Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Best SSDs: $110 And Under

Best SSDs For The Money: July 2011
By

Best SSD for ~$50: Boot Drive

Kingston SSDNow S100
16 GB
Sequential Read
230 MB/s
Sequential Write75 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 Write75 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 Write45 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.

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 55 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 11 Hide
    flong , July 18, 2011 7:34 AM
    I am sorry but I do not understand Tom's choices for best SSD as they are contradictory to almost all other professional review recommendations.

    While the 3rd generation Sandforce drives have had their problems - the second generation Sandforce drive STILL have their own problems and are no more reliable. There is every indication the the 3rd generation drives are better than the second generation Sandforce drives in every respect which brings us to the question.

    WHY are there NO 3rd generation Sandforce drives in ANY price category????

    Let's just take the $210 category. Why didn't you think to recommend the Corsair Force 3 which is $209 NOT ON SALE???? It is faster in every benchmark including the "fill" benchmarks. You recommend the Samsung 470 - no professional review I have read recommends the 470 for anything.

    Here is a review that shows that the 100 GB Vertex 2 beats the 240GB 470 in real world benchmarks: http://hothardware.com/Reviews/Samsung-470-Series-256GB-SSD-Review/?page=8 This is a 100 GB VERTEX 2 kicking the 240 GB 470s ass. That's just sad. I don't understand it.

    I'm sorry but these recommendations are surreal. You actually recommend a second generation OCZ Agility 240 GB drive -WHY???? It is the weakest of all the second generation drives and as it fills it's efficiency drops like a rock. Read Anandtech's review of the Agility 3 - it gets a 4 out of 10. The Agility 3 is OCZ's worst drive and it is much faster than the Agility 2.

    I am not sure whether Tom's is trying to be conservative or what, but no one else is recommending second generation drives - and I am talking about professional reviews.

    I love you Tom's Hardware, but I don't get this particular review.
Other Comments
  • 8 Hide
    wintermint , July 18, 2011 4:52 AM
    Can't wait for the $/gb ratio improve :]
  • 8 Hide
    naidnerb , July 18, 2011 4:57 AM
    I guess someone didn't do the homework...Mr. Andrew Ku, haven't you heard of the 8 MB bug? So how come you're still recommending The Intel SSD 320 series? Aren't you aware they are in the phase of collecting the precise number of drives affected. I'll tell Tom you made me disappointed...:) 
  • 2 Hide
    lunyone , July 18, 2011 5:12 AM
    Waiting for the $1/gb to hit before I'll be buying any of these HD's. Just doesn't make sense, unless $ doesn't mean much to you.
  • 2 Hide
    alyon , July 18, 2011 5:33 AM
    I apologize if it was mentioned in the article but I would not recommend any new OCZ sata III drives. The reliability and defects with the controller make it a bad buy. Sure it is fast IF it works but that is a big IF. Reliability for expensive storage such as SSDs is extremely important.

    Due to this I ended up buying a Crucial M4 with its good random 4k read/writes and acceptable sequential reads/writes. At first I was looking at the Vector series but the very high amount of DoAs (which is incredibly understated in comparison to what OCZ will claim... 1%). After a ton of research it really came down to buying Crucial or Intel. But hell, that is just my 2 cents.

    Happy shopping Toms readers!
  • 5 Hide
    boletus , July 18, 2011 5:57 AM
    I'm still waiting for some serious, objective stress and reliability tests. $/GB and Gb/s matter, but do not make a whit of difference if the drive is DOA or goes kaput after a few weeks or months. I have seen way to many reports of failure for me to invest the time and money for this leap forward. All of the claims and hype are enticing, but setting up a fresh OS/programs drive is not a trivial task, and of course possible data loss can be heartbreaking.
  • 11 Hide
    flong , July 18, 2011 7:34 AM
    I am sorry but I do not understand Tom's choices for best SSD as they are contradictory to almost all other professional review recommendations.

    While the 3rd generation Sandforce drives have had their problems - the second generation Sandforce drive STILL have their own problems and are no more reliable. There is every indication the the 3rd generation drives are better than the second generation Sandforce drives in every respect which brings us to the question.

    WHY are there NO 3rd generation Sandforce drives in ANY price category????

    Let's just take the $210 category. Why didn't you think to recommend the Corsair Force 3 which is $209 NOT ON SALE???? It is faster in every benchmark including the "fill" benchmarks. You recommend the Samsung 470 - no professional review I have read recommends the 470 for anything.

    Here is a review that shows that the 100 GB Vertex 2 beats the 240GB 470 in real world benchmarks: http://hothardware.com/Reviews/Samsung-470-Series-256GB-SSD-Review/?page=8 This is a 100 GB VERTEX 2 kicking the 240 GB 470s ass. That's just sad. I don't understand it.

