Best SSDs for Video Editing: Internal and External (Tested & Reviewed in 2021)
By: Bohdan Chub | 09.12.2020, 21:08
If you’re a video editor, getting a good SSD for your system is crucial. The Fast SSD will significantly speed up the processing of footage and can increase overall performance and reduce game loading time. If you do not want to upgrade your computer's storage, a suitable portable SSD will solve your problem too. In this guide we will consider the best storage solutions for any budget.
We will cover both internal and external SSDs. No matter which type you choose, we got you covered with two best options:
The internal SSDs are cheaper, can perform better than portable models and are available in higher capacities. To upgrade your storage, you'll need to get inside your machine, but that's not always possible (and can void the warranty).
Portable external SSDs, on the contrary, can be used out of the box. They allow an easy switch between different devices and can help when you run out of space on internal drives, which may eventually happen.
Now let's examine each category in more detail with its top representatives.
With Samsung T5 you get a perfect balance of speed, portability and versatility. It will allow you to handle video editing and other intensive activities on the go. This portable SSD works on almost any device with a USB-A or USB-C port, and your data can be protected with a password. The metal case is accidental drops proof. Highly recommended!
With its slim profile, Samsung T5 fits easily into your pocket. The drive uses a quick USB Type-C connection and also works with full-sized USB-A ports (both cables included). Based on tests that show data transfer rates close to the claimed 540MB/s, the T5 does not suffer a significant performance drop-off when writing large files thanks to TurboWrite technology. In such tasks, it surpasses the newer Samsung T7 model. In addition, the T5 can be used as an external storage for Black Magic Pocket Cinema Cameras. The rugged metal case can withstand drops from a height of up to two meters. The AES 256-bit hardware encryption function allows you to keep your data safe. In addition to Black, Samsung T5 Portable SSD is also available in Red, Blue and Gold colors.
The SanDisk Extreme V2 combines rugged design with solid performance. Compared to the first generation, reading and writing speeds have almost doubled to 1050 MB/s and 1000 MB/s respectively. SanDisk has also moved from 128-bit to 256-bit hardware encryption for better security. The drive is IP55-rated for water and dust resistance (which means it can withstand rain and spills, but not being submerged) and features protection from drops from the height of up to 2 meters. Rubberized casing is durable and is easy to grip. For better convenience you can clip SanDisk Extreme to a bag with a carabiner. It is perfect for in-the-field use.
Samsung X5 is one of the fastest portable SSD in the market. Thanks to the Thunderbolt 3 interface and installed inside the 970 EVO NVMe SSD, serial reading speed reaches 2800 MB/s, with writes close to 2300 MB/s. In real life, average readings can be noticeably slower. With intensive use, X5 becomes warm and Dynamic Thermal Guard technology slows down the controller frequency to avoid overheating. However, the ability to transmit gigabytes of data in a matter of seconds looks impressive. Just keep in mind that Samsung X5 is not backwards compatible with Thunderbolt 2 and it doesn't work with USB. The magnesium alloy case can withstand drops from heights up to two meters.
According to the manufacturer, ADATA SE800 provides speed up to 1000 MB/s. In reality the sequential writing speed tops around 950 MB/s and fast drops to 700-600 MB/s, which is also not bad for this price. The drive is very compact and lightweight, and the brushed metal surface feels more premium. The SE800 has IP68 rate for dust and water protection. The drive will continue to operate even after 30 minutes at a depth of 1.5 meters. Just make sure that the rubber flap covering USB Type-C port is in place. If you're on a budget, the 512GB model may be the best option.
The Samsung 970 EVO Plus is a high-speed and reliable M.2 SSD, suitable for both laptops and desktops. With its robust features you get security and fast transfers even when processing large files. Samsung software makes it easy to clone data from an old drive. Highly recommended!
Samsung 970 EVO Plus is one of the company's first SSDs, which uses 96-layer memory TLC 3D V-NAND. It's extremely fast, providing write speeds up to 3.2-3.3 GB/s (if your motherboard supports PCI-Express 3.0 x4). For large video files, sustained speeds that exceed 1.5 GB/s are just as important for 1TB and 2TB versions. 970 EVO Plus comes with hardware-based encryption to keep your data safe. The drive has no overheating issues. Dynamic Thermal Guard technology helps maintain optimal temperatures without sacrificing performance. Branded software also allows you to copy all your data from your old drive.
Crucial MX500 is available in both M.2 and 2.5-inch forms. The latter is the cheapest option to upgrade your PC (or a laptop with a spare drive bay). MX500 is a good performer for a SATA-based drive, with reads/writes reaching 560/510 MB/s. The only potential problem is endurance: the value for Terabytes Written (TBW) is on average 40% lower than the mentioned Samsung 970 EVO Plus. At the same time, the 2TB version is designed to record 380GB of data every day for 5 years. So the general recommendation is to buy the drive with the highest capacity you can afford.
Samsung 860 PRO SSD can handle heavy workloads at ease. It's equipped with 2-bit MLC V-NAND, which has a much better write endurance compared to TLC chips (e.g., 1200 TBW for 1TB model). Due to the SATA interface, the maximum write speed is limited to 530MB/s, but it remains constant for long writes. The drive is available in the traditional 2.5-inch form factor and can be installed in virtually any PC or Mac. Its price may seem high. But if you are a professional, working with 4K higher resolution videos, you know that extra cost will also give you higher reliability.
