What type of SSD do I have?

A solid state drive (SSD) is a storage device that uses flash memory instead of a spinning hard disk to store data. SSDs have several benefits over traditional hard disk drives (HDDs):

– Faster performance – SSDs have much faster read/write speeds compared to HDDs because there are no moving mechanical parts. This makes them ideal for tasks like booting your operating system or loading games quickly [1].

– More reliable – SSDs are less prone to mechanical failures or damage from drops/shocks because they have no moving parts. They are better suited for mobile devices.

– Quieter – Without any spinning disks, SSDs make no noise and run silently.

– Lower power consumption – SSDs are more power efficient and have longer battery life compared to HDDs.

– Lighter weight – SSDs weigh less than HDDs due to not having bulky mechanical components.

Check Your Computer Specs

If you want to find out the brand and model of the SSD in your computer, the easiest way is to check your computer’s specs directly. Here’s how to do it on Windows and Mac:

On Windows

Open up the Start menu and search for “Device Manager”. Open Device Manager and expand the Disk drives section. This will show you all the disk drives in your system. Look for the one listed as a “Solid State Drive” – that is your SSD. You can see the model, manufacturer, and other details for that drive.

Alternatively, you can open the start menu and search for “System Information”. Open System Information, go to Components > Storage > Disks. This will also list all disks in your system, including the model and manufacturer of your SSD.

On Mac

Click on the Apple icon in the top left and choose “About This Mac”. This will open up a window with details on your Mac. Click on the “Storage” tab to see the model, manufacturer, and capacity of your SSD or internal storage drives.

You can also open Disk Utility, select your SSD disk on the left side, and view the details on the right side. The model and manufacturer will be listed there.


SATA and NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) are interfaces that SSDs use to communicate with the host system. SATA SSDs have been around longer and use the SATA interface, while NVMe SSDs are newer and use the NVMe interface.

The key difference between SATA and NVMe is speed. NVMe SSDs have much higher bandwidth and lower latency compared to SATA SSDs. This allows NVMe drives to achieve faster sequential read/write speeds and lower queue depths for faster random access (Source 1).

Specifically, SATA SSDs are limited to a bandwidth of 600MB/s while NVMe SSDs can reach over 3,500MB/s. NVMe also has much lower latency and higher IOPS (input/output operations per second) leading to snappier response times (Source 2).

In summary, NVMe SSDs are significantly faster than SATA SSDs due to the improved parallelism and lower latency of the NVMe interface. NVMe is the interface of choice for high performance storage.

2.5 vs M.2

SSDs come in different physical sizes known as form factors. The two most common form factors for consumer SSDs are 2.5 inch and M.2.

2.5 inch SSDs have a rectangular shape and standard width and height dimensions. They use the SATA interface and connect to a computer’s motherboard via a cable, just like a traditional hard drive. 2.5 inch is an older form factor but still commonly used today.

M.2 SSDs have a more compact, gumstick-like shape. There are multiple length dimensions available. M.2 SSDs connect directly to the motherboard via a slot without any cables. This allows them to have a smaller footprint and enables thinner laptop designs.

In terms of performance, M.2 SSDs tend to be faster, especially PCIe/NVMe based M.2 drives. The M.2 form factor also allows higher capacity SSDs. However, 2.5 inch SATA SSDs can still offer decent speeds for many users.

For desktops, M.2 is preferable if supported by the motherboard. For laptops, M.2 has mostly replaced 2.5 inches as the standard. Overall, M.2 is newer and faster, while 2.5 inch is older but still versatile.

Popular Consumer SSD Brands

When shopping for a consumer SSD, some of the most popular brands you’ll see include:

  • Samsung – Known for high performance drives like the 970 EVO. Many of their SSDs use their own proprietary controllers and 3D V-NAND technology.
  • Crucial – Their MX series offers a good balance of value and performance. Owned by memory giant Micron.
  • Western Digital – Known for their WD Blue SSDs. Also offer high end models like the SN750. WD acquired SanDisk so some of their SSDs are branded SanDisk.
  • Kingston – A major memory and SSD vendor, known for budget friendly options like the A400 series. Their high end HyperX models target gamers.
  • Adata – Taiwanese brand that offers a wide range of SSDs covering budget to high performance segments.
  • SK Hynix – This Korean semiconductor company supplies SSD controllers and NAND flash to many brands. They also sell SSDs under their own name.

These major brands account for a large chunk of the consumer SSD market. But there are many other smaller players as well. When shopping for an SSD, it’s worth looking at reviews and benchmarks to find the best combination of price and performance.

Popular Enterprise/Data Center SSDs

Enterprise and data center SSDs are designed for more intensive workloads than consumer SSDs. Some of the major players in the enterprise SSD market include:

Intel/Solidigm – Intel is a leader in enterprise SSDs after acquiring SSD maker Solidigm in 2022. They offer a wide range of SSDs optimized for data center usage.

