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Best SSDs: $110 To $200

Best SSDs For The Money: May 2011
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Best SSD for ~$125: Performance Boot Drive

Crucial m4
64 GB
Sequential Read
415 MB/s
Sequential Write95 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 Write275 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 Write180 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 Write70 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.

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  • 0 Hide
    James296 , May 31, 2011 4:40 AM
    funny, I was just looking for a $100-$150 SSD not more then 5 mins ago.
  • 0 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , May 31, 2011 5:15 AM
    The best ssd for $100.00 category is a bit off. I just got the Kingston SSDNow V100+ 96GB SATA II ssd at newegg for $99.99 after mail-in rebate.That's just a hair over $1.00/GB.
  • 0 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , May 31, 2011 5:23 AM
    Looks like the best ssd for $180.00 single drive configuration is off too. You must be using MRSP instead of street or sale prices for the Kingston SSDNow V+ 100 96GB SATA II ssd.
  • 2 Hide
    acku , May 31, 2011 5:59 AM
    JohnnyLuckyLooks like the best ssd for $180.00 single drive configuration is off too. You must be using MRSP instead of street or sale prices for the Kingston SSDNow V+ 100 96GB SATA II ssd.


    We don't include mail-in rebates. Sale prices are included.
  • 9 Hide
    ZeroLag , May 31, 2011 6:40 AM
    I'm actually disappointed in the lack of effort in this article. Even as a new system builder, my 2 month research into SSD performance easily allows me the knowledge of measuring SSD true performance.

    You measure it in 4kb random read/write and 4k sequential read/write. Window 7 is natively read in these sectors. If you compare these SSDs to 4k performance/"current" market price, then you're actually giving us consumers a viable way to compare SSDs. This article just seems to list prices of SSDs without a mention of performance. Also, Max Write and Max Read are not ways to measure SSDs. Rarely do these SSDs function at that capacity.

    I love Tom's Hardware. Let's keep the standards high.

    This article = Epic Fail
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 31, 2011 6:43 AM
    I'd say any of the 60-64 GB SSDs with the Sandforce 1200 series controllers are the hot items for boot drives. They can almost always be had for around $100 with a mail in rebate, and sometimes for less. These are actually more than large enough for almost anyone's boot drive and have loads of room left for all of your personal data-with some of your games to boot!

    Patriot, OCX, Vertex and a host of others meet these criteria.
  • 1 Hide
    nitrium , May 31, 2011 7:22 AM
    The most important metric for day to day usage is the 4kb read/write performance at queue depth 1 (QD 1). Windows 7 averages QD 1.04 when booting/loading games and apps etc. It only rarely goes above a QD of 1, and VERY rarely above QD 5. Surprise, surprise, the performance of almost every SSD at QD 1 is near enough the same (in fact some 1st gen drives outperform "higher spec" 3rd gen drives at QD 1!!!). There is not much (if any) performance to be gained for typical users getting high-end SSDs. For the vast majority of users, the best advice is to get the cheapest per GB drive you can get. Ignore synthetic benchmarks (or at least focus only on QD 1 performance).
  • 0 Hide
    Olle P , May 31, 2011 9:00 AM
    The 16GB Kingston SSDNow S100 should be great for use with Intel SRT.
  • 0 Hide
    twile , May 31, 2011 12:24 PM
    Friendly suggestion to Tom's. Instead of going through and listing off the suggested drive for each dollar range, make a chart instead. Don't just tell us the recommended drive for each range, go through the different primary criteria--capacity, performance, and reliability at the least--and let users figure out what's most important to them. For example, I don't care much about reliability because my data isn't mission-critical and I have it backed up nightly, so if a drive dies then I just do an Advance RMA and use another system for a few days.
  • 0 Hide
    ProDigit10 , May 31, 2011 12:29 PM
    All these superspeeds and super iops are nice, but I wonder when they will start manufacturing affordable SSD's with a good capacity?

