How Good Are SSDs? Once You Go SSD, You Don't Go Back.
Solid State NAND Flash Technology
When it comes to super-fast storage, there’s a few options. I’ll focus on SSD technology for this post. You have SATA SSDs, M.2 SSDs, and PCI-E SSDs, in order of increasing speed.
For the purpose of this post, I’ll stick mainly with SATA SSDs, for the reason of relatively low cost, and ease of installation.
What is a SATA SSD?
SATA SSDs use the same interface as a normal SATA HDD (hence why it still says SATA), and thus are able to be installed in virtually every modern computer. If your motherboard doesn’t have the SATA6 connection, you won’t get the full speed of the SSD..but that’s typically only an issue in some laptops. SATA SSDs don’t require a fancy socket on the motherboard, and they don’t take up PCI lanes on the motherboard either. All that is needed is 1+ extra SATA6 port on the motherboard, another power connector from the power supply, and another drive slot in your case. Pretty simple install, just turn off your PC, open up the case, connect the SATA and power cables, screw on the SSD, and reboot. You’ll still have to go through the data management part, but that’s another blog.
The SATA SSD Advantage
The massive advantage that SATA SSDs have over their newer brethren, is the low price for a 500MB/s peak read/write speed, with no requirement for a new interface/connector. Because of RAID technology, you can team up SATA SSDs just like you can SATA HDDs, with the same sort of results (just faster). You can buy 2 120GB SATA6 SSDs for about $100 overall, and set up a RAID0 array that will clock close to 1GB/s read/write, with 240GB space (about 210-220GB usable). This sort of scaling extends to large RAID arrays as well. Though I don’t typically recommend running critical software on a RAID0 array without some sort of regular backup, as you have twice the likelihood of the array failing, and losing your data.
The M.2 NVME SSD Advantage
While the current M.2 SSDs have the same price/performance of a x2 RAID1 array, they do require at least a Z170 chipset, which is only available starting with the 6th gen Core Series CPU from Intel. You also only get the true screaming speed of the current M.2 SSDs if you get the model that uses NVME Technology. NVME (Non-Volatile Memory Express) is a new technology that allows the PCI-E based M.2 SSD to reach the full potential. If you purchase an ACHI M.2 SSD, you’ll be stuck with slower speeds (though still quite fast).
Back to SATA SSDs
Most users won’t see much of a difference between a SATA SSD, and an NVME M.2 SSD, as the high-speed SATA SSDs still clock 4-5x faster than the fastest HDDs on the market. To put it more directly, Windows 10 will boot in about 20-40 seconds on HDD, and about 6-15 seconds on SATA SSD. That’s incredible. Combining a 120/240GB SATA SSD, with a 1TB HDD, will give you a very rewarding storage experience, with fast system operation, as well as large bulk storage.