Best SSDs: $200 To $315
Best SSDs for ~$220: Reliable Option
|Intel SSD 320||120 GB|
|Sequential Read||270 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||130 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||.15 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||.10 W|
Intel's 120 GB SSD 320 remains our choice for purchases around $220. 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. Intel isn't the performance leader any more, but its drives still have a reputation for being the most trustworthy.
Best SSDs for ~$240: Performance 128 GB
|Crucial m4||128 GB|
|Sequential Read||415 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||175 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||.150 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||.085 W|
There are some amazing deals on the m4 if you're willing to pay a small premium.
Just keep in mind that write performance varies with capacity. The 128 GB m4 has a sequential write speed of 175 MB/s, which is less impressive than the 256 GB version's 260 MB/s. At least you can expect the same read performance, though. Desktop users typically read from storage than they write, so this limitation shouldn't be a big worry.
If you are concerned with write performance, a more balanced choice would probably be a Vertex 2.
Best SSDs for ~$299: More than 128 GB
|OCZ Vertex 2||180 GB|
|Sequential Read||250 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||275 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 holds all of our benchmarks. If you want to install all of your performance-sensitive apps, 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.