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Speedy Storage Solutions: Internal Solid State Drives

Solid state drives are the preferred internal storage solution for both laptop and desktop computers today. Internal SSDs, like all solid state drives, use NAND flash memory chips to store data without the need for moving parts. Their fast, dependable storage is key for everything from booting your operating system to playing your favorite games.

Almost all modern desktop and laptop PCs come with an internal SSD — but what if you want to upgrade yours, or you are building your own PC? That is why Micro Center offers our lineup of internal SSDs for gamers, creatives, and anyone else who needs a speedy and reliable drive.

Choosing the Best Internal SSD for You

These are some of the most important factors to consider when you are evaluating SSDs:

Form Factor: 2.5 inch and M.2 are the two major form factors of internal SSDs. The 2.5 inch form factor has a slightly larger footprint, and it typically either gets installed in a drive bay built into the PC case or mounted directly onto the case itself in a drive tray. If your PC case only has 3.5 inch drive bays, you can use an adapter to slot in a 2.5 inch drive instead. The M.2 form factor is a tiny, candy bar sized module that attaches directly to your motherboard’s PCIe interface.

Interface: Most SSDs connect either through the motherboard’s SATA connectors, its M.2 slots, or, in rare occasions, directly into a PCIe slot. SATA is more common in 2.5 inch drives, although some older motherboards and M.2 drives use SATA interface and speeds. These are older and not in common use - for the most part M.2 SSDs utilize the PCIe interface. PCIe is the norm for M.2 drives, also known as NVMe drives, after the standard they use, NVMe stands for nonvolatile memory express. The PCIe interface offers significantly faster data transfer speeds than SATA, and, as the PCIe revisions come out with faster data speeds, expect NMVe SSDs to continue to improve. The current fastest NMVe SSDs are Gen 4x4, with Gen 5 SSDs arriving sometime in 2023.

Storage Capacity: Consider the drive’s storage capacity and whether it meets your needs. As prices drop, Gen 4 2TB NVMe SSDs have quickly become the sweet spot for new system builds and upgrades.

Read / Write Speeds: These are some of the most important performance metrics for an SSD, since reading and writing data is what an SSD does all day long. Higher speeds generally mean better performance, although note that other factors such as your motherboard can affect whether a drive’s performance matches its benchmark. Most customers do more than one thing at a time - because of this, experts recommend looking at the random write IOPS as the best gauge for multitasking performance – the higher, the better.

Data Migration and Performance Monitoring Software: many of the top manufacturers of SSDs and flash include Data Migration Software and Performance Monitoring software with their SSDs. If you want easily to set your system up from an older PC, or simply want to make sure your system is running at peak performance, buy an SSD that includes these.

MTBF, TBW: You want your new SSD to last. All SSD manufacturers include specifications for MTBF or mean time between failure, TBW or terabyte written, basically, how many terabytes of data can be written to the SSD before it will fail. Larger numbers are better here.

Chip Type, DRAM / DRAMless: Most manufacturers will tell you the chip type - QLC vs TLC vs MLC. All else being equal, MLC can be written to the most, then TLC and QLC is the least. Some manufactures don’t include a DRAM buffer on SSDs. This is simply a cost saving measure. While it can make it a bit slower performance, check the rest of the SSD specifications to see if it is right for you.

Shop Micro Center’s full selection of internal SSDs here and explore our best prices on top brands like Samsung, Western Digital, Crucial, and more. Or, browse all of our data storage solutions for tons of additional options, including external SSDs and bulk storage HDDs.

Hard Drives and Data Storage for Your Most Important Files

Even in the age of streaming and cloud storage, all computers still need a primary local storage device. This type of storage must use non volatile memory, meaning it retains its data even when the computer is powered off, and must store the data in the end users location rather than in the cloud. In most systems, this is known as the hard drive.

Although the term hard drive technically means a traditional hard disk drive or HDD with a spinning magnetic disk, it is commonly used to mean all kinds of data storage devices, including todays hugely popular solid state drives or SSDs. SSDs use NAND flash memory with no moving parts, making them both faster and more resilient than traditional HDDs — although HDDs have advantages of their own, including lower prices.

Some users only need a fast and reliable internal drive for their computer, while others need high capacity external drives for storing multiple terabytes of bulky files.

Businesses, meanwhile, often need even higher storage capacity drives for their network attached storage or NAS systems, which use multiple drives to provide access to data across a local network and may use a redundant configuration called a RAID array. Whether you are looking for an SSD or HDD, internal or external, you will find the right option for you in Micro Centers extensive selection of storage drives.

Choosing Your Data Storage Solution

Considering these factors will make it easier to find the right data storage solution:

SSD vs. HDD: SSDs are the most popular choice for storage because they are extremely reliable and offer high speed performance on everyday tasks. HDDs, meanwhile, offer solid reliability in less strenuous environments and tons of storage space for an affordable price. See our SSD vs. HDD guide for more key information on this important choice.

Data Transfer Speed: The speed at which a hard drive moves data to or from a device can matter a lot, especially if you often send files to an external drive. If transfer speed is a priority on your external drive, look for USB 3.0 drives or higher, which offer faster speeds as long as your computer ports also support USB 3.0.

Interface: Most internal HDDs and some internal SSDs use the classic SATA interface, which attaches via a SATA port on your motherboard. SSDs might also use the newer NVMe format, which offers faster speeds but is not present on all motherboards. External hard drives almost always use either a USB A or USB C connector.

Form Factor: Pay attention to the physical size and shape of your drive, especially if it is an internal hard drive. Many newer SSDs, for example, use the slim M.2 design, while others may use the larger 2.5 inch form factor. HDDs, meanwhile, may use either 2.5 inch or 3.5 inch bays. Remember to check whether your motherboard includes an M.2 slot or the bay size of your computer or NAS server box.

Operating System: Some SSDs and HDDs are designed for compatibility specifically with Windows or macOS. This also matters for file formatting since you might have to reformat your drives storage system if it uses a file format that is not compatible with your OS.

Data Recovery and Backup: Some manufacturers offer data recovery options if your drive fails. Check the drives warranty and specs to learn about the conditions and capacities of each data recovery service. Of course, the best option is to create robust backups to minimize your risk of data loss in the first place, and we highly recommend using an external drive or cloud backup service to back up any local storage volume.

Micro Centers hard drive selection includes all of the top names in computer hard drives like Western Digital, Seagate, Samsung, Toshiba, and more. Find great deals on your data storage solution here, or check out our lineup of SD cards and USB flash drives for more storage options that perform whenever and wherever you need them.

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