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Best SSD For Graphic Design

By April 25, 2020June 14th, 2020No Comments

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Best SSD For Graphic Design

What Is The Best SSD For Graphic Design?

If you are a professional Graphic Designer or Video Editor, chances are you will be working with lots of large files. And if you’ve been using an HDD, you are likely sick of the long boot, file open, and read/write times. I mean, who likes waiting? Upgrading to an SSD will make working with large files way more efficient.

The good news is, with tech constantly improving, SSDs are becoming more affordable. This means you can get all the benefits of SSDs, and speed up your workflow. But with so many kinds on the market, all the specs, acronyms, compatibility, etc, it can be hard to find the best SSD to meet your needs.

In this article, I’m going to share my research and round up the best SSDs for Graphic Designers. In addition, provide a deep dive and answer some of the questions you might have regarding SSDs. This way we can arrive at the right SSD that meets your needs.

Best SSD For Graphic Design – 5 Options For Different Use Cases

Samsung 970 EVO Plus SSD

Best all-around NVMe SSD

PROS
  • Very fast for professional users
  • Acceptable cost per gigabyte
  • Multiple capacity options
  • Long warranty
CONS
  • Expensive for casual users

Specs:

  • Capacity: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
  • Form Factor: M.2 Type-2280
  • Interface (Computer Side): M.2 Type-2280
  • Bus Type: PCI Express 3.0 x4
  • NVMe Support: Yes
  • Max Sequential Read: 3500 MBps
  • Max Sequential Write: 2500 MBps
  • Terabytes Written Rating: 300 TBW
  • Warranty: 5 Years

The Samsung SSD 970 EVO is an excellent choice for designers who demand lightning-fast NVMe PCIe SSD performance. It offers a hard to match performance for the price combination. One thing to keep in mind is that the more expensive Samsung SSD 970 Pro offers three times greater read reliability. However, the 970 EVO said it may wear out after 300 TB is written. Most power users will never read that limit. Thus spending more on the 970 Pro is likely overkill.

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Samsung 970 PRO SSD 512GB

Fastest SSD For Professional Use

PROS
  • Remarkably fast for professional users
  • Highly reliable and durable
  • Hardware encryption
  • Long warranty
CONS
  • Expensive
  • Only two capacity options

Specs:

  • Capacity: 512GB, 1TB
  • Form Factor: M.2 Type-2280
  • Interface (Computer Side): M.2 Type-2280
  • Bus Type: PCI Express 3.0 x4
  • NVMe Support: Yes
  • Max Sequential Read: 3500 MBps
  • Max Sequential Write: 2700 MBps
  • Terabytes Written Rating: 1200 TBW
  • Warranty: 5 Years

The Samsung SSD 970 Pro is an amazingly fast NVMe PCIe SSD, aimed at the hardcore speed freaks such as video editors and gamers. I find it hard to recommend this drive, for a couple of reasons. First, the WD Black NVMe offers a better price per GB ratio. Second, it only has minor performance gains over its cheaper family member, the Samsung 970 EVO. The 970 Pro’s main selling point is its reliability. Which is rated at 1200 TBW (Terabytes Written), twice as much as WD Black NVMe’s 600 TBW. Overall, if you prefer Samsung as an SSD brand and need long term reliability, this is the SSD for you.

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Seagate FireCuda 510

Super Fast 970 EVO Alternative

PROS
  • Exceptionally fast sequential speeds
  • Highly reliable and durable
  • Good price
  • Long warranty
CONS
  • Only two capacity options
  • Slower than others in 4K read/write speeds

Specs:

  • Capacity: 1TB, 2TB
  • Form Factor: M.2 Type-2280
  • Interface (Computer Side): M.2 Type-2280
  • Bus Type: PCI Express 3.0 x4
  • NVMe Support: Yes
  • Max Sequential Read: 3450 MBps
  • Max Sequential Write: 3200 MBps
  • Terabytes Written Rating: 1300 TBW
  • Warranty: 5 Years

Seagate has been somewhat quiet on the M.2 NMVe SSD scene for the past couple years. But the recent introductions of the FireCuda 510, and BarraCuda 510, Seagate is now serious competition to the likes of Samsung and Western Digital. And for good reason. The FireCuda 510 is easily one of the most durable and fastest SSDs on the market today.

Originally targeting the gaming market, The Seagate FireCuda 510 offers amazing performance and value that designers can benefit from. That main selling point is value for money. This drive has the lowest cost per Gigabyte at $0.23. Which is lower than the Samsung 970 Evo at $0.35 per Gigabyte. The only drawback is the 4K read/write speeds, which is a bit lower than the competition. That aside, this is an amazing SSD for the price.

