Best SSDs: $110 To $200
Best SSD for ~$115: Performance Boot Drive
|Crucial m4||64 GB|
|Sequential Read||415 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||95 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||.150 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||.065 W|
Even if you aren't planning to upgrade to a SATA 6Gb/s-capable motherboard quite yet, the 64 GB m4 offers good SATA 3Gb/s performance. Of course, it's really designed to plug into third-gen SATA controllers, though, enabling read speeds in excess of 400 MB/s.
We've heard readers complain that SSDs based on SandForce's technology are affected by performance degradation when they're forced to operate on incompressible data. That's mostly an issue for folks moving lots of media-oriented information or employing a form of active encryption, such as TrueCrypt. The behavior of Crucial's drive doesn't change based on the data it handles.
Best SSDs for ~$150: Single-Drive Configuration
|Corsair Force 3||90 GB|
|Sequential Read||550 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||500 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||3.6 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||0.05 W|
The price on 90 GB second-gen SandForce SSDs dropped since last month. If you want to use your SSD for more than simply installing an operating system and a few apps, the 90 GB capacity point is your next stop.
At $150, OCZ's 90 GB Agility 3 and Corsair's Force 3 are excellent choices. Both drives employ asynchronous memory, so real-world performance is near identical. We pick the latter simply because it's available for $150 through our PriceGrabber shopping engine, while the Agility is listed for $165. In reality, either drive is a great choice.
Best SSDs for ~$180: Single-Drive Configuration
|OCZ Agility 3||120 GB|
|Sequential Read||525 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||500 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||2.0 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||0.5 W|
There are some decent deals for 120 GB second-gen SandForce SSDs right around $180. Everything in this range still centers on asynchronous flash memory, but it's hard to beat the price per gigabyte and performance offered by these drives.
Be aware that 120 GB first-gen SandForce SSDs are also being sold in this price range, so you need to make sure that you're purchasing second-gen SandForce hardware if you really want a good deal on elevated performance.
Mobile Users: Honorable Mention for $190: System Drive (OS + Programs)
|Intel SSD 310 (mSATA)||80 GB|
|Sequential Read||200 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||70 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||0.15 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||0.075 W|
The 40 GB SSD 310 only uses half of its available NAND channels, and it costs too much to be a value contender in the desktop space. The performance of the 80 GB model feels much closer to the X25-V in a much smaller form factor. If our recommendation was based on price alone, this wouldn't make our list. But mSATA lets you keep your notebook's high-capacity SATA-based hard drive too, which means you get the best of both worlds.