Why Connectors matter when choosing an SSD
Solid State DriveAs attractive as solid state drives have been in comparison to hard disk drives it is a fact that SSDs have been quite expensive so people settled for hard disk drives. With innovations in the variety of SSDs anyone could easily afford one without emptying out their checking account. So, you’ve decided you’re going to upgrade now that your hard drive fried itself and you have no idea where to start. How is anyone supposed to decide what type of SSD to get when looking to build a new PC or simply upgrade? If you’re like me you’d probably watch all the YouTube videos you possibly could on the subject and pick the one that was prettiest but let me guide you a bit before you pull the trigger on an expensive Samsung SSD but there are plenty of things you should consider such as storage size, physical size, connectors, and speeds.
Let’s begin with a tidbit of background on SSDs. They started out in housing of hard disk drives so that anyone could upgrade having to buy new parts to be compatible. Those SSDs were called SATA III. Then we got mSATA drives that were basically barebones SATA drives with the hard drive housing (so that they didn’t take up as much space and performed just as well). This became useful especially for laptops or notebooks which couldn’t even remotely match the performance of desktops without becoming huge monstrosities. While mSATA drives were peaking the future of SSDs was being developed in the shape of m.2 SSD drives. There is also specifically m.2 PCIe SSDs that are at the bleeding edge of technological advances in flash storage.
Something to keep in mind is that with different types of SSDs you should check your motherboard so that you know what you would be able to work with. If you don’t have an extra PCIe lane, then you’ll be wasting your time looking for a PCIe SSD . You should do some research as to what you can and can’t buy. Most if not all computers can work with hard disk drives but might be limited to what type of SSD you can upgrade to. If you have a mac this might be of little use to you because most new Apple computers have little to no upgradability once you purchase them. So please do some research on numbers and names that you find on your motherboard with open connectors so that you know what you can and can’t buy. Once you figure that out you can look at the SSD that best fits your needs.
All these types of SSDs have different speeds that they run at which might influence your decision more than money. I would recommend getting an SSD with speed for what your workflow and workload requires rather than looking for the cheapest drive. To give you something to compare let’s look at speeds across the spectrum of storage. Traditional mechanical hard disk drives managed a measly 80-160 MB/s and I mean measly in comparison to SATA III drives which are limited to about 500 MB/s write speeds and 550 MB/s read speeds. That is relatively fast but M.2 SSD drives top out at different speeds depending on the bus you use. Now the fastest bus for an SSD is PCIe which runs at a whopping 15.75 GB/s, that is, Gigabytes not Gigabits or Megabytes. The only problem someone should have is deciding whether they need the speed offered. Not that many people need PCIe SSDs, they either have servers running on them or are bought just for bragging rights. The truth is not that many programs can take advantage of the speed so then it becomes a question of how much someone is willing to shell out.
The traditional hard disk drives are the cheapest and I’ve seen them being bought more and more as backup drives as opposed to boot drives. With HDDs you can buy an abundance of storage for very little. When you look at SSDs you have to consider both storage capability and Speed. The popular Samsung 850 Evo SATA III gives you 250 GB for $99 which is good for an SSD. A Samsung 960 Evo m.2 PCIe drive that’s 250 GB will run you up to $127 and the higher you go in storage the more expensive it gets with PCIe storage.
Once you know what type of slots your motherboard has open then you’ll have an easier time deciding between SSD types. In the end, it will come down to how much you’re willing to spend for the capacity and speed you need. Remember to do your research before you’re stuck with something that doesn’t work for you.