    I'm sorry but these recommendations are surreal. You actually recommend a second generation OCZ Agility 240 GB drive -WHY???? It is the weakest of all the second generation drives and as it fills it's efficiency drops like a rock. Read Anandtech's review of the Agility 3 - it gets a 4 out of 10. The Agility 3 is OCZ's worst drive and it is much faster than the Agility 2.

    I am not sure whether Tom's is trying to be conservative or what, but no one else is recommending second generation drives - and I am talking about professional reviews.

    I love you Tom's Hardware, but I don't get this particular review.
  • 4 Hide
    LuckyDucky7 , July 18, 2011 8:17 AM
    For some reason I don't get these recommendations either- in fact, from a performance standpoint, they're almost asinine!


    For example, at the 75-dollar pricepoint, it's interesting to note that the Patriot Torqx 2, which is 10 dollars more and built on a SandForce controller, is a far better drive than that Vertex 1.


    At the $100 price point, where you suggest an Intel 320, you could get an OCZ Solid 3 60 GB drive that has TWICE the performance of the Intel drive for about 10 bucks more? If the 100-dollar price point is that strict I'll direct your attention to the Corsair Nova 2 60 GB drive. It's still faster and larger than the Intel 320 is.


    Also, why suggest the Samsung 470 @ 64 GB when the Solid 3 crushes that one too for the same price?


    And then, at the 200 dollar price point, why are you suggesting drives that are again crushed by the 120 GB Solid 3/Agility 3?

    If it's OCZ's reliability you're worried about, why aren't you suggesting the Corsair Force 3 120 GB drive that's also the same price?


    I don't get it either. Is Tom's Hardware afraid of second-gen SandForce controllers or something?
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , July 18, 2011 8:30 AM
    #flong your comments solely based on performance. if you have not noticed, the title of the $210 group says, "Best SSDs for ~$210: Reliable Option". IMO Corsair Force 3 drive should be avoided at all cost if you take a look at newegg's user review.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 18, 2011 8:43 AM
    "why isn't the Force 3 listed?" Because they were recalled is a pretty good reason.
  • 2 Hide
    flong , July 18, 2011 8:50 AM
    You are right the early Force 3s had problems. I just bought the Force 3 from Newegg and while the early version had a problem, Corsair has fixed it. I carefully checked on the reliability of the Force 3 before I made the purchase.

    As a side note, the real knock on the Force 3 is not its reliability, the knock is its cheaper 25 nm NAND which lowers its fill efficiency more qickly the 32 nm NAND. But in loading Windows 7, it is only 1 second slower than the mighty 240 GB Vertex 3 and it only cost me $180 after rebates. The 120 GB Vertex 3 will maintain better efficiency as it fills.

    The Reliability you point out for the second generation Sandforce drives is likely worse than the 3rd generation drives because the 3rd generation drives corrected a lot of problems inherit in the 2nd generation drives. I repeat, the second generation drives recommended have been proven to be no more reliable than the 3rd generation drives.

    As far as I know there is no comprehensive reliability study of any generation SSD set.
  • 1 Hide
    jjb8675309 , July 18, 2011 9:02 AM
    Bought an M4 last week and I am thrilled, always had standard HDDs before and just having my os/ page file on the ssd makes everything breeze by, totally worth the upgrade imo... I have a WD Caviar Black which holds my games
  • 0 Hide
    flong , July 18, 2011 9:07 AM
    The M4 is probably the only recommendation I agree with in this article - it is a solid card with strong performance.
  • 0 Hide
    cgorange , July 18, 2011 11:26 AM
    Flong, the same article you quote lists the Samsung drive as its favorite. So maybe you should pick an article that doesn't totally undermine your argument next time.

    http://hothardware.com/Reviews/Samsung-470-Series-256GB-SSD-Review/?page=10
  • 2 Hide
    flong , July 18, 2011 12:36 PM
    cgorangeFlong, the same article you quote lists the Samsung drive as its favorite. So maybe you should pick an article that doesn't totally undermine your argument next time.http://hothardware.com/Reviews/Sam [...] w/?page=10


    Yes I read the article, but we are talking about the 3rd generation Sandforce drives now NOT the second generation Vertex 2 100 GB listed in the article. My point is that the V2 100 GB handily beats the Samsung and the Vertex 2 is far slower than the Vertex 3 120 GB or 240 GB. It is also far slower than the Corsair Force 3. This means that the Samsung is a plodding turtle compared to today's 3rd generation SSDs. You can argue that it is more tested, but really it isn't because it hasn't been out that long. And as I said, third generation SSDs corrected several inherit problems that the second generation SSDs had.

