle-free warranty.

The best in terms of price / quality ratio can be called SSD brands Crucial and Plextor, they are almost as good as Samsung or Intel, but they are slightly cheaper.

Also, as a compromise option in terms of price / quality, you can consider the SSD of the well-established A-DATA brand.

I do not recommend purchasing SSDs sold under the Kingston brand, as most of them do not meet the declared characteristics and their speed degrades greatly as they fill up. But this manufacturer also has SSDs from the top-end HyperX series, which are of higher quality and can be considered as an alternative to top-end expensive brands.

I also do not recommend SSD brands OCZ and Transcend, as a number of models with various problems have been noticed among them (computer does not see, low speed, sudden shutdowns).

Some time ago, the well-known hard drive manufacturer Western Digital acquired the company SanDisk, which was engaged in the development and production of SSDs. Now drives from both WD and SanDisk brands can be considered for purchase. At the same time, WD retains a convenient color separation: Green (budget slow SSDs), Blue (middle class) and Black (fast drives). SanDisk has these series: Plus (budget), Ultra (middle class) and Extreme (top).

In general, budget and unpopular brands. like a lottery, may or may not be lucky. Therefore, I recommend that you refuse to purchase them if possible. And on the model of recommended brands it is still better to look for reviews, since “there is a hole in the old woman too”.

Hard disk volumes

For each type of hard disk, depending on its purpose, the amount of data that it can hold will be different.

Speed ​​characteristics of disks

The speed characteristics common to HDD, SSHD and SSD drives include linear read / write speed and random access time.

Basic disk parameters

The main parameters of disks, which are often indicated in price lists, are the spindle speed and the size of the memory buffer.

14. Cost of HDD and SSD drives

I want to talk a little about the general principles of choosing between more or less expensive disk models.

The price of HDD disks depends most of all on the disk capacity and slightly on the manufacturer (by 5-10%). Therefore, it is not advisable to save on the quality of HDD disks. Buy models from recommended manufacturers, albeit a little more expensive, as they will last longer.

The price of SSD drives, except for the volume and speed, also strongly depends on the manufacturer. Here I can give a simple recommendation. choose the cheapest SSD drive from the list of recommended manufacturers, which suits you in terms of volume and speed.

12. Speed ​​of hard drives (HDD, SSHD)

All the parameters of SSD drives we need, such as volume, speed and manufacturer, we can find out from the seller’s price list and then compare them by price.

The parameters of HDD disks can be found out by the model or batch number on the manufacturers’ websites, but in fact it is quite difficult, since these catalogs are huge, have a lot of incomprehensible parameters, which are called differently by each manufacturer, also in English. Therefore, I offer you another way that I use myself.

This is what a picture with a disk test looks like from a search.

As you can see, this picture shows the average linear read speed and random access time, which are of interest to us. Make sure that the model number in the picture matches the model number of your drive.

Besides, according to the schedule, you can roughly determine the quality of the disc. Uneven graph with large jumps and high access times indirectly indicate inaccurate low-quality disc mechanics.

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A beautiful cyclical or just a uniform graph without large jumps, combined with low access times, speaks of accurate, high-quality disc mechanics.

This drive will perform better, faster and last longer.

7.1. Spindle speed

The spindle has hard and hybrid disks based on magnetic platters (HDD, SSHD). Since SSDs are based on memory chips, they do not have a spindle. The speed of its work depends on the speed of rotation of the spindle of the hard disk.

The spindle of desktop hard drives is mainly 7200 rpm. Sometimes there are models with a spindle speed of 5400 rpm, which are slower.

Laptop hard drives generally have a spindle speed of 5400 RPM, which allows them to be quieter, less warm and consume less power.

6.4. Data backup

When choosing a disk size, it is also advisable to take into account the need to create a backup copy of user files (videos, photos, etc.) that will be stored on it. Otherwise, you risk losing in one moment everything that you have accumulated over the years. Therefore, it is often more advisable to purchase not one huge disk, but two smaller disks. one for work, the other (possibly external) for backing up files.