XPG Gammix S50 Lite is an entry-level PCIe Gen4 NVMe drive with a highly competitive price. It offers maximum read/write speeds of 3.9/3.2 GB/s. Once the SLC cache is full, performance is reduced to 450 MB/s, although with the 2TB option you will only notice this when writing very large files from 350GB. In most scenarios S50 Lite works just as well as more expensive SSDs. The drive is equipped with an aluminum heat spreader to cool things down, resulting in a 20% drop in temperature under load. The 256-bit AES encryption algorithm is also supported.
If you are looking for an SSD with the highest write speed, WD Black SN850 will give you exactly that. WD's flagship NVMe SSD is much closer to fully utilizing the PCIe 4.0 interface. Sequential read performance tops out at 7GB/s while writing speed is up to 5.3 GB/s (1TB model). The drive is exceptionally good at dealing with large files, but gets hot under load. There is no thermal throttling happening, although a beefy heat spreader won't hurt. The company released the RGB-enabled heatsink model in the first quarter of 2021. The WD Dashboard software can activate the game mode, which turns off power-saving features for maximum performance. While designed for gamers in mind, the SN850 is also great for creatives.
Future-proof PCIe Gen 4 standard
Gamer friendly features
No hardware encryption support
Even the simplest SSD will be faster than an old hard drive in everyday use. Choosing a storage device for video editing is more complicated and there are several important things to consider.
How to Choose a Suitable SSD
Internal SSDs use different hardware connections and software interfaces. Read the specification of your laptop or motherboard to determine which drives are compatible with your system.
They come in several standardised sizes called form factors:
2.5-inch SATA: These drives look like a normal hard drive and can therefore be installed into a standard 2.5" bay or a 3.5" bay using an adapter. The SATA (Serial ATA) interface allows sequential read speeds of up to 560 MB/s and 530MB/s for writing operations.
M.2: Compact SSDs have become the standard for laptops, but M.2 slots can also be found in desktop motherboards. Drives of this type are only 22 mm wide and up to 80 mm long (sizes are specified in four or five-digit code, for example, M.2 2280 or M.2 2242). M.2 SSDs can work over SATA or PCI Express interfaces. The latter are much faster and typically support NVMe, a protocol designed specifically for SSDs.
The M.2 slot in your device can only accept SATA or NVMe drives. Sometimes it supports both types, so be sure to check your PC or laptop's manual before buying.
Add-in Card (AIC) are inserted into PCIe expansion slot on the motherboard. They can be the optimal choice for applications that require high capacity and maximum data transfer rate under long load conditions. The fact is that due to the large size of the AICs, more memory chips can be installed and provide good cooling. For such SSDs there is not always enough space, and the high price makes them a niche product.
U.2 SSDs are slightly thicker than 2.5-inch drives. This form factor produces high-performance, high-capacity enterprise NVM drives.
When choosing an external SSD, remember that most Thunderbolt 3 drives do not work with regular USB-C and full-sized USB-A ports. However, when connected to compatible devices, they are significantly faster than USB 3 SSDs.
The Difference Between SLC, MLC, TLC, and QLC Flash Memory
SSD uses flash memory, also known as NAND (or 3D V-NAND when multiple planar layers are stacked one after another). Each cell can store not one but several bits (0 or 1) at once. The more of these bits, the higher the information density, but simultaneously the memory resource goes down. There are four main memory types in total.
4 Memory Types
SLC (Single-Level Cell). Only one bit of data is stored in each SLC cell. This type of memory provides maximum data transfer rate and high reliability, but due to its low density it has been pushed out by new storage technologies.
MLC (Multi-Layer Cell). It is used in some Samsung drives. MLC cell stores two bits of information, the advantages are high endurance rating and strong sustained writing performance.
TLC (Triple-Level Cell) is the most common memory type in modern SSDs. Due to its high density, it allows to create relatively inexpensive solutions with high capacity. Lower speed compared to MLC manufacturers solve in different ways. One of them - SLC-cache, when a small amount of memory runs in single bit data storage mode. Once the cache is full, performance is reduced, although the flagship PCIe Gen 4 drives and Kioxia Exceria Plus SSD remain fast even in TLC mode.
QLC (Quad-Level Cell) will result in an even more capacious and affordable SSDs by storing 4 bits per cell. But QLC speeds are on average lower. And with the constant recording of large volumes of data (as with video editing) such drives will degrade more quickly.
SSD VS HDD for Video Editing
Switching from a hard drive to an SSD will have almost no effect on rendering time, but it will make your work more efficient. Loading the program and source files, exporting video, and transferring files from the camera will all take less time. A faster SSD will provide more responsive scrubbing and better timeline navigation, especially when you have multiple streams of footage. Professionals can also benefit from using an SSD as a scratch disk, where temporary data are stored. And a high-capacity HDD is still a good option for storing projects when you finish editing.
What is SSD Endurance?
Manufacturers usually specify the Terabytes Written (TBW) parameter in the specifications. It is the total amount of terabytes data that an SSD can write before it is estimated to fail. SSDs often exceed this limit, but for the video editing storage the higher TBW value is the better. If you are working with very large amounts of data, it is worth considering Samsung drives with 2-bit MLC memory.
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