The Best Storage: SSD, HDD, NAS & More

By Julio Franco · 35 replies
Nov 9, 2016
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  1. When it comes to storing data, there is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution. While cloud storage has become more accessible, we’re still very much dependent on local storage and that’s not changing any time soon. With solid state drives now more affordable and finally mainstream, consumers have a broad a mix of high-performance and high-capacity options to choose from, whether in the form of internal storage, external or network attached.

    With dozens of hours testing storage devices under our belt in the last year alone, we have a pretty clear idea of what are the top devices you should buy right now, divided into five categories: Best performance SSD, best value SSD, best hard drives, best external storage device and best home/SMB NAS.

    Read on and check out the best in storage.

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 9, 2016
  2. cartera

    cartera TS Evangelist Posts: 365   +113

    I am surprised about the QNAP recommendation. I would of thought the top spot would have been taken by one of Synology's offerings. I know they aren't cheap but the OS is second to none and hardware is great too (slightly expensive though).

    I'm looking forward to seeing the prices of the 960 Evo line though. Thanks for the interesting read :)
    Squuiid and wastedkill like this.
  3. fktech

    fktech TS Addict Posts: 223   +60

    TS-451A reviews on Amazon are not kind. Issues with transcode, setup, RAM compatibility, external web routing, etc.
    wastedkill likes this.
  4. fktech

    fktech TS Addict Posts: 223   +60

    960 Pro sounds affordable in 3-4 years. My next build in 4 years will be all SSD.
    wastedkill likes this.
  5. 960 Pro, WD Black 6 TB, both seem to generate a fair amount of heat unfortunately (from a 950 Pro and a 4 TB Black owner)
  6. Capaill

    Capaill TS Evangelist Posts: 452   +180

    I also think the Synology NASs should be the better option. Their hardware is rock solid and the software is second to none. The fact that you can get the latest and greatest software version, no matter which NAS you own, is excellent. The DS416Play matches the specs of the QNAP for almost the same price - it doesn't have the HDMI or remote but any decent Smart TV should be able to connect to it.
    Squuiid and cartera like this.
  7. AnilD

    AnilD TS Enthusiast Posts: 39   +23

    Or you can simply opt for the MX300 today and enjoy of 80-90% of the benefits at a low price.
  8. Bigtruckseries

    Bigtruckseries TS Evangelist Posts: 583   +318

    I recently had to purchase two SSD models.

    I cloned my old Drive using AOMIE Backupper and it took around 3 hours.

    #1 I wanted to upgrade an old laptop from HDD to SSD so I bought a Crucial MX300 for $70. It definitely does make the laptop faster and more reliable on startup and shutdown.

    #4 I bought a Samsung 4TB $1500. It's extremely fast on my Core i7, Titan X, 32GB.
  9. batsdude

    batsdude TS Member Posts: 52   +16

    WD BLACK? REALLY??? I'll NEVER buy a WD anything ever again! I've got a 3 week old WD Black 750 Gb 2.5" that bricked itself for zero reason at all, in literally 15 days. Booted fine on Thursday, but just laid there dead on Friday for no reason whatsoever, and I lost every bit of over 400 Gb of files I'd transferred to it over a period of a week! Piece of crap! And I also have a WD 500 Gb 2.5" blue series that came out of my dead Toshiba laptop that. BY ITSELF, self-wrote a HDD password without my knowing so at all, and zero way to figure out! ALL that data is now toast! I will NEVER-EVER own anything from WD! I'd rather sit on an Samsung Note 7!
  10. thelanceleader

    thelanceleader TS Rookie Posts: 20   +6

    Anyone care to comment on where the SanDisk X400 M.2 SSD fits into this list? I have one of those in my laptop and was wondering if it was worth saving a few bucks over an EVO or PRO. I use it mainly for gaming, as I have an HDD for storage and older games.
  11. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,868   +2,035

    QNAP and Synology are really on par now in terms of software/OS. QNAP offers a broader range however and in my opinion have edged ahead on features offered.

    Really? I must be looking at a different Amazon. I only see 8 reviews and the majority are very positive, as they should be the TS-451A is a great NAS. I have not had issues with any of the things you mentioned by the way.

    We call that, performance products in the bizz ;)

    I own both the DS416play and TS-451A-4G. Both are very good but I prefer the 451A-4G even though it costs a little more. The feature set is better, the software is easily as good as what Synology offers and it is supported on their full range. The lack of HDMI output is a real shame on the DS416play and it is certainly missed. HybridDesk Station is a very very cool QNAP feature!

