A laptop without SSD? It’s just not acceptable, isn’t it? Although the HDD lot hasn't hit the history page already, our new laptop doesn’t feel new without a high-speed SSD in this era of rat-race. Everyone is searching for the best SSD for laptops. Even when we are not buying a new computer, most of us can’t sleep before upgrading the storage device with an SSD, or at least a hybrid SSHD.
Well, it’s obvious. Who wants to be left behind in a slow-motion movie when advanced technology is calling out with tons of opportunities. Today's professional applications demand a lot of speed. And even a high-end processor can’t reach its full potential if the data-processing capacity of the storage device doesn’t match its footstep.
But then arises another common problem of this age. So many choices! Ok, don’t freak out folks. It’s our job to seek out the best SSD for laptops. Yeah. your laptop needs it and all you need to do is to stay with us for a while. Now, before we start fishing out the best SSD for laptops that fit your requirement, let’s learn a short story on how it works.
Why SSD is Better Than HDD
Although some SSDs resemble the shape of HDDs to allow easy upgrade, they are far thinner than them. HDDs run on mechanical models of a stacked pile of disc-shaped spinning platters. A turntable-like arm with read-write heads presses down on the platter surface to access or put data physically in it. Therefore, HDDs are prone to slow down with time and fail after a while.
On the other hand, SSDs are expected to last longer before breaking down. But their main selling point is speed. Even the lowest-level SSD can perform at least three-four times quicker than the highest HDD models.
Here is an example of the performance difference of HDD vs SSD with a benchmark result shown in Laptopmag:
The advantages of SSD over HDD offers:
- Significantly reduced boot time
- Faster program loading (noticeable in heavy professional applications)
- Less hitching or static moments in video games
- Smooth workflow for photo-editing and video-editing jobs
- Quicker data-processing and file transfer
- Better multitasking
SSDs use NAND flash semiconductor technology (hence the label ‘solid-state’) of transistor chip arrays with other connectors similar to computer chips these days. While in operation, the chips represent 1 or 0 values respectively when they carry current or not. The current flow is managed by their arrangement style. Each column-row intersection forms a cell of two chips, one working as a control gate, and another as a floating gate.
The more chips stuffed on this board, the more capacity it holds. And the advancement in the semiconductor industry offers more powerful but cost-effective chips with smaller dimensions day-by-day, and gradually they are becoming better than the best SSD for laptops and for any high-end computing purpose.
Best SSD for Laptop
When you are buying an SSD for laptops, the most important thing to consider is what type of SSD your laptop supports before searching for one.
Best SSD for Laptop: Different Types:
Form factors aside, different SSDs are compatible with various hardware-software combos. Yet, the mainstream classification shows only two kinds of engineering. The older one is SATA 3 AHCI SSD and the advanced one is PCIe NVME SSD. AHCI and NVME interfaces are the controlling software (transfer protocols or languages) used by the respected storage units for communicating with the computer. They run on transfer interfaces (connection arrangement) like PCIe or SATA.
- SATA 3 SSD
SATA SSDs are set to the SATA bus interface, the same connector bus used by HDDs. Hence, these SSDs resemble the HDD shape but are thinner. SATA SSDs come in 7mm heights, whereas HDD sizes are 7mm and 15mm. Because of their price range and easy replacement for old HDDs, SATA SSDs are still popular in mainstream notebooks. These are the best SSD for laptops with standard sizes, especially for the old models and budget PCs.
- NVME SSD
Admittedly, it's the best SSD for laptops right now. Advanced NVME SSDs use higher bandwidth PCIe interface over outdated SATA technology, but they are relatively expensive and can be overkill for regular uses. Because you can only experience a significant performance variance (almost 7 times) between them while accessing large files or running hardware-demanding professional software like a photo or video editing. The time difference between SATA and NVME SSDs is just a few seconds in case of booting, light gaming, or day-to-day office works.