Which SSD is faster

In addition to the type of memory, other characteristics, such as the model of the controller installed in the drive and its firmware, also affect the performance of an SSD. But these details are often not even mentioned in the description. Instead, endpoints of read and write speed appear, which are easier for the buyer to navigate. So, choosing between two SSDs, all other things being equal, take the drive whose declared speeds are higher.

Remember that the manufacturer only indicates theoretically possible speeds. In practice, they are always lower than stated.

2.5 ″ SSD Compatibility with Computers

This SSD form factor can be installed in any desktop or laptop computer that has a free 2.5-inch drive bay. If your system only has room for an old 3.5 “hard drive, you can fit a 2.5 ″ SSD in that too. But in this case, look for an SSD model that comes with a special latch.

Like modern HDDs, a 2.5 ″ SSD is connected to the motherboard using the SATA3 interface. This connection provides a throughput of up to 600 MB / s. If you have an old motherboard with a SATA2 connector, you can still connect a 2.5 ″ SSD, but the drive bandwidth will be limited by the old interface version.

SSD M.2

compact form factor, which makes it suitable even for extremely thin notebooks that do not have room for a 2.5 ″ SSD. Looks like an oblong stick, it is installed not in a separate compartment of the case, but directly on the motherboard.

To connect to the board, each M.2 drive uses one of two interfaces: SATA3 or PCIe.

PCIe is several times faster than SATA3. If you choose the first one, then it is worth considering a few more things: the version of the interface and the number of lines connected to the connector for data transmission.

  • The newer the PCIe version, the higher the bandwidth (data exchange rate) of the interface. Two versions are widespread: PCIe 2.0 (up to 1.6 GB / s) and PCIe 3.0 (up to 3.2 GB / s).
  • The more data lines are connected to the SSD connector, the higher its bandwidth again. The maximum number of lines in an M.2 SSD is four, in this case, in the description of the drive, its interface is referred to as PCIe x4. If there are only two lines, then. PCIe x2.

Which SSD is better to choose and why

Everything You Need to Know Before Buying a Desktop or Laptop Solid State Drive.

If you are building a powerful computer or want to speed up an old one, then an SSD will come in handy. Finally, the cost of these drives has dropped so much that they can be considered as a reasonable alternative to hard disk drives (HDD).

The SSD features listed below will help you choose the best drive that is compatible with your computer and meets your needs.

SSD 2.5 ″

This form factor is the most common. The SSD looks like a small box that resembles an ordinary hard drive. SSD 2.5 ″ is the cheapest, but at the same time their speed is enough for most users.

External SSD

Besides the internal ones, there are also external drives. They vary greatly in shape and size. choose the one that is most convenient for you.

As for the interface, external SSDs are connected to computers via the USB port. For full compatibility, make sure the port on your computer and the drive connector support the same USB standard. The fastest data transfer rate is provided by the USB 3 and USB Type-C specifications.

Less popular form factors

Your computer case may not have a 2.5 ”SSD bay, and your motherboard will not have an M.2 slot. The owner of a thin laptop may face such an atypical situation. Then for your system you need to choose SSD 1,8 ″ or mSATA. check in the documents for your computer. These are rare form factors that are more compact than a 2.5 ”SSD, but are inferior in data transfer speed to M.2 drives.

Kingston SSDNow V180 Compact Drive 1.8 “

Plus, Apple’s thin laptops may not support traditional form factors either. In them, the manufacturer installs a proprietary SSD format, the characteristics of which are comparable to M.2. So, if you have a thin laptop with an apple on the lid, check the supported SSD type in the documentation for your computer.

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Transcend’s JetDrive 725 Proprietary for MacBook Pro 15

Which memory is better: MLC or TLC

According to the number of bits of information that can be stored in one flash memory cell, the latter is divided into three types: SLC (one bit), MLC (two bits) and TLC (three bits). The first type is relevant for servers, the other two are widely used in consumer drives, so you will have to choose from them.