    I believe you are in the minority on that one. WD hard drives are widely regarded as some of the best, if not the best. Reliability has been proven over the years to be second to none and performance is also excellent. I am yet to have a WD Red or Black drive die and I have dozens of them, meanwhile I have lost count of the number of Seagate and Samsung 'Hard Drives' that have died on me.
    cartera and Capaill like this.
  12. Madmaxneo

    Madmaxneo TS Enthusiast Posts: 30

    So what this article is saying is that the MX300 has comparative performance to the 960 Pro? I seriously doubt it. The 960 Pro is an NVMe drive and the MX300 is a SSD, even though they have an NVMe version of the MX300 it's performance stats are the same as the SSD (which does not make sense). I am looking at getting an NVMe drive for my boot/C drive because of the people I know that have done this and it boots up faster and the performance is better than a regular SSD. This article also totally ditches other top of the line SSD's that have comparative or better performance to the MX300 like the Samsung 800 series SSD's. In fact there are quite a few other SSD's that have been rated at the same performance as the Crucial drives.
  13. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,868   +2,035

    Firstly, we were saying for typical users, there will be no noticeable difference between using the MX300 and the 960 Pro. This is correct, unless you have run both drives side by side how can you comment on this?

    Side note there aren’t NVMe versions of the MX300 series, you can get them as M.2 drives but they still use the same controller and SATA interface.

    “I am looking at getting an NVMe drive for my boot/C drive because of the people I know that have done this and it boots up faster and the performance is better than a regular SSD”

    This is completely false, it might boot up 0.2 seconds faster, if you can notice that then yes the 960 Pro is intended for you.

    “This article also totally ditches other top of the line SSD's that have comparative or better performance to the MX300 like the Samsung 800 series SSD's.”

    It's a well-known fact that the SATA 6Gbps bus has been saturated for years now and the cheap TLC based drives such as the MX300 series are just s fraction slower than the very fastest SATA drives such as the 850 Pro series.

    “In fact there are quite a few other SSD's that have been rated at the same performance as the Crucial drives.”

    Yes, we didn’t pick the MX300 series because of performance, we picked the MX300 series because it offers consumers the best bang for their buck!
  14. Madmaxneo

    Madmaxneo TS Enthusiast Posts: 30

    Yes I do agree the price of the MX300 is a great price and it is a great drive for that price, but I also got my 850 pro on a sale for about the same price the MX300 was at the time (though now the MX300 is considerably cheaper). I think it was when the MX300 first came out.
    The SanDisk Ultra 2 960gb is only $228 right which is slightly cheaper than the MX300 and has reported better (though not really noticeable) performance specs (I also have the 480gb version). I have done tests in my system and it is pretty close to my 850 pro in performance at times.

    My bad on thinking the M.2 was also NVMe, apologies.

    One thing I forgot to mention (again apologies) is I was thinking of using an NVMe drive in a PCIE slot using an adapter. I know a few people that have done this with an Intel 750 drive that have reported incredibly fast boot up times (compared to their original SSD boot up times), they were pretty high and mighty about this. Another guy posted similar results using an NVMe drive in a PCIE slot with the adapter. Yes it would be slightly cheaper to use the Intel 750 series drive but the 960 pro (512gb) has 100gb more than the Intel 750 (400gb), but many people recommend the 750 over using the adapter. Who knows at this point, I may just end up with the 750.....
  15. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,868   +2,035

    Right now over at the MX300 costs $0.23 per gigabyte for the 525GB model, the 850 Pro 512GB costs $0.41 per gigabyte, so almost 80% more per gigabyte for almost no performance gain. That very clearly makes the MX300 better value and the 850 Pro shocking value. If you got an 850 Pro for anywhere near MX300 pricing on sale, well then nice job ;)

    The SanDisk Ultra II is an inferior SSD, I would not recommend buying one of those over the much newer MX300.

    The Intel 750 series comes as a PCIe add-in card, there is no M.2 version. That said installing an M.2 SSD such as the 960 Pro onto a PCIe adapter card, is of no value. Again you are using the exact same interface, so faster boot times must be some kind of placebo effect. How anyone can tell the difference between a standard SATA SSD and the worlds fastest NVMe SSD when it comes to boot times is beyond me. We are so far past using boot times to measure SSD performance it’s not funny :D
  16. fktech

    fktech TS Addict Posts: 223   +60

    WD black has been very reliable for me.
  17. ddferrari

    ddferrari TS Maniac Posts: 342   +146

    A) You had one bad WD HDD, and now they're "all" junk? Get real - no company in the world has a zero failure rate. Not one. Try a Seagate sometime- they're known to be about half as reliable as a WD. That's why they're so much cheaper. What you should be sitting on is an external backup drive so you're prepared when these things happen.

