We all know the mighty step technology took with the introduction of NAND based SSDs to replace the inefficient solution of the time, the HDD. However, if you’ve kept up with our remarks about the different kinds of SSD available today, or if you’ve just kept up with technology in general, you’d know the diversity in interface, form factor and other factors always makes the final go ahead a difficult decision. So as far as SSD versions go for CAD and gaming enthusiasts, let’s have a head to head.
What to look for?
This is an integral part to any effort of a kit being put together. The interface allows the device to connect with your motherboard or a peripheral device otherwise. For SSDs today, SATA III and PCIe are the more commonly known of the 4 new categories. SATA III allows backward compatibility while the upgraded interface allows transfers of up to 500Mbps. The PCIe interface also allows you to use the standard PCIe interface on your motherboard which is a much wider bank than required by the PCIe SSD drives.
This in turn means, no upgrade in hardware is required. For gamers and CADers, this pretty much boils down to your own preferences. For CADers and gamers both, the first criteria will be your existing hardware if you’re upgrading. If putting a rig together from scratch, then the options open up. The second criteria would be your transfer requirements. For a gamer, once the game is loaded, the memory is the key player, while the storage takes a backseat. For CADers, every time an assembly or part is loaded, the memory modules will be summoned. In light of this, CADers need to take a much closer look at their options before making an investment whereas gamers can get away with either of the two.
There is no doubt to the proverbial analogy “the more sugar you add, the sweeter it gets” and the same applies to tech hardware. If you want more space, just pay more. But with SSD technology, the relative cost of physical memory has definitely come down. Coupled with the fact that the advancement did not just increase space, it also offered lightning fast speeds compared to what was previously available. As with the interfacing, the gamer may not need to think about this option that much, because once you have your game installed, the most space that you need is for saving games or adding maps etc. For professional, semi-professional or pro-like hobbyists, larger projects that require the entire project to be archived for future references will need more space, obviously.
If you’re the kind of hobbyist who will create models and host online warehouses then any of the 1TB drives should be your first option for a base/master drive. This should host your OS, CAD package and anything else static enough for you to use it without changing it (OS base libraries, installation folders for programs etc.). Right after this, another drive to hold your documents, vacation pictures, FLACs and of course your design models (or saved missions if you’re a gamer) will do a great job of keeping your volatile and important data apart from one another, while offering you enough space for soft upgrades of any sort.
Even though it is not necessary for gamers to follow the same routine, contemporary computing practices have proven having separate logical drives on the same physical drive allow easy maintenance through a clean installation over the system’s logical drive, without effecting the documents. Same goes for separate physical disks for different kinds of data.
In terms of form factors, M.2 and U.2 are the new hype. Whereas M.2 is built with mobility and portability in mind, its main focus was to incorporate portability with interfacing diversity. Behold, the M.2 category of SSD was born. On the other hand, the U.2 devices were developed with interfacing diversity as an inherent trait of the technology, while specifically targeting mobile devices such as tables and smart phones. Just to clear up any ambiguity, the U.2 specification does not consider laptops as “mobile devices”. This last line should clear up what possible sizes the developers were targeting when developing this version of SSD.
Lastly, while talking about form factors, the casing you use for your system unit will also be a factor of influence. Many casings have movable mounts which allow you to take the fans or other peripheral trays to make more space for other devices. Many casings, with ROG certifications will have similar functionality specifically targeting M.2/U.2 SSDs for expansion purposes.
As talked about above, hot swapping is not something that gamers or CADers need often, but may come in handy. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s the ability to disconnect a device from the computer (pull out the card from the motherboard) without having to shut the whole thing down. Also, as with RAM, Electrical Error Checker (EEC) is now being introduced into market products. Following this, the new interface options have adapters available so that you can use an M.2 specification based device on a U.2 specification based interface (hardware compatibility at the cost of performance).
As is clear with the above argument, whether CADer or gamer, the decision you make will be solely yours having stemmed from your requirements and preferences. For people wanting to upgrade, look at the existing hardware and your software (package/game) requirements. For people putting together new rigs, look out for the latest in the tech world, because these devices are being upgraded day in and day out. Lastly, with these developments, as discussed with the casings above, specifications of devices allow standardization across the globe, so referring to labels and marked stamps on such products always give you a heads up without having to buy or open the pack. Keep all this in mind when shopping, and don’t forget to let us know what you bought and why!