How to Tell an SSD Deal From a Solid-State Dud

The price of storage just keeps dropping. These days, it's easy to find a 512GB SSD, even one of the best SSDs, for well under $80 at regular prices and 1TB drives are starting to drift under the $100 mark. There are and will be a ton of SSD deals, but not all of them will be good ones.

So how do you tell a good SSD deal from a ripoff? ? And what kinds of drives to we expect to see the best deals on during Prime Day sales? We’ll delve into both below, but first let’s tackle some helpful SSD-buying basics that will help you stay on a smart drive-buying course.

1. Track price history on potential drive deals.

Given varying capacities, ever-shifting prices, and the dozens of drive models on the market, it’s tough to make specific statements about what specifically constitutes a deal. But a good practice is to check a price-tracking tool. For products on Amazon, the best price history tool is Camelcamelcamel. Just download the Camelizer Chrome extension and click it when you're on the product page of the SSD you're considering.

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For products that are not on Amazon, use PCPartPicker (see below) which charts the selling price for products over time. On either tool, if you see a price there that’s well below what a drive has sold for in the past, you’ll know you’re getting a good deal.

2. Your data is important, so don’t gamble on a no-name brand to save a few bucks.

You can find lots SSDs in the 500GB capacity range for around $50 (and some on sale for even slightly less), but some are from brands you’ve probably never heard of, like Dogfish, KingDian and Vaseky. But pay a few dollars more and you’ll see options from SSD mainstays like Toshiba, WD, and Crucial. A bargain-basement option could be fine, but many of these low-cost drives also have very poor buyer ratings on sites like Newegg and Amazon.

Also, in the event that something does happen to your drive while it’s under warranty, a company with a long track record and a large US presence is probably going to be easier to deal with. That said, any drive can fail unexpectedly. So don’t forget to backup your important data, whether that be in the cloud or on a local hard drive or drives.

3. Don’t bother with low-capacity drives.

Drives in the 256GB range and below are still readily available, and can be enticing at prices under $30. But you can get twice that capacity for as little as $20 more. And good 500GB drives hover around $50, while offering up the minimal amount of capacity you’ll want if you’re a gamer, as game installs are increasingly topping the 100GB mark. However, even a 500GB drive is small these days. Look for 1TB drives that cost well  under $100 and 2TB drives that are $125 or less. Obviously, you'll pay a few dollars more for NVMe drives than their slower, SATA-powered brethren.

4. Any SSD is better than a hard drive.

Even the worst SSD is at least three times as fast as a hard drive. Depending on the workload, the performance delta between good and mediocre SSDs can be subtle. That doesn’t mean you should buy the least-pricey drive you can find. But you probably don’t need to splurge for the best either--unless you have a specific need for a very speedy drive.

5. Know your computer before buying. 2.5-inch SSDs are still the most common.

But find out if you have slots for M.2 drives on your motherboard in your laptop. And if you do, check find out if those slots support SATA drives, NVMe drives, or both. For more on drive form factors and interfaces, see our SSD Buying Guide.

With those general concerns out of the way, what do we expect to see as far as SSD sales this Prime Day season? Let’s tackle most-common SATA drives first.

SATA SSDs

First off, the most interesting deals will probably be in higher-capacity drives that are 1 to 2TB. You can already find lower-quality drives -- those without cache memory -- for under $100. But if you see a high-quality drive like Samsung’s SSD 860 EVO or WD Blue drop below $100, it’s certainly worth considering.

For our money, though, the 2TB drives are the most interesting. Not so long ago, these massive drives were out of reach in the several-hundred-dollar range. But now you can find them hovering between $225 and $250.

If you’re in the in the market for a roomy drive, we wouldn’t be surprised to see quality drives from companies like Samsung and Crucial dip below $200 on sale. If you see one for under that price point, pull the trigger.

Just keep in mind that these are far from the fastest drives available. If you have a desktop or a laptop with a spare drive bay, you may want to use them as bulk storage for files and games, much like we’ve done with hard drives for decades, while opting for a smaller, faster SSD as your boot drive.

