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Best SSDs For The Money: July 2012

Best SSDs For The Money: July 2012
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Although we saw some small price adjustments over the last month, that's not the biggest news. A past recommendation, Samsung's 830, was based on a promotional bundle that some readers reported not getting. We took the issue to Samsung for resolution.

Detailed solid-state drive specifications and reviews are great—that is, if you have the time to do the research. However, at the end of the day, what an enthusiast needs is the best SSD within a certain budget.

So, if you don’t have the time to read the benchmarks, or if you don’t feel confident enough in your ability to pick the right drive, then fear not. We at Tom’s Hardware have come to your aid with a simple list of the best SSD offered for the money.

July Updates

While the price you pay per gigabyte of capacity continues to drop, the SSD scene is relatively quiet (for now). We did just put up another look at OCZ's Vertex 4 after upgrading to firmware version 1.5, so if you missed that, check out OCZ Vertex 4 128 GB: Revisiting Write Performance With Firmware 1.5. There aren't really any new drives to discuss this time around, though.

As a result, we're going to use this opportunity to go off on a bit of a tangent. Our monthly recommendations are made in the spirit of helping you get the most value from your purchase. However, several readers encountered a certain issue problem after purchasing Samsung's 830 SSD, which we included in our list of recommended drives last month. Part of the reason we gave the Samsung drive a thumbs-up was its bundled Ghost Recon: Future Soldier key, a $50 freebie added to get gamers interested in the 830.

Many readers reported back that they bought the drive and didn't get a game key, though. We wanted to get to the bottom of the issue (it was our recommendation, after all), and so we purchased the 128 GB desktop kit (MZ-7PC128D/AM) from Newegg and Amazon. As you can see in the picture above, the free offer is retailer-specific. Only the box from Newegg has the sticker indicating a bundled game key.

We contacted Samsung, which helped figure out what was happening. Apparently, the retail kits that include the key have a special internal SKU. Some retailers are not stocking these drives. This is causing confusion because Samsung originally announced that all 128, 256, and 512 GB retail kits would include the offer.

Samsung is stepping up in a big way to make the situation right, though. We're pleased to announce that everyone who purchased a valid retail kit is eligible for the free game key. If your drive is missing the sticker and you made a purchase after June 5th, all you need to do is call 1-800-SAMSUNG and provide proof of purchase. Again, this is a limited time promotion, and a special thanks goes to loyal reader Matthew P., who first brought it to our attention.

The following 830 SSD SKUs qualify to receive the game key (check the bottom of the box):

  • MZ-7PC128D/AM, 128 GB Desktop Installation Kit
  • MZ-7PC256D/AM, 256 GB Desktop Installation Kit
  • MZ-7PC512D/AM, 512 GB Desktop Installation Kit
  • MZ-7PC128N/AM, 128 GB Notebook Installation Kit
  • MZ-7PC256N/AM, 256 GB Notebook Installation Kit
  • MZ-7PC512N/AM, 512 GB Notebook Installation Kit


Some Notes About Our Recommendations

A few simple guidelines to keep in mind when reading this list:

  • If you don't need to copy gigabytes of data quickly or load games in the blink of an eye, then there's nothing wrong with sticking with a mechanical hard drive. This list is intended for people who want the performance/responsiveness that SSDs offer, and operate on a specific budget. Now that Intel's Z68 Express chipset is available, the idea of SSD-based caching could come into play for more entry-level enthusiasts, too.
  • There are several criteria we use to rank SSDs. We try to evenly weigh performance and capacity at each price point and recommend what we believe to the best drive based on our own experiences, along with information garnered from other sites. Some people may only be concerned with performance, but that ignores the ever-present capacity issue that mobile users face ever-presently. Even on the desktop, other variables have to be considered.
  • Prices and availability change on a daily basis. Our picks will be valid the month of publication, but we can't extend our choices very far beyond that time frame. SSD pricing is especially competitive, and a $15 difference can be the reason why one SSD makes the list, while another does not. As you shop, use our list as a guide, but always double-check for yourself.
  • The list is based on some of the best U.S. prices from online retailers. In other countries or at retail stores, your mileage will most certainly vary.
  • These are new SSD prices. No used or open-box offers are in the list; they might represent a good deal, but it’s outside the scope of what we’re trying to do.
Display 41 Comments.
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  • -1 Hide
    ipopeidr , July 30, 2012 4:21 AM

    Grazie per la condivisione!
  • 5 Hide
    blazorthon , July 30, 2012 4:27 AM
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B0057VOVE8/ref=dp_olp_new?ie=UTF8&condition=new

    $180 for the Mushkin Chronos Delux 240 GB rather than the $200 in the article. Not only that, but free shipping and this purchase is offered directly from Amazon, meaning that you get their excellent (in my experience) customer service should a problem arise. That's only $0.75 per GB for one of the fastest SandForce SSDs available!
  • 5 Hide
    bdizzle11 , July 30, 2012 5:04 AM
    "At under $1/GB, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better deal below $100."

