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
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.