Solid-state Drives

Tech Advisor - - GROUP TEST -

If you’re think­ing of up­grad­ing your PC, a solid-state drive is a great op­tion if you want to boost its per­for­mance. looks at six of the best

SAn­drew Har­ri­son

olid-state is stan­dard-is­sue for stor­ing data in tablets and smart­phones, where it’s re­lied upon for its tiny size and knock-proof na­ture. Those same as­sets can be handy in desk­top and es­pe­cially lap­top PCs too, but tra­di­tional com­put­ers also have the pace to re­ally un­lock SSDs’ most talked-about virtue – their in­cred­i­ble speed.

In­stead of a frag­ile mag­ne­tised disk whirring at 90- or 120 times ev­ery sec­ond, SSDs store bi­nary data on shock-re­sis­tant sil­i­con chips. Some peo­ple use the word ‘mem­ory’ when they mean stor­age, but the lines are con­fused with NAND flash tech­nol­ogy, which is non-volatile mem­ory. In other words, RAM that keeps its mem­ory even af­ter you switch off the power.

And be­sides be­ing phys­i­cally ro­bust, silent, and smaller and lighter than any hard-disk drive, the big in­cen­tive to go flash re­mains sheer data-hurtling per­for­mance. The bits can sim­ply be read and writ­ten hun­dreds and thou­sands of times faster from elec­tric flash mem­ory. This speed fac­tor is about so much more than go-faster brag­ging rights, though. Old-school desk­top PC users may still bat­tle over who has the fastest pro­ces­sor or the hottest graph­ics card, but SSD per­for­mance is more about the over­all user ex­pe­ri­ence – ap­pli­ca­tions launch al­most in­stantly, web pages spawn faster, and files copy in a frac­tion of the time.

Put sim­ply, and re­gard­less of whether your pro­ces­sor has the num­ber 3, 5 or 7 af­ter the ‘i’, the whole com­puter re­sponds so much bet­ter to your touch. The main draw­back in the past has been the ex­tor­tion­ate price of en­try to the pre­mier­class stor­age club.

Un­til re­cently any­way. It’s taken six years or more, but we are now at the state where the solid-state drive, the SSD, is a truly af­ford­able com­po­nent for any com­puter user. And if your wal­let won’t even stretch to £100, just jug­gle your byte bud­get in­stead and get a 256GB drive for £70 or less.

Per­for­mance has swelled over the years – not just in the drag-race test of copy­ing big files, but cru­cially with the way that small files are han­dled. And also in the way that a drive main­tains it­self, for­ever prun­ing and sweep­ing up the garbage of deleted files in the back­ground.

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