Upgrading your desktop or laptop to a solid-storage solution—whether that’s a traditional 2.5-inch drive or a cutting-edge M.2 one—is a quick, often inexpensive way of adding some much-needed performance to an aging system. By installing a solid-state drive (SSD) in your desktop or laptop, you can drastically reduce the amount of time files, applications, and even operating systems take to load, install, or copy versus older platter-based hard drives. As long as you have the slots, ports, or bays necessary, the amount of movies, photos, and games you can shuttle onto or off of one machine is almost limitless.
To make sure you always get the best bang for your storage buck, we here at PC Labs have developed an exhaustive testing suite. A mix of industry-standard tests, “trace-based” measures (more on what that means in a moment), and home-cooked trials, it runs each drive we review through a series of real-world and synthetic scenarios to help us determine which drives are the fastest, which are the slowest, and who falls in between.
Mind you, with SSDs, speed isn’t everything. We also evaluate drives on the basis of value for money and additional features, such as warranty, durability ratings, and supplementary software. But SSDs have become so good these days that sometimes it’s subtle things that separate an average drive from a winner.