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WD Black SN750 500GB NVMe

High performance SSD that comes with or without heatsink

PROS
  • Solid performance for pro and gamer use
  • Reasonable price
  • Multiple capacity options
  • Long warranty
CONS
  • Slightly low read/write speeds compared to competition

Specs:

  • Capacity: 250 GB,  500 GB, 1TB, 2TB
  • Form Factor: M.2 Type-2280
  • Interface (Computer Side): M.2 Type-2280
  • Bus Type: PCI Express 3.0 x4
  • NVMe Support: Yes
  • Max Sequential Read: 3430 MBps
  • Max Sequential Write: 3000 MBps
  • Terabytes Written Rating: 600 TBW
  • Warranty: 5 Years

The WD Black SN750 NVMe SSD is a solid option for Graphic Designers and video editors who want NVMe SSD performance for a reasonable price. It might not have the top end read/write performance of the Samsung EVO 970 SSD. But the WD Black SN750 comes with features like a heatsink and software for power management. With a per Gigabyte price of $0.25, and a solid 5-year warranty or 600 TBW, this is an amazing SSD for creative professionals.

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Best performance for those on a bugdet

PROS
  • Amazing value for money
  • Fast sequential speeds
  • Highly reliable and durable
  • Long warranty
CONS
  • Slightly low 4K speeds compared to the competition
  • No performance software

Specs:

  • Capacity: 256 GB, 512 GB, 1TB, 2TB
  • Form Factor: M.2 Type-2280
  • Interface (Computer Side): M.2 Type-2280
  • Bus Type: PCI Express 3.0 x4
  • NVMe Support: Yes
  • Max Sequential Read: 3400 MBps
  • Max Sequential Write: 3000 MBps
  • Terabytes Written Rating: 1200 TBW
  • Warranty: 5 Years

You might be wondering what SSD brand is Addlink? And I was too. But after a ton of research, Addlink is a trusted tech company out of Taiwan who make quality storage devices. They have a track record of making storage devices for various government and mobile devices. But why is the Addlink S70 on our list? Simple, this what you buy if you want M.2 NVMe SSD performance, while on a strict budget.

There are some downsides to the Addlink S70, like slow 4K read/write speeds. But in almost every other category, this drive is equal to or better than the competition that costs more than twice as much. Overall, this level of performance for the money is amazing for those building a design PC on a budget. The Addlink S70 is a disruptor in the NVMe SSD space.

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How To Choose The Right SSD?

It’s easy enough to take our recommendations and pick up a new SSD. But we should cover a few basic concepts so that you can pick the right SSD for you. There are three important things you should know: M.2, PCI Express (PCIe), and NVMe. They all revolve around making SSDs faster and smaller.

SSD Compatibility – What Do You Need To Know?

The most important thing to consider when choosing an SSD is compatibility. Thankfully most desktop PC motherboards come with small slots meant for SSDs. These slots are referred to as M.2 slots.

Interface:

M.2 is most commonly referred to as the interface and/or slot. But there’s more to it than that. M.2 also describes the SSDs form factor. In addition, M.2 dictates the keying that allows the SSD to fit onto a motherboard.

Form Factor:

The most common size for M.2 SSDs is 22mm wide. However, lengths differ ranging from 80mm (M.2 Type-2280), and 60mm (M.2 Type-2260), and the shortest 42mm (M.2 Type-2242). The difference in size due to different computers have a smaller surface area around the motherboard. You should know your available space before you choose.

Storage capacity isn’t defined by length. However, longer SSDs have more space to house memory grids. Due to size and space of M.2 SSDs, most max out at 1TB.

You want to make sure you know what interface or connections your motherboard supports, in order to choose the right type of M.2 SSD. M.2 SSDs, depending on the type, are made to work on SATA or PCIe bus. PCIe is faster.

Bus Type:

M.2 SSD sticks, no matter what the length, are not equal. The bus type is the key specification you need to know to make sure you have compatibility. This is absolutely vital.

M.2 drives first came with SATA bus types. And you can still find SATA M.2 drives today in M.2 form factor/shape. Most M.2 slots will accept them and they are quite common.

If you are looking for higher-level speed and performance, PCIe gen 2.0 bus type is the preferred option. The latest M.2 drives support PCIe x4 which is 4 lanes of bandwidth. But if you want the most performance from M.2 PCIe, you want to look for an NVMe SSD.

What Is An NVMe SSD?

NVMe, or Non-Volatile Memory Express, is a new controller to replace the older AHCI, or Advanced Host Controller Interface. NVMe and AHCI are controllers that hard drives use to interface between the bus of a hard drive and the motherboard it’s connected to.

Where AHCI controllers and SATA bus types are not optimal with SSDs, NVMe is specifically built with SSDs performance in mind. NVMe provides lower latency and higher efficiency by using solid state’s parallelization running two thousand times more commands to and from the drive than compared to a driver operating on an AHCI controller.

Overall, if cutting edge performance is what you are looking for, you need a PCIe NVMe M.2 drive. They are becoming the norm. And the great thing for us designers is, the prices are plummeting!

