Best SSD for ~$125: Performance Boot Drive
|Crucial RealSSD C300||64 GB|
|Sequential Read||355 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||75 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||3.1 W (write)|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||.09 W|
Crucial's m4 is due for retail availability, and the current price drops on the C300 are intended to provide space.
As a performance-oriented drive, the C300 is still a worthy candidate for those of you with older systems, because it consistently tops the 3 Gb/s configuration charts. If you don't want to buy a new motherboard to enable trailblazing 6 Gb/s speed, we highly recommend the C300.
Best SSDs for ~$160: System Drive
|OCZ Vertex 2||80 GB|
|Sequential Read||250 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||275 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||2.0 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||0.5 W|
If you are willing to spend at least $150, you can find performance SSDs that have capacities greater than 64 GB. Prior to the Vertex 3's release, the Vertex 2 was consistently considered one of the fastest MLC-based drives. At this price point, OCZ's 80 GB Vertex 2 is one of the most popular options for those that need capacity but don't want to sacrifice performance to get it.
If you use Adobe Photoshop, Office 2010, and want to install two or three different games, 80 GB is the absolute minimum that you need. You'll very likely fill the drive in short order, but it's a manageable problem if you routinely delete old files.
We should point out that we are specifically recommending the 80 GB Vertex 2 with the following part number: OCZSSD2-2VTX80G.
Best SSDs for ~$180: Single-Drive Configuration
|Kingston SSDNow V+ 100||96 GB|
|Sequential Read||230 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||180 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||3.6 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||0.05 W|
If you want to move from just storing programs to also saving personal data, you'll want at least 90 GB. Kingston specifically sells the 96 GB SSDNow V+ 100 to address this need.
These drives use a Toshiba controller that delivers better performance than competing Indilinx-based drives, but it cannot compete directly with those based on SandForce's first-gen controllers. Roughly speaking, you are getting about 80% of the Vertex 2's performance but putting capacity above speed on the priority list.
Mobile Users: Honorable Mention for $190: System Drive (OS + Programs)
|Intel SSD 310 (Soda Creek)||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 of any value in the desktop space. The performance of the 80 GB model feels much closer to the X25-V, just in a much smaller form factor. If our recommendation was based on price alone, this wouldn't make our list. But mSATA allows you to keep your notebook's high-capacity SATA HDD, which means you get the best of both worlds.
As we already mentioned, a miniPCIe slot is not the same as a mSATA slot. So, be sure to check compatibility before any purchase. Look at our mobile configuration benchmarks to see how your setup stacks up.