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Best SSDs: $200 To $315

Best SSDs For The Money: April 2011
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Best SSDs for ~$230: Reliable Option

Intel SSD 320
120 GB
Sequential Read
270 MB/s
Sequential Write130 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
.15 W
Power Consumption (Idle).10 W

Intel's 120 GB SSD 320 remains our choice for purchases around $230. Why? When you buy an SSD, you have a certain expectation of the drive's performance. Intel made it a priority to adopt 25 nm NAND flash without dramatically impacting the speed of its mainstream lineup, unlike some of the other SSDs we've seen based on the newer lithography node.

Additionally, we like that specific data protection features were recently added to help protect against power loss and diminished write endurance.

Best SSDs for ~$260: Performance 128 GB 

Crucial RealSSD C300
128 GB
Sequential Read
355 MB/s
Sequential Write140 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
3.1 W (write)
Power Consumption (Idle).09 W

As Intel's SSD 510 is rather expensive and OCZ's Vertex 3 continues to demand a fairly hefty premium, we recommend the 128 GB RealSSD C300 for those with a budget around $250.

We should point out that OCZ's 80 GB RevoDrive commands a similar price online. But at three-quarters of the capacity, the RevoDrive is only worth it if you have an older system without 6 Gb/s compatibility, as the C300 can stand up to the PCI Express-based offering running at its native transfer rate. If you don't have a motherboard capable of SATA 6Gb/s, the RevoDrive might be an alternative. Just remember that you're giving up substantial capacity. In addition, the RevoDrive tends to be picky when it comes to motherboard compatibility.

Best SSDs for ~$315: More than 128 GB

OCZ Vertex 2
180 GB
Sequential Read
250 MB/s
Sequential Write275 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
2.0 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.5 W

We prefer to use at least 160 GB in our SoCal lab because it's the minimum capacity that will hold all our benchmarks. Steam has a bad habit of not letting you choose where to put your games once it's installed, so dropping the app on your system drive is going to require you free up plenty of room for any Steam-based games you buy. If you want those, plus your standard productivity programs, the 180 GB Vertex 2 is our pick. At ~$1.55/GB, this drive has the lowest cost per gigabyte we've seen from any SSD.

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  • 7 Hide
    opmopadop , April 27, 2011 4:41 AM
    Any chance you can add a summary table to see the best SSD sorted by price group?

    Makes it easier rather than clicking around on multiple tabs ;-)
  • -1 Hide
    scook9 , April 27, 2011 4:46 AM
    Makes me feel better about the Intel 320 160GB I will be buying soon
  • 5 Hide
    magmcbride , April 27, 2011 4:57 AM
    Great article, and I had wondered when we would start seeing these pop up!

    Personally, I would like to see a graph showing the history for price/GB of SSD's. Maybe even sorted by performance brackets (low/mid/high). The beginning of the article would be a fine place to see it updated monthly.

    I see a lot of articles talking about how much cheaper newer SSD's are to manufacture using smaller tech. We consumers could use the chart(s) to see if these savings are being passed on to us, and if so by how much.
  • 5 Hide
    billj214 , April 27, 2011 5:08 AM
    Would it be possibly to build an SSD Hierarchy based on speed and not price similar to GPU charts?
    Are there any drives which support raid?
    Do functions like Trim make any drive more reliable or a better drive?

    Excellent article, definitely helps consumers with all the choices.
  • 1 Hide
    biao39 , April 27, 2011 5:58 AM
    What about OCZ RevoDrive X2 $409.99
    Sequential Access - Read up to 740MB/s
    Sequential Access - Write up to 690MB/s
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?
    Item=N82E16820227659&cm_re=ocz_revo-_-20-227-659-_-Product
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , April 27, 2011 6:32 AM
    > a file operation completes 85% faster on a high-end SSD than it does on a high-end hard drive, but there is only an 88% speed difference between a high-end hard drive and a low-end SSD.

