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Best SSDs For The Money: May 2011

If you have more than $450 to spend on an SSD, you are clearly not worried about price. Enthusiasts enjoying that luxury should probably take a look at OCZ's Vertex 3 at 240 GB, which sells for $550. It continues to be the fastest SSD we've seen in the lab, and if you want to take advantage of the 6 Gb/s interface, it is the drive you'll want.

We understand that SSD prices don't make it easy to adopt the latest technology. Maybe that's why you aren't too keen on blowing a couple hundred dollars on solid-state storage, especially when you can spend the same amount and buy four 2 TB hard drives or a high-performance processor. That's why it's important to put things into perspective. Over the past five years, CPU performance has hit new and unforeseen heights, and processors are increasingly spending time waiting on data from hard drives. This is what makes storage today's most glaring bottleneck. Overcoming it requires an SSD.

As a point of comparison, a file operation completes 85% faster on a low-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 high-end SSD. That why you shouldn't let less aggressive benchmark results at the low-end deter you from making the switch. You don't have to have the best SSD to get great performance relative to a hard drive. 

As a final note, we're still trying to figure out a way to add an SSD hierarchy (which was one of the big requests from last month). This is a large undertaking, though, and it really requires consideration of not just controllers, but really every model from every vendor. That's the only way to weigh the three most prolific performance variables: firmware, NAND, and controller, and then weigh them against pricing. Keep the feedback coming, though, and we'll do what we can to accommodate your requests!

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