Hot or Not? New Samsung and Solidata SSDs

Flash SSD Versus Hard Drive

If you ask a handful of people about their views on flash SSDs versus conventional hard drives, you will likely receive a variety of opinions on the subject. We encourage you to contribute in the article discussion, which is available on the bottom of each article page. The most common question that users typically have is a simple one: does it make sense to go for a flash SSD rather than a conventional hard drive?

Unfortunately, the answer is not so simple, which is why I’ll break down some possible answers according to user types and budget. But first, let me start with a general overview and comparison of features.


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FeatureHard DriveFlash SSD
InterfaceSATA/150, SATA/300SATA/150, SATA/300
Available Capacities80 GB-2 TB8-256 GB
Typical Capacity250 or 320 GB32 or 64 GB
Cost per GBVery LowVery High
Typical Cost$100 for 320 GB$300+ for 32 GB SLC $300+ for 64-128 GB MLC
Access Time15-20 msNot noticeable (< 1 ms)
Throughput40-75 MB/s70-230 MB/s
Notably Fast PerformanceOnly for sequential operationsWindows startup, application launching, multitasking, swap file performance
Performance IssuesIntensive random I/O operationSome drives show throughput issues when heavily fragmented or at changing workloads
Power Consumption0.5 W idle; up to 5 W peak0.05 W idle; up to 10 W peak
I/O Performance Per WattLowHigh
Throughput Performance Per WattMedium to highMedium to high
RobustnessLow to mediumHigh
Durability5 years component design life span, 350,000 to 600,00 hour MTBDBetter durability than hard drives expected, but not yet confirmed in field application. 1+ million hours MTBF
Typical Weight85 g to 115 g50 g to 100 g
Market penetration> 95%< 5%

Mainstream Users / Low Budget

Since the benefits of flash SSDs will mainly be noticeable to advanced users and enthusiasts, and cost remains a major issue, we recommend against going for an SSD product if you don’t know exactly why you need it, or how to justify its cost. You can probably buy an entire netbook or nettop PC for the cost of a good flash SSD. Instead, look for a fast and energy efficient hard drive, and you’ll probably not miss the benefits of a flash SSD until you have more specific I/O-oriented requirements. Instead, focus on buying balanced system components, such as sufficient memory (2+ GB of RAM) and a modern dual-core processor. These will have more impact on your computing experience than the flash SSD.

Experienced Users / Medium Budget

The decision here is more difficult, as many experienced users will immediately feel the benefits of flash SSDs. Drives reaching 200 MB/s and higher are noticeably faster in Windows environments. Users who switch from a hard drive to a SSD typically don’t want to go back. However, capacity is an issue, long-term reliability has not yet been adequately explored, and the cost is probably still prohibitive. Clearly, a flash SSD is a luxury item. I recommend resisting, as the market will continue to develop even more impressive products, unless you are going for an ultra-portable notebook. In such a case, the combination of greater performance and potentially longer battery life might be worth the investment.

Enthusiasts or Professionals / No Limit Budget

If you insist on maximum performance, you have no choice but to go for a flash SSD. Samsung’s and Intel’s latest products are considered the best, but other drives might do well too; we cannot possibly test all of them. Your ideal system setup is a flash SSD for your operating system plus an additional storage drive for your data. Enthusiast desktop PCs should be running a 1+ TB drive, while notebook users might consider getting a 320-500 GB portable 2.5” drive for storage purposes. If you are ready to fork out serious money, you could consider setting up a flash SSD RAID 0 array on your desktop PC.