My data HDD has died, so I am thinkling about investing in a SSD, and using my remaining HDD for data storage. Price per GB are high compared to mechanical drives, but are likely to decline over time. So I am trying to assess when would be the best time to take the plunge, now or 6 months to a year?
What I am interested in are the factors drive the pricing and availability of SSD. In particular the extent to which flooding, which has disrupted HDD production, is perceived to have had any effect on SSD prices?
flooding has not effected the SSD market, only the HDD market. SSDs are steadily declining ~$5 every month or two for the drives I am looking at, and with a jump down in price when a new fab process is released that causes the chips to dramatically decrease in price (this is why newer/faster drives are cheaper or equal in price/GB than older drives). My best guess (and it simply is a guess, nothing more) is that we will see $1/GB this fall, and less than that with rebates. For high end drives I would expect to see $1/GB after rebates in the same time frame. Once the price hits $1/GB I expect prices to stall out for a little bit as it is the magical price people are waiting for before switching over. A year from now is way to far to guess, but suffice to guess that it would be less than $1/GB... just how much less nobody could say.
All that said; It really does not matter what future prices will be, there are some fairly reasonably priced drives on the market (well... reasonable after rebate lol), and as both a cheapskate and an SSD owner I have to say that they are worth what you pay for right now. Nothing breathes new life into an older system like an SSD will. I thought my wife's old C2Duo was getting a little slow, but throwing in a SSD really boosted things considerably. Granted, it is not going to add a single FPS to your games, but program load times turn to nothing, and it just makes windows feel so fluid and transparent. If you can afford one I would say jump on a cheap but quality drive now, you will not regret it!
Just remember that whatever drive you choose, make sure you only use a max of 80% of the drive (just like a mechanical drive), after 80% usage there will begin to be a performance hit which will get worse the fuller it gets. My wife's PC has Win7, Office, some audio editing software, a few utilities I installed, and a few videos cluttering the desktop and her usage is just under 30GB. Your average game is ~5-10GB per game on top of that. I would highly suggest reading some articles about optimizing performance and life of the drive (disabling write caching, enabling AHCI, etc.) before you install it, but even without those it will run circles around what you are use to. The problem comes more later after you wish you could get a little more out of it and you realize that some things like AHCI require a reformat of the system... which will make you put it off if you don't do it in the first place.
Lastly, if running a newer x68 chipset mobo I would suggest looking into a smaller 60GB drive and using it as a cache (google Intel SRT), or purchasing a cache class drive like a synapse drive. It gives you the space advantage of your traditional HDD, but allows you to purchase a smaller drive. Sure, you do not get the full performance of the SSD, but it makes file management much simpler and is still a huge step above having a traditional HDD. However, only do it if you cannot afford a SSD large enough for all of your files.
I have used several manufacturers through work for SSDs (OCZ, Intel & Crucial) and have found several things drive cost. Just like every other consumer electronic device, you're looking at: speed, size and brand loyalty. The type/size of NAND chip is a small factor as well.
I would purchase a brand you trust and pick a drive based on the port options you have available to you. I had several OCZ drives die but their customer service replaced them without a lot of questions. I personally selected a Crucial for my system because it's the only manufacturer who I haven't received a drive failure on and it required the least amount of tweaking to get the quoted performance. I would pick the smallest size you think you'll need for your OS & applications and use a HDD for your media and documents. I picked a 128GB drive because I store a lot of applications and games take up a lot more space then you would think.
My personal system isn't high end by any means but only having to wait 15 seconds from powering on the computer to get to a functional Win7 screen is worth the money.
Thank you all for the advice, especially "caedenv", it has been very helpful in crystalising my thoughts. I struggle to keep disc space usage on my main 160gb drive below 80% due to the number of games & applications I and the children have on it. So I reckon that I will need at least that capacaity in my serach for a suitable priced SSD. Like you Game Junky I like Crucial, but I don't think they do a 160GB SSD. Their 128GB is too small I think.
Agreed, wish they had a size between the 128 & 256 GB options. Intel has plenty of options for SATAII in that 160/200 GB range, but you're definitely paying a premium for that little Intel logo. I think they're as bad as Sony when it comes to price gouging their faithful customers.
You could also try one of the Seagate Hybrid drives - they're a combination of a platter drive and a flash partion. As it learns the files you commonly use, it will migrate them into the flash partition to increase access speed. They have a 500 GB & a 750 GB variety. They definitely are a step in the right direction, but not nearly as fast as a SSD
Intel 160gb were only $170 last November -- gotta buy them when there is a good rebate from Intel. Seems like the last few weeks there has been at least one good ssd on sale with good rebates on Newegg or Amazon most of the time. Definitely, do not pay full price for any of them -- seems like the market is soft for ssds now.