    With daily sales and other promotions the prices of 120gb drives are especially good. I just got a 120gb kingston hyperx for $80, no MIR required. Best PC purchase in awhile in my opinion.
  • 3 Hide
    EzioAs , July 30, 2012 5:04 AM
    The title on page 2 and 3 is wrong. The recommendation was supposed to start with below $100. Please fix it guys :) 
  • 2 Hide
    envy14tpe , July 30, 2012 6:11 AM
    No Intel? 128GB for $95.
  • 4 Hide
    shuffman37 , July 30, 2012 6:44 AM
    I was lucky enough to snag a Samsung 830 256GB for $230 on Newegg this evening. Lowest price of the year so far!

    I have three of them that I've been able to work with so far, both of the 256GB versions perform up to and above their rated speeds in real world testing. Nice having an SSD that works well with compressible and non-compressible data equally well.

  • 4 Hide
    sayantan , July 30, 2012 9:25 AM
    Price ranges are incorrect!!
  • 0 Hide
    cmcghee358 , July 30, 2012 12:22 PM
    Aww. I got a Samsung 830 128GB SSD on 6/17/2012. But my SKU is MZ-7PC128B/WW. I got it from newegg.com. I'm curious why this /WW isn't included in the list of SSDs that can get the code?
  • 1 Hide
    odiervr , July 30, 2012 12:39 PM
    FYI: Intel 330, 180 GB SSD. Great product. Newegg $160. Got one w/ rebate for $140.
  • -4 Hide
    envy14tpe , July 30, 2012 12:51 PM
    tomshardware is starting to drop the ball on why they are making choices. Now I see why people are telling me not to trust their price ratings.
  • 0 Hide
    spookyman , July 30, 2012 2:54 PM
    Sold on the Samsung. Get a free game.
  • 0 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , July 30, 2012 3:14 PM
    The problem with quoting prices is they fluctuate all the time. Prices can change daily.

    Tom's Hardware has a link to daily deals located in the news section on the left hand side of the home page. Eventually readers who follow the link find themselves at LogicBuy which is a service that lists the lowest prices at any given time. The sale prices and special promotions fluctuate daily. LogicBuy also has a web page just for drives. If you are thinking about purchasing an ssd, then it pays to check the prices at LogicBuy. The prices are well below $1.00 per GB. Recently an ssd was down to $0.50 per GB. Heck of a price but the ssd was not one I would buy.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 30, 2012 3:29 PM
    I don't understand why there is no Corsair Force GT in these recommandations.
    http://www.hookbag.ca/product/H3C06MOP8/ 120GB
    Maximum Read Transfer Rate 555 MBps
    Maximum Write Transfer Rate 515 MBps
    For 123$ ?
    BTW i got 2 OCZ Agility 2 and both dead withing 1 month of installling ,then went to Corsair which is more then you need ... 7.9 windows score
  • 0 Hide
    jerreddredd , July 30, 2012 3:29 PM
    interesting how the Crucial M4 is absent.... 128Gb version can be found for $90-115 on sale all throughout July, with a regular price of $130-150. very solid SSD
  • 1 Hide
    blazorthon , July 30, 2012 3:35 PM
    jerreddreddinteresting how the Crucial M4 is absent.... 128Gb version can be found for $90-115 on sale all throughout July, with a regular price of $130-150. very solid SSD


    The Samsung 830 is around for about the same price, but is significantly faster despite being similarly reliable and using slightly even lower power. The M4 is kinda like the 830's little brother when it comes to performance and unless it is priced accordingly, it is not as good of a deal as the 830 has been lately.
  • 0 Hide
    blazorthon , July 30, 2012 3:38 PM
    Yoshi ToshiI don't understand why there is no Corsair Force GT in these recommandations.http://www.hookbag.ca/product/H3C06MOP8/ 120GBMaximum Read Transfer Rate 555 MBpsMaximum Write Transfer Rate 515 MBpsFor 123$ ?BTW i got 2 OCZ Agility 2 and both dead withing 1 month of installling ,then went to Corsair which is more then you need ... 7.9 windows score


    Maybe the Kingston Hyper 3K that they recommended instead of the Corsair Force GT was cheaper than the Force GT when they looked up the prices for this article.
  • 0 Hide
    g-unit1111 , July 30, 2012 3:59 PM
    I'm planning on switching out my Intel 320 for either a Crucial M4 or an OCZ Vertex 4 - I'm waiting on the next firmware update before I decide.
  • 0 Hide
    blazorthon , July 30, 2012 4:00 PM
    g-unit1111I'm planning on switching out my Intel 320 for either a Crucial M4 or an OCZ Vertex 4 - I'm waiting on the next firmware update before I decide.


    I think that a Samsung 830 versus a Vertex 4 is a better decision to make. The M4 is a great drive, but it's not as fast as the 830, especially in the 256GB capacity. The M4 has no other perks that I know of that the 830 lacks.
  • 1 Hide
    inmytaxi , July 30, 2012 4:03 PM
    The Agility 3 is $90 not including $10 rebate for the 120 GB model at a place that doesn't advertise here.

    The Agility 4 is $100 with no rebate for the 128 GB model at ditto.
  • 0 Hide
    jacobdrj , July 30, 2012 4:14 PM
    g-unit1111I'm planning on switching out my Intel 320 for either a Crucial M4 or an OCZ Vertex 4 - I'm waiting on the next firmware update before I decide.

    I don't see why you would do that unless you were also significantly increasing your storage size simultaneously. The speed differences in most scenarios between the drive you have and the ones you are considering are negligible at best...
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