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Best SSD Buying Guide: Best and Fastest SSDs

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Solid state drives (SSDs) play a central role in the enterprise. They are now available in multiple form factors, capacities, speeds, functions and price ranges.

The early versions simply slotted into existing hard drive slots in storage arrays, servers and PCs. While this form factor remains popular for SAS and SATA drives, there are also smaller PCIe and M.2. form factors that can move the power of flash closer to the CPU.

More recently, NVMe SSDs have been developed that enhance the speed of the SSD via modern data transport protocols. And this speed has caught the attention of storage admins: the fastest NVMe is typically viewed as the best NVMe. 

Further, as speeds increase, flash is blurring the lines between memory and storage. SSDs are emerging as memory-class storage. Instead of storing data on a slower storage layer, it is retained in memory. As memory is expensive, flash is being employed to add memory resources more economically.

Additionally, buyers should be aware of the SRAM vs DRAM issue. In short, SRAM is the faster of the two.

The following solid state drives showcase the best SSD in a wide array of formats. These products come from a range of top vendors, including Intel, Western Digital, Samsung, Toshiba, Seagate and Micron.

Best M.2 SSD: Toshiba XD5

SSD has always come at a price premium compared to HDDs. But the Toshiba XD5 wins in the Best M.2 SSD category due to its ability to write almost 4 TB of data per day for five years. Its deployment of NVMe gives it the speed to make it ideal for enterprise storage systems that support heavy transactional workloads and other applications that demand constant writing of data.

The Toshiba XD5 is known for its durability and endurance. When consistent quality of service (QoS), consistent read latency and consistent read of performance are important, the XD5 SSD is often a top pick.

For enterprise storage systems, it handles heavy transactional workloads and other applications that demand constant writing of data at a predictable rate of good performance. It is light weight and offers low power consumption.

Addtionally, Toshiba NAND flash memory and controllers offer high reliability, data protection, power-loss-protection and the encryption technology demanded for enterprise applications.

See our in-depth look at the Toshiba XD5

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Fastest M.2 SSD: Samsung 970 Pro

The Samsung 970 Pro harnesses NVMe to provide blistering speed to the M.2 form factor. In tests, it performs very well. As it is one of the cheaper M.2 SSD options around that harness NVMe, those demanding high throughput and IOPS will gravitate to it. However, those with less demanding applications may opt for cheaper SAS or SATA SSDs. 

The Samsung 970 Pro combines NVMe and a tiny form factor with V-NAND 2-bit MLC technology. Its throughput of 3.5 GB/s and 500,000 IOPS make it a popular choice among enterprises.

This unit is a top performaer at both queue depth and peak performance in sequential read tests. Its combo of fast NVMe and PCie in the compact M.2 form factor makes offers high performance for businesses with demanding workloads. For companies that need NVMe speed, it is one of the cheaper M.2 SSD option. Those demanding high throughput and IOPS will gravitate to it.

The 970 PRO delivers high performance powered by the latest V-NAND technology and a new Phoenix controller in a compact M.2 (2280) form factor. An endurance rate of up to 1,200 TBW and a 5-year warranty provide confidence in SSD lifespan.

See our in-depth look at the Samsung 970

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Best SATA SSD: Micron 5200

The Micron 5200 wins in the best SATA SSD category due to the fact that it can write and rewrite up to 8.4 PB of data and offers 3 million hours before failure. It also boasts decent SATA performance with high capacity and a low-price tag.

This unit is engineered to replace existing hard drives and legacy SSDs. To do this, it leverages the architecture of 5100 SATA SSDs. Micron designed these SATA SSDs for virtualized workloads and cloud architectures.

The 5200 packs a decent throughput punch for SATA, delivers latency as low as 55 microseconds, and is one of the most reliable and durable SSDs around. The read and write performance may be short of others in this guide. But its low price point compensates for this factor.

Capacities of up to 7.68 TB ensure that it will always be a candidate for budget conscious organizations looking SSDs that can hold plenty of data and deliver it with adequate performance.

See our in-depth look at the Micron 5200

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Fastest SATA SSD: Samsung 883 DCT

The Samsung V-NAND SSD 883 DCT is ideal for enterprise server storage systems. It supplies reliability, and data protection for applications that handle massive amounts of data. If speed is more important than budget, opt for a fast NVMe-based system. But if you want good performance, plenty of capacity and high reliability, this SATA system is a good candidate.

This unit is geared to achieve optimal performance with a high level of QoS (quality of service) under the SATA interface. It has a 6 Gb/s SATA interface with impressive storage capacities of up to 3.84 TB.

Given this capacity, data security is important. Safeguarding the 883 is end-to-end data protection to ensure consistency over the entire
data transfer path. This prevents data corruption in case of power failure with power loss protection. Additionally, the superior SSD quality and reliability of in-house production of Samsung components is a plus

There are less expensive SATA SSD options, such as the Micron 520. But for storage admins who need enterprise-class SATA SSDs, the Samsung 883 is a top candidate.

