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What's the best / cheapest PC SSD?

Editor:- I often get emails from readers which go something like this...
Dear Zsolt / Megabyte / #SSDmouse

I've been reading your site for a while - but I don't have time to read all the articles. Please tell me the best / cheapest / fastest / most reliable SSD to fit in my PC / notebook / server.


I need 512GB and I've got a SATA/ PCIe / other interface. I want a good quality product at an affordable price. What do you recommend?

Best wishes , SSD Reader

PS - I'm based in US / Taiwan / Germany / Scotland - can tell me where I can find a local supplier? Most of the manufacturers listed on your site don't reply to my inquiries or have the products you're writing about in stock.
I do answer a lot these emails - but inevitably my replies are something of a disappointment - because after explaining that I don't have a time budget to answer questions from millions of readers I then go on to pose more questions for the inquirer to think about - instead of giving simple answers. Therefore this long overdue article is my attempt to create a simple FAQs page - which answers the question - of why I can't answer your question.

A lot depends on the background of the person asking the question. The type of question I've mentioned above - usually comes from consumers or small business owners. But as most of the questions I get are from very experienced SSD users and people within the SSD industry I take all incoming emails seriously.

There's a good reason for doing this.

Many of the apparently simplest questions I've been asked over the past 10 years - have triggered off research and articles about serious issues. For example:-
  • whose SSDs should I be selling?
  • which SSD company should I acquire?
  • should I buy or sell shares in this SSD company?
  • what is the market size for a new type of SSD product?
  • what are the reliability issues using SSDs in search-engines or databases?
My view is that if there isn't a simple answer on the web - but it's a good question - then I should try and research the subject and write an article or editor's comment about it. That's how many of the most popular articles on StorageSearch.com got started.

So - for me - reader questions are always valuable - even if I don't have the time budget to reply to all of them.

Going back to the question - what's the best SSD for me?

I don't have the time budget to analyze readers' needs to suggest an appropriate product - and sometimes if they are consumers - they may initially think that in the time I spent replying to their email I could have just given them a straight answer. But after a few emails they understand why I'm so reticent about recommending anything other than categories of products and more articles they can read and more questions they need to think about themselves.

Why choosing an SSD is such a tough choice

In an earlier article - How bad is - choosing the wrong SSD supplier? - I explained why enterprise customers and oems are wise to tread cautiously when picking suppliers and partners.

The consumer case is different.

It's your own budget your own decision - you just want to know the best place to buy an SSD. Why should it be any harder than buying a Big Mac? Just tell me where the nearest SSD equivalent to the reliable consistent eating experience is - and I'll be on my way.

My view is that - in today's market - buying an SSD is more like going to the doctor or an online dating site.

You think you have a problem - and you're pretty sure there's a cure - but it's not quite that simple. One person's medicine can be another's poison. Or one person's partner for life can turn out to be another's painful divorce.

Here are some of the themes I've raised in the many emails on this subject.
  • Why do you want an SSD? - Often the answer is to speed up a notebook. But if the notebook is old and has a slow processor and slow latency PATA / SATA interface - most of the theoretical access time advantages of the SSD will be lost - and in the worst case a user can spend money on an SSD which doesn't give them any worthwhile speedup at all.
  • How much is the speedup worth? - You've got a very fast new PC. You asked me about SATA SSDs - but actually your box has PCIe. What's your budget? What's your application? Everyone would like to have a 40x speedup - but your budget is going to be different if you're a financial analyst, designing a new microprocessor, spend a lot of time designing powerpoints, are a student writing reports or just want to play games faster.

    BTW - how do you know that there isn't some other way that might give you a speedup cheaper? - Such as adding more CPUs or RAM? And for ultimate PC users - RAM SSDs may work much better than flash SSDs.
  • How important is data recovery? Most consumers don't do adequate backups. You need to choose a subset of SSDs in the market which data recovery companies have a good probability of fixing. (I talk to a lot of data recovery companies about this - and in the SSD market - most claims about recoverability are in my view highly optimistic. But some SSD controllers are easier to work with than others. They may not be on the same list as those with the fastest performance, however. But in the enterprise world - customers do perform backups or have RAID - so recoverability at the single SSD device level is not relevant.

