The new 2017 marked the crushing victory of cheap TLC-memory over the expensive MLC. Thanks to smart modern controllers, SSDs based on TLC proved to be more durable than expected, and with the transition to 3D 3D NAND memory they also became much faster. Read on to find TOP 5 best SSD drives in 2017.
Radeon R3 SSD is the second attempt of AMD to gain a foothold in the market of solid-state drives. The first one was called AMD Ruby and was nothing else than the renamed OCZ Arc 100 disk. Now, before us is the independent creation of AMD, albeit made on the widely spread on the market a bunch of Silicon Motion SM2256KX controller and 16 nm planed TLC memory SK Hynix.
The marking of Radeon R3, by analogy with video cards, speaks about belonging to the budget series of AMD products. Indeed, at the moment it is one of the cheapest, if not the cheapest, SSD on the market. The low cost was achieved by using the simplest possible controller (SM2256KX replaced the even simpler SM2246EN, which even with a weary TLC-memory could not work) and the failure of the buffer memory, which, however, was expected with the advent of virtual SLC-caching technology .
This technology programmatically combines several sections of slow TLC-memory into one small volume (from 1 to 4 GB), but a much faster array (RAID 0). As a result, files that are smaller than the virtual SLC-cache are written to disk quickly, and exceeding the volume – slowly. In the case of the Radeon R3 SSD, the sequential write speed of the SLC cache is 470 MB / s, and the TLC memory itself is only 50 MB / s. Therefore, we recommend this SSD for purchase only for those who need the cheapest SSD exclusively for educational and office tasks, but not for resource-intensive games and, especially, professional applications.
Last year the most popular SSD-controller in the market was Phison PS3110-S10. This year, it was replaced by the updated PS3111-S11. It would seem that the disks on its basis should have become faster. But first, to increase the speed of linear reading is simply nowhere, since it has long been limited by the bandwidth of the SATA III bus. And secondly, the main trend in the SSD market is a total reduction in price. In sum,Goodram CX300, one of the first drives with a S11 controller, was even simpler than the previous CX200.
Built CX300 on a 15-nm planar flash memory Toshiba TLC. Its connection with the S11 controller is also used in other popular SSDs, for example, the Kingston A400 SS37 / 240G and the Patriot Spark PSK256GS25SSDR from 2,511 to 2,819 UAH. By the way, the stated 240 GB of memory for the CX300 and A400 instead of 256 GB for Spark does not Is a disadvantage. Just the companies Goodram and Kingston have indicated the amount of disks without taking into account the 16 GB reserved for the user, and Patriot – taking into account. The actual capacity of all three drives is the same.
Unlike SSD on the SMI-Hynix bunch, the Goodram CX300 and similar drives have a buffer memory. True, its only 32 MB and it is built right into the Phison S11 controller. For comparison, the SSD on the S10 controller had 128 to 512 MB of superfast buffer. The virtual SLC-cache for the CX300 is also there, and at its end the recording speed also significantly decreases – from 460 to 80 MB / s. However, Toshiba’s TLC memory is still 1.5 times faster than SK Hynix. That’s why we advise the Goodram CX300 to build an entry level gaming PC.
Crucial MX300 is a vivid example of how all cheap SSDs will look like in the near future. The fact is that the planar (two-dimensional) flash memory rested on the physical limitations of the 15/16-nm process technology. Further reduce the size of the transistors of flash memory is too expensive, if at all possible. The only way out of the impasse is to switch to a three-dimensional memory, the cells of which are packed in layers in layers.
So, 3D NAND TLC chips manufactured by IMFT (the joint venture of Intel and Micron) are equipped with 32 layers of transistors (the Samsung has 48 layers more complex in production) and the 48-gigabyte (48 GB) record on the market . It is because of the atypical crystal capacity (there are two crystals in each chip), the disk volume is equal to the usual 240, but increased 275 GB (three chips without reserve area).
In addition to the IMFT 3D NAND flash memory, the MX300 also has a Marvell 88SS1074 controller supporting 256-bit AES data encryption, 256 MB of buffer memory and a virtual SLC cache that is significantly larger than most other TLC disks, with a capacity of 10 GB. Due to this, the problem of recording speed reduction on large files will infrequently infrequently occur. All this plus bonus 35 GB capacity is clearly worth paying for the Crucial MX300 a little more than asking for a very simple SSD with planar TLC-memory.
Compact solid state drives of M.2 format have finally started to gain popularity, which was facilitated by several factors. Firstly, relatively inexpensive motherboards with Intel B250 chipset supporting M.2 came on sale (see article “4 + 1 best motherboards for Intel Kaby Lake processors”).
Secondly, even mid-price laptops, let alone costly ones, began to be equipped with a M.2 slot instead of the outdated mSATA. Third, the SSD M.2 itself is noticeably cheaper and now cost only a little more expensive than conventional SATA. A good example of an inexpensive SSD M.2 is WD Green.
It is important to distinguish between two types of M.2-disks: AHCI and NVMe. The first work through the SATA bus, so they are limited to a speed of 550-560 MB / s. The latter function through the PCI-E interface and are capable of overclocking up to 2200 MB / s. WD Green is the representative of the first, slower, but also more accessible kind.
WD Green was built on an ordinary two-dimensional TLC-memory with all the following: the need for SLC-cache and a significant drop in speed after its termination. However, now either way, or pay a half or two times more for MLC. The target audience of WD Green is those who want to minimize the confusion of cables inside the PC (M.2 is attached directly to the motherboard without additional wires), as well as laptop owners who want to install SSD without losing the HDD.
The fastest consumer solid-state drive is Samsung 950 Pro M.2 MZ-V5P256BW, but it’s extremely problematic to find it on sale now. The fact is that Samsung has faced a deficit, which is paradoxical, its own flash memory. For the 950 Pro is used the newest third generation of memory Samsung 3D V-NAND MLC with 48 layers of transistors. Samsung does not manage to produce such complicated semiconductor products in large batches. As a result, the demand for the flagship Samsung 950 Pro exceeds the offer.
In search of an alternative, pay attention toSamsung 850 Pro with three-dimensional memory of the second generation. It is produced in sufficient quantities: and TLC, which is used in the Samsung Evo Series SSD, and MLC for the Pro models. Moreover, a two-bit MLC-memory can withstand three times the rewriting cycles than a three-bit TLC.
The Samsung 850 Pro is made in the form of a classic 2.5-inch drive, unlike the model 950 Pro with the form factor M.2 NVMe. SATA interface, of course, limits the speed of reading to 550 MB / s, but MLC-memory remains equally fast even when recording large files (stable 520 MB / s).
The NVMe interface in theory would allow the disk to accelerate even faster, but in practice after several minutes of the active load it would still slow down to SATA level due to the controller overheating. So there is not much loss. Because of the high cost, we can advise you to buy Samsung 850 Pro only to avid gamers and users of demanding professional software, which from SSD requires stably high speed and increased durability.