Is it OK to get a cheap SSD?

Getting a cheap SSD can seem very tempting, especially when you’re on a tight budget. SSDs (solid state drives) provide much faster performance than traditional hard disk drives (HDDs), so it’s understandable why someone would want the speed boost while trying to save money. However, there are some important considerations when it comes to cheap SSDs. In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of budget SSDs so you can make an informed decision about whether or not a cheap SSD is right for your needs.

What are the benefits of getting a cheap SSD?

Here are some of the main benefits of choosing an inexpensive SSD:

– Cost savings – This is the obvious advantage. Cheaper SSDs provide more storage for your dollar compared to pricier models. If you’re building a PC on a tight budget or just want more capacity without overspending, a value SSD may fit the bill.

– Faster than HDDs – Even budget SSDs are much faster than mechanical hard drives. Apps and games will load quicker compared to if you were using a traditional HDD.

– Good enough performance for many – While more expensive SSDs are faster, cheap SSDs still provide a snappy experience for basic tasks like booting Windows, launching programs, and multitasking. For general home and office use, a budget SSD may be sufficient.

– Easy to install – SSD installation is very simple these days. You can either clone your existing drive or do a fresh OS install. The process is basically the same no matter which SSD you choose.

What are the downsides of cheap SSDs?

However, there are some tradeoffs to consider when looking at budget SSD options:

– Slower speeds – While cheaper SSDs are faster than hard drives, they can’t match the speeds of higher-end SSDs. Pricier drives use faster NAND flash memory chips and advanced controllers to enable maximum performance for things like video editing, PC gaming, and professional applications.

– Lower endurance ratings – Budget SSDs generally have lower write endurance ratings, meaning they can’t withstand as much data being written to them over their lifespan compared to costlier models. This may reduce the usable life of a cheap SSD.

– Fewer advanced features – More affordable SSDs tend to lack advanced features like onboard DRAM caches, AES encryption, and virtualization support. These extras are nice to have for power users, even if you don’t absolutely need them.

– No extras or accessories – Cost-saving SSDs don’t come with extras like gaming-optimized heatsinks, cloning software, or Acronis backup tools. There’s usually just the bare drive in the box.

– Potentially shorter warranties – The warranty coverage on some budget SSDs may not be as strong as higher-end drives. Make sure to check the fine print before buying.

When does it make sense to get a cheap SSD?

There are a few scenarios where choosing a cheaper SSD is sensible:

– You need more storage and SSD speeds but have a strict maximum budget in mind. A cheap SSD allows you to stretch your dollars further.

– You plan to use the SSD for basic computing like web browsing, Office apps, streaming video or music, and other light desktop applications. A budget SSD has enough performance for these simple tasks.

– You want to use it as a secondary drive for mass storage of files like photos, videos, games, and media. Access speeds aren’t as important for basic data storage versus a boot drive.

– You’ll mainly store data that doesn’t get rewritten very often. For example, a cheap SSD is fine for a Steam games library since most writes happen during installation.

– You need an emergency replacement for a failed boot drive and want something inexpensive that works until you can buy a nicer SSD later.

When should you spend more for a higher-quality SSD?

Here are some instances where it makes sense to get a more premium SSD rather than a budget model:

– You plan to use it as your primary boot drive for Windows or other OS. You’ll notice the faster speeds every time you turn on your computer.

– You frequently work with large files like 4K video. The extra speed benefits of a faster SSD will be more apparent.

– You need an external SSD drive for on-the-go use and want maximum durability. More expensive SSDs typically have sturdier physical builds.

– You tend to fill up drives quickly. A pricier SSD with higher endurance will handle heavy workloads and writes better over time.

– You want advanced features like hardware encryption support, onboard caching, or virtualization capabilities that are absent on cheaper SSDs.

– You’d benefit from extras like gaming-optimized cooling or Acronis True Image backup software bundled with the SSD.

– You want the longest warranty possible for maximum peace of mind. More costly SSDs tend to come with 5-year or longer warranties.

What specs should you look for in a cheap SSD?

If you’ve weighed the pros and cons and decided a budget SSD is the right choice, here are some key specifications to look for:

– **Interface** – Make sure to get a SATA III SSD if your computer only supports SATA, or a PCIe/NVMe SSD for PCIe compatibility. Note that M.2 SSDs can be either SATA or PCIe so check which interface it uses before buying.

– **Capacity** – Consider how much storage you need today and what you might need in the future. 250GB SSDs are common starter sizes while 500GB, 1TB and 2TB give you more room to grow.

– **Memory type** – Look for drives using reputable brands of NAND flash like TLC or QLC from Samsung, SK Hynix or Micron. Avoid obscure or outdated flash.

– **Warranty** – At minimum, make sure the SSD warranty is 3-5 years from a brand you trust. This suggests good drive endurance.

– **Controller** – While you likely won’t know controller brands, pick SSDs from established companies rather than no-name entities. The controller impacts performance and reliability.

– **Sequential speeds** – Faster rated sequential read/write speeds indicate better real-world performance potential. Aim for at least 500MB/s reads and writes if possible.

Top budget SSD recommendations

Based on the above criteria, here are some excellent and affordable SATA SSD options to consider from top brands:

SSD Model Capacity Sequential Read Speed Sequential Write Speed Warranty
Samsung 870 EVO 500GB to 4TB Up to 560MB/s Up to 530MB/s 5 years
WD Blue 3D NAND SATA 250GB to 2TB Up to 560MB/s Up to 530MB/s 5 years
Crucial MX500 250GB to 2TB Up to 560MB/s Up to 510MB/s 5 years
Kingston A400 120GB to 1.92TB Up to 500MB/s Up to 350MB/s 3 years

And here are some of the fastest bargain options for PCIe/NVMe SSDs:

SSD Model Capacity Sequential Read Speed Sequential Write Speed Warranty
WD Blue SN550 250GB to 1TB Up to 2,400MB/s Up to 1,950MB/s 5 years
Kingston NV1 500GB to 2TB Up to 2,100MB/s Up to 1,700MB/s 3 years
Crucial P2 250GB to 1TB Up to 2,300MB/s Up to 940MB/s 5 years
Intel 665p 512GB to 2TB Up to 2,000MB/s Up to 1,925MB/s 5 years

These SSDs deliver great bang for your buck. Comparison shop across retailers for the best deals.

Bottom line

Getting a cheap SSD can be a smart choice depending on your budget, needs and use case. Value SSDs deliver much faster speeds than hard drives at affordable prices. Just be mindful of the limitations of budget SSDs regarding performance, endurance and features. For critical tasks and your OS drive, spending more on a quality SSD is wise. But for secondary storage, backups and basic computing, a value SSD gets the job done remarkably well considering the low cost.

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