The Best SSDs of 2017
Building a new PC? Putting the final touches on a PC you already own? Laptop or notebook need a little speed boost? Well, then you’re in the right place because here we’ll take you through what we think are the best SSDs of 2017.
Here we’ll sort through hundreds of different SSDs to give you a recommendation on the best drives available for the money. As always, because we review a lot of computer hardware here at CPCR, most of our recommendations will be either from our own experience with the SSDs or the experiences of one of our many colleagues from other publications. As such, all SSDs recommended here have been thoroughly researched and are what we feel to be the best for the money.
Best Enthusiast PCIe SSD
Samsung 960 PRO
|If you want the absolute highest performing consumer SSD out on the market today, there’s really only one choice and that’s Samsung 960 PRO.
Rated at up to 3.5GB/s sequential reads and up to 2.1GB/s sequential writes, the Samsung 960 PRO shattered every single benchmark we threw at it when we reviewed it back in late 2016. Of course, performance is only one piece of the equation. In addition to being the fastest SSD on the market, the Samsung 960 PRO also offers the highest capacity for a consumer M.2 PCIe SSD with drive capacities of 512GB, 1TB and 2TB. Of course, that’s not all. The Samsung 960 PRO also features a an industry leading 5 year warranty, up to 1.2PBW (Yes, PetaBytes Written) of endurance and the Samsung Magician software suite, the best SSD software suite available on the market today.
If you must have the best, there’s simply no equal to the Samsung 960 PRO.
Best Enthusiast SATA SSD
Samsung 850 PRO
|Although the Samsung 850 PRO launched several years ago, it still holds the title as the fastest SATA SSD we’ve reviewed to date.
Featuring capacities of up to 2TB, the Samsung 850 PRO is capable of speeds up to 550MB/s sequential reads and 520MB/s sequential writes, and up to 100,000 IOPS 4K random reads and 90,000 IOPS 4K random writes.
What’s most impressive about the Samsung 850 PRO however, is its warranty. Samsung covers the 850 PRO for up to 10 years with an endurance of up to 150 TBW (TeraBytes Written) so if you do pick up the 850 PRO, you’ll practically be covered for the rest of the drive’s life. Be sure to check out our full Samsung 850 Pro review here for more details.
Best Mainstream SATA SSD
Samsung 850 EVO
|Launched at the same time as the Samsung 850 PRO, the Samsung 850 EVO is undoubtedly the best pick for any mainstream user. Featuring both Samsung’s 32-layer TLC 3D VNAND or 48-layer TLC 3D V-NAND depending on capacity, the Samsung 850 EVO is offered in capacities of 120GB all the way up to a whopping 4TB.
Performance on the Samsung 850 EVO is very good as well, coming in rated at 540 MB/s sequential reads and 520 MB/s sequential writes.
Although not as impressive as its bigger brother the Samsung 850 Pro, the Samsung 850 EVO still features an industry leading warranty at 5 years with an endurance rating of up to 300TBW (TeraBytes Written). Be sure to check out our full Samsung 850 EVO review here for more details.
Best Budget SATA SSD
|For those on a budget or simply don’t need all of the additional performance features that entail with the SSDs above, the Crucial MX300 is the best choice.
Available in capacities of 275GB, 525GB, 1TB and 2TB, the Crucial MX300 features parent company Micron’s new 3D NAND technology. As such, performance on the Crucial MX300 is rated at up to 530 MB/s sequential reads and 510 MB/s sequential reads.
Warranty on the Crucial MX300 is rated at 3 years or up to 220TBW (TeraBytes Written) depending on the drive capacity. Be sure to check out our full Crucial MX300 review here for more details.
SSD State of the Union
July 2017 Update
Due to the global shortage on NAND, which make up the memory chips within SSDs, currently no SSD manufacturer is making big announcements for new products. SSD prices are also expected to go up between now and the end of the year, so if you find a top SSD at a reasonable price, we’d highly recommend purchasing one before increased demand for the holidays further constrain SSD supply.
On the NAND technology development side, SK Hynix has recently unveiled their 72-Layer 3D NAND which has either gone into production or will go into production soon.