    I'm thinking in the line of sub $100, for 64GB. If they could only trade off some of the speed, to get the cost down!
    Just as long as it uses less power than a harddrive, and has higher iops (which would result in faster program and OS boot times), I'd be happy!
  • 1 Hide
    Onus , May 31, 2011 12:32 PM
    I've had a couple of SSDs fail, the second after only two months of office-type use, so I'd like to see more information on reliability as it becomes available.
  • 0 Hide
    schwizer , May 31, 2011 12:47 PM
    Quote:
    jtt283 05/31/2011 2:32 PM
    I've had a couple of SSDs fail, the second after only two months of office-type use, so I'd like to see more information on reliability as it becomes available.


    Were they OCZ Vertex 2 drives?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 31, 2011 1:54 PM
    Had one ocz drive fail, and 3 crucial c300 drives fail. so far owned 6 intel ssd's and 0 failures.
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , May 31, 2011 2:06 PM
    No, they were not OCZ. The first was a two-year old Crucial, and the second was a two-month old AData. The deaths were "different," in that it was easy to get the data off the Crucial, but not the AData. I finally managed to get most of it off, but the AData flash utility can't even see the drive, and it drops out in Windows after a limited number of operations too.
  • 0 Hide
    Kisakuku , May 31, 2011 2:39 PM
    Quote:
    However, OCZ recently made a play to lock in its I/O performance leadership with a Max IOPS edition of the Vertex 3. The only difference between this drive and the regular Vertex 3 is its firmware.


    Vertex 3 and Vertex 3 Max IOPS have identical firmware. It's the NAND (25nm Micron MLC NAND in Vertex 3, 32nm Toshiba Toggle Mode MLC NAND in Vertex 3 Max IOPS) that differentiates the two.
  • 0 Hide
    hdawood , May 31, 2011 3:25 PM
    At $240, I think the newly released Corsair Force 3 is a better option, with Read 550 MB/s , Write 510 MB/s and 85,000 4k random IOPS. Also, it's SATA 6Gbps
  • 0 Hide
    hdawood , May 31, 2011 3:27 PM
    Link for Corsair Force 3, 120GB:

    http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233181
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 31, 2011 4:15 PM
    link to Force 3 poor performance:
    http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=ja&u=http://www.coneco.net/ReviewList/1110520151/&ei=yBPlTZbKJqjc0QHkhry6Bw&sa=X&oi=translate&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CB4Q7gEwAA&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dhttp://www.coneco.net/ReviewList/1110520151/%26hl%3Den%26biw%3D1440%26bih%3D783%26prmd%3Divns
  • 0 Hide
    sanityvoid , May 31, 2011 4:28 PM
    ZeroLagI'm actually disappointed in the lack of effort in this article. Even as a new system builder, my 2 month research into SSD performance easily allows me the knowledge of measuring SSD true performance. You measure it in 4kb random read/write and 4k sequential read/write. Window 7 is natively read in these sectors. If you compare these SSDs to 4k performance/"current" market price, then you're actually giving us consumers a viable way to compare SSDs. This article just seems to list prices of SSDs without a mention of performance. Also, Max Write and Max Read are not ways to measure SSDs. Rarely do these SSDs function at that capacity. I love Tom's Hardware. Let's keep the standards high. This article = Epic Fail


    I agree with this comment. Reading Anandtech.com and you will find the random read/write, mentioned above, is much more important than the metric you have provided in the article.

    Please incorporate random read/write into the next month's article.

    Buying the cheapest GB/$ is not the way to go. Reliability and other metrics must factor in.
  • 3 Hide
    dgingeri , May 31, 2011 5:18 PM
    I went with 2X Vertex 2 120GB drives in RAID 0 for my SSD setup. It works beautifully. ~400MB/s transfer rates where there is data even after 6 months of use. (The unused portions of the drives show 535MB/s, but that's kind of a trick of the Sandforce controller because it is transferring nothing but 0's.) Since these drives are going for $200 each, that's a better performing setup, with the same capacity, than a single 240GB Agility 3.
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