How Does DRAM Affect SSD Performance? - PC SEEKERS

How Does DRAM Affect SSD Performance?

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It makes sense, in a few cases, to skimp on the price of a product that you are going to purchase to save a few bucks. Like getting a keyboard or a case/cabinet without RGB, a CPU without integrated graphics or a motherboard without integrated WiFi. There is also a breed of SSDs on the market that follow a similar philosophy. Yes, DRAM-less SSDs. These SSDs without DRAM are sold at a lower price point than most other models.

Also Read: Why Is Choosing A Motherboard So Confusing?

But why would an SSD need it's own RAM? Well to answer that, SSDs store data at physical locations just like HDDs, most people don't know this but the data is not stagnant in an SSD as in a HDD, it keeps moving around quite a bit from one flash memory cell to another. This is to protect the flash memory cells from wearing out faster than the others. It is a protective strategy called Wear Leveling.

Image credits: Transcend

Most SSDs, in order to know where the data is physically located on the drive at that point of time, keep a map of sorts that actively tracks where everything is. This data map, is usually kept on a DRAM chip because DRAM is much faster than the NAND Flash that the SSD uses for data storage.

                                                                        Image credits: Kingston 


Keeping the map on DRAM also results in better performance because it's faster speed means that the OS won't have to wait around as long for the SSD to locate the desired data.


Also Read: Looking At Failure Rates of GPUs - AMD & NVIDIA

However, it is obviously possible to eliminate DRAM entirely and keep this data map either on a main flash memory itself or copy it to your system RAM after you turn your computer on. As we said early, an SSD without DRAM tends to be cheaper than the one that has it. But cheap does not necessarily mean better value at all times. If all you are looking for is better than a hard drive performance for the least possible amount of money, then the DRAM-less SSDs make sense but use caution if you start looking at DRAM-less SSDs. That is because, it turns out that it takes so long for the SSD locate data, performance on DRAM-less SSDs is often slower than it is on SSDs that come with DRAM on them. Drives without DRAM can also cause stuttering issues. Specially for random read/write performance, which takes up the bulk of average user experience as most tasks like web browsing and OS processes rely heavily on random read/write performance.

It is also worth noting that DRAM-less SSDs have a shorter warranty period compared to a conventional SSD. It is due to the data map being stored on the NAND flash which causes more wear on the drive, so it will be slower and might possibly die sooner.


So to conclude, it is better to find an inexpensive SSD with a DRAM cache chip on it. In most cases you don't end up saving that much money anyway.

Cost of DRAM-less SSD: Rs. 2,853/-
Cost of SSD with DRAM: Rs. 3,620/-

Do let us know which SSD you are rocking in your PC, or which SSD you are going to get for your future PC build down in the comments section below.

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