How to find the perfect hard drive or SSD

Magnetic hard drive or SSD? There are a few things to consider when buying a hard drive. These buying tips will help you.

Thanks to the fast flash storage technology, an internal SSD is the drive of choice for the notebook or desktop computer. However, even with new all-round PCs, SSDs are not a matter of course as the sole storage medium on board. Rather, the providers often rely on a hard disk mix of HDD and SSD for systems for 300 to 400 euros. However, you no longer have to accept this compromise. Because even internal SSDs with high capacities of one or even two terabytes have become affordable. As a pure program and data store, they bring noticeably more speed to daily computer use.

SATA SSD: Often still the right flash memory

If you have two storage drives installed in your computer, the larger hard drive is usually connected via SATA. In the case of a desktop PC, you usually assume a 3.5-inch HDD; in the case of an older notebook, 2.5-inch magnetic drives are still very common. SATA SSDs in the compact M.2 form factor with a width of 22 millimeters and a length of 80 millimeters (2280 for short) have also been common for particularly flat mobile computers for several years. Clarify these points in the manual for the computer before purchasing. With tower cases you usually don’t have any space problems, with mobile computers you have to check the height of the new drive.

Internal SATA SSDs continue to use the SATA III standard and thus achieve a theoretical maximum throughput of 600 MB per second. For the price of a SATA SSD, the capacity of the controller used and the type of flash memory used play a role. An inexpensive 2.5-inch SATA SSD with a TB capacity currently only costs a good 90 euros – for example the

Crucial BX500
. This drive is available with a maximum of two TB for a good 160 euros, otherwise the maximum possible capacity is usually four TB. However, the maximum possible space still goes into the money, such as the

WD Blue
shows, which with 4 TB costs a good 470 euros.

SSD technology:

Everything you need to know when buying

Small and fast: SSDs with M.2 form factor and PCIe

Internal SSDs as M.2 plug-in cards with PCI Express connection and NVMe protocol have become established for small computers and the fastest possible connection. In addition to the flash memory type and controller, the PCIe version together with the number of lanes determines the maximum possible speed. PCIe 3.0 is common, which ideally gives the SSD a good 3.5 GB per second if it can use all four lanes. As with the SATA M.2 counterparts, the 2280 module is very common. The form factor 2242 is also often found. A look at the PC manual will tell you which requirements your new SSD must meet.

The prices for M.2 NVMe SSDs have fallen significantly, but are still higher than those of comparable SATA flash memories. In capacities of up to one terabyte, however, the surcharge is now limited. Even a model for gamers and power users like them

Seagate Firecuda 510
can be found with 1 TB capacity from around 160 euros. This model is available in a maximum capacity of 2 TB. This corresponds to the usual upper limit in this category. With the high storage space, the price also almost doubles.

The growing selection of NVMe SSDs for PCIe 4.0 will certainly bring further momentum. Almost all hard disk manufacturers are now involved, even if the interface is only just becoming more widespread alongside AMD with the current Intel CPU generation Tiger Lake (11th generation). Here the transfer rates are even faster when writing in ranges of 5000 MB / s. The ultra-fast data transfer, however, also requires permanent cooling so that the performance does not decrease. It is worth thinking about a combination of SSD and heat sink here. At the same time, keep in mind that you need more space in the computer housing for this. The performance is reflected in the price: This is how that comes about

Samsung SSD 980 Pro
with 1 TB capacity already to a whopping 210 euros.

Price-performance tip: The drive upgrade is cheap when an internal 2.5-inch SSD with 1 TB is sufficient - such as the Crucial BX500 for around 90 euros.


Price-performance tip: The drive upgrade is cheap when an internal 2.5-inch SSD with 1 TB is sufficient – such as the Crucial BX500 for around 90 euros.

© Crucial

External hard drives and SSDs – ideal for backup

The cheapest route to external disk storage is through a housing into which you can install your old hard disk in order to continue using it. Enclosures for 3.5-inch HDDs are intended for stationary use, as they require an external power supply for operation. For a good 20 euros you can get a model with a USB 3.2 Gen1 connection (formerly USB 3.0) – something like that

Icy Box IB-377U3
. The versions for 2.5-inch hard drives (HDD and SSD) do not require an additional power supply and start at around 10 euros. There are also external housings for the expanded M.2 plug-in card. They differ in the internal connections SATA and PCIe and are slightly more expensive with prices starting at 15 euros.

External HDD: an enormous amount of storage at an affordable price

As with external housings, fully equipped external magnetic hard drives are divided into the size classes of 2.5 and 3.5 inches. The current maximum capacity of the large HDDs is 14 terabytes, which cost around 300 euros like the

WD Elements Desktop
. In many cases, however, this will be an exaggeration. Even for backing up several computers, external storage with 6 TB is completely sufficient, for which you are currently investing 140 euros.

With external HDDs in 2.5-inch design, the capacity limit is reached at 5 TB. They cost about 115 euros like the Seagate Expansion Portable. These devices cut a good figure, especially in mobile use, as they can be easily put in your pocket.

HDD vs. SSD in game comparison:

The ideal memory for gamers

External SSD: different form factors and Type-C versions

Data transfer is much faster than with external HDDs if there is a flash memory in the housing. Price and model differences result from the internally built-in SSD type. The external connection is handled by the twist-proof USB-C connection, which in turn supports different USB 3.2 versions.

With cheaper models, you can assume that there is a SATA SSD in the case. The flash memory is available in a 2.5-inch design and as a compact M.2 module. As a Type-C variant, USB 3.2 Gen1 is completely sufficient because the internal drive is the limiting factor. The drives are available in capacities from 250 GB to 2 TB, for which you have to calculate around 75 to 275 euros – such as for the

Sandisk Extreme Portable SSD

If the manufacturers give data transfer rates of over 1000 MB per second, you know that the case contains an NVMe SSD in M.2 form factor that is connected via PCIe. This group uses the Type-C variant 3.2 Gen2 as an external interface, as it offers enough bandwidth with 10 gigabits per second. The choice is growing here, as current PCs and notebooks now have at least one USB-C port of this type. The capacities range from 500 GB to 2 TB. It is not uncommon for you to pay close attention to the product name in order to select the correct drive. This is also the case with the aforementioned Sandisk Extreme Portable: Only the addition V2 shows that it is the M.2 NVMe version, which is currently only available with 500 GB and 1 TB. At around 150 and 240 euros, they are correspondingly more expensive. You can get cheaper with the

Transcend ESD350C
away, which you can find in stores with 960 GB for around 140 euros.

High-performance drives with USB-C 3.2 Gen2x2 form a separate group. They currently require rare high-end or game PCs in order to be able to actually achieve the promised double the speed compared to Gen2. The selection with the is accordingly manageable

WD_Black P50
and the

Seagate Firecuda Gaming SSD
. The price points are high: Even with the smallest capacity of 500 GB, the drives cost a good 150 or 170 euros (RRPs).

External NVMe SSDs with a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port also tend to be expensive. So you have to reckon with a hefty 220 euros even for a 500 GB model – for example from the

Samsung Series Portable SSD X5
. At the same time, they promise data transfer rates of up to 2800 MB per second – it doesn’t get any faster at the moment.

Price-performance tip: An external HDD housing is twice as good: It is the cheapest way to continue using the old HDD, and therefore also sustainable. With the Icy Box IB-377U3 you are already included for a good 20 euros.


Price-performance tip: An external HDD housing is twice as good: It is the cheapest way to continue using the old HDD, and therefore also sustainable. With the Icy Box IB-377U3 you are already included for a good 20 euros.

© Icy Box


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