NVMe SSDs

Speaking of faster drives, what should you be on the lookout for when it comes to speedy NVMe drives, which usually come in M.2 or PCIe add-in-card form factors? First off, we wouldn’t expect massive sales on Intel’s flagship Optane drives like the 905p. These drives are incredibly fast and expensive, and the phase-change 3D XPoint tech behind them is still very cutting edge. Those who need or seriously crave that level of speed and endurance seem quite willing to spend the high prices. Intel has little incentive to slash prices there.

But keep an eye on other drives like, our current favorite, the ADATA XPG SX8200, which is now at its lowest price ever, selling for just $129 on Amazon. Western Digital’s WD Black, Intel’s 760p, and the various Samsung Evo and MyDigitalSSD NVMe drives could also hit record lows. These are all drives that are already priced pretty low for performance drives and / or have been on the market for quite a while and may soon be replaced with something newer and faster.

If you need more advice about what SSD is right for you, you can check our SSD Buying Guide and our Best SSDs page to narrow down your choices. And if you don’t see an SSD deal this month that entices you to click the buy button, don’t worry. SSD prices could continue to fall--by as much as 50 percent this year--due to mass production of 96-layer manufacturing and a shift to quad-level cell (QLC) technology.

These advancements should combine to deliver higher-capacity SSDs at lower manufacturing costs. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pick up a new drive this year if you find a sweet deal.

14 comments
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  • gio966
    Based on European price comparator Geizhals.eu STRONGLY DISAGREE with your "keep an eye" Intel 760p e WD black are off the market by Samsung 970 evo market leader european price is 250GB 69EUR (78USD) and 500GB 120EUR(135USD), amazon.com prices are very high 250GB 88USD 500GB 148USD,

    Intel 760p cost same but SM2242 performe worse expecially in 240/256GB size
    Western Digital WDS500G2X0C in Europe cost 145EUR(164USD) on amazon.com 138.46USD

    Today my choiches in Europe are :
    Samsung EVO 250GB
    Adata S11/SX8200 480GB
    Samsung EVO 1TB

    Price is a key factor for choose right and prices are valid on 2th November 2018

    Sorry for my bad English
  • gio966
    correction SM2262 not SM2242
  • spfleck57
    Don't throw away ANYTHING you receive with a new Crucial SSD. The warranty requires you to return the SSD in its original box with original paperwork and ALL parts.
  • USAFRet
    3. Don’t bother with low-capacity drives.

    QFT.
    Don't bother with the 120GB drives. The only ones you'll find are off-brand substandard performers.

    And you'll be back here in a couple of months, wondering how to manage that rapidly decreasing space.
  • araczynski
    I wouldn't put the Micron 1100 SSD in the same category as other 'good' brands. Market is flooded with them from unofficial resellers and Micron will not honor the warranty.

    Micron is either trying to dump/clear these in mass quietly, or they're just inferior chips.
  • gio966
    1282023 said:
    3. Don’t bother with low-capacity drives. QFT. Don't bother with the 120GB drives. The only ones you'll find are off-brand substandard performers. And you'll be back here in a couple of months, wondering how to manage that rapidly decreasing space.


    I disagree... I am a happy user of a microsoft surface i5-6300 with a NVMe 128GB Samsung PM961 and after a couple of years of intensive use outside of home / office / shop I do not need extra space
  • fienamie
    Dont bother on DRAM-less?
  • fienamie
    Don’t bother with DRAM-less?
  • sendpyper
    Does anyone ever proofread their articles anymore?
  • inkybunk
    No tehy don't.
  • gio966
    406270 said:
    Don’t bother with DRAM-less?


    Controller HBM SSD DRAM-less like Silicon Motion SM2263XT has similar performance to mainstream controllers with DRAM
  • damric
    DRAMless is definitely not a deal breaker for SATA III SSDS that are going into systems to upgrade those old 5400RPM and 7200RPM slow spinners. It's time to get on SSD if you have been holding out for years for prices to come down.
  • kep55
    Quote:
    Can you tell a deal from a dud when shopping for an SSD? Here are a few tips to help. How to Tell an SSD Deal From a Solid-State Dud : Read more

    Caveat to ANY SSD - If it pukes, ALL of your data will be lost. There is no way to recover the data unless you want to spend a thousand bucks or more. That's the cost I was quoted to try to recover my data from a Samsung EVO Pro 850.
  • Mandark
    That’s no different then a hard drive failing