Samsung began operation on its Pyeongtaek fabrication facility which will begin mass producing its 64-Layer 3D NAND. As usual, you can expect SSDs based on this new NAND to land sometime in the fall as Samsung generally releases a new SSD around two quarters after they begin mass production on a new NAND technology.
Although Toshiba is experiencing financial woes and is expected to sell off their SSD/NAND memory business, they’re still developing new products and they recently announced a new 768Gb 64-Layer BiCS QLC 3D NAND which will allow NAND packages up to 1.5TB per package. Toshiba partner Western Digital followed suit as well announcing their own 768Gb 64-Layer BiCS QLC 3D NAND. It’s unclear when both companies will unveil SSDs based on the new NAND, but it’s likely sometime before the end of the year.
SSD Buying Guide
Solid State Drives (SSDs)
Created as the successor to traditional HDD technology, SSDs are the speed demons of the storage world. Without any moving parts, SSDs don’t need to wait for actuator arms to read the data off platters and instead directly transfer data from the NAND flash memory. As a result, SSDs feature read and write performance that can be orders of magnitude faster than traditional mechanical hard drives drives.
Featuring no moving parts, SSDs can take punishment much better than HDDs. Vibration and impact no longer affect their operation and they’re significantly more power efficient with some of the best SSDs requiring less than 0.1w at idle. Due to this decreased power draw, they also output less heat than mechanical drives which helps improve the longevity of the SSD as well as the longevity of other components within the system.
So why are we still gripping on to mechanical drives when SSDs seem like an infinitely better alternative? SSDs are still much more expensive per gigabyte compared to hard drives and as a result, capacities tend to be smaller as well. Due to the high costs of NAND flash memory, the size of SSDs must be limited to what the consumers can afford. While manufacturers could theoretically produce gargantuan-sized SSDs, their prices would be stratospheric.
How they work
Before we dive into a discussion on what to look for, it’s important to understand how SSDs work. SSDs have two major components: the controller and the NAND flash memory. The NAND flash memory is simply the cells that store the data while the controller not only manages where the data goes, but also acts as the bridge between the drive and the computer. Depending on the controller, it also has a number of other useful functions, such as encryption, garbage collection, error correction, etc.
SSD Buying FAQs
Tip #1: Buy an SSD based on its purpose
Figure out what you’re planning to do with the SSD. The type of NAND flash and the way the controller is optimized is very different for different use cases. If you’re looking for something for your family computer to browse the web and go on YouTube, a budget SATA SSD will likely fit the bill while someone looking for a SSD for editing massive amounts of video may want an enthusiast PCIe SSD.
Tip #2: Understand SSD Performance Numbers
Just like you probably wouldn’t buy a car based on the size of the engine alone, you probably don’t want to buy a SSD based on its sequential read performance alone either. For more information about SSD specifications, check out our guide on the relationship between IOPS, throughput and latency here.
Tip #3: Go with brand names
Buy a SSD from a brand name. Unlike buying a banana where everybody’s offering is relatively similar, in the SSD world, certain brands are simply better than others.
SSD manufacturers can generally be separated into four tiers:
|Tier 1||Samsung, Intel, Toshiba/OCZ|
|Tier 2||Crucial, SanDisk/WD|
|Tier 4||ADATA, Kingston, Corsair, Patriot, PNY, Transcend, Silicon Power|
Tier 1 manufacturers are the most reputable SSD makers. These companies own the entire supply chain from the controller to the NAND flash. These manufacturers ensure that the controller is best optimized for the NAND that it’ll be paired with and they also tend to use the best NAND for their products.
Tier 2 manufacturers own a portion of the supply chain, which is generally the production of the NAND flash. In most instances, Tier 2 manufacturers will source controllers from controller manufacturers, but they will usually write their own firmware to ensure that the controller is well suited for the NAND. Like Tier 1 manufacturers, Tier 2 manufacturers also tend to use the best NAND for their products.
Tier 3 manufacturers don’t produce their own NAND, but they either have their own controller technology or they write their own controller firmware. This provides them with some level of flexibility in unique features or optimizations for the SSD.
Tier 4 manufacturers don’t produce their own NAND and mostly use turnkey controller solutions. While this doesn’t make their drives bad, the drives aren’t significantly differentiated from each other.
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