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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

17 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
192 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best internal solid-state drives

Last Updated October 2019

Any time you save a file, open a video, or play a game on your computer, you’re tapping into its internal storage system — drives that store and retrieve digital information. The classic example of this is the hard disk drive (HDD), which consists of a magnetic disk that spins inside your computer and is read by pins. These systems are relatively inexpensive, allowing you to store massive amounts of data without breaking the bank. That said, their moving parts can potentially fail, and that’s why some users have shifted toward a more refined, energy-efficient, quieter, and admittedly more expensive option called the solid-state drive (SSD).

Unlike HDDs, SSDs have no moving parts. They store data in semiconductor cells somewhat similarly to a USB flash drive. This improves their longevity as well as read/write speeds compared to HDDs.

If you’re building a new rig from scratch, researching pre-built machines, simply looking to learn more about SSDs, or interested in some of our favorites, you’ve come to the right place.

A hybrid drive includes the best of both worlds: a hard disk drive and a solid-state drive. It takes advantage of the SSD’s responsiveness and the HDD’s capacity for comparatively low cost. In these systems, the SSD can act as a cache for data stored on the HDD, keeping copies of frequently used files for quick access.

Key considerations

Capacity

Consumer-grade internal solid-state drives typically store between 120 gigabytes (GB) and 4 terabytes (TB) of data, which is quite a large range. The amount of storage you need corresponds to what tasks you undertake frequently. For instance, if all you want to do is to store your operating system on an SSD for improved performance, while using a hard disk drive for bulk storage, a smaller unit will do just fine. If you plan to put multiple applications and games on your SSD, invest in a multi-terabyte model to take your machine’s speed and responsiveness to the next level.

Read/write speed

As the name suggests, the read/write speed of an SDD dictates how quickly it can manage data and execute tasks. SSDs far outpace HDDs in this regard, with the latter producing average speeds of approximately 125 megabytes per second (MB/s). However, SSDs can operate as quickly as 550 megabytes per second.

Form factor

This refers to the SSD’s physical shape, size, and, consequently, compatibility with particular machines. You’ll see a form factor of 2.5 inches very often because this design is used on many laptops and desktops. M.2 and mSATA form factors are used frequently as well, but on thin laptops and tablets.

Interface

The interface is how the SSD physically connects to a computer’s system. There are two main flavors here: PCIe and SATA.

  • PCIe SSDs use a Peripheral Component Interconnect Express interface, which connects to the motherboard directly like a graphics card. This makes PCIe SSDs fast, desirable, and expensive.

  • SATA SSDs are slower and less expensive by contrast. They use the Serial Advanced Technology Attachment interfaces, which are also used to connect optical drives and peripherals. SSDs that utilize this older type of interface are compatible with a greater number of different systems.
EXPERT TIP

The phrase “terabytes written” (TBW) measures the basic endurance of an SSD. If a product has a high TBW rating, it’s more likely to write large amounts of data before failing.


Staff  | BestReviews

Internal solid-state drive features

Installation hardware: Purchasing an SSD, getting it home, and freeing it from its packaging would be very frustrating if you then find that it doesn’t include the necessary components to install it. Keep in mind that most SSDs require additional cables, screws, and brackets to set up, and some offer an install package as an add-on.

Power-loss protection: Certain SSD manufacturers include a power-loss protection function, which is intended to preserve all of your saved work if the power supply fails. One brand of SSD refers to this technology as “Integrated Power Loss Immunity.”

Warranty: There’s a lot on the line if your SSD fails, particularly if it houses your operating system or other crucial applications. This places more importance on the warranty of your product. Five-year warranties are easy to find, and in our opinion, you shouldn’t settle for anything less.

Internal solid-state drive prices

As with any piece of computing hardware, the price of an internal SSD is important, but try not to focus solely on the sticker price. A more important consideration is the dollar-per-gigabyte rating in conjunction with the read/write speed.

