Years ago, specifically in 2008 when Intel announced it’s first consumer-grade SSD titled X25-M, an SSD was just an impossible dream for the overwhelming majority of consumers due to the unreasonably high price it was tagged with (It was priced at $595 for just 80 GB of space.) But since then, SSDs are getting more and more appealing by the day. Already nowadays their retail pricing is affordable for most home users and gamers who only require capacities up to 256GB for their primary HDD.
Yes, SSD is great, and it’s magnitudes faster than traditional mechanical hard drives (HDD) in every sense of the word, and you’ll not fully realize how supreme it is until you try one yourself into your personal computer.
We’ve already accomplished compiling a few guides on solid state drives now, such as Laptop SSD Guide, PS4 SSD Guide, and Gaming SSD Guide. Now it’s the time to compile a Desktop 3.5-inch SSD Guide as many desktop users look forward to upgrading their computer to an SSD and thus need a guide in this pursuit.
Actually there’s no additional significant issue to speak about in this guide more than what we’ve already discussed in those previous guides, except that modern consumer SSDs all come in 2.5-inch form factor, which primarily fit into laptop systems, whereas desktop systems require a 3.5-inch form factor drive to fit into the standard ATX case drive bay.
SSD in 3.5″ Form Factor is EXTINCT
The last seen 3.5″ SSD in the market was in 2007 when a company called Mtron released its unsuccessful, short-living MSD-S series SSD. A year later, SSD manufacturers like Intel, confined the focus and efforts only into developing SSDs in 2.5″ form factor and that’s for a logical reason that a 2.5″ form factor can be deployed in both laptop and desktop computers whereas the 3.5″ form factor is exclusively for desktops.
You may wonder how a 2.5″ SSD fit into a 3.5″ desktop drive bay! The answer is not that difficult as it might seem—simply use a 2.5″ to 3.5″ drive bay adapter and you’ll be done!
For this purpose we recommend the following drive bay adapter. Currently, as of the time of writing, it’s priced at $6.99 on Amazon.
There are other good brands also out there, but we’ll not elaborate more on this issue in order to preserve more space on this article to discuss SSD.
Now, after you’ve found a way-out of this problem, another different problem arises: What’s the best SSD to pick for my desktop PC?
You may have already learned that an SSD in 3.5-inch form factor had “retired” and is no more in service since almost a decade, and any SSD you will cross by in the market will only be 2.5″. Therefore we’ll only lay out below that form factor of SSDs.
The Best SSD for Desktop Computers
The SATA-III interface is still deployed in most modern laptop computers despite the emergence of new smaller form factor SSDs that employ either mSATA or M.2 interface and are found in the most sophisticated high-end desktops.
In this article though we’ll exclusively spot the light on SSDs with SATA III interface because they are the most popular and current SSDs nowadays.
Our Criteria for Selecting the Best SSDs
There are many SSD brands dispensed on the market and each brand claims high-end performance with amazing features.
While we believe that the slowest SSD is still much faster than the fastest laptop hard drive, we’ll follow a strict method though for choosing the top-notch SSDs for our roundup below. This method is mainly based on the verdicts of IT professionals such as Tom’s Hardware, Anand Tech, Storage Review, Tweak Town and others who reviewed the chosen drives and published their reports on their websites. You can view some testimonials of these experts once you click the view more details button below each particular drive you focus on.
Moreover, we have only authorized three SSD manufacturers that are some of the highly-reputed and the most prominent in the industry, that’s to make sure you’ll just get the top-notch and highest quality SSDs on the market.
Additionally, we have classified the SSDs below into two categories:
1. ENTHUSIAST— where the highest-end SSDs designed for power users are placed. These SSDs come with a so long warranty (between 5 to 10 years) and most solid endurance that entitle them to handle the toughest data workload without degradation in performance. These SSDs are good for addict gamers who only play highly-sophisticated resource-demanding games so often, professional video editors who work on huge high-definition movies, and webmasters who manage small network servers.
2. MAINSTREAM—where the SSDs designed for the overwhelming majority of users placed. These SSDs are good for those who consider themselves non-enthusiasts but want, at the same time, to increase their computer’s speed and have a quickly-responsive system for their personal preferences. These SSDs usually come with a warranty between 3 to 5 years limited.
What’s in Our List
We have chosen 10 SSD drives, half of them are for enthusiasts and the other half are for regular users (mainstream).
