A Solid State Drive (SSD) is gradually become popular among people and particularly the game enthusiasts as they become faster and cheaper. SSDs are a good replacement for HDDs where the speed is the main factor. Not long ago, hard drives where the main bottleneck to a system where users have to wait a few minutes for operating system and some games to load into the memory but today's SATA solid drives can transfer data at blazing speed of 550 MB/s.
Solid state drives use NAND flash memory to store data. NAND flash memory is designed in various architecture, the three main type which are used in consumer SSDs are SLC (Single-Level Cell), MLC (Multi-Level Cell), eMLC (Enterprise Multi-Level Cell) and TLC (Triple-Level Cell). The SLC SSDs have more lifespan and better data transfer throughout but they are more expensive to manufacture and usually aimed at enterprise level use. eMLC drives also aimed at enterprise use because they are built with better controller than MLC drives and deliver better performance and lifespan. MLC drives are the sweet spot between SLC and TLC SSDs, as they are cheaper to build and deliver good read/write transfer rate and last longer than TLCs.
SSDs come in different interface such as SATA, SATA-Express, PCI-Express, M.2 and NVMe. The bandwidth limit of SATA interface (theoretically 750MB/s transfer rate of for SATA III) forced the manufacturers to develop and design new interfaces for SSD drives. This is where M.2 and NVMe interfaces were introduced to provide faster data transfer rate.
What to look for when shopping for SSD?
The very first thing you need to know is that the SSDs will not increase the frames-per-second in the game but they will load the games into memory a lot quicker than conventional hard drives.
There are a few important factors that should be considered when shopping for solid state drives. Before you purchase the drive, look for size per dollar, MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures, which is the average time a device will function before failing), IOPS (Input/Outputs Operations per second), which usually shows the maximum random or sequential read/write speed (for certain file size), sequential read/write speed in MB/s and latency (Access time).
Bear in mind that, IOPS and data throughput speed are usually measured by a single operation test (for example random or sequential 4K read/write test), but in reality, SSDs can only keep the same advertised IOPS or read/write transfer speed for a short time only, as the workload time increases, file access time and data transfer rate decreases. This becomes obvious when certain applications need to access the files more often (particularly database files). Also, bear in mind that every game or application have multiple block size of files so the advertised IOPS or data transfer rate will vary depending on the file size.