According to the video uploaded by TechSpot,
Read/write speed for:
- 7200 RPM HDD – 210 MB/s max
- SATA 3 SSD – 550MB/s max
- NVME SSD – 3500MB/s max
Estimated Boot times:
- 7200 RPM HDD – 36 sec
- SATA 3 SSD – 9 sec
- NVME SSD – 6 sec.
Best SSD for laptop: Interfaces
SATA is the dominant interface for the best market-standard SSDs for laptops as well as HDDs. The bandwidth of SATA 3.0 devices is limited to 6GB/s standard.
- PCIe 3.0
This higher-bandwidth interface outperforms the old SATA technology. Although basic-level PCIe 3.0 SSDs show not much of an improvement over SATA 3 SSDs (roughly because of their channel-counts and other hardware-bottlenecks), the real difference takes place while using the low-latency non-volatile technology of NVMe protocol, which are capable of utilizing the full potential of 32GB/s bandwidth of PCIe components.
- PCIe 4.0
The fourth-generation PCIe interface offers 64GB/s of bandwidth for one x16 slot. This is double the bandwidth of PCIe 3.0 x16 lanes. Being compatible with forward-backward generations, PCIe 3.0 SSDs can also run on the PCIe 4.0 interface. PCIe 4.0 compatible devices can also be attached to work on PCIe 3.0 lanes, but their speed will be limited to third-gen standard.
- PCIe 5.0
The newest entry in PCIe lineage is the PCIe 5.0 component offering double bandwidth over its immediate predecessor, i.e, 128GB/s for x16 lanes. These devices are about to hit the mainstream market in the near future.
Also Read: how to clone HDD to SSD
Also Read: Laptop Motherboard Repair
Best SSD for Laptop: Form Factors
- 2.5-inch Form Factor
These are the standard form-factors for laptop disk drives. These are compatible with HDDs and SATA SSDs both.
- PCIe Mini
The Mini-SATA or mSATA drives use the PCI express mini card interface and hence the mini PCIe form factor. Yet, they are not always electrically compatible with this form factor, and they need the SATA host controller to transfer data signals. That’s why only a few notebooks implement these drives.
One mSATA SSD is lying on top of a 2.5-inch SSD
Based on performance, mSATA is not so different from SATA SSDs. The leading purpose lies in their dimension, as being smaller, they better fit in a modern portable laptop. But the data speed is limited to the SATA interface standard of 600MB/s.
This form factor is the budding star in the mainstream market, due to its versatility with so many choices of PCIe 3.0, SATA 3.0, and USB 3.0 interfaces. Also, M.2 factors connect different sizes of devices varying through the key-socket compatibility. These RAM-shaped but smaller drives superseded the mSATA standard and are popularly known to connect the best SSDs for ultra-portable laptops and tablets.
The gum stick-sized M.2 modules can be installed directly to the motherboard without the need for connecting wires like traditional 2.5-inch SATA SSDs. This is beneficial for using more than SSDs as in the case of desktop motherboards.
Among M.2 SATA SSDs, there are four variants of 22nm width. The last two digits mentioned in their name define the length. Longer SSDs pack more cells, hence offering higher capacity. But higher capacity can raise thermal-throttling issues if the chassis is too compact for heat-dissipation as in the case of slim laptops. And that can affect the stability and performance of the entire system. So, it’s important to know your device capacity perfectly before upgrading.
M.2 SATA SSDs of Different Lengths
The performance level for all SATA interface SSDs are identical, but the diminished size without cable requirements over traditional form-factors are advantageous when you don’t need to pay a premium for them.
The real champion is the M.2 NVME SSDs using PCIe potential. Based on protocol, interface, and form-factor, these are the best SSDs for laptops, especially ultra-portable high-end notebooks.
But before installing an SSD storage in your m.2 socket you must know which key-styling is allowed in your motherboard. The keys decide which card-connector (male) can be inserted into the m.2 socket. The keys keep them perfectly fitted to the motherboard so that no awkward rattling can harm the connecting edge or make any weird noise inside.