Below is a table that manifests a quick overview of the certain drives we have selected.
|Manufacturer||Brand Name||Class||Available Capacities||Price Range|
|Samsung||Samsung 850 Pro||Enthusiast||128gb, 256gb, 512gb, 1tb, 2tb||$80 to $700|
|Samsung 850 EVO||Mainstream||128gb, 256gb, 512gb, 1tb, 2tb||$80 to $700|
|SanDisk||SanDisk Extreme Pro||Enthusiast||240gb, 480gb, 960gb||$80 to $700|
|SanDisk Ultra II||Mainstream||240gb, 480gb, 960gb||$80 to $700|
|OCZ||OCZ Vector 180||Enthusiast||240gb, 480gb, 960gb||$80 to $700|
|OCZ ARC 100||Mainstream||240gb, 480gb, 960gb||$80 to $700|
About the Top Two Selections
We have placed Samsung 850 Pro on the top of our list because it’s the fastest SATA III SSD ever made. The SanDisk Extreme Pro though is its bitter rival and it outranks it on some benchmark tests.
Being the fastest doesn’t necessarily mean the strongest. In heavy workload environments SanDisk Extreme Pro beats Samsung 850 Pro, but as a laptop user this issue should not be of your concern, it concerns only network server managers.
Here are two quotes from two renowned SSD experts and reviewers who testified the above fact:
The goal of the Extreme Pro was to be the fastest client SATA drive on the market, and it succeeded in that (before the 850 Pro came out, although the two are very close).
[“Anand Tech” on September 16, 2014]
The SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD currently sits at the top of every High-Performance SATA slot in our Best SSDs of 2015 ranking. The drive is an amazing performer that retains its high performance even under extreme load. Because of that, we’ve chosen it over Samsung’s 850 Pro that can lose performance after heavy use. The Extreme Pro has everything you would expect to find in a workstation SSD, so seeing them at mid-level prices gets us excited.
[“Tom’s Hardware” on November 27, 2015]
Other experts though may disagree with Tom’s Hardware like bit-tech who considers Samsung 850 Pro the best SSD in all aspects:
The SSD 850 PRO is still the best drive on the market – no other manufacturer can yet compete with what its 3D V-NAND offers in terms of performance and endurance.
[“bit-tech” on March 24, 2015]
If you ask about my personal opinion, I would adopt Tom’s Hardware‘s opinion because they conduct robust testing in different environment for each SSD they review which highly raises the credibility of their verdicts.
About the Third Selection (OCZ Vector 180)
This drive is a better fit for desktop computer than laptops due to the relatively higher power consumption compared to other high-end SSDs. This drive though is the best ever in terms of reliability (it has the lowest failure rate an SSD could have) and warranty (an outstanding warranty plan that is not found in any other brand).
Our Desktop SSD Roundup
Samsung owns 50% of the solid-states storage market share. When it comes to client-oriented drives, that percentage increases, and in some countries goes as high as 80%. Samsung manufactures roughly 50% of the world’s NAND memory supply, too. Not all of the flash goes into SSDs; much of it goes into cell phones, tablets, children’s toys, SD cards and even automobiles.
|The Samsung SSD 850 PRO is a 2.5” form factor SSD for enthusiasts that is the first drive to be powered by 3D virtual NAND technology. It comes in capacities ranging from 128GB up to 1TB. Not only does it boasts some pretty impressive speeds, it has a high endurance, secure encryption, RAPID mode to enhance user experience, and a 10-year warranty. It also claims to be one of the most energy efficient drives on the market, which the real-world testings conducted by many IT professionals proved to be mostly true with its very low idle power usage. This makes it undoubtedly the most suitable SSD for portable computers.|
SanDisk Corporation is a company that designs, develops and manufactures flash memory storage devices and software. SanDisk is the third-largest manufacturer of flash memory in the world. In October 2015, Western Digital agreed to buy SanDisk Corp in a $19 billion deal. [Wikipedia]
|The SanDisk Extreme PRO SSD is designed specifically for gamers, PC enthusiasts, and media professionals who require consistent, top-in-class real-world performance out of their storage. With its quoted sequential read speed of 550MB/s and write speed up to 520MB/s, the SanDisk’s new Extreme PRO certainly is specced to deliver the performance needed for graphics-intensive applications in addition to speedy gaming load times. The Extreme PRO also boasts an industry first a 10-year warranty to assuage any concerns about the drive’s expected longevity and SanDisk’s commitment to the drive.|
OCZ Storage Solutions – a Toshiba Group Company is a leading provider of high performance client and enterprise solid-state storage products and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Toshiba Corporation. Offering a complete spectrum of solid-state drives (SSDs), OCZ Storage Solutions leverages proprietary technology to provide SSDs in a variety of form factors and interfaces to address a wide range of applications.
|The Vector 180 SSD (currently available in 120GB, 240GB, 480GB and 960GB capacities) is based on the latest Barefoot 3 NAND flash controller by OCZ (runs at 397MHz as opposed to the 352MHz of the one found in the ARC 100) paired with A19nm MLC NAND flash modules by Toshiba—a combo which produces excellent read/write performance numbers (550MB/s & 530MB/s respectively), superior endurance (has a MTBF rating of 2.3 million hours and an write endurance rate of up to 50GB per day) and finally offers SMART/NCQ support and AES-256bit encryption. Of course OCZ fully covers their flagship model with their 5-year ShieldPlus warranty.|
MORE GAMING SSD OPTIONS
There are still powerful SATA III SSD in the market that we did not lay out in our list above because they have their own disadvantages compared with the above items, but the brilliant name and glowing reputation they own allures us to list them here as additional options for our readers.
