Best SSD for ~$125: Performance Boot Drive
|Crucial m4||64 GB|
|Sequential Read||415 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||95 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||.150 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||.065 W|
As a performance-oriented drive, the C300 is still a worthy candidate for those of you with older systems, because it consistently tops the performance charts when we limit our testing to 3 Gb/s configurations.
However, the company's m4 performs even better and costs the same. If you aren't planning to upgrade to a SATA 6Gb/s motherboard quite yet, the 64 GB m4 offers good SATA 3Gb/s performance, and it's ready for an eventual upgrade.
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're willing to spend at least $150, you can find performance-oriented 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 room to install an operating system and apps, but don't want to sacrifice performance to get the extra room.
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 likely fill this 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 simply installing 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 that center on SandForce's first-gen controllers. Roughly speaking, you are getting about 80% of the Vertex 2's performance as you prioritize capacity over speed.
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 a value contender in the desktop space. The performance of the 80 GB model feels much closer to the X25-V 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 you purchase. Look at our mobile configuration benchmarks to see how your setup stacks up.