How Fast are SSD Prices Dropping?

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If you follow almost any tech-related news outlet, you’ll frequently see reports of SSD prices plummeting. A few days ago, for example, Digitimes claimed that the 2019 prices are down by 50% since last year – at least in one specific segment. But is this the whole truth?

A few years ago, multi-level cell (MLC), or two-bit memory cells was the norm. Today it’s triple-level cell (TLC) – and quad-level cell (QLC) is the next big thing. And so frequently we hear that SSD prices are dropping, but is it only due to major technology shifts?

A recent story from the Digitimes rumor mill claims that prices of 1 TB SSDs in gaming devices in 2019 are down by no less than 50% since 2018. We’re not sure how a ‘gaming device’ is defined here. Let’s assume it’s a gaming PC and look at some SSDs that might be involved. That would be mainly high-end, PCI Express-based (M.2 form factor) devices:

ProductCapacityMSRPToday (Amazon)*Visit
Samsung 970 EVO1 TB$449$149.99View on Amazon
Intel SSD 760p256 GB$109$68.05View on Amazon
MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro960 GB$280$129.99View on Amazon
Intel Optane SSD 800P118 GB$199$198.63View on Amazon

*Prices are updated every few hours via API but are subject to change in the meantime. 

We picked out some popular drives in various capacities from different manufacturers and compared current prices to MSRPs. So it’s the same devices, with the same memory types, but we can still see that prices are down – and in most cases considerably so. An exception is the Intel Optane 800P, but that can be explained by Intel’s use of proprietary X-Point memory instead of conventional NAND.

Large Price Variation from One Day to the Next

The cost of the NAND flash chips used in solid state drives fluctuates a great deal from one month to the next, depending on many factors. However, there’s no question that the long-term price trend is down.

And it would be surprising if it wasn’t, considering that the manufacturers keep increasing the density of the chips. It’s not only the production process (as measured in nanometers) that keeps getting smaller. Every few years, they are also adding additional bits per memory cell, which reduces durability in exchange for improved manufacturing efficiency, resulting in a lower cost for everyone.

 

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