Holiday deals continue today and through next week. The sales provide some much needed relief to the PC hardware industry, which has experienced inflated prices in GPU and memory over the last year. Some of the deals we found today include Crucial and Samsung SSDs, the Logitech MX Master mouse, and a mechanical keyboard from Corsair.

As we get into the holiday spirit here at GN, it’s time for our year-end round-ups and best of series—probably some of our favorite content. These guides provide a snapshot of what the year had to offer in certain spaces, like SSDs, for instance. You can check our most recent guides for the Best Cases of 2018 and Best CPUs of 2018.

These guides will also help users navigate the overwhelming amount of Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing ahead of us all. SSD prices have been especially good lately, and the holidays should certainly net opportunities for even better deals.

That said, buying something just because it’s cheap isn’t ever a good idea, really; better to know what’s best first, then buy cheap—or cheaper than usual, anyway. This guide will take the legwork out of distinguishing what the year’s best SSDs are based on use case and price. Today, we're looking at the best SSDs for gaming PCs, workstations, budget PC builds, and for cheap, high-capacity storage. 1TB SSDs are more affordable than ever now, and we'll explore some of those listings.

Consoles don’t offer many upgrade paths, but HDDs, like the ones that ship in the Xbox One X, are one of the few items that can be exchanged for a standard part with higher performance. Since 2013, there have been quite a few benchmarks done with SSDs vs. HDDs in various SKUs of the Xbox One, but not so many with the Xbox One X--so we’re doing our own. We’ve seen some abysmal load times in Final Fantasy and some nasty texture loading in PUBG, so there’s definitely room for improvement somewhere.

The 1TB drive that was shipped in our Xbox One X is a Seagate 2.5” hard drive, model ST1000LM035. This is absolutely, positively a 5400RPM drive, as we said in our teardown, and not a 7200RPM drive (as some suggest online). Even taking the 140MB/s peak transfer rate listed in the drive’s data sheet completely at face value, it’s nowhere near bottlenecking on the internal SATA III interface. The SSD is up against SATA III (or USB 3.0 Gen1) limitations, but will still give us a theoretical sequential performance uplift of 4-5x -- and that’s assuming peak bursted speeds on the hard drive.

This benchmark tests game load times on an external SSD for the Xbox One X, versus internal HDD load times for Final Fantasy XV (FFXV), Monster Hunter World, PUBG (incl. texture pop-in), Assassin's Creed: Origins, and more.

As we continue our year-end awards and sales guides, we’ve come to SSDs. Thus far, our others guides have covered RAM, various Black Friday picks, monitors, 1080 Tis, and laptops. Below, we’ll look at the best SSDs of 2017, and any resultant sales for Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Holidays. We use the word “sale” loosely: much like DRAM, NAND has spent much of the year suffering from undersupply and insatiable demand, and thus the ensuing price hike. Most manufacturers are transitioning to 64-layer 3D-NAND, and it is progressing slowly. So, new product releases have been few and far between, supply on other NAND types have been constricted, and prices have remained high. It’s likely CES in January will bring news or announcements.

That said, storage is still a glaring bottleneck for many, and there’s not a more tangible difference in response than upgrading to a modern SSD from a mechanical drive. This holiday season should be a good time to pick up an SSD on sale—or at least at a slightly less rapacious price.

This week's hardware news recap covers rumors of Corsair's partial acquisition, HBM2 production ramping, Threadripper preparation, and a few other miscellaneous topics. Core industry topics largely revolve around cooler prep for Threadripper this week, though HBM2 increasing production output (via Samsung) is also a critical item of note. Both nVidia and AMD now deploy HBM2 in their products, and other devices are beginning to eye use cases for HBM2 more heavily.

The video is embedded below. As usual, the show notes rest below that.

This week's hardware news recap primarily focuses on industry topics, like new NAND from Toshiba, Western Digital, and a new SSD from Intel (first 64-layer VNAND SSD). A few other topics sneak in, like AMD's Ryzen Pro CPU line, a Vega reminder (in the video), the death of Lexar, and a few gaming peripherals.

Through the weekend, we'll be posting our Zotac 1080 Ti Amp Extreme review, the first part of our AMD Vega: Frontier Edition Hybrid mod, and a special benchmark feature in our highly acclaimed "Revisit" series.

In the meantime, here's the last week of HW news recapped:

Toshiba just announced its QLC (Quad-Level Cell) NAND flash, something we talk about in our upcoming news video, and has further claimed that the new 96GB (768Gb) units will compete with TLC NAND in total program/erase endurance. This is Toshiba’s new 64-layer NAND that hasn’t yet made it into consumer products, but likely will make the move within the next year. Like TLC, QLC increases the count of voltage states (now 16) to increase the bits per cell, thereby increasing storage capacity per cell.

MSI representatives were excited to show us the company’s new AIC M.2 adapter & cooler combo, noting that it should address our previous concerns (that the company had validated, with some SSDs) regarding the M.2 heat “shields.” The AIC is a PCIe x8 device that can run 2x M.2 SSDs (at full throughput) in RAID, or can mount a 2.5” drive to the back-side of the card. Each M.2 SSD is mounted under an MSI heat sink, which they still erroneously call heat “shields,” which is made of a yet-unknown material. If it is the same as the first generation of heat “shields,” it is a stainless steel. If it is the new generation, MSI has gone to aluminum, following our earlier complaints of poor thermal transfer and dissipation. The AIC also carries with it a small blower fan, which pushes air through the chamber and out the back. An acrylic cover and LED offer some more interesting visuals.

Kingston Digital was responsible for a full 16% of SSDs shipped in 2016, according to data compiled by research firm Forward Insights. This puts their market share in second place, just behind Samsung’s 21%.

We recently covered Intel’s DC P4800X data center drive, with takes on the technology from two editors in video and article form. Those content pieces served as a technology overview for 3D Xpoint and Intel Optane (and should be referenced as primer material), but both indicated a distinct lack of any consumer-focused launch for the new half-memory, half-storage amalgam.

Today, we’re back to discuss Intel’s Optane Memory modules, which will ship April 24 in the form of M.2 sticks.

As Intel’s platform for 3D Xpoint (Micron also has one: QuantX), Optane will be deployed on standardized interfaces like PCI-e AICs, M.2, and eventually DIMM form factors. This means no special “Optane port,” so to speak, and should make adoption at least somewhat more likely. There’s still a challenging road ahead for Intel, of course, as Optane has big goals to somewhat unify memory and storage by creating a device with storage-like capacities and memory-like latencies. For more of a technology overview, check out Patrick Stone’s article on the DC P4800X.

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