All the M.2 SSDs are made to use among three common key styles of B, M, and B+M.
M.2 SATA SSDs use the B+M key, and they can also be inserted in B and M key sockets. Whereas, M.2 PCIe-NVMe SSDs run on M-key sockets.
If your laptop is only compatible with 2.5-inch traditional SSD types, you can always use bay adapters to connect SATA SSDs from different form-factor as M.2 in the mentioned socket, but PCIe-NVMe SSDs can’t be set with an adapter there, due to their different key-styling near the edge connector. But, it is not advisable since other factors can create compatibility issues. Therefore, if you are not confident, you should stick with the identical SSD choice your motherboard offers.
Though it’s not possible to upgrade an old model in a completely different modern setup, before buying a new laptop, you should read the manual thoroughly to decide which direction you should choose, the budget-friendly models, or future-oriented data-driven models demanding a bit more bucks.
Best SSD Capacity You Need:
Although the storage capacity depends on your requirements, sticking with the lowest option even for a tight-budget condition is not a good plan.
- 128GB: because of their lowest memory modules, these guys offer the slowest performance graph, and are not worth the value of spending an extra penny on SSDs. In that case, you should stick with high-capacity HDDs with a similar price range.
- 250GB: These can work in a regular environment if you don’t plan to save many files on your laptop. Yet, the OS and other programs eat up most of its performance. You may find the best SSDs of 250GB capacity close to an HDD budget. And that makes this the best SSD for laptops that belong to entry or mid-level performance groups.
- 500GB: These are the sweet spots to be nominated for the best SSDs for laptops, even for a budget-friendly decision. It’s the right balance between price and performance. You can find the best SSD types under 5000 rupees within this class.
And about the roominess, you may have to sacrifice a bit if you are comfortable in a large HDD storage environment. They are in the end, the best SSD choice for a huge storage factor if you are not concerned about the performance.
- 1TB: If your budget permits and you need massive storage for media files or game libraries, this class offers plenty of room for that after making way of OS and other applications.
- 2TB: These SSDs demand premium range. If your profession demands a lot of heavy applications and a lot of storage for media libraries, then you should go for it. Otherwise, it’s just overkill.
- 4TB: Also, there is the highest storage option, and this decision solely depends on you if these are worth this much bucks for your laptop or not.
Best SSD for Laptops: Company or Brand
Your SSD expenditure can give you the best SSD performance for your laptop only if they last long. Because flash memory can wear off, and reliability should not be compromised for a little saving on price. Here, the brand value really matters. Check if your SSD is listed with the endurance rate or not. Most of the brand manufacturers reveal them in TBW (Total Terabyte Written) or DWPD (Drive Writes Per Day) formats.
Trusted brands engineer their SSDs for extended lifespan in most cases except server-like environments demanding all-day work. But this promise may not hold for lesser brands similarly.
A tech report experiment revealed a lifespan of above 1000TB data write for Samsung, Kingston, and Corsair SSDs. You may expect a 3-4 year lifespan from them, and maybe more based on your use priorities. It’s always good to consult reviews and customer feedback before voting for a certain brand.
- For SATA SSDs
Although SSD prices are dropping day by day, they are still pricey compared to their HDD counterparts. If you are running for SATA SSDs, they are the closest thing to HDDs based on price tags.
The capacity variance of 120GB to 4TB storage determines the value here. Finding your 250GB SSD in a budget range is not much of a problem. But if you are willing to find the 500GB balance class, the best SSDs under 5000 rupees are waiting for you to try. Again, if the budget is not holding you back, you can always go for 1TB or 2TB drives. 4TB options are too expensive for regular customers.
Almost all the brands offer similar ranges (slightly around) for SATA SSDs, but that’s not always true for NVMe drives.
- For NVME SSDs
High-velocity PCIe-NVME SSDs are always more expensive than traditional SATA drives. But the price also varies for different companies in their case. Because some NVME SSDs are somewhat confined in performance. And these are the tricky parts because that’s what makes them cheaper in some cases. Therefore, you must research a product description and feedback before purchasing one.