MLC memory is faster and more durable, but more expensive. TLC is correspondingly slower and withstands fewer rewrite cycles, although the average user is unlikely to notice the difference.

TLC memory is cheaper. Choose it if economy is more important to you than speed.

The description of the drive can also indicate the type of mutual arrangement of memory cells: NAND or 3D V-NAND (or just V-NAND). The first type implies that the cells are located in one layer, the second. in several layers, which allows you to create an SSD of increased capacity. 3D V-NAND Flash is more reliable and performant than NAND according to developers.

How to choose an SSD for a computer, laptop

Solid-state drives are gradually replacing conventional HDDs, or hard drives, and due to read / write speed, compactness, high energy efficiency, sooner or later they will be completely replaced. Information carriers of this type, due to the absence of rotating parts, tolerate vibration, shaking, and mild shock effects well. The data in them is written not on magnetic disks, but in memory cells, each of which can contain, depending on the type, from one to five bits. From the article from the “Good Deeds Service” you will understand how to choose an SSD drive for a computer or laptop, and what are the main parameters to look at in 2020.

SSD capacity

Basic characteristics of computer disks, HDD and SSD, flash memory and even half-forgotten optical media. The more memory the manufacturer offers, the more information (movies, audio tracks, images, text documents) you can write to the SSD. For owners of laptops, in which usually only one drive is installed, it makes sense to buy a solid-state drive with a larger capacity; owners of computers who only want to speed up the launch of the operating system, a more “modest” medium is enough.

How much SSD to choose for different purposes:

  • To install the operating system. at least 64 GB, taking into account the filling of the system program catalogs.
  • To work with office applications. at least 128 GB.
  • To install and run video games. at least 256 GB.
  • For downloading and storing multimedia files. at least 512 GB.

Tip: The list above is the minimum values. If you plan to install only one disk in a computer or laptop, it is best to choose an SSD drive with a capacity of 1 TB or more. In doing so, keep in mind the general rule: more memory. lower price per gigabyte.

SSD memory type

The SSD uses NAND memory, which provides the maximum speed of writing, reading, rewriting information. Data is stored bit by bit in cells, each of which can contain one or several bits, or levels of recording. Single-level memory is the most reliable, but it also costs more than other options. Taking into account the minimum volume, it is impractical to buy it for a home PC or laptop.

Types of SSD drives by memory level for a computer or laptop:

  • MLC. There are two bits per cell. The advantages of MLC are high speed of information processing, reliability of data storage, long service life. Minus. high, in comparison with the following types, price.
  • TLC. There are three bits per cell. The advantages of TLC are the large capacity and lower price compared to two-tier SSDs. Cons. reduced data storage reliability and write / read speed.
  • QLC. There are four bits per cell. Plus QLC. even more memory. Of the minuses, we can note the lowest speed of read and write operations among all types of SSD, which is still much faster than conventional hard drives to which QLC solid-state drives come close in price.

Note: A good answer to the question of which SSD to choose for a PC is Samsung’s latest vertical cell design. The advantages of such media are a larger amount of memory, up to 4 TB, in combination with a high speed of information processing.

SSD Form Factor

Affects the convenience of placing an SSD in a computer or laptop case. By themselves, solid-state drives are more compact than hard drives, and the standard 2.5-inch form factor fits seamlessly into a laptop case, and even more so into a stationary system unit. For super-thin devices, it makes sense to choose minimalistic drives that do not exceed PCI-e cards in size. The most compact form factors are with MO-300 memory chips (no more than 51 mm on the longest side) and M2. the modern generation of SSD, suitable for installation in any device.

Do you have any questions or want to get more detailed advice? Call or write to the “Good Deeds Service”. we will help you choose an SSD for a laptop or PC and tell you how to properly connect the drive!