When we asked you about bezels and keyboards, we were honestly surprised by some of the responses. More than ever, we are convinced that assumptions harm our products, and asking our community about important decisions is the way to go! This week we have another hard choice to make, and it involves SSDs and accessibility…
Along the way, we have come across all sorts of challenges, most of which we have overcome with valuable feedback from the community and endless discussion between our designers and the engineering team. One major issue has been our desire to make the internal components of the V accessible. As most components inside the device are custom-made for the V, upgrading or replacing them was not a realistic expectation. Even so, being able to open the device easily could make repairs faster and safer.
The image above shows a selection from the many suggestions that floated between the design- and engineering teams, trying to work out a method of accessing the V’s internals. First we explored opening up a large part of the device to allow access to all internal components, and when that did not prove feasible (usually over concerns about structural rigidity), we aimed to make the SSD accessible. Being an off-the-shelf component, a user-replaceable M.2 SSD brings tangible end-user benefits such as increased repairability, upgradability, and data security.
In the end, it all comes down to something as seemingly simple as the orientation of the M.2 slot. One solution remains to support a user-replaceable SSD, but it comes at a cost to performance: we would be limited to the SATA protocol instead of the PCIe protocol utilized by today’s fastest SSDs.
Modern SSDs that connect through SATA will reach speeds of up to about 550MB/s, which is not as fast as their PCIe counterparts. In return, they tend to offer more storage capacity for your money. In the case of the new V, their main advantage would be that they allow you as the end-user to remove or replace the SSD. Pop open a hatch, and it’s right there!
The first-generation V uses an M.2 PCIe SSD. And even though disconnecting the SSD from the mainboard is straightforward, reaching these components is not. Opening the device is a laborious task that risks damage to the display cover glass. Technically, this solution allows the SSD to be removed, but it’s not in any way user friendly – or indeed, recommended!
Going the same route again offers the benefits of PCIe: speeds of up to about 3000MB/s is typical, and even faster is possible. Although such a measurable difference does not necessarily translate to higher performance in day-to-day tasks, it can offer a noticeable improvement when dealing with large files such as in photo- or video editing, or enterprise applications like large databases.
If we cannot reasonably reach the SSD, does it really have to be an M.2 drive? We could solder the flash storage chips to the mainboard to free up valuable space and save a little bit of power. This solution is common in tablets, phones, and other ultra-mobile devices, as it takes very little space. It leaves more room for other components, for example, increased battery capacity.
This solution offers the same performance benefits of PCIe mentioned under option 2.
- Option 1: I prefer a user-replaceable M.2 SATA SSD
- Option 2: I prefer a trapped M.2 PCIe SSD
- Option 3: I prefer a soldered PCIe SSD
- I have no preference; I simply need a place to store my files
Back in April, we asked you how much memory is the right amount. Now it’s time to ask the same about storage! Much like RAM, having more storage space than you need means it’s just sitting idle, and it won’t offer you any benefits for your money. Of course, running out of storage space is frustrating, but more importantly, it may cause issues with your computer, including slow-downs, crashes, and data loss. In short, we want enough storage capacity, but not too much!
Before answering the following questions, we invite you to look at Explorer, Finder, or your favorite file browser, and see how much drive space you are currently using!
- 128GB – This is still sufficient for an entry-level device in 2020
- 256GB – Any less is no longer sufficient in 2020, even for an entry-level device
- 128GB or less
- 4TB or more
We are looking forward to your feedback and will have a big announcement about the project coming soon. Stay tuned!