SSD technology grew stale after saturating the SATA 6Gb/s bus, bringing minor improvements and making up for it with price cuts. With new PCIe and M.2 drives presenting a high performance alternative, it's time for a roundup. We review fourteen of the best consumer-grade SSDs using the SATA, PCI Express or M.2 interfaces and tell you what to buy.
An avalanche of reports started to surface last September when users began to notice that their usually speedy Samsung SSD 840 and SSD 840 EVO drives were no longer performing as they used to. We've looked deep into the problem to understand what's been fixed and what hasn't. Samsung owes its customers an explanation.
Had Samsung's SM951 arrived before we reviewed the Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2TB I think our conclusion might have been a little less favorable for the Intel drive. The SSD 750 may tout NVMe support, but Samsung's SM951 is generally faster while being more affordable.
Crucial SSDs have been among the most reliable and best performing on the market, with last year's MX100 being their greatest hit. Its successor, the MX200 arrived only six months later and along with it Crucial also introduced the even more affordable BX100 series and a new SSD toolbox software. On today's menu is the beefy 1TB MX200 ($470) along with the 500GB BX100 ($190).
Designed for enthusiasts and workstations, the key feature of Intel's SSD 750 Series is its adoption of Non-Volatile Memory Express or NVMe, bringing multiple queues and lower latency with a direct path from the storage to the CPU. The drive is rated to deliver sequential read performance of up to 2.4GB/s with sequential writes hitting 1.2GB/s.
Equipped with 3D TLC NAND, Samsung's 'V-NAND'-based 850 Evo series released last December, stacks layer upon layer of transistors, improving density, endurance and performance, while lowering production costs. Today we have two similarly new drives that focus on different form factors. The 850 Evo mSATA will appeal to compact PC users, while the M.2 will be more sought after by power users.
Flash-based thumb drives have come a long way, but while a 16GB stick can be purchased with spare change, those who need to move large volumes of data on without spending an arm and a leg have traditionally had to rely on comparatively sluggish USB 3.0 hard drives. Thanks to Samsung, we may finally have an external SSD that delivers blisteringly fast transfers at an affordable price in the form of its new T1 Portable SSD.
Helping to build anticipation for the SSD 850 Evo was the 850 Pro, remaining to this day the fastest 2.5" SSD money can buy. The good news is the 850 Evo shares many of the same technologies found in the more expensive Pro, however by using TLC V-NAND the 850 Evo is much more cost effective.