Also, you must learn about the compatibility of your mobo with a proper M.2 socket with PCIe support.
SSD connected to M.2 Socket
Here, you may find the best 250GB NVME SSDs under 5000 rupees (sometimes with an online deal), but make sure their speed limits are not restricted in any way to expect the highest results.
When performance is your concern, Intel’s Optane PCIe NVME SSDs are the best shot in the current market, though the price leaps proportionally as well. But they are much-know for desktops than very few laptop-compatibilities. Intel’s highest-performing Optane drive is a 905P standalone card.
Also, Intel and Micron (manufacturers of Crucial SSDs) collaboration are focusing on a more advanced future technology of 3DXPoint drives with faster speed than any current SSDs working hand-in-hand with the longest lifespan.
Best SSD for Laptops When Gaming is Concerned:
If you are not a pro gamer, 2.5-inch SATA SSDs can easily soothe your demands for light gaming without cutting through your pocket much. If you want a game library and perhaps download and store the likes of this smash bros brawl iso and many more, you can expand your storage capacity without spending much on this class.
But if budget is not your headache, and you are looking for as much speed as you can acquire, the choice is always NVME SSDs. For example, the best SSDs for PS4 pro games and applications demand a lot of space as well as the best SSD choices for Xbox One options. Then again, speed enhancement always ensures better game loading, smoother vision without static moments.
Hence, you should be able to decide your choice for the best SSD for gaming as long as your speed and storage requirements collaborate with your budget plan. A little trick is that you may go for external HDDs as they can give you enough storage without asking for a lot of money. And then you can spend some extra on speed enhancement. What do you think?
Best SSD for Heavy PC or Desktop:
Even if we are not discussing much on desktops, we can only brief on some views here. Desktops and Heavy PCs come with larger motherboard form factors and hence enough space to add a lot of expansion cards. They are not identical, but one advantage they both bear is that a lesser concern for heat dissipation. Hence, you can add more than one SSDs with a RAID controller or SSD and HDD in a desktop, whereas putting larger SSD capacity in M.2 connectors is not a problem for heavy PCs.
Different types of Desktop SSDs
(Source: toms hardware)
Some SSDs are made for only desktop boards. For instance, 3.5-to-2.5-inch bay adapters come equipped with some SATA SSDs to keep your upgrade option open for larger form-factors like older HDDs.
Also, high-speed PCIe-entertained SSD AIC (Add-in Cards) devices are desktop-only choices. The same can be said for expensive larger-capacity (More than M.2) and higher-bandwidth PCIe U.2 SSDs (look-alike of 2.5-inch SATA SSDs, but thicker) used mostly in server-like ambiances. Intel’s high-speed Optane drives are also used as add-in cards for cache drive facilities and standalone devices.
After all these discussions, we hope your confusion is cleared. But we are not the sole authority to decide which is the best SSD for laptops and gaming since the decision depends mostly on your requirement and budget combination. Make sure you don’t end up spending more than you need. Also, planning for a futuristic deal is worthwhile in this ever-changing market.
Lastly, we can summarise some quick tips here to zero on the best SSD for laptops and future gaming:
- System-compatibility of your computer: M.2 or SATA-only. What form factor do you have that narrows down your choices?
- 500GB-1TB memory: If you are not suffering from a deeply tight-budget condition, 500GB or 512GB capacity is the best idea to start with, and up to 1TB can fulfill most of our ordinary needs if not on a professional demand.
- SATA or NVME: Whereas SATA is cheaper but champion-performer for budget-users, NVME or Optane drives can only show their highest potential in demanding works run by power-users. The bottom line, you should go for at least NVME SSDs while you can, and you may not need more upgrades in the near future.
- SSD or HDD: As we already know, the lower-level SSDs can also perform 3-4 times better than HDDs, if not limited to their lowest capacity of 120GB or so.
Let us know what you finally decide.