SSD Buying Guide

Because there are no moving parts, SSDs offer much faster read, write and load speeds compared to HDDs. The lack of physical movement also protects against impact damage and minimizes vulnerability after drops or falls.

SSD stands for Solid State Drive, or also called Solid State Disk. This designation is not correct because it has neither a hard drive nor a floppy drive. Unlike HDD, SSD stores data on integrated circuits, the current generation of SSDs stores data on NAND-based flash memory, which stores all information without power. SSD can be considered as a larger flash drive or pen drive that uses similar NAND memory to store data permanently. SSDs use the traditional SATA interface to transfer data like traditional hard disk drives.

The smaller, simplified format of SSD storage has numerous advantages. Because there are no moving parts, SSDs offer much faster read, write and load speeds compared to HDDs. The lack of physical movement also protects against impact damage and minimizes vulnerability after drops or falls.

The smaller size and improved efficiency of an SSD also leave more room in the PC, giving developers, manufacturers and DIYers much more room to maneuver. They also consume less power, which can translate into lower electricity bills for frequent users.

Difference Between SSD and HDD

The basic difference in terms of hardware between SSD and HDD is that an HDD uses an actual platter and spindle to store data, while SSD stores data on NAND-based memory chips and has an I/ O controller that manages the read/write operation. In terms of performance, SSDs are much faster than typical 5200 or 7200 RPM hard drives. The price of SSDs is much higher for the same capacity, about ten times that of an HDD.

Rise of SSDs

Solid-state drives or SSDs became increasingly popular at the beginning of the decade and have since become essential components in any modern gaming or workstation system. Apart from some very low-cost systems, it is considered essential that a modern PC is equipped with some form of solid-state storage. Even a tiny 120GB SSD can be a huge improvement over an archaic hard drive.

Nowadays, it’s a very popular practice to install a smaller SSD in the computer alongside a large hard drive. The operating system (OS) is installed on the SSD, while the hard drive handles large files such as games, movies, media, etc. This creates an ideal balance between value and performance.

Different SSD Form Factors

Form factor describes the physical characteristics of a device/hardware component, such as its weight, dimensions, and other similar characteristics.

In the case of SSDs, the underlying technology has made significant progress over the years, both in terms of performance and form factor. As a result, an SSD can now be divided into four form factors.


The 2.5-inch form factor is reminiscent of the traditional hard drives found in most computers. Colloquially referred to as Small Form Factor (SFF), the name 2.5-inch indicates the size of the drive. It is a commonly used SSD form factor, especially in computers equipped with a drive bay and connected via the Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) interface.

Since many custom builds already use 2.5-inch HDDs, the availability of a corresponding SSD counterpart makes the transition to a faster driver easier without requiring additional hardware. Therefore, the 2.5-inch form factor is one of the standards and the preferred choice for SSDs.


M.2, formerly NGFF (New Generation Form Factor), replaces the mSATA standard. It is a relatively new specification for internally mounted SSDs. The module resembles a RAM stick and is used in most laptops nowadays.

It is also increasingly adopted by various motherboard manufacturers. The M.2 SSDs are available in different sizes and have the NAND chips either on one or both sides. For example, soldered modules only have the chips on one side, unlike removable modules where the chips can be on both sides.

Furthermore, it is up to the manufacturer to decide which interface to provide on their drives – which in turn depends on a number of factors. In general, M.2 SSDs come with either SATA or PCIe interfaces, with those with PCIe interfaces having a higher price.


At first glance, U.2 SSDs look similar to the SATA HDDs of yesteryear. At 2.5 inches, they are comparatively larger than M.2 SSDs and therefore offer more capacity and better heat dissipation than M.2. In terms of connection type, U.2 uses the PCIe interface to connect to the motherboard.

However, connecting to an M.2 port requires a separate connector similar to the SATA Express connector. One of the advantages of U.2 over M.2 is that it supports hot-swapping, which means you can hot-swap or add the SSD without having to shut down/restart the computer.

Add-in card (AIC)

An Add-in Card (AIC) is, as the name suggests, a form factor that allows an SSD to be plugged into a computer like an extension. Thus, it offers more compatibility and flexibility. It connects via the PCIe expansion slot, which also gives it an advantage – because if you have an older machine with a relatively old motherboard, you probably don’t have a modern interface (like M.2).

In such cases, the add-in card (AIC) form factor is a godsend and makes it easier to upgrade a computer with a faster memory component. However, if you have a graphics card installed in your computer, it may not be possible to add an AIC SSD since both use the same slot. Furthermore, these SSDs are currently not the preferred choice for the average user and are mainly preferred by hardcore enthusiasts – mainly for aesthetic reasons.