Inexpensive: Entry-level SSDs that cost between $50 and $100 offer capacities around 500 GB. These units typically have SATA interfaces and are compatible with a wide range of machines.

Mid-range: For approximately $250, expect to find larger SSDs that can store up to 2 TB of data. These products have more impressive read/write speeds than cheaper models and may feature SATA or PCIe interfaces.

Expensive: At the top of the range you’ll find high-capacity SSDs that are able to store 4 TB or more. Prices soar past $300 for these, but read/write speeds of 550 MB/s and higher will make it worth it if you’re after high performance. PCIe interfaces are common here, but you will still find SATA versions as well.

DID YOU KNOW?

The phrase “mean time to failure” (MTTF) is a basic reliability measure for SSDs. Manufacturers give their products MTTF ratings after performing accelerated life tests, calculating the cumulative operating hours of a sample group and dividing it by the number of units that failed.

DID YOU KNOW?

The TRIM command is an extremely beneficial tool to both improve the speed and extend the life of your SSD. Put simply, TRIM allows the operating system to tell the SSD that a block of data is no longer needed and can be deleted. If the operating system can’t do this, for example, the command isn’t in use, it will take longer to write new data in that area.

Tips

  • Check compatibility. Internal solid-state drives are not plug-and-play with every machine. Compare the make and model of your computer with the manufacturer to confirm compatibility before buying. Also, take the time to see if your system accepts SATA or PCIe interfaces.

  • Consider a hybrid. If you’re building your own computer, think about installing a hybrid drive with a solid-state drive as your boot drive for your operating system and a hard disk drive for bulk data storage. This is an extremely cost-effective way to design a high-performance system.

  • Back up your important data before formatting or reformatting your SSD. These processes return the drive it to its clean, factory state. Backing up your important data before doing this guarantees you won’t lose anything. On a Windows system, access your System and Security files in the Control Panel. Click Admin Tools, Computer Management, and then Disk Management. Then right click on the disk you’d like to format.

  • Avoid filling your SSD to full capacity. The drive can suffer performance issues as it fills up because writing data onto partially filled memory cells takes significantly longer than doing so on empty cells.

Other products we considered

Sifting through the hundreds of internal solid-state drives on the market can be daunting, especially when there are so many high-quality options out there. We’d like to highlight a couple of the products that just missed our list above. We appreciate the high value of the SanDisk Plus SSD because even though it boasts a 1 TB capacity, it remains very affordable. Read/write speeds are rated at  535 MB/s and 450 MB/s, respectively, and the unit itself is shock resistant. On the other end of the spectrum is the Sabrent Rocket SSD. It has a fast, efficient PCIe interface that allows it to read at 3,450 MB/s and write at 3,000 MB/s. Power consumption is significantly lower than traditional hard drives as well.

SSDs can slowly leak charge over time if left for long periods without power. This makes them unsuitable for archival storage.

FAQ

Q. What type of files should I store on my SSD?

A. Ideally, SSDs should be used to store files that need to be accessed quickly and frequently. A perfect example of this is the operating system because it’s constantly in use. Others include resource-intensive installed programs like video games. If you can, use your HDD for big files like movies and data you access infrequently, saving SSD space for files that will benefit from the increased performance.

Q. Do SSDs wear out over time?

A. Solid-state drives are known for their sturdiness because the lack of moving parts prevents issues due to physical damage. Their memory cells do have limited lifespans, however, specifically their ability to charge and discharge after thousands of read/write processes. The wear issues of SSDs are largely overblown, though. The average model can be rewritten with an average of 30 TB to 50 TB over its lifespan, and it will likely last far longer than the rest of the computer.

Q. Will SSDs always be more expensive than HDDs?

A. SSDs are getting cheaper each year, with a large number of models nearing prices of $0.50 per gigabyte. That said, they’re still noticeably more expensive than traditional hard disk drives, which cost $0.05 per gigabyte on average. Experts estimate it will take another three to five years for SSD prices to normalize and become comparable with HDDs.

The team that worked on this review
  • Andrew
    Andrew
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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