The Benefits of SSD for Desktop PCs
You may already have wondered that why to pay a premium for an SSD while it’s possible to obtain a high-end enterprise hard disk drive (HDD) for the same price and exponentially larger in space? Is it just speed or there’s something else in SSDs persuades users to possess one for their desktop PCs?
In fact, although speed is the strongest advantage of SSD over HDD, there are other aspects of power that make SSD more than just a speed booster.
You have to know first that speed alone cannot be an independent factor to bestow superiority upon SSD over HDD. What really makes the explicit and decisive difference is: Performance.
Performance can be determined by three major factors: speed, reliability, and endurance.
- Speed stands for the time spent by SSD to make requested data fully available for access (“read” functionality) or to completely store the data transferred to it (“write” functionality). Lesser the time, faster the SSD. But you have to carefully note that speed is not everything in this equation. Data can be handled with errors yet the task is deemed “fulfilled”. This what leads us to the next factor.
- Reliability stands for the rate of sucessfulness on achieving the task perfectly without errors/failures. Lower the rate, more reliable SSD is.
- Endurance is measured by the period of time an SSD can properly and successfully function without a major degradation or failure. That means the longer SSD maintains its reliability, the longer its endurance is.
So when it comes to SSD vs HDD, SSD is the ultimate winner in all.
Below we boil down the major advantages you will acquire from leveraging an SSD into your desktop PC:
The Major SSD Advantages
- SSD is way faster than HDD. This is an intuitive result of the architecture of SSD that doesn’t make use of any mechanical part. Rather, the data transmission happens through piles of microscopic transistors in flash memory chips compacted together in blocks that are placed so tightly beside each other. This means your operating system and other heavyweight applications installed on it will load much faster and you’ll enjoy also a high external transfer rate from/to your computer, especially when you use an external SSD.
- SSD has much lower failure rate. That makes SSDs the most reliable storage devices for long-term storage purposes. And as a sufficient indication for this fact, modern consumer SSDs like Samsung 850 Pro comes with a 10-year limited warranty, whereas the best enterprise hard drives—Seagate Enterprise Capacity v4 barely provides a 5-year limited warranty.
- The endurance of SSD is unparalleled. Yes, this is a blatant fact. SSD can bear the toughest and heaviest workloads in difficult mediums without failing, unlike hard drives. This feature concern mostly enthusiasts and professional video editors and server managers.
- Multitasking with SSD is seamless and flawless. Unlike that of HDD that can handle a few multiple tasks simultaneously but with a sacrifice of performance for each task, SSD can do that brilliantly without any performance hit. This feature will help mostly enthusiasts who work on multiple applications at a time.
The Major SSD Disadvantages
Yes, although SSDs are great in almost all aspects, they have their own drawbacks that are considered minor by a specific class of users and major by others.
These drawbacks are:
- SSD is way costly than HDD. This is in fact the biggest disadvantage that SSD manufacturers couldn’t work around remarkably until today despite the extreme fall of prices in the last few months, SSD remain expensive.
If we just have a look at the cheapest SSD on the market, you’ll find an SSD like ADATA USA Premier SP550 120GB SSD currently costs about $44 and almost $62 for the 256GB capacity. whereas a good 1TB hard drive like WD Blue 1TB Desktop Hard Disk Drive costs currently almost $55.
- SSD is still too small for enthusiasts. Although the consumer-grade SSD has hit the 4TB capacity limit after Samsung announced the launch of the first 4TB model of the SSD 850 Pro lineup, SSD still doesn’t match the severe hunger of enthusiasts for storage space. The 1TB or 2TB capacities are reasonable for the overwhelming majority of users in spite of the steep price they come at, but compared with HDD that has already reached 12TB of storage capacity, an SSD is still considered backward.
- Difficult data recovery after failure. This concerns mostly users who have sensitive data and don’t wish, by any means and at any cost, to lose them. Yes, modern SSDs have developed immensely in the last 2 years to handle the heaviest workloads in the toughest environments for a very long time without notably losing the peak performance, and you can observe that through the long-term of warranty an enthusiast SSD comes with that’s between 5 years to 10 years. But this only means that SSD is SAFER but not absolutely safe, as nothing in the world is absolutely/permanently safe.