See our in-depth look at the Samsung 883

best ssd, samsung 883

Best PCIe SSD: Intel Optane 4800X

This SSD from Intel wins best PCIe SSD due to its high random read/write rates, as well as very good throughput and high endurance. It is ideal for companies seeing to reduce transaction costs for latency-sensitive workloads.

Significantly, this unit lessens storage bottlenecks to enable bigger, more affordable data sets. It is the only product on the market that utilizes 3D Xpoint technology and offers latency as low as 10 microseconds. It can accelerate applications, reduce transaction costs for latency-sensitive workloads, and improve overall data center TCO.

This unit is a single port device. It is compatible with PCIe Gen3 x4 speeds. Based on 64-layer Intel 3D NAND TLC, it accelerates read-intensive workloads at higher service levels and improves overall system reliability and flexibility. SATA firmware adds compatibility with existing SATA arrays to make upgrades easy.

Capacity ranges from 240 GB up to 7.68 TB in a standard 2.5-inch form factor. At the same time, these SSDs offer high performance and low power consumption. Those choosing to upgrade their storage arrays from HDDs to these SSDs can add hundreds of times more IOPS. Additionally, end-to-end data protection helps keep data safe regardless of power loss.

See our in-depth look at the Intel Optane 4800X

See user reviews for Intel Optane SSD

best ssd, intel optane

Fastest PCIe SSD: Western Digital PC SN720

The Western Digital PC SN720 beats competitors such as the on performance with a 500k/400k ratio on random reads/writes, throughput of 3.4 GB/s and high endurance. The addition of NMVe and PCIe makes it a formidable candidate for Tier 0 workloads running enterprise applications.

This unit offers compact storage device with high capacity. Supporting PCIe Gen3 x4, it is geared for high intensity applications such as Ultra HD video, 4K video, VR content creation, post production processing, high-bandwidth corporate computing, software development and compilation. 64-layer 3D NAND provides longevity. Its tiered-caching, fast NVMe architecture delivers extreme performance and endurance of up to 500 TBW

The SN720's new, fast NVMe SSD firmware and controller architecture is purpose-built to maximize performance and scalability benefits of 3D NAND for low latency and power efficiency.

In short, this unit delivers high performance with impressive sequential read/write speeds. A top choice for businesses that need a top unit.

See our in-depth look at Western Digital PC SN720 

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Best SSD For the Money: Seagate Barracuda

The Barracuda from Seagate offers superior performance compared to SATA SSDs at a modest price point. Excellent throughput and endurance numbers add further value. It's a top choice for less demanding situations that require good but not top of the line performance.

The Barracude boots quickly, allowing instant access to data and applications. It has a respectable SATA 6Gb/s interface for optimal performance and compatibility. It uses 3D TLC NAND flash memory to provide sequential read and write speeds of up to 560/540 MB/s. Upgrading HDDs or older SSDs to the Seagate Barracuda can improve the efficiency of data processing and retrieval.

Its throughput tops most competitive SATA or SAS SSD, with the Barracuda providing sequential read and write speeds of up to 560/540 MB/s. However, with capacity topping out at 2 TB, it isn’t big enough for enterprise workloads.

In terms of random reads and writes, the Barracuda provides 90,000 read and write IOPS as well as 1.8 million hours of usage or 1,067 TB written over its lifetime. That is more than sufficient for most SME uses cases.

See our in-depth look at Seagate Barracuda

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ProductMicron 5200Samsung 883Intel Optane 4800X PCIeWD PC SN720Toshiba XD5Samsung SSD 970Seagate Barracuda
CategoryBest SATA SSDFastest SATA SSDBest PCIe SSDFastest PCIe SSDBest M.2 SSDFastest M.2 SSDBest SSD        for the Money
Capacity240 GB to 7.68 TB240 GB to 3.84 TB375 GB to 1.5 TB256 GB to 2 TB1.9 TB to 3.84 TB512 GB to 1 TB250 MB to 2 TB
Random Reads95k98k550k500k240k500k90k
Random Writes75k28k550k400k90k150k90k
Throughput540 MB/s550 MB/s2.5 GB/s3.4 GB/s2.5 Gb/s3.5 GB/s6 GB/s
Lifespanup to 8.4 PB, 3 million hrs5,466 TBW, 2 million hrs.160 PB, 5 years500 TB, 1.75 million hrs3.84 TB/day/5 yrs, 2 million hours120 TBW, 5 years1 PB, 1.8 million hrs
Price$300$1,400$2,235$400$3,000$700$119
Key differentiatorHigh capacityHighly reliableHigh read/write ratesHigh EnduranceHandles heavy workloadsSpeed at good priceEconomical price point

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