Samsung – A top maker of both consumer and enterprise SSDs. Their PM series is focused on high performance for data centers.

Micron – Produces SSDs for data centers and servers under brands like the Micron 7300 and 9300 series.

Kioxia – Formerly known as Toshiba Memory, Kioxia is another major maker of enterprise and data center SSDs.

Western Digital (WD) – Entered the enterprise SSD market after acquiring SanDisk. They now offer data center SSDs like the Ultrastar series.

These enterprise-focused SSD vendors offer features like higher endurance, consistent performance, data protection features, and optimizations for heavy workloads and 24/7 operation.[1]

SSD Controllers

The SSD controller plays a critical role in managing the performance, reliability, and endurance of SSDs. The controller is like the brain of the SSD, as it manages all of the memory operations, runs the firmware, handles error correction, and interfaces with the host system over SATA or PCIe. Some key responsibilities of the SSD controller include:

  • Managing NAND flash memory – The controller executes instructions for reading, writing, erasing, and refreshing the NAND flash memory cells.
  • Error correction – To ensure data integrity, the controller uses error correcting code (ECC) algorithms to detect and fix bit errors.
  • Wear leveling – To maximize endurance, the controller evenly distributes writes across all the memory cells to avoid wearing out one block.
  • Garbage collection – The controller recycles unused pages and consolidates data to free up memory blocks.
  • Encryption – The controller can encrypt data at rest to protect against unauthorized access.
  • Caching – The controller caches frequently accessed data in faster DRAM for improved performance.

Some of the major SSD controller manufacturers include Phison, Silicon Motion, Samsung, Marvell, Western Digital, Intel, Micron. Many focus on producing high-performance MLC and TLC controllers for enterprise and data center use.

NAND Types

NAND flash memory is the primary type of storage used in SSDs. There are several NAND types that differ in how many bits can be stored per memory cell:

SLC (single-level cell) – Stores 1 bit per cell. Provides the fastest performance and highest endurance but is very expensive. Primarily used in enterprise SSDs.

MLC (multi-level cell) – Stores 2 bits per cell. Offers a balance of price, performance and endurance. Used in both consumer and enterprise SSDs.

TLC (triple-level cell) – Stores 3 bits per cell. More affordable but has slower writes and lower endurance compared to SLC/MLC. Common in budget consumer SSDs.

QLC (quad-level cell) – Stores 4 bits per cell. Cheapest per GB but has slowest performance with lowest endurance. Mostly in entry-level consumer SSDs.

In general, TLC and QLC NAND offer a tradeoff of affordability for performance compared to SLC/MLC. TLC provides a good balance for most mainstream consumer uses while QLC is best for light workloads. For reliability, SLC/MLC is still preferred in enterprise environments.

DRAM vs. DRAMless SSDs

DRAM cache is an important component in SSD performance and endurance. The DRAM acts as a cache to the NAND flash memory, storing the SSD’s firmware, FTL lookup tables, and flash translation layer metadata. This allows the SSD controller to consult the DRAM cache rather than reading from the slower NAND with every operation, thus improving performance.

DRAM cache also enables the following key functions:

  • Caching of mapping tables – The flash translation layer (FTL) mapping tables track logical block addresses to physical block addresses. Consulting these tables in DRAM speeds mapping lookups.
  • Caching of read/write data – Frequently accessed “hot” data can be cached in the faster DRAM rather than reading from NAND.
  • Caching of garbage collection metadata – Data on which blocks are stale and need garbage collection can be tracked in DRAM.
  • Caching of wear-leveling data – DRAM aids in evenly distributing writes across the SSD to optimize endurance.

More DRAM cache allows for more data to be cached, improving performance and endurance. Typical consumer SSDs have DRAM cache sizes from 256MB up to 1GB for higher-end models. Enterprise and data center SSDs can have multiple gigabytes of DRAM cache.

DRAMless SSDs lack an integrated DRAM chip and must rely solely on the NAND flash for all operations. This leads to slower performance as all mappings, metadata, and data must be read from the slower NAND. DRAMless SSDs typically have lower endurance ratings as well. However, they can be cheaper as they require one less component on the SSD PCB.


In summary, there are a few key ways to identify the type of SSD you have:

  • Check your computer’s specs or system information to see if it lists the SSD model, connector type, etc.
  • Look at whether it uses the SATA or NVMe interface to connect to your motherboard.
  • Note the physical size and form factor – 2.5″ vs M.2.
  • Recognize the brand name, as consumer/retail vs enterprise/data center drives differ.
  • Research the SSD controller and NAND type for more technical details.
  • See if it has DRAM cache or is DRAMless based on model specifications.

With this information, you should be able to positively identify the kind of SSD in your system. Understanding your SSD’s specs helps ensure compatibility and aids in troubleshooting or upgrades.