    B) Your laptop wrote a password by itself? Nah... sounds like a pebkac issue to me!
  18. cartera

    cartera TS Evangelist Posts: 365   +113

    Thanks for the reply, interesting that they have upped their game. Best not overlook them in the future, I still stand by my diskstation ;)
  19. David Belkin

    David Belkin TS Enthusiast Posts: 31   +26

    Samsung products seem to always get raving reviews and high ratings, but once you buy and use it after a few months, you often wonder what the heck the testers had been testing, their products simply do not perform as well as the reviews claim they do.
    Szarik likes this.
  20. Capaill

    Capaill TS Evangelist Posts: 452   +180

    The only HDDs I trust are WD and the old Hitachis. I have owned several WD standards (before the colours), Greens and Reds and they never let me down. The only time I was mad at WD was when I moved to Win7 and they wouldn't release new drivers for their WD USB drives, forcing me to transfer at USB1 speeds.

    A surprising tip for anyone with HDDs is: don't go out of your way to cool them down. It has been proven that they last longest when their operating temperature is around 35 degrees Celsius.
  21. Ascaris

    Ascaris TS Addict Posts: 113   +72

    In sequential reads/writes, sure. Most of what typical users do on their PCs does not involve long, sustained reads or writes of sequential data, though; the 4k random read and write tests are much more like day to day Windows use for nearly everyone (gamers included). The MX300's 4k performance is around 70% of what you'd get from an 850 Evo, based on all of the benchmarks I've read lately (and I've been looking pretty intently at these two models in particular, as I am looking to purchase a SSD for my laptop, and I want one that is a SED (self-encrypting drive), which all MX300s and 850 Evos are. (Sandisk X400s, confusingly, come in SED and non-SED versions with the same X400 moniker).

    With the 850 Evo running $60 more than the MX300 (1TB sizes), I am not sure which way I will go yet. The Samsung has the best SSD software around, supposedly (I have a Samsung on my desktop; the Magician software is pretty good), and if you don't exceed the Samsung's lower TBW rating, you get an extra 2 years of warranty.

    As for the performance difference, I really am not sure how much the extra 4k performance will matter. Compared to my WD Black 750GB (which works quite well, in contrast to the posted experience of someone else in this thread), it's still way, way faster-- my 7200 RPM rust spinner manages about 0.3 MB on 4k reads and about 0.8 MB on writes. The MX300 is about two orders of magnitude faster than that... 100 times faster! The 850 Evo is about 140 times faster on 4k R/W... not nearly as dramatic a difference as going from the HDD to the MX300.

    I am hesitant to buy now as the Black Friday deals are coming up. Hopefully the rising NAND prices I've read about won't offset that too much.
  22. Sum Guy

    Sum Guy TS Booster Posts: 52   +14

    Samsung SSD 960 Pro........... Compare it to the Plextor M8Pe M.2 2280

    I am not sure it's a better drive by most people's standards. The numbers are strong. It's also MLC vs TLC. It was the only MLC drive I could find in this form fact at the time. The write speeds are decent as well.

    I am not a fan of tlc, and it seems that the market is becoming flooded with TLC drives.
  23. batsdude

    batsdude TS Member Posts: 52   +16

    I HAVE SEVERAL HD's and Seagate and WD have REPEATEDLY caused problems, INCLUDING for my HUNDRED + maintenance clients! Try looking up some sites that review hardware! You are very obviously illiterate when it comes to gear failure!

    Moderator note: batsdude, ease up on the shouting please.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 22, 2016
  24. cartera

    cartera TS Evangelist Posts: 365   +113

    Rage much? Chill out, everyone has a opinion. There's no need to go all out caps on us.
    Sum Guy likes this.
  25. Sum Guy

    Sum Guy TS Booster Posts: 52   +14

    It seems everyone is making sure all their products fail at a certain time to ensure you keep buying. The term for it is Planned Obsolescence. Failure is in the design. Like a time bomb.

    I used to be a fan of seagate, but the became garbage. Then I learned WD was fairly reliable. Now after being loyal to WD for a decade, I am having issue with Wd being reliable. Blue labels are the worst. It seems the blacks are starting to fail soon too. I have so many wd black and re4 drives failing within the warranty period. Just at the end, but still. I am so lost now as to who makes the most reliable drive. meanwhile I have several 10 to 15 year old drives that are fine. It seems to be all the newer stuff that is failing.

    I am going Hitachi for now, but who knows how long they will remain reliable. I have not had a deskstar fail yet, but I expect them to follow the rest in terms of going cheap.

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