Why Are SSD Prices Suddenly Plummeting?

For years SSD prices were annoyingly stable. Anyone looking to buy an SSD could rely on prices that hadn’t budged much since launch. Sure, you would see the occasional sale, but ongoing price drops for older drives were nowhere to be found.

Suddenly, that’s all changed. SSD prices are dropping like a stone. What gives? Is now the best time to buy an SSD?

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The cause of this price drop is, as always, supply and demand. For some time, the supply of SSDs was restricted based on a shortage of available flash memory. But now, most fabs have completed the transition to 64-layer 3D TLC NAND flash memory. This new NAND technology allows for denser storage and faster drives, increasing drive speed and capacity.

However, these new drives take time to make, and old drives don’t just disappear. Retailers still have a substantial stockpile of SSDs using the previous generation’s 32-layer 3D TLC NAND flash memory.

As such, prices are being slashed on SSDs with last-generation technology, including older but still excellent 32-layer 3D TLC NAND. Newer 64-layer NAND brings improvement to performance and power efficiency, but older 32-layer technology is inexpensive enough to provide compelling deals.

When you hear about price drops, it’s important to keep perspective in mind. A decrease of a few dollars probably won’t change your purchasing behavior. But a drop of a significant percentage of price can send you reaching for your wallet.

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Using Camelcamelcamel¬†we can see that SSD prices have plunged for the top selling SSDs on Amazon. The top seller, the Samsung EVO 860 500GB, has dropped 30 percent from its price at launch, a decrease of more than $50. If we look at a more recent stable price back in the spring, the drive’s price is still down more than 10 percent.

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Other popular drives see similar decreases. In the last six months the WD Blue 500GB SSD has dropped $51 dollars, or 36 percent.

Most consumer 2.5-inch SATA SSDs have dropped their price as substantially, with some plunging even further. Even m.2 and NVMe devices, which have historically been resistant to price decreases, are showing the same downward trend.

If you’re still running your system off of a spinning hard drive, you won’t find a better time to buy. No matter what type of SSD you get, the performance increase will be noticeable and dramatic.

What if you own an older or smaller SSD that you want to upgrade? Now is a good time for you to buy as well. SSD speed will increase with the newest technology, but only on the margins. Maximum capacity is going to be the biggest difference between 32-layer and 64-layer 3D NAND, rather than speed. So if you want to jump from 256GB to 1TB, the market is ripe with deals.

If you have an SSD you’re happy with or you want to purchase an SSD larger than 2TB, hold your horses. The same goes for users who need the fastest drives. Unless you want to build a RAID0 array from SSDs, wait for 64-layer SSDs to hit the market and drop in price. If you’ve been longing for a 5TB SSD, that day is coming soon.

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