How to Choose a Good or the Best SSD

SSDs (solid-state hard drives) are truly revolutionizing computer performance for both notebook and desktop computers. If you aren’t purchasing a SSD right now, you will definitely consider one in the near future.

There are several factors to determine a good SSD and while performance seems to depend on the type of controller for SSDs, I don’t think it is necessary to mention all those different model names as long as you don’t pick a model with low specs.

The 3 most important specs I look for on a SSD (and current trends for SSDs) are:

 

1. Faster Read and Write Transfer Speeds

Obviously, higher read/write speeds is always better. SATA II drive speeds seem to max out at 275MB/sec… I would recommend speeds above 250MB/sec for both read and write speeds as write speeds tend to be much slower. For SATA III drives, get one that exceeds 500MB/sec for both read and write.

 

2. SATA III Drives

SATA III drives are backwards compatible with SATA II controllers which means if you purchase a SATA III drive on a notebook or computer that supports only SATA II, it will work but won’t run at its maximum speed. However, SATA III drives maximize your throughput so you still get better speeds than a SATA II drive that doesn’t maximize the bandwidth. The prices are slightly higher but with roughly twice the transfer rate, it is definitely worth the difference. As time passes by, price differences will be negligible.

 

3. IOPS (input/output operations per second)

While the IOPS number tends to follow data transfer rates, this value differs even with SSDs with similar transfer rates. The higher the IOPS the faster. SSD IOPS are much faster than traditional HDDs (around 100 IOPS) so the number isn’t too important, but with SSDs with similar data transfer rates, pick the one with higher IOPS. Recent IOPS are often translated into transfer rates (megabytes/sec) as well.

 

Other things you may want to consider are:

– TRIM Support

TRIM (a command that allows freeing space on the SSD) support is a must for avoiding significant performance degradation. Most recent drives all support TRIM but do check so before purchasing.

– MTBF (mean time between failures)

MTBF hours is a way to get an idea of physical reliability. The higher (longer) the MTBF, the more reliable. 1,000,000 hours of MTBF does not mean that product will last 1,000,000 hours. It rather means that during 1 hour of 1M products being used, one of them will fail. This value is highly questionable, as DOAs (dead on arrivals) or product returns due to failures seem much more common than that but still, on paper, the higher one should be preferred.

[Note: below information is now outdated]
With all this said my 2 favorite SSDs on the market are:

Vertex 3 from OCZ and the newly upcoming [updated: now available], competitively priced Force Series 3 from Corsair.

[Note: There is a replacement recall on one of the 120GB SSD models from Corsair. The exact model number is CSSD-F120GB3-BK model number starting under 1123. If you already have this model, contact Corsair for a replacement.  (update: the fixed models are being supplied now, and I just got one!)]

 

Corsair Force Series 3 SSD

 

Do you have other standards when choosing the best ssd? Please let me know!

 

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