Types of Storage Memory

When you buy an SSD for general computing use in a desktop or laptop, you don’t have to pay explicit attention to the type of storage that’s in the drive. With most options on the market today, you don’t have much choice anyway.

However, if you want to know what’s in the flash packages in your drive, we’ll introduce you to different types below. Some of them are far less common than they used to be, and others are becoming the de facto standard.

Single-Level Cell (SLC)

SLC flash, as the name implies, can store only a single bit per cell when loaded. It is the simplest, fastest and most expensive flash memory of all. The accuracy in terms of read and write speeds of SLC is unmatched. Not to mention the longer life and charge cycles, as well as the ability to operate over a wide temperature range.

Since data loss is significantly lower with these memories compared to other flash memories and the lifespan is also impressive, they are preferred for enterprise applications that require accurate data and show less tolerance. Moreover, the higher price of the drives (with SLC) is also something that does not make them the preferred SSDs for consumers.

Multi-Layer Cell (MLC)

It came after SLC and was the preferred memory type for years because it can store more data at a lower price, although it is slower. To get around the speed problem, many of these drives have a small portion of the faster SLC cache that serves as a write buffer. Today, except for a few high-end consumer drives, MLC has been replaced by the next steps in NAND storage technology, TLC and QLX.

Triple-Level Cell (TLC)

Triple-level cell (TLC) flash, as the name suggests, is even slower than MLC. It is also more data intensive, which has led to more spacious and affordable drives. Most TLC drives (with the exception of some of the least expensive models) also use some sort of caching technology, as TLC alone without buffers is often not significantly faster than a hard drive.

For normal users running consumer applications and operating systems, this is not a problem, as there is usually not enough sustained writing to the drive to saturate the faster cache. For years, TLC was the technology of choice for mainstream and budget drives, but it too has been supplanted by QLC.

Quad-Level Cell (QLC)

Quad-Level Cell (QLC) technology has become the de facto standard for the next stage of the solid-state storage revolution. As the name suggests, it is said to lead to cheaper and roomier drives thanks to higher density. However, this is often accompanied by a shorter lifespan and slower write speeds once the drive’s cache is full.

Things to Consider Before Buying SSD

Physical Size

There’s a saying that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but that doesn’t apply to SSD. Especially if you want to buy an SSD for your desktop computer or laptop. If you buy an SSD that is bigger than your desktop/laptop, your SSD will be useless.

For example, if your laptop only fits up to a height of 7.2mm, but you buy an SSD with a height of 9.2mm, it won’t fit. Before you buy an SSD, you should check the maximum supported length and height of the drive holder. The same is true for portable SSDs. The smaller your SSD is, the easier it is to transport.


  • 128GB Class

Stay away. These low-capacity drives usually have lower performance due to the small number of memory modules. Plus, you’ll quickly run out of space if you have Windows and a few games installed on it. Plus, you can upgrade to the next level for just $10 more.

  • 250GB Class

These drives are cheaper than their larger siblings, but they are still pretty tight, especially if you use your PC as storage for your operating system, PC games, and possibly a large media library. If your budget still allows room, it is advisable to upgrade at least one capacity level to a 500 GB class hard drive.

  • 500GB Class

Drives with this capacity offer a reasonable amount of storage at reasonable prices, although 1 TB drives are becoming more attractive.

  • 1TB Class

Unless you have extensive media or game collections, a 1 TB hard drive should provide enough space for your operating system and essential programs, with plenty of room for future software and files.

  • 2TB Class

If you work with large media files or simply have a large game collection that you want to access without much installation hassle, a 2TB drive is often worth the extra cost.

  • 4TB Class (and above)

You really need to need that much storage on an SSD to afford something like this. A 4-TB SSD is pretty expensive – usually over $400/£500 – and you won’t have many options. Samsung has been selling 4-TB drives for home users for years, but many other companies have stuck to the 2-TB limit unless you upgrade to more expensive enterprise storage.

If you’re a desktop user or have a gaming laptop with multiple drives and need a lot of capacity, you’re better off opting for a pair of smaller SSDs, which can often save you hundreds of dollars while still giving you roughly the same storage space and speed. Until prices drop and we see more competition, 4TB and larger drives will be reserved for professionals and enthusiasts with very deep pockets.


MBTF is a rather complicated concept to understand. You will notice that MBTF (Mean Time Between Failures) numbers are given in millions of hours. However, if the SSD has an MBTF rating of 2 million hours, it does not mean that the SSD will actually last 2 million hours.

Instead, MBTF is a measure of the probability of failure in a large sample size of drives. In general, a higher value is better, but analyzing this metric can be quite confusing. Therefore, another metric is often used on product pages that is a bit easier to understand and is called TBW.


