Solid State Drives (SSDs) are a great way to improve the performance of any PC, but unfortunately not all are the same even talking beyond the generation or its interface. One of the biggest differences that we can find between all the different SSD units on the market is if they have built-in DRAM , an element that can go unnoticed at the time of purchase but that significantly affects their performance. In this article we are going to tell you about the differences between an SSD with DRAM or DRAM-Less , and of course when it would be advisable to buy one or the other.
No matter what form factor you are considering (2.5 ″ or M.2) or what generation or type of interface it has (SATA, PCIe), all SSDs may or may not have DRAM. The fact of having this element can significantly increase the price of the device, so it is worth knowing if it is something that you are going to use or if it is going to be noticed in terms of performance, for which we are going to tell you everything below. .
What is DRAM in an SSD and what is it used for?
As we have said before, regardless of the type of SSD you plan to buy, it may or may not have onboard DRAM (in the latter case, they are rightly considered DRAM-Less (which simply means “no DRAM”)). It is important that when choosing your next SSD you tell yourself in this section, since in fact not all manufacturers explicitly denote it and assume that if they do not indicate that they have DRAM or cache, the user will understand that they are DRAM-Less .
SSDs store data in memory cells known as NAND Flash; Over the life of the SSD, data moves quite a bit through these cells automatically to ensure that no memory cell is wasted too much due to repeated read / write operations, and as a result an SSD needs to keep a kind of map of where the data is located inside the drive.
This is necessary so that when a program is running, a game or when you want to open a file, the SSD controller knows exactly where to find it so that it can be opened quickly. And, as you may already assume, this “map” is located in the drive’s DRAM memory. Obviously, this type of memory is of dynamic random access, and it behaves the same as the PC’s RAM memory but for specific and exclusive use for the controller, so its use increases the cost of manufacturing the device.
The advantages and disadvantages of having onboard DRAM memory
Solid state drives with a DRAM chip offer better performance than SSDs without it. This is because DRAM is much faster than NAND Flash memory, and instead of making the PC have to search the SSD for the relevant data, it will simply have to query the DRAM to find it. As a result, the PC will not have to wait long for the SSD to retrieve the data it needs, resulting in a much faster user experience for the end user.
DRAM-free SSDs store the data map directly in the device’s NAND Flash memory, and as we mentioned earlier this is much slower than DRAM, resulting in slower performance or, more specifically, latency greater access to data. Additionally, storing the map data directly in NAND Flash memory results in increased wear and tear on the drive’s memory cells, reducing their longevity. This is generally the reason why DRAM-Less solid state devices have a shorter warranty period.
However, just because DRAM-Less devices have some drawbacks compared to those that do have these chips does not mean that you should automatically discard them. In the first place, DRAM-free SSDs are almost always cheaper since their production cost is considerably lower, and secondly, while a DRAM-free SSD has higher access times than one that does (so in Generally speaking, their performance is inferior), these devices are still quite fast, especially when compared to a traditional mechanical hard disk.
Therefore, if you intend to upgrade from a mechanical hard drive to a solid state drive and your budget is low, you can still opt for a DRAM-Less SSD because you will have a good performance increase and you will save a lot of money on the purchase. , since as we have explained they are much cheaper to manufacture and therefore their sale price is also lower.
What type of SSD to buy according to use
Considering the fact that SSDs with DRAM have better performance and a longer lifespan, it is definitely a good idea to look when buying your next SSD and make sure it has a DRAM cache. That said, you shouldn’t rule out DRAM-free solid-state devices either as long as you are aware of the limitations inherent in these that we discussed earlier.
DRAM-free SSDs are less expensive, which means they can be a very inexpensive way to inject new life into an old machine or to have a large capacity for computers whose storage use does not require high performance but high capacity.
In other words, if what you want is an SSD that is as fast as possible and that lasts for a long time, then there is no doubt that you should look for one that has integrated DRAM, but if the use that you are going to give the device It is light, more for mass storage than to run games or applications, so you can save a lot of money by purchasing a DRAM-Less SSD, since you can find higher capacity drives at a lower price and they will still have a fairly decent performance even so.