If you’re delving into the world of computing you may have come across the term SSD, but what does it mean? And why is it important?
It can be overwhelming when you’re looking for a new computer, as there are so many different specifications that you need to take into account.
We’ve put together this guide so you can get to grips with SSDs, including what they are and why they’re important, to make it a little easier for you to choose what your next computer will look like. And make sure to message us on Twitter if you have any further questions that were not covered here.
What is an SSD?
SSD stands for solid-state drive, which is a storage device found in a lot of computers. SSDs are slowly replacing traditional hard disk drives (HDDs) as they as usually a lot faster.
SSD uses flash memory, which can be written, erased and transferred electronically, which is a lot faster than an HDD. Since they are so fast, the device they’re used in will also boot up faster and programmes may load quicker, giving the user a better experience overall.
Flash memory is beneficial as it is nonvolatile, meaning that it can retain the stored information even when the computer is turned off. It also it has no moving parts that could possibly break and cause it to break down. The main two components of an SSD are the NAND flash memory chips as well as the flash controller, which are designed to deliver a high read and write performance, which results in a speedy performance.
You will come across SSDs a lot when looking at computers and laptops, however, they can be found in devices like smartphones, tablets, digital cameras and anywhere that hard drives are useful.
What are SSDs used for?
SSDs are the more expensive option compared to HDDs, however, over time they have become more common in a lot of computing areas. Businesses that are working with a lot of data at one time can use SSDs as they have fast transfer speeds and can remember information even when the device it is housed in is turned off.
Gamers also may choose to use an SSD instead of a traditional hard drive as many triple-A titles come with an abundance of files, containing characters, maps and levels, which need to be loaded up quickly for a smooth experience.
They are also ideal for smartphones due to their smaller size in comparison to an HDD. They also tend to have lower power requirements and are shock-resistant, making them ideal for portable devices.
Are there different types of SSD?
There are a few types of SSDs on the market, with the most popular variations being PCle, SATA, NVMe and M.2.
PCle SSDs are usually used to connect hardware like graphic cards or other high-performance internals. This connection provides low latency and high bandwidth, which is ideal for anyone looking for a fast connection between the CPU and SSD. The quick performance is most noticeable when you’re engaging in high-intensity tasks, like gaming or content creation, and won’t be as stark during normal day-to-day use.
SATA stands for serial advanced technology attachment and is one of the most commonly used solutions in the hard drive world. It fits in most laptops and PCs and is an easy option for low-intensity productivity devices since it is the slowest out of all the SSDs, at around 600MB/s.
NVMe stands for non-volatile memory express and it is around five times faster at data transfer than SATA, reaching up to 2600MB/s. NVMe usually utilises PCle components to deliver even faster speeds, although they do require more power, which is usually why they are used in companies that deal with large amounts of data.
You can check out our article on SSD M.2 connectors for a more thorough explanation, but M.2 ensures that an SSD can be as fast as possible, usually going over the 2600MB/s mark reached by PCle and NVMe. However, to use an M.2 connector the motherboard of your device must be compatible, or it will need to be hooked up using a PCle card alongside the M.2 to connect it back to the motherboard.
Are there disadvantages to SSDs?
Despite their speedy load times and small size, there are some downsides to SSDs. They are more expensive than traditional HDDs, meaning that you may need to spend more money to find a premium laptop that houses a solid SSD.
They also have a tendency to degrade over time, so you may notice that after a few years your SSD isn’t performing as well as it did when you first used it. Generally, it’s thought that your SSD will last around five years before you start to see it decline in quality, as they have a limited number of cycles that will gradually wear down.
However, even though they are prone to degrading, they are still more reliable than an HDD overall, as they are less likely to break due to the lack of moving parts.