SSD VS HDD – What’s The Difference?

HDD vs SSD form factor

While measured similarly in specifications, SSDs and HDDs store, and transfer data very differently. HDDs rely on spinning discs to read and write data. SSDs are, in layman’s terms, a large USB drive. They use gate transistors to record data.

HDDs are the older technology that has more moving parts. SSDs are newer and faster than HDDs. The most obvious drawback to SSDs is they are more expensive than HDDs.

Let’s take a look at the differences between SSD and HDD in greater detail:

AttributeSSD (Solid State Drive)HDD (Hard Disk Drive)
CostMore Expensive (roughy cost 2x HDD per GB)
Cheaper (roughly half the price of SSD)
CapacityMax 4TB for desktop, 1 TB for laptopsMax 10 TB for desktops, 2 TB for laptops.

Read/Write SpeedRoughly 200 MB/s and up to 500 MB/s for premium drivesRoughly 50MB/s to 120MB/s
File Opening SpeedAround 30% faster than HDD
Considerably slower than SSD
Boot-TimeRoughly 10 - 15 seconds average boot times
Roughly 25 - 45 seconds average
NoiseNo noise as there are no moving parts
Mild disc spinning and subtle clicks
VibrationNo vibration as there are no moving parts
Mild vibration from disc spinning
Power UsageLess power needed, averaging 2-3 watts
More power needed, averaging 5 - 7 watts
Heat ProducedAlmost no heat. No moving parts and low power
Not much heat. Uses more power, there are moving parts.
Failure RateMean time between failure rate of 2.0 million hours
Mean time between failure rate of 1.5 million hours
EncryptionFull Disk Encryption (FDE) Supported on some models
Full Disk Encryption (FDE) Supported on some models
MagnetismSSDs are not affected by magnetism

How much faster is SSD than HDD?

When comparing speed with SSD vs HDD there is only one winner. SSD is much faster. But how much faster is an SSD? The answer depends on which specific model of SSD and HDD you are comparing.

Generally speaking, the difference in speed between SSD and HDD is significant. Let’s go over read and write. For read speed, SSD is about 4 times faster than HDD. Write speed is close to 4 times as well, but not quite as fast.

SSD interface Types

PCIe Slots

If you opt for an SSD and want the fastest workflow possible, we should understand the different interfaces used to connect SSDs. It’s important to know SSDs come in a number of different form factors and different interface connection types. The most common are PCIe and SATA.

SATA, (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) is an interface used in computing systems for connecting a variety of components such as storage and optical drives. There have been many versions of SATA over the years. However, the most commonly used nowadays is SATA 3.x.

PCIe, (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) is an interface that can be used for connecting a variety of components, such as graphics cards and storage devices. There are quite a few generations of PCIe. Most SSDs nowadays comply with PCIe 3.0. However, some SSDs are starting to support PCIe 4.0.

Overall, both PCIe SSD and SATA SSD will give way faster storage than traditional SATA HDD.

What’s better for you will ultimately depend on the performance trade-off. For designers who need the fastest computer no matter what the cost, PCIe is the right choice. On the other hand, SATA based SSDs are perfect if you don’t want to pay a premium, but still need good performance and latency attributes.

If you want the highest level performance out of your PCIe SSD, there’s one important attribute of the PCIe interface to note. Which is, different slot sizes provide varying amounts of bandwidth. Both the slot size and PCIe version will determine total bandwidth. PCIe interfaces are available in the following sizes: x4, x8, and x16.

 PCIe 2.0PCIe 3.0
X21GB/s2GB/s
X42GB/s4GB/s
X84GB/s8GB/s
X168GB/s16GB/s

SSD vs HDD Reliability

SSDs are more reliable than HDDs because of how they are engineered. HDDs have more that can break, such as a spinning disc and actuator arms. SSDs don’t have any moving parts. Therefore, they can withstand accidental drops and temperature fluctuation.

Another way to roughly measure failure rate is MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure). But please be aware, this does not mean the drive will last what the MTBF number states. This number is the average failure rate over its lifetime.

Assuming there’s consistent temperature and no accidental drops, statistics show SSD and HDD have similar reliability numbers. However, it is difficult to compare as there are so many factors that come into play when measuring reliability. When you are picking your storage drive of choice, look for how long the warranty is.

Conclustion

In the end, choosing an SSD can be tough. Especially because the differences can be subtle. Plus all the names and abbreviations can be confusing. In the end, all the options we recommend are fast and reliable. What’s best for you will ultimately depend on your budget and performance specs you prefer.

If you are building a PC and need other parts, check here:

Other Graphic Design PC hardware reviews:

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Camden Taylor

Author Camden Taylor

Camden is Arturth's founder. A Senior Graphic Designer from the Pacific Northwest, he has a passion for art, design, and bringing people together through the creative process.

More posts by Camden Taylor