Ever since Solid State drives (SSDs) commercially entered the market, they have gained a lot of popularity owing to their vastly improved loading and data transfer speeds over the older Hard Drives. More recently, the prices of these SSDs have shown significant reduction, which is why they are set to eventually replace Hard Drives altogether.

Now, there are two different types of SSD – Internal and External. While it may initially look like the only difference between the two is their form factor and the fact that one is more portable than another, the truth is that the internal and external SSDs differ in many aspects, including pricing, speed, and connectivity.

In this post, you’ll learn about all the differences between Internal and External SSDs, and which one is the better option out of the two.

 

Key Difference Between the Internal vs External SSD


The key difference between the internal vs external SSD is the way they connect to your computer. The internal SSDs usually connect via SATA or m.2, while the external SSDs connect through USB or eSATA.

 

Internal vs External SSD – Which One is Faster?


The short answer to this would be ‘it depends’. But, in most cases, an internal SSD would be faster than an external SSD.

Why? Here’s the complete explanation.

For an internal SSD, there are two potentially limiting factors when it comes to its transfer rate:

  1. Drive Speed
  2. Drive Interface

internal ssd

Today, a lot of internal consumer SSDs run at about 500Mbps, despite the internal SATA interface allowing for up to 6Gbps. So, it’s pretty obvious that the bottleneck here is the drive speed. In the fastest internal PCIe SSD drives, you get great speeds of up to 2,600Mbps, which is about 5 times faster. But, it’s still well below the interface’s maximum speed capability.

 

For an external SSD, on the other hand, there are three potentially limiting factors:

  1. Drive Speed
  2. Transfer Interface (USB, Thunderbolt)
  3. Drive Interface (for example, conversion of SATA to USB)

external SSD

The addition of one interface, that is, the transfer interface usually results in lower speeds of external SSDs. Since the aging USB 2.0 can only reach speeds of up to 480Mbps, an external SSD using it won’t be able to compete with the much faster internal SSDs.

However, today, with the advent of much faster transfer interfaces, like Thunderbolt (40Gbps), and USB 3.1 (10 Gbps), this bottleneck is going away. As, a result, you may get almost similar speeds in the external SSDs as their internal counterparts.

 

In nutshell, if you’re using a modern computer with USB3.1 or Thunderbolt, a standard external SSD drive is likely to be about as fast as an internal SSD drive. Otherwise, in case your computer still uses an older transfer interface, like the USB 2.0, then an external SSD would be slower than an internal SSD drive.

 

Internal vs External SSD – Price


Until a few years back, internal SSDs used to be more expensive than external ones. That was mainly because they were built with better materials and offered higher speeds. But, today, things have changed. The external SSDs are coming up with highly improved interfaces. That’s probably why the external SSDs have become more expensive than the internal SSDs.

Today, for a decent 500GB internal SSD, you’ll need to shell out around $40. But, for a similar-sized external SSD, the range starts at $80.

Check the current price of a well-known internal SSD vs another well-known external SSD.

Crucial BX500 Internal SSD – 480GB

SALE
Crucial BX500 480GB 3D NAND SATA...
  • Boot up faster. Load files quicker. Improve overall system responsiveness
  • 300% faster than a typical hard drive
  • Improves battery life because it’s 45x more energy efficient than a typical hard...

Samsung T5 Portable External SSD – 500GB

SALE
SAMSUNG T5 Portable SSD 500GB - Up...
  • Superfast read write speeds: SSD with V-NAND offers ultra-fast data transfer speeds...
  • Compact and portable design: Top to bottom shock resistant metal design fits in the...
  • Secure encryption: Optional password protection and AES 256-bit hardware encryption...

 

Why You Should Buy an Internal SSD?


If you’re on a  limited budget and don’t really need the portability that the External SSD offers, then buying an internal SSD makes sense for you. It offers you faster boot times, large storage capacity, high speeds, and multi-tasking capabilities.

 

Why You Should Buy an External SSD?


External SSDs are great for those users who are interested in gaming and want portability as an important feature of their SSD. Before buying an external SSD, you need to take a higher price into consideration. Therefore, if budget is not an issue for you, then an External SSD is definitely worth buying.

 

Tips to Speed Up Your Existing SSD


Looking to speed up your existing SSD? Here are some useful tips that will let you increase its performance:

  1. Keep around 10-15 percent space in your drive free. This will let you balance performance and storage. Writing speeds are directly affected if your drive is near or at its full capacity.
  2.  Keep your firmware updated. This helps your SSD run at peak performance and ensures that technical issues are corrected.
  3.  Most modern SSDs are designed and tested with the assumption that trim will be used on the computer’s operating systems. So, if your system doesn’t support trim, consider upgrading to one that does.
  4.  Use a self-monitoring, analysis, and reporting technology (SMART) system.

 

Final Words – Internal vs External SSD: What’s better?


To sum up, these days, there’s not much of a difference in the performance and speed of internal vs external SSDs. So, there’s no one answer as to which one is the better option. It really depends upon what model you’re buying, and what’s your use case.

The internal SSDs are cheaper, but not really portable. The external SSDs, on the other hand, are expensive but offer great flexibility. So, it’s really up to you to judge for yourself as to which one is the better option for you.

If you don’t need portability, and just want faster boot times, large storage capacity, high speeds, and multi-tasking capabilities, then an internal SSD would be sufficient for you. However, if you’re a gamer without any budget constraints, and want a portable SSD, then an external SSD is the best option for you.

 

Thanks for reading! 🙏

I hope this guide helped you learn about all the differences between an internal vs external SSD. 🙂

 

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