Best SSDs: Holiday 2018

Drives with next-generation high-end NVMe controllers from Phison and Silicon Motion are starting to hit the market, but supplies are limited and prices are still rather high. The Phison E12 controller can most readily be found in the MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro, and some retailers also have some capacities of the Corsair MP510 in stock. The Silicon Motion SM2262EN controller will soon be available in the ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro, replacing the current SX8200 that uses the plain SM2262 controller. All of these drives are products to watch, because they could easily become the best deal for a high-end NVMe drive in a month or two when they are more widely available. In the meantime, SM2262 drives like the ADATA SX8200, HP EX920 and Mushkin Pilot are much cheaper than other premium NVMe drives but aren’t noticeably slower.

Intel’s Optane toshiba hard drive 1tb price are down to around $1/GB. On select synthetic benchmarks they can appear to justify this price premium over NAND-based SSDs, but hardly any consumer workloads benefit meaningfully from the performance advantages of Optane SSDs over high-end flash-based drives. There’s also the problem that Intel’s Optane products are somewhat of an awkward fit for consumer machines. The 800P and Optane Memory products are low-capacity PCIe 3 x2 M.2 drives, and while the 900P and 905P are power-hungry U.2 and add-in card drives. The M.2 version of the 905P has finally hit the market, but it’s still a 110mm long card that doesn’t fit in most laptops. We’ll have to wait until next year for Intel to introduce Optane SSDs that can be considered true high-end alternatives to mainstream NAND-based NVMe drives.

The entry-level NVMe market segment has been shaken up by the arrival of the Intel 660p and Crucial P1, the first two consumer SSDs to use four bit per cell (QLC) NAND flash memory. These products necessarily have more of a high-capacity while most other entry-level NVMe product lines are geared toward low capacities. The QLC drives have finally started beating the TLC competition on price per GB, meanwhile they also bring a 2TB option to this market segment.

Despite high DRAM prices, the handful of DRAMless NVMe SSDs on the market (Toshiba RC100, HP EX900) have not been able to beat the prices of higher-performing entry-level NVMe drives that include a full-sized DRAM buffer. This means that drives with the Phison E8 controller are the most competitive products in this segment. The Kingston A1000 has at times been very cheap for some capacities, but at the moment the MyDigitalSSD SBX is in the lead across the board. However, the persistent problem remains that the cheapest high-end NVMe drives are only $10-20 more and they are significantly faster than any of these entry-level drives.

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