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Which enterprise NVMe SSD vendor is right for me?

Picking an NVMe drive is an important decision. Consider thermal control, proprietary software and drive architecture to make the right choice.

So many different vendors offer NVMe SSDs that it can be tough to choose the right one. But there are some key things to look for when selecting a product, such as vendor reputation, drive architecture and software capabilities.

Your first consideration should be the vendor's reputation. Intel, Samsung and Western Digital are known for manufacturing good quality hardware, as are a number of other vendors. But there are lesser known vendors that sell inexpensive enterprise NVMe SSD hardware.

That said, if a vendor you have never heard of sells its hardware at a price point that's substantially below market value, then there is probably a catch. The company might manufacture its hardware from components that did not pass another vendor's quality control inspection, for example.

Another consideration is whether the vendor offers consumer or enterprise-grade hardware, or both. An enterprise NVMe SSD is more expensive than a consumer device, but it tends to be more reliable and offer better performance.

Thermal control, NAND type and software

You should also consider the vendor's approach to thermal control. NVMe SSD storage can deliver high performance, which can also mean high temperatures. Left unchecked, these conditions can cause an enterprise NVMe SSD to overheat, and ultimately fail.

Some vendors attempt to control the temperature of their storage devices through next-generation heat sinks. Others throttle IOPS in response to temperature spikes. Whatever the method, your new NVMe SSD should have a way to prevent the device from overheating.

Yet another consideration is the type of NAND cells the vendor uses. Some vendors base their NVMe SSDs on triple-level cell (TLC) NAND. Although TLC NAND devices tend to have a lower price per gigabyte than competing technologies, alternatives such as multi-level cell NAND devices might offer better performance and reliability.

Finally, many vendors include proprietary software with enterprise NVMe SSD storage devices that offer insight into wear leveling, over provisioning, secure erase or the estimated remaining lifespan for the drive. Some vendors also use the companion software to enable firmware updates for NVMe SSD storage hardware. Consider whether a particular vendor offers companion software for storage hardware and what capabilities it offers.

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