What type of SSD should you buy?

Stable-state drives have clear benefits over old-school hard-disk drives: SSDs are sooner, quieter, and devour much less energy. Downside is, in addition they include an array of acronyms listed of their specs, which might make it arduous to determine what you want. 

Reducing by means of the muddle is basically fairly easy—you simply choose a type issue and a pace. Our information explains how.

Want the tremendous quick model? Learn our summary beneath.

SSD type elements: M.2 drives vs 2.5-inch drives

We’ll begin with type issue. SSDs are available in a number of sizes and shapes, however the two commonest varieties are M.2 drives and a couple of.5-inch drives. Every sort has its benefits: gumstick-shaped M.2 drives join on to your motherboard (thus decreasing cable muddle in desktop PCs), and a few varieties are sooner than 2.5-inch drives. For his or her half, rectangular 2.5-inch drives, which slot right into a PC like a traditional storage drive, are sometimes cheaper.

Different much less frequent type elements embody PCIe add-in playing cards and U.2 drives, each of that are utilized in desktop PCs. PCIe add-in playing cards look just like a sound card or a graphics card, and hook up with your motherboard utilizing the identical PCIe slots. U.2 SSDs resemble 2.5-inch drives however solely work if a vendor has added a U.2 connector to a motherboard (otherwise you buy an adapter to make use of it with an M.2 slot). You may additionally encounter mSATA drives in older laptops or mini-PCs, however these have been outdated by M.2 drives in fashionable hardware. mSATA and M.2 SSDs usually are not interchangeable.

So how do you choose a sort? That depends upon what your desktop or laptop computer can help, in addition to your efficiency wants, funds dimension, and constructing preferences. Most individuals can simply give attention to selecting between the two.5-inch and M.2 type elements, as PCIe add-in playing cards and U.2 are extra area of interest. mSATA solely comes into play when changing an present drive or including one to older appropriate hardware.

m.2, 2.5', U.2, and PCIe card ssd form factors shown Rob Schulz / IDG

Of those type issue varieties, 2.5-inch and M.2 drives are the far commonest. The others solely come into consideration if 2.5-inch or M.2 drives will not work in your scenario (which is not a standard prevalence).

For desktop methods with fashionable hardware or barely older high-end hardware, it’s best to be capable of use each M.2 and a couple of.5-inch drives. Many individuals don’t even select between the 2, and as an alternative go together with a mixture—normally M.2 in your boot drive and a couple of.5-inch drives for added storage. This association helps cut back cable administration complications and normal cable muddle, whereas additionally permitting builders to reap the benefits of each quick and reasonably priced, higher-capacity SSDs in a single PC.

For older desktop methods, you’ll doubtless be caught with simply 2.5-inch drives as your possibility. When you really need the sooner speeds you will get with some M.2 drives, you possibly can take a look at PCIe add-in adapter playing cards in case your motherboard has PCIe three.zero slots. These growth playing cards settle for M.2 drives, thus permitting you to make use of one over a PCIe slot.

(Want a information for how you can set up an M.2 or 2.5-inch SSD? Our step-by-step directions clarify the way it’s completed.)