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Close to the Metal Ep. 16: WD Blue SSD live review, and how fast should your SSD be?

Solid state drives have come a long way since the first models appeared over five years ago. Prices have dropped consistently, and now there’s a huge selection of capacious, 1TB options available for between $250 and $300. Like Western Digital’s WD Blue SSD.

This is, along with the new WD Green, the first solid state drive from Western Digital. It doesn’t aim to offer the best performance but instead seeks to balance that with durability and price. The 1TB model we tested sells for $300, and while it’s not the least expensive SSD of its size, it’s also far from the most costly.

The WD Blue’s aim highlights a division in the current field of solid state drives. In the beginning, most SSDs strove for the best performance possible. Now, though, many drives seek to balance speed with cost.

Related: SSD vs. HDD, what’s best for you? 

And the break is amplified by the limitations of SATA, the most common hard drive connection standard. Today’s fastest flash memory can easily overwhelm the bandwidth of SATA – several times over, in fact. Drives like the WD Blue, which opt only to provide SATA, are choosing simplicity and availability over maximum speed.

More choice is a good thing, but it does make choosing a solid state drive more confusing. Can a drive that connects over SATA satisfy your needs? Do you need to buy a more expensive drive, which connects over PCI Express? And just how much quicker is PCI Express? We’ll explore those questions in this week’s episode of Close to the Metal.

Close to the Metal is a podcast from Digital Trends that focuses on the geekier side of life. It tackles the topics PC enthusiasts argue over in language everyone can understand. Please subscribe, share, and send your questions to podcast@digitaltrends.com. We broadcast the show live on YouTube every Wednesday at 1pm EST/10am PST.