But when an SSD comes to its end unexpectedly, your worst nightmare would be to recover the stored data out of it. To overcome this issue, always keep a precautionary clone of your important data on an external device. [If you own an SSD inside your computer, an external SSD can be a good idea for external storage solution].
How to overcome these disadvantages
Fortunately, the disadvantages of SSD listed above are not left without any workaround. You can simply overcome them if you combine a small SSD (not less than 250GB) with your current hard drive in a hybrid mode. (read more about this method here)
Performance Comparison—3.5″ HDD vs 2.5″ SSD
The chart below presents the benchmark test results of WD 6TB Performance Black 3.5-inch hard drive, which is deemed “the fastest high-end desktop mechanical hard drive” and Samsung 850 EVO 2TB SSD, which’s deemed “the fastest mainstream-level SSD”.
Note that we deliberately put a high-end enterprise HDD against a mainstream SSD in order to prove that a mainstream SSD can easily beat the best hard drive in all performance aspects.
|Test||WD Black HDD||Samsung 850 EVO SSD|
|2MB Seq. Read||214.53 MB/s||493.54 MB/s|
|2MB Seq. Write||214.91 MB/s||468.10 MB/s|
|2MB Ran. Read||78.34 MB/s||483.45 MB/s|
|2MB Ran. Write||107.05 MB/s||467.22 MB/s|
|4k Ran. Read [MB/s]||0.325 MB/s||40.18 MB/s|
|4k Ran. Write [MB/s]||0.811 MB/s||116.20 MB/s|
|4k Ran. Read [IOps]||83.21 IOps||10,287.13 IOps|
|4k Ran. Write [IOps]||207.61 IOps||29,748.15 IOps|
|4k Write Latency [Avg]||4.8 ms||0.0333 ms|
|4k Write [max]||1,248.19 ms||3.94 ms|
**The numbers are acquired from storagereview.com
As you can already observe, when it comes to performance, SSD is unparalleled and it can immensely boost the overall performance of your system and take it to the next level.
FAQs on Using SSD for Desktop
Here we quickly and briefly answer some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) about using a solid state drive (SSD) for desktop computers.
Single SSD or Multiple HDDs in RAID-0?
RAID-0 with three high-end hard disk drives can provide you almost the same sequential read speed as an SSD with a much larger storage capacity and all of that is for the same price of a single 1TB SSD, but a single SSD surpasses this method in write speed and random read/write speed.
Moreover, RAID-0 is risky, once a drive in the array fails, all the array will collapse consequently, and if you bear in mind that HDD operates mechanically, that means the average failure rate of 3 HDDs combined together is higher than that of just a single HDD.
Primarily for this reason we strongly dissuade you from having multiple hard drives in RAID-0. Rather you better use an SSD and HDD combined in hybrid mode as explained earlier.
Is SSD worth it for older computers?
Well, it has been said by many experts that using SSD in old computers would remarkably improve the overall system performance, which is definitely true. But, according to my experience in computer maintenance field, I can confidently say to stay away from SSD if your computer doesn’t support SATA III, and rather go obtain a good mainstream mechanical hard drive. That’s because your computer will lose lots of the speed offered by SSD, which means the premium you pay for SSD will not correspond with the minimized performance you gain. Moreover, your processor is supposed to be old enough to not handle heavy data workloads quickly, which will cut down on the speed of your system. So what’s the use of employing an SSD in this environment?
I’m not speaking out of an anecdotal knowledge, rather it’s a practical experience, and I strongly advise to hold off on buying an SSD until you get a new computer with high standards as there only where SSDs shine and work at their best.
SSD purposes for desktop PC
SSDs offer high responsiveness and blazing transfer speed to the systems they are incorporated in. This will mostly benefit enthusiast gamers, professional video editors, server managers and everyone who is in extreme need for high speed.
It’s just a matter of a few years until all prominent desktop PC manufacturers adopt SSD technology and deploy it in all their new desktop releases. That’s because SSDs offer unparalleled speed and high performance boost, and it’s foreseen to be inevitable and imperative in every modern computer very soon, regardless being a high-end or mainstream.
Currently the biggest holdback from adopting SSD technology by desktop manufacturers in modern systems is the steep price of SSD compared to HDD, but this is soon going to be history for the extreme competition in SSD market segment which consequently results in the consistent and drastic fall of SSD prices that we observe nowadays.
If your computer is structured with a strong CPU and a powerful graphics card with more than 4GB of RAM, then an SSD is the best storage upgrade you can carry out for it. Otherwise, either you change your computer to a more sturdy one, or go trade your current old hard drive for a better one.