Best SSDs 2017: Solid State Drives

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Your buying guide for the best SSDs in 2017

Solid-state storage is standard-issue for storing data in tablets and smartphones, where it’s relied upon for its tiny size and rugged nature. Those same virtues can be handy in desktop PCs and especially laptops too, but it’s the speed of an SSD (solid-state drive) compared to a traditional hard drive which is the biggest reason to upgrade.

This speed factor is about so much more than go-faster bragging rights though. Old-school desktop PC users may still battle over who has the fastest processor or graphics card, but SSD performance is more about the overall user experience – applications launch almost instantly, web pages load faster, and files copy in a fraction of the time.

How much should I spend?

It’s taken six years or more, but we are now at the state where the SSD is a truly affordable component for any computer user. And if your wallet won’t even stretch to £100, you can still get a 250GB SSD. Around £140 will get you a 500GB drive.

Sure, a traditional hard drive is still a lot cheaper, but you can install Windows and your most-used programs on an SSD and keep your music, video and photo libraries on a huge hard disk.

Which SSD should I buy?

For those seeking the very best performance, there’s still a case for finding the fastest rather than just choosing the cheapest SSD.

Performance – in terms of the speed with which data can be read and written – has effectively plateaued among SATA SSDs. It’s not that flash memory has reached its limit, far from it, but the Serial ATA interface between the flash and your computer is now an increasingly narrowing bottleneck.

That’s why there’s a newer type of SSD that plugs into your PC’s native PCI Express bus. They’re known as nVME SSDs. You’ll need a motherboard with an M.2 PCIe slot, or a PCIe adaptor card for an older motherboard that lacks the slot.

The SSDs here cover the highest-performing models today, as well as some cheaper options that juggle the value factor rather than best-in-class performance figures.

What about MLC, TLC and SLC?

There are various technologies, from multi-level cell (MLC), to the cheaper triple-level cell flash (TLC) architectures. You might even come across the rare and more expensive single-level cell (SLC) drive. The differences between the cell technologies boil down to the amount of bits (data) that a single cell (within the SSD) can handle.

TLC handles three, MLC two, and SLC one. The greater the number of bits per cell, the increased likelihood of failure, inconsistencies and most importantly performance. However, as this is a general sweeping statement, manufacturers have found ways around the limitations of SSD technology, but it’s worth noting what is being used in your SSD, regardless of how it performs.

When buying an SSD, look out for long warranties and high write limits if you prize data integrity, although with the help of proper backup routines, data loss is less of an issue today. Different SSDs demand more or less power in active use or when idle, and there are different power ratings again for when a laptop is in a sleep or hibernation mode.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the capability to measure power consumption in-house, and each manufacturer has its own way to present its numbers in the best light so we can’t give a meaningful rundown of which has the best power economy. However, laptop users should take note of the rated power consumption of the SSDs in our group test, so that you know how much additional battery power you’ll be using with an SSD.

For laptop users specifically, you’ll want to also know the exact dimensions of an SSD, as it might not fit into your laptop. All SSDs have a 2.5in form factor, and often have 69.9×100.1x7mm dimensions – ensure it will fit in your laptop before purchasing it as some are 9.5mm thick rather than 7mm.

Best SSD reviews


1.

Samsung 850 Evo



2.

Toshiba Q300 480GB


Toshiba Q300 480GB


3.

Samsung 960 Pro


Samsung 960 Pro


4.

Samsung 960 Evo


Samsung 960 Evo


5.

Samsung 850 PRO 1 TB


Samsung 850 PRO 1 TB


6.

SanDisk Extreme PRO 480 GB


SanDisk Extreme PRO 480 GB


7.

Integral P Series 4


Integral P Series 4


8.

Kingston KC400 SSDNow


Kingston KC400 SSDNow


9.

WD Blue SSD 1TB


WD Blue SSD 1TB


10.

PNY CS2211 240GB


PNY CS2211 240GB

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