IT decision makers have two choices when their systems get to a certain age: they can upgrade their existing systems, or buy new ones. Upgrading is usually the more cost-effective option.

Why SSD?

Adding a solid state drive (SSD) to an existing system can increase the system speed substantially — often more than a CPU upgrade or increasing RAM beyond 16GB. With new systems, SSDs are generally the norm, but picking the right type can optimize system performance without increasing costs unnecessarily.

SSDs offer substantial advantages over hard disk drives (HDDs) in virtually every category except acquisition price. With no moving parts, random I/O is no more difficult than sequential I/O, throughput is 10-100 times an HDD’s, power requirements are lower, and SSDs can tolerate higher temperatures and vibration levels than HDDs.

SSD Tiers: Choosing the Right SSD for Your Needs

There are many levels of SSDs, from consumer-grade drives, to workstation-grade SSDs, to several types of enterprise-class SSDs, both SATA and NVMe units. Their performance levels vary drastically. Lower-end SATA SSDs feature typical performance ranges to 100-500MB/s, while enterprise-class NVMe SSDs boast up to 5,000MB/s. Meanwhile, IOps range from 20,000-100,000 for consumer-class SSDs to 50,000-250,000 for workstation-class, with enterprise-class SSDs topping out at 250,000+ IOps.

Here’s a rundown of the advantages for each tier of SSD performance:

1. Consumer

Even consumer-grade SSDs like the Samsung 860 PRO and 860 EVO provide performance beyond the best that hard drives can offer in both transfer rates and IOps, as well as lower power usage and heat generates. They are generally used in PCs, laptops and other devices that operate eight hours a day, five days a week, in standard desktop applications.

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If you don’t need the 24/7 endurance or ultra-high transfer speeds and IOps of the higher-level SSDs, the relatively low cost of consumer-grade devices can save you quite a bit of money. However, using consumer-grade SSDs in servers — especially in 24/7 applications — may void the warranty and lead to premature failure.

2. Workstation

Workstation-class SSDs like the Samsung 970 PRO and 970 EVO offer 5-6 times the performance of consumer-grade devices, and better endurance as well — though not quite the ability to handle the heavy loads and 24/7 writes that enterprise-grade SSDs are capable of. They are commonly used in heavy-duty workstations that create and edit photos and videos, process big data and regularly need to move loads of data through the system in short periods of time.

3. Enterprise

For enterprise applications, there is often a requirement for sustained reads and writes at full speed — an app can be accessed from many different countries around the world, so even at 2 a.m. EST, there are offices in Europe or Asia writing data to the system. Enterprise-grade SSDs like the Samsung SM863a and PM863a for write- and read-heavy applications, respectively, can handle the load — even over an extended service life of 3-5 years.

These SSDs are used for server applications like database processing, AI, big data, e-commerce and real-time applications, where IOps and throughput are critical, and applications run 24/7.

4. CDNs

In some special situations, like content delivery networks (CDNs), write performance is not critical. In these cases, a specialized SSD like the Samsung 860DCT may deliver the best balance of read performance, high reliability and low thermal load. The 860DCT is based on the 860EVO consumer drive, but with the controller and software optimized for enterprise applications.

The necessary first step is to determine the requirements of your application and match those to the drive type. Considering the volume of reads and writes, throughput and IOps, reliability, thermal load, operating temperature and power usage will all help you narrow down the right drive for your business needs.

Explore our full line of award-winning enterprise SSDs to find the best solution for your business.

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Logan Harbaugh

Logan Harbaugh is an IT consultant and reviewer. He has worked in IT for over 20 years, and was a senior contributing editor with InfoWorld Labs as well as a senior technology editor at Information Week Labs. He has written reviews of enterprise IT products including storage, network switches, operating systems, and more for many publications and websites, including Storage Magazine,, StateTech, Information Week, PC Magazine and He is the author of two books on network troubleshooting.

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