Best SSDs: $200 To $300
Best SSDs for ~$205: Performance 120 GB
|Adata S511 Series||120 GB|
|Sequential Read||550 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||510 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||3.62 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||.66 W|
Choices are pretty limited between $175 and $215. In our opinion, you're better off buying two smaller SSDs or saving up for a more expensive drive like Adata's 120 GB S511. While this drive has received less press than the Vertex 3, it's functionally the same. In our recent SandForce round-up, we gave the 120 GB Vertex 3 our 2011 Recommended Buy award due to better pricing. But Adata dropped its price by $35 since then. As a result, this month's recommendation goes to the 120 GB S511.
Best SSDs for ~$205: Performance Alternative 128 GB
|Crucial m4||128 GB|
|Sequential Read||415 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||175 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||.150 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||.085 W|
The 128 GB m4 recently got our 2011 Recommended Buy award, which is one of the reasons it makes our list this month. If you prefer something SandForce-based, you still can't go wrong with that previously-mentioned Adata S511 drive.
Based on our Storage Bench v1.0, the 128 GB m4 performs ~44% faster than its 64 GB variant, while only offering 11% less performance than its 256 and 512 GB big brothers. The extra capacity is what you're paying for, sure. But it's good to know that buying up higher in the stack also gives you more speed, too.
Best SSDs for ~$220: Premium Performance Option
|Mushkin Chronos Deluxe||120 GB|
|Sequential Read||560 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||515 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||3 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||1 W|
The Patriot Wildfire and Mushkin Chronos Deluxe are two of the fastest 120 GB SSDs that we've ever tested. Both demonstrate what SandForce's newest controller can do when matched up to Toggle Mode flash.
If you're willing to pay a little more per gigabyte to get better performance, both drives come highly recommended. However, the Chronos Deluxe is $60 cheaper than it was last month, while the Wildfire is $20 more expensive, making the former $70 more affordable than the latter. Both drives effectively offer the same real-world performance, which is why Mushkin gets our pick this month.
Best SSDs for ~$275: Reliable Option
|Intel SSD 320||160 GB|
|Sequential Read||270 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||165 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||0.15 W (Typical)|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||0.1 W (Typical)|
Despite our recent piece contending that SSDs aren't necessarily more reliable than hard drives simply because they lack moving parts, we continue to believe that Intel's SSDs are the most reliable. Our opinions are shared by data center managers in the enterprise world, who we interviewed for that story. Almost exclusively, they let us know that they lean on Intel drives.
As such, we recommend Intel's 160 GB SSD 320 for anyone willing to sacrifice the performance of a 6 Gb/s drive in favor of a more mature controller with several new firmware-enabled nods to data security. The ability to map up to one die's worth of failed blocks to redundant flash is one such improvement. Additionally, on-board capacitors keep the drive running for long enough to write cached data to nonvolatile memory in the event of a power loss.