In a way, a controller can be understood as the processor of the drive. It is the control organ within the drive that controls all read and write operations. It also handles other performance and maintenance tasks within the drive, such as wear leveling and data provisioning, etc.

Interestingly, as with most PCs, more cores are better if you are aiming for higher performance and greater capacity. The controller also includes the electronics that connect the flash memory to the input/output interfaces of the SSD.

Data Transfer Rate

There are two factors that determine the data transfer rate of an SSD: the controller and the interface. The newer versions of the SSD controller should offer a faster data transfer rate. The same applies to the interface.

The newer versions of the interface should also offer a faster data transfer rate. For example, USB 3.1 is capable of transferring data at speeds up to 550 MB/s, compared to 440 MB/s for USB 3.0. You can easily check the maximum data transfer rate by reading the specifications of the SSD you want to buy.


This is probably one of the most important points to look for when buying an SSD. Unlike a rotating hard drive (which also has a limited lifespan due to the moving parts), an SSD uses a NAND flash memory to store the data. These NAND cells have a limited life expectancy. There is a limit to how many times data can be written to a given cell before it stops storing data.

This may sound worrisome, but in reality, the average user doesn’t have to worry about data disappearing from their SSD. That’s because there are a number of mechanisms in place to mitigate this wear and tear on the NAND cells. “Overprovisioning” is a particularly useful feature in modern drives, where a portion of capacity is partitioned off to allow data to be moved between different cells.

Data must be constantly shifted back and forth to prevent some cells from dying prematurely. This process is called “wear leveling.” The endurance or reliability of the drive is generally improved if it contains a DRAM cache. Since the cache contains a map of data that is accessed frequently, it is easier for the drive to perform the process of wear-leveling. Endurance is generally expressed in MBTF (Mean Time Between Failures) and TBW (Terabytes Written).

3DXPoint/ Optane

3DXPoint (3D Cross Point) is an emerging new technology that has the potential to be faster than any consumer SSD currently available. It is the result of a partnership between Intel and Micron, and the resulting product is sold under Intel’s “Optane” brand.

The Optane memory is designed to be used as a cache drive in combination with a slower hard drive or SATA SSD. This allows for faster speeds on these slower drives while maintaining larger capacities. Optane technology is still in its infancy, but it is becoming more popular in mainstream PCs.

Power Dissipation & heat dissipation

The power consumption of desktops does not matter, while it has a minor impact on laptops, but the real impact is limited. The main issue to worry about is heat dissipation. Cooling is especially important for M.2 and PCI-E interface SSDs because many of the two interfaces of SSDs support NVME, which is characterized by fast but not low heat. High heat development affects the SSD’s performance. If it is installed in a notebook, a high heat development also affects the cooling of the entire device.

Therefore, the relevant information should be consulted to avoid us buying too much heat products when we buy SSDs. In desktops, we can install heat sinks and fans in the surrounding areas to improve the heat dissipation performance of SSD, but notebooks have more restrictions in terms of space and volume, it is not possible to dissipate heat by additional means.


TBW or Terabytes Written describes the total amount of data that can be written to an SSD during its lifetime. This metric is a fairly simple estimate. A typical 250GB SSD can have a TBW rating of around 60-150 TBW, and as with MBTF numbers, higher is better.

As a consumer, you shouldn’t worry too much about these numbers, as it’s very difficult to write all that data to a drive in a reasonable amount of time. For enterprise users who need to work around the clock and may write large amounts of data to the drive several times a day, these values can be important. Hard drive manufacturers offer special solutions for these users.


After you have decided on the size and type of SSD you need, you now have to decide how much you are willing to spend for it. SATA SSDs start at around 5,000 Euros for 128 GB and the prices increase depending on the capacity and quality.

If you compare the prices of the two SSD types, a normal SATA 3 SSD costs around 8,000 Euros for 256 GB, while a PCIe SSD costs well over 12,000 Euros for the same storage space.


Thank you for reading our SSD Buying Guide. We hope this guide has been informative enough to help you in your next purchase. The SSD is fast, suitable for users who value loading times, and less prone to damage from accidental drops.

It is important to verify that your configuration is adequately equipped to handle an SSD drive. If not, you may not be able to take full advantage of its potential. If you only have a SATA III port available, it can handle a solid-state drive, but it is at a bit of a disadvantage.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
The Bollyinside editorial staff is made up of tech experts with more than 10 years of experience Led by Sumit Chauhan. We started in 2014 and now Bollyinside is a leading tech resource, offering everything from product reviews and tech guides to marketing tips. Think of us as your go-to tech encyclopedia!


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