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Choosing the correct laptop SSD

When selecting a laptop solid-state drive (SSD) what are the most important specs to pay attention to?

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Most internal laptop SSDs are multi-level cell, 2.5-inch form factor and Serial ATA (SATA). Outside of looking for desired size, the key specifications to look at are the built-in intelligence for performance and data protection, such as:

  • TRIM support: Command that allows the OS to inform an SSD what blocks of data are no longer considered in use, and can therefore be wiped internally.
  • Native Command Queuing (NCQ): This feature was developed to improve sequential performance. SSDs are able to distribute read and write operations across the available channels efficiently. This can result in significant performance improvement and ensures the drive has commands to process while the host system is busy processing CPU tasks. This can queue up to 32 commands.
  • Error Correction Code (ECC): Can detect and correct the most common kinds of internal data corruption.
  • Flash bad-block management: Maps bad cells on the drive and avoids storing data in those areas.
  • Dynamic and static wear leveling: Used to extend the life of SSDs by making sure all cells wear evenly by distributing write/erase cycles evenly among all cells in the devices.

This was first published in July 2013

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