    Think that's too much information? Here's more.

    If the data on your notebook is sensitive (maybe it contains a large amount of financial, market, medical or defense related info) then you need an SSD which is definitely not recoverable and which has higher standards of security than most encrypted notebook SSDs.
  • How important is reliability? - Failure in the SSD context is more than just MTBF. If your SSD doesn't behave in a consistent way and you have to waste valuable time downloading firmware fixes because it's flaky - that's just as important. That means doing research into the reputation of the supplier and not just comparing speed, price and capacity specs in the shopping cart.
  • Who are You? - When you contact an SSD manufacturer about the latest product they are sampling in their pre-production phase - whether or not you get an answer (or can order a scarce new product) depends on who you are.

    If you're working on a project which is evaluating SSD for a new oem system which will consume thousands of units - then you'll get a different answer than a consumer who only has a budget to buy a single unit. SSD manufacturers (like all storage chipmakers) reserve their precious early product runs for qualification by high volume customers - and will rarely reply to inquiries from people not identified as being on their "A list". If you are just looking for a single unit - your best bet is SSD oems who have consumer facing websites (with shopping carts) or a reseller of products from most other SSD companies which don't.
And there are a lot of things I could have added to this list.

One of the great things about the SSD market for all buyers - not just those looking for something to add into a notebook - is the huge range of choices available. The directories and articles on this site should help you ask yourself the right questions, and list all available manufacturers in the market - after that the decision is up to you.

Finally - if you were one of the readers who contacted me to ask any of the above questions listed in this article - thanks for doing so. Reader emails are always stimulating and indicate content gaps and areas for future editorial coverage.

StorageSearch.com isn't a consumer facing publication - and although we do discuss SSDs - the consumer segment is just one of many parts of that wider SSD market. If you're looking for more SSD publications? - You'll find other good reader commended SSD sites in the SSD Bookmarks.


...Later:- in October 2011 - I had completely forgotten I'd already written the article above - and started a new set of bullet points for another reader who suggested I should publish a "top 10 best SSDs" list.

re your suggestion for a list that says - Here are the best commercially available 2.5" SSD's at these sizes and costs.

I know maybe 300 or more products in this category from over 100 suppliers of 2.5" drives. It's not credible for anyone to round up that many products and do independent testing. That's why all such articles are in my view – close to useless.

What is useful – and free from bias or pressure is the type of top companies list – where I share with our readers a view of how popular SSD companies are filtered by the process of the search analytics related to about a million or so annual SSD readers. That gives you an idea of who's looking for what – within our readership.

If I saw a top 10 best 2.5" SSD list like the one you suggested – I'd be suspicious of what criteria were used to compile it.

In the current state of the consumer market a randomly ordered list might be just as reliable.

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what's the best PC SSD? - article
Megabyte always treated incoming
reader emails very seriously.
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the 3 fastest flash PCIe SSDs - list / lists
Are you tied up in knots trying to shortlist flash SSD accelerators ranked according to published comparative benchmarks?

You know the sort of thing I mean - where a magazine compares 10 SSDs or a blogger compares 2 SSDs against each other. It would be nice to have a shortlist so that you don't have to waste too much of your own valuable time testing unsuitable candidates wouldn't it?

StorageSearch's long running fastest SSDs directory typically indicates 1 main product in each form factor category but those examples may not be compatible with your own ecosystem.

If so a new article - the 3 fastest PCIe SSDs list (or is it really lists?) may help you cut that Gordian knot. Hmm... you may be thinking that StorageSearch's editor never gives easy answers to SSD questions if more complicated ones are available.
the 3 fastest  PCIe SSDs  - click to read article But in this case you'd be wrong. (I didn't say you'd like the answers, though.) ...read the article
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