    Typo? This doesn't make any sense to me.
  • 1 Hide
    agnickolov , April 27, 2011 6:55 AM
    I just got a 240GB OCZ Vertex 2 for $410 on newegg.com, and that's before $30 rebate! It's a better value than the 200GB one in the $400 category and of similar value to the 256GB RealSSD for $420.
  • 3 Hide
    hmp_goose , April 27, 2011 7:46 AM
    I think it would be handy to have a list of "recommends" by capacity.
  • 3 Hide
    damric , April 27, 2011 8:31 AM
    Snagged an OCZ Agility2 120GB for $140 a few months ago on the egg with a promo code :D 
  • 0 Hide
    tijuana , April 27, 2011 8:56 AM
    I would love to know what you guys think of the revodrive aswell
  • 0 Hide
    ripudaman , April 27, 2011 9:27 AM
    Nice article...I have q9300 & few TB's of HHD, will a new SSD help increase my overall preformance
  • 3 Hide
    Helltech , April 27, 2011 9:35 AM
    I know it would be difficult, but we all want an SDD Heirarchy Chart. I feel once it gets "started" it would be easy to maintain. :D 
  • 1 Hide
    assafbt , April 27, 2011 10:06 AM
    Nice on identifying a need and posting this new article series, however one thing will make the notes on the smaller drives obsolete in a very short while, and also requires mentioning on the higher capacities.

    I mean Z68 Chipset's SSD caching. I refer readers to the article from this very site:
    Soon smaller cheap drives will be able to give a significant boost to a whole system's performance, and your cheapest drive is just shy of the 18.6GB minimum to qualify to it. Furthermore, you consider the pros and cons of smaller SSD-s only in the mindset of how are they as boot drives, or system drives, and soon they will have a whole new role as HDD boosters.

    Considering cache brings whole new factors into the deal - for instance, for cache you should have a look at sole read performance as write speed is bound to the HDD write speed for write-through scenario which might be the popular scenario. Also, suddenly 32GB that is barely enough for boot drive, gets reconsideration as it may very well be more than enough to cache an HDD. Which brings another question to light - how much SSD cache is optimal for a certain HDD size? Is 32GB good only upto, say 1TB, or is 40GB needed already for 512GB, but is also enough for 2TB, and so forth.

    So - clearly smaller SSDs require another look with caching, but also bigger SSD-s. Consider someone who purchased a 160GB, but requires performance for 600GB of software? 3 super sized SSD-s are not a rational expense for anyone - Z68 allows for partial allocation for caching if I remember correctly, and giving 30GB from the 160GB to cache a 1TB HDD may be a solution that allows a system drive + certain crucial apps on pure SSD, plus a cached HDD for the lower priority performance requirement. So thinking about these things applies (even if to a lesser extent) also to the bigger SSD-s.

    Just my thoughts for improvements, otherwise a good read on readers needs, and a good article.

    Assaf
  • 0 Hide
    assafbt , April 27, 2011 10:07 AM
    Oops - the link for those who don't know SSD caching got dropped, again, in text format:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/z68-express-lucidlogix-virtu-ssd-caching,2888-2.html
  • 5 Hide
    TopGun , April 27, 2011 11:27 AM
    Count me as another who is interested in a SSD hierarchy chart.

    I'd actually like to see hierarchy charts for cases, PSUs, heatsinks, mobos, dvd burners, etc. I know a lot of those categories would be pretty subjective, but they'd be soooo helpful.
  • 6 Hide
    virtualban , April 27, 2011 12:05 PM
    Count me as another who is interested in raid setups suggestion for SSDs. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 27, 2011 12:11 PM
    "Steam has a bad habit of not letting you choose where to put your games once it's installed"

    not true, you can drag and drop the steam directory anywhere, even onto a totally new computer and it will work.
  • 4 Hide
    bullwinkel , April 27, 2011 12:25 PM
    This was extremely helpful. The SSD market is just too confusing when it comes to value and performance
  • 2 Hide
    jednx01 , April 27, 2011 12:31 PM
    I really wish that prices would drop on the prices of SSDs. I can't wait for the day when SSDs (or whatever new and faster option comes out) get as cheap as modern standard HDDs.
  • 4 Hide
    Onus , April 27, 2011 12:41 PM
    Nice addition to the monthly "Best" series.
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