Solid State Drives: Are They Finally Worth it?

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A couple of years ago when I set about to build my second to latest build, CapSupreme, I wrestled with the idea of using a solid state drive as my main boot drive and a regular 3.5 inch hard disk drive for my data drive. I considered this for quite some time with myself and a good friend of mine.

You see when I left the computer business Intel was just getting ready to introduce it’s first SSD to the market (and the i3, i5 and i7 processors for that matter) and the worry at that time was that SSD’s didn’t have the endurance that a regular 7200 RPM HDD had. So would it be worth it in that time to upgrade especially at the incredible price point they had set? Most logical people said no.

Now with the prices of the good 240/250 gigabyte SSD’s coming down to around 120 dollars Canadian it’s starting to really get hard to ignore the SSD. When I built CapSupreme I still had to tackle with a 180 dollar Canadian price tag on the Samsung 850 EVO but even that has dropped to around $125 now.

In 2014 I went with the 850 EVO even at the price it was at and now with the performance offered even on budget SSD’s I really can’t recommend a regular old HDD any longer as a main boot drive. In fact I would venture to say the best configuration for computer builders now would be to put a smaller SSD as a boot drive (SATA III or M.2) and still use a regular HDD as a data drive as I have done on CapSupreme and Farpoint.

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Using two drives is a great idea as well. Even better than partitioning one disk in to two. Technically you add another point of failure by adding another drive but in the case of having two drives if the SSD fails you can easily replace that with another SSD without losing all your data. If you partition a large HDD into smaller drives if the drive fails it you lose everything.

I have had the chance to try out a few different SSD’s now including the aforementioned Samsung 850 EVO 250GB (two in fact and soon to be three) along with a Silicon Power S60 120GB, an OCZ Trion 100 240GB and an ADATA SP920 128GB.

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All of the drives mentioned have their strengths and weaknesses. Let’s start with the Silicon Power S60. This drive was unique as it came with a drive caddy for your old 2.5 inch laptop drive. I paid a little extra for that and that caddy alone has paid off the S60’s price time and time again. I used this S60 in an Intel NUC that I built for my parents as a media streaming pc. It has been rock solid. It’s not the fastest SSD and you notice that on boot up however it has never locked up the system at any time unlike my next drive.

I originally purchased the OCZ Trion for two reasons. One was to replace the aging laptop HDD in my macbook pro. Second was it looks freaking awesome! Seriously! I only wish it performed as well as it looked. The Trion never did go in to my macbook pro. I didn’t research very well apparently and the Trion’s controller just does not play nice with the macbook pro. So after a marathon OSX installation that failed I went back to my laptop HDD. The Trion ended up in my Lenovo laptop and while its quick when it’s working well every once in a while the drive will just hang and you wont be able to do anything in windows or applications. A bit upsetting and sadly I cannot recommend this drive. OCZ/Toshiba has since updated the Trion to the 150 series and since then I’ve read that it performs better.trion_standing_port-100596901-origI’ve also tried the ADATA SP920. This drive came with good reviews and was a pretty good value. When the HDD started acting up in my grampa’s computer I decided to replace it with the SP920. So far this turns out to have been a bad move as the drive failed even after I had tested it after I sent the computer back to my grampa. I should have stayed with my tried and true next SSD.

The Samsung 850 EVO 250GB has been my go to drive for two systems and if I can’t get that ADATA to work above I will be replacing that with an EVO as well. The EVO is an incredible value at the 250 gigabyte level and is an incredible performer. I can’t stop recommending this SSD to anyone looking to upgrade. I did have one hiccup with my first EVO when I tried to update the firmware. After updating the firmware Windows would no longer boot and I had to do a fresh install of Windows. Since I was (and still am) using a separate data drive at the time it was no huge loss and along with how quickly Windows 10 installs there was very little downtime.

I did have a brief experience with a Kingston SSD and after it being brand new out of the box, allowing me to install Windows and crashing continually I will never use a Kingston SSD ever again. Interestingly Linus from Linus Tech Tips had a server with Kingston HyperX SSDs that failed miserably. At this moment I can’t remember if his raid controller killed the drives or what it was but it’s just more evidence to me only to use Kingston for their RAM. And even then I’d go G.Skill.

So is it worth it then? I’d say so. When a Samsung 850 EVO 250GB is $120 and a 1TB Western Digital HDD is around $60 that’s a lot of fast performance and storage for a pretty good price I’d say. Of course to get those prices you have to go online here in Canada. Shipping is expensive here unless you can find a good deal on Amazon with Prime shipping (which is usually nearly impossible in Canada on technology) and of course we have 13% HST on everything we buy here in Ontario, Canada. So you are quickly over $200 most of the time. Even then I would still recommend it because the performance is amazing.

Is it worth it to go with just a straight 500GB SSD or 1TB SSD and skip the HDD altogether? You could but the value isn’t there yet. A 1TB SSD is still around $350 to $400 here in Canada. When those prices come down to around $250 that will change my opinion.

What SSD’s do you have experience with?

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