    Guys don't get me wrong, I really do love Tom's Hardware. It is the only site that I take time to post on. However, with this article I think they made some poor choices and I say that with a spirit of respect and kindness - NOT a spirit of sarcasm.
  • -1 Hide
    tomatthe , July 18, 2011 12:45 PM
    "You are right the early Force 3s had problems. I just bought the Force 3 from Newegg and while the early version had a problem, Corsair has fixed it. I carefully checked on the reliability of the Force 3 before I made the purchase. "

    For the record, Corsair attempted to fix, but did not fix the issues with the Force 3 120g drives. I'm not sure how you carefully checked on the reliability of them exactly, but there are definitely still issues with them.

    http://forum.corsair.com/forums/showthread.php?t=96333&page=14
  • 2 Hide
    flong , July 18, 2011 1:05 PM
    tomatthe"You are right the early Force 3s had problems. I just bought the Force 3 from Newegg and while the early version had a problem, Corsair has fixed it. I carefully checked on the reliability of the Force 3 before I made the purchase. "For the record, Corsair attempted to fix, but did not fix the issues with the Force 3 120g drives. I'm not sure how you carefully checked on the reliability of them exactly, but there are definitely still issues with them.http://forum.corsair.com/forums/sh [...] 33&page=14


    I'll let you know, I have the Force 3. I will be building my computer as soon as the parts come in. According to the Newegg reviews the issue has been fixed and the Newegg reviewers can be brutal in their honesty. Don't get me wrong, if I have problems with my Force 3 120 GB, I will be the first one to post and tell EVERYONE that I was wrong.

    Thanks for the link. It does appear that the people in your link are may have the old SSD that has not been corrected. When you buy an SSD, no matter what brand (except maybe Intel) there is no guarantee that you won't have problems - they have all had issues if you read the forums.

    The reason I bought Corsair is because they are an standup company and I think if I do have problems that they will make it right. I have several of their products and their quality control is amazing. I believe that they will replace the drive or give me a better one if there is a problem.
  • 1 Hide
    tomatthe , July 18, 2011 1:12 PM
    The latest reviews on newegg explicitly state there is not a current fix do not buy this drive. I would send that drive back asap. That forum is actually the 2nd forum about this issue, it was linked off the original forum when the hardware/firmware update did not resolve the problem. All of the people in that forum have the drives that have supposedly been fixed.

    I got one of the drives after the first attempt to solve the issue, and mine still bsod and drops the drive on occasion. It's in the mail to corsair right now, but seeing as they don't have a known fix I'm not really sure what they are going to do with it.
  • 3 Hide
    Todd Sauve , July 18, 2011 2:08 PM
    I think 99% of people would find an SSD of around 64 GB to be more than sufficient for a boot drive and all of their favourite apps.

    In this size category you can pick up a Sandforce 1200 series based SSD for less than $100, with a coupon or rebate or simply on sale. Newegg and others have them on their websites all the time.

    SSDs like the OCZ Vertex 2, the Patriot Inferno and many others come to mind.

    There is simply NO NEED to spend more than $100 on an SSD, and it will absolutely change your whole computing experience for the better.
  • 1 Hide
    flong , July 18, 2011 2:14 PM
    todd sauveI think 99% of people would find an SSD of around 64 GB to be more than sufficient for a boot drive and all of their favourite apps.In this size category you can pick up a Sandforce 1200 series based SSD for less than $100, with a coupon or rebate or simply on sale. Newegg and others have them on their websites all the time.SSDs like the OCZ Vertex 2, the Patriot Inferno and many others come to mind.There is simply NO NEED to spend more than $100 on an SSD, and it will absolutely change your whole computing experience for the better.


    The problem with SSDs is that as they fill up, they lose a significant amount of their coveted speed. Thus, the larger 240 GB drives and above lose less of their speed as you load them because they have more space on the drive. This is why I went with a 120 GB as opposed to a smaller drive.

    That being said, I have heard a lot of positive statments from people with 64GB boot drives. However, I want to put some of my most used programs on my SSD drive also.
  • 2 Hide
    flong , July 18, 2011 2:20 PM
    tomattheThe latest reviews on newegg explicitly state there is not a current fix do not buy this drive. I would send that drive back asap. That forum is actually the 2nd forum about this issue, it was linked off the original forum when the hardware/firmware update did not resolve the problem. All of the people in that forum have the drives that have supposedly been fixed.I got one of the drives after the first attempt to solve the issue, and mine still bsod and drops the drive on occasion. It's in the mail to corsair right now, but seeing as they don't have a known fix I'm not really sure what they are going to do with it.


    Thanks for the heads up. I can't RMA the drive because I already sent in the rebate form and cut the UPC label off of the box. I would expect that if Corsair has to, they will replace your drive with the GT series if necessary and you will get a much better drive.

    You are right, I just checked the most current reviews on Newegg and they are all bad - when I did my research, they were all saying that the issue was fixed.

    I guess I will try mine and see how it works. If it doesn't work I am confident that Corsair will back their product. In all my dealings with them they have been the best of the best.

    Thanks for the update - I did not realize that the Force 3 was still having problems. I stand corrected.
Display more comments