When choosing a hard drive for your computer, the two most common options are hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs). SSDs are typically faster than HDDs and this is why they have become so popular in the past few years, especially among gamers and content creators. The question becomes if SSDs are so fast, what speeds should you consider when getting one for your computer?
SATA, M.2, and NVMe
You will see the three terms SATA, M.2, and NVMe used when discussing SSDs. First, an SSD is a drive that uses flash memory and thus does not have any moving parts in it. These drives have a form factor, which dictates their shape and size, and an interface through which they connect to a motherboard.
SATA (Serial ATA) and NVMe (non-volatile memory express) are both transfer protocols for SSDs, although SATA is also highly used as the transfer protocol for HDDs. M.2 is an SSD form factor for small and impact SSDs. The other form factor is a 2.5-inch drive.
You can have both SATA and NVMe SSDs, but NVMe is much faster than SATA, which is why it is used for most M.2 SSDs. NVMe has a theoretical speed of up to 20Gbps, while SARA SSDs max out at around 6GBPs.
SSD Speeds for Gamers
Ideally, gamers should choose NVMe M.2 SSDs for their systems because of how fast and compact they are. Because of their small form factor, NVMe M.2 SSDs are used in most modern gaming laptops, although you can still buy SATA M.2 SSDs for your gaming computer.
The main advantages of these faster drives are faster boot times and game launch times. This is because the computer can pull a lot more information out of the storage drive in a short period.
However, you need to know that an SSD does not make much difference when playing the game once all the files are loaded. The game may need to load extra files during gameplay, but these are typically smaller files, and most games have a cap on how fast these assets are loaded anyway.
For loading games, anything above 3500 MB/S is fine, and at least 1000 MB/S during gameplay will be great.
Drives Speeds for Productivity and Professional Workflows
Any application where you have to load, save and work with a lot of files will benefit from the faster speeds of an SSD. For example, music producers, video editors and graphic designers benefit greatly from having faster drives on their computers.
Even though their work relies on the GPU and CPU, being able to access and save files faster saves a lot of time. Scrubbing content such as videos or audio files is also smoother if the drive can keep up.
Lastly, exports are much faster on computers with faster drives. This includes vectors, video clips, samples and other materials used in the project.
The recommended speed here is at least 3000 MB/S which should allow smooth 4K video editing.
The speed of your drive is crucial when loading games and accessing files for productivity reasons. Try to get drives which are as fast as possible, ideally, NVMe drives that support multiple lanes for the fastest speeds.