Best SSD for ~$50: Boot Drive
|Kingston SSDNow S100||16 GB|
|Sequential Read||230 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||75 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||2.26 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||1.08 W|
Kingston's SSDNow S100 series is really intended for industrial use, and we're told that you'll find these drives in toll booths, Redbox machines, and ATMs. While this is not a performance-oriented SSD, it is a decent choice that can breathe new life into your current system. Most of us tend to write less data than we read. If you want a quick way to speed up your home rig, a budget SSD is all you need because this cheap SSD's read speed is still faster than a hard drive.
However, you are forced to adopt a dual-drive configuration. With only 16 GB, you can only use this SSD as a Windows 7 32-bit boot drive (64-bit requires 20 GB). All of your programs and personal files need to be installed on a secondary hard drive. We've also had readers write in relaying their bad experiences using drives that were too small for Windows to conduct its Update operations. Be cautious if you use a drive this small for anything; capacity is sure to become a point of contention pretty quickly.
Best SSD for ~$75: Boot Drive
|OCZ Vertex||30 GB|
|Sequential Read||210 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||75 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||2.0 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||0.5 W|
OCZ's Vertex series is based on the Indilinx Barefoot controller. That doesn't make it a bad SSD family, but you should have realistic expectations of what Indilinx's older controller can do. You'll still achieve better performance than a hard drive, but this drive falls into the lower half of the SSD performance hierarchy.
Best SSD for ~$100: Boot Drive
|Intel SSD 320||40 GB|
|Sequential Read||200 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||45 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||0.15 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||0.10 W|
At ~$100, your choice is limited to A-Data's 40 GB S599, OCZ's 40 GB Agility 2, and Intel's 40 GB SSD 320. We're recommending the SSD 320 because it has proven itself a worthy successor to the X25-M (G2). These drives are priced in excess of $2/GB, but that's to be expected for SSDs in the $100 price range.
Remember that drives with less capacity often use fewer NAND channels, leaving some vacant. In the case of this SSD, Intel only populates five of the controller's 10 available 64-bit connections. That's why reads and writes are lower than other products in the SSD 320 family.
If you only have $100 to spend and you're eying a caching-based solution, skip over this MLC-based SSD and look to Intel's 20 GB SSD 311 instead. The small size doesn't matter, since the cache operates transparently; you should be more concerned with the fact that the 311 centers on SLC NAND flash, improving its performance relative to this larger, slower alternative.