Things to know about solid-state drives

Until recently, perceived as an expensive whim, in 2017 SSDs (Solid State Drive) drives are preferred by more and more people, whether it’s a laptop or a desktop computer.

SSD prices fall literally every day, and the question is not whether, but how big an SSD to buy.

SSD by volume / capacity

SSDs are still a relatively smaller volume than HDDs. While the second capacity of 3-4TB and above seems to be within the limits of modern standards, in 2017 even 1TB SSDs are expensive for the Bulgarian consumer.

One of the most common ways to tackle the high cost of large SSDs is to use them along with the HDD. The idea is to have the operating system and most commonly used applications installed on the fast SSD, and to store movies, photos, games and other volume files on the extra hard drive. In this way, we achieve simultaneous loading and running speeds and the availability of sufficient storage capacity.

Currently, a 30GB to 2TB solid-state drive can be found on the market.

SSD price

The unmatched advantages of SSDs over standard HDDs cannot yet overcome the major factor that influences the purchase decision – the price of SSD. While for people who use their computer or laptop for business, speed is essential, but for home users (who generally need more gigabytes of memory), investment in such a disc may not be justified.
Although in 2017 SSDs have entered a large number of mobile computers and a lot of desktop machines, the average price of a 1GB SSD compared to the same for a 1GB HDD is much higher.

According to some online news, in 2018, the price of the 256GB SSD will fall below the standard HDD, and for the small SSD, this is already true in 2017.

At the same time, statistics from one of the major shopping sites in Bulgaria show that for the entire 2017, the change in the price of one of Samsung’s popular Samsung SSD models (Samsung 850 EVO 250GB) is minimal – as opposed to 2016, the price is drastic – over 25%.

SSD Second Hand

SSDs are already on the market for quite some time, and as it can be expected, offers for them increasingly appear on the secondary market, or in other words – it’s not hard to buy an SSD second hand in 2017.

We have already stated that, unlike conventional discs, SSDs do not have mechanically moving parts, so there is no “wear” in the standard sense of the word. Naturally, however, they also have a lifetime of use, so when choosing a second-wheel drive, we should be just as careful. Fortunately, there is software that shows the time of the CMS and some estimate of the remaining life (in percent) – so it is imperative when we check out our new old disk to check these values.

However, in order to be more relaxed when buying a second-hand SSD, we need to look for one with a residual warranty (if we buy it by an individual) or look for an SSD with a refurbished firm’s warranty.

SSD for laptop

When looking at the laptop and desktop SSD application, it’s easy to see that the benefits of this type of drive are all the more powerful on notebooks. They save battery, are not prone to vibration and are lighter. But what kind of disk do we choose for our laptop?

Older laptops have the ability to replace the hard drive with only a new SSD using the SATA interface, so this is the first mandatory limitation for SSD for a laptop.

If we use a more modern laptop than SATA, it should also be equipped with a mSATA or M.2 interface.

When we talk about Solid State Drives, we can not fail to mention the main ones

Benefits of SSD

SSDs are faster, lighter, lighter, more energy-conscious, and less impact-resistant and portable than conventional HDDs. But unfortunately, at least until recently, they were much more expensive.

In 2017, the SSD price is still higher than standard discs in the same volume, but the 512GB and 1TB SSD are now significantly more affordable for the end user. Currently, the price of a 240GB SSD is similar to the cost of a 2TB standard mechanical HDD, but we should not forget that its performance and speed are priced.

As a small flaw on the SSD, we can note that, unlike conventional magnetic disk drives, which usually
they are usually damaged gradually with the emergence of bad sectors and a series of warnings that SSDs stop working at once. It just happens with the wear of the memory cells storing the information, but for that, see below.

SSD Memory Types (NAND)

Unlike standard HDDs, SDDs do not have mechanical parts, and recording is electronic only. The data is stored in NAND memory, which is divided into several main types: SLC, MLC (eMLC variant) and TLC. For several years, Samsung has also been using 3D V-NAND technology for its SSD, which has some advantages, again at the expense of a higher price.

SLC abbreviation comes from Single Level Cell, which means that each cell can write exactly one bit of information (zero or unit).

Accordingly, MLC (Multi-Level Cell) memories can store two bits of information, and TLC (Triple Level Cell) as the name suggests stores exactly three bits.

The fastest and most reliable to use is SLC memory, but it is also the most expensive one. In the consumer SSD, most common is MLC, as well as TLC and its varieties of 3D V-Nand, which is currently embedded in Samsung’s SSD drives.

Manufacturers have predicted a number of cycles that each memory type should withstand without the risk of memory wear. For SLCs, these are about 100,000 rewriting cycles, for MLC respectively 20-30000.

The lowest is the threshold of TLC memory chips, which are expected to withstand about 3000 to 5000 rewriting cycles.

The 3D V-NAND is typically TLC or MLC type, and according to the manufacturer it can handle over 6000 cycles

Characteristics of NAND memories in SSD

In principle, SLCs are the most reliable. They guarantee over 100,000 rewriting cycles and are the fastest of the three types – the time to delete a single cell is within 1 to 2.5 milliseconds.
Next in reliability are MLC chips. The rewrite cycles range from 3,000 to 15,000, and the erasure speed is between 2.5 and 3.5 milliseconds.

Finally, TLC – 3000 ranks up to 5000 cycles and the speed is 4-5 milliseconds.

SSD interfaces

SSDs have several connectivity types; the most prevalent is still SATA. In addition to the SATA SSD, there are mSATA, M.2 and SATA Express. Below we will stop at any interface because they are not interchangeable and it is essential to know what type of connectivity we are looking for when buying a new SSD.

SATA interface

As mentioned above, SATA is the most common disk interface ever since the mechanical HDDs. Over the course of time, SATA has evolved over several generations, which offer different speeds but are incompatible.

The relevant data of the different generations of the SATA interface are:
• SATA 1.0 – data transfer rate up to 1.5Gb / s
• SATA 2.0 – data transfer rate up to 3.0Gb / s
• SATA 3.0 – data transfer rate up to 6.0Gb / s
• SATA 3.1 – data transfer rate up to 6.0Gb / s
• SATA 3.2 – data transfer rate up to 8.0Gb / s or 16.0Gb / s

mSATA interface

As we can guess, m in the name comes from mini. That is, mSATA is a physically diminished interface in order to be more suitable for laptops and other portable devices. Not all mobile computers are still equipped with the mSATA interface, so be careful when buying a new SSD for your laptop. mSATA achieves maximum transfer speeds like the SATA 3.0 interface – up to 6.0Gb / s.

M.2 interface

The M.2 interface, also called Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF), is again used mainly in laptops because it is smaller and at the same time, we have modules of different sizes. The real M.2 interface has a small form factor. M.2 again meet SATA 3.0 specifications or PCI-Express specifications, which are up to 1Gb / s.

SATA Express Interface

SATA Express is a modern interface supporting SATA or PCIe devices. SATA Express provides up to 8Gbps or 16Gbps.

SSD for gaming

Many people turn to the SSD with the idea of playing games, imagining how this drive will bring more footage and smoother play. However, this is not in direct dependence on the disk.

SSDs will undoubtedly ensure faster loading, especially for larger games, but they do not have a direct effect on gameplay and footage (FPS).

The real benefits of SSD in games are a reflection of their basic positive qualities – faster loading, no noise, less shine, flick resistance (i.e., being angry at the game and kicking the computer, the SSD will not damage). Because of the fast transfer rate, your game will load for considerably less time, which will save you the unpleasant wait for the pleasure to start.

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