Best SSDs For The Money: December 2011

Best SSDs: $110 And Under

Best SSD for ~$50: Boot Drive

Kingston SSDNow S100 (Check Prices)

Kingston SSDNow S100
16 GB
Sequential Read
230 MB/s
Sequential Write75 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
2.26 W
Power Consumption (Idle)1.08 W

Kingston's SSDNow S100 series is really intended for industrial use, and we're told that you'll find these drives in toll booths, Redbox machines, and ATMs. While this is not a performance-oriented SSD, it is a decent choice that can breathe new life into an aging machine. Most of us tend to write less data than we read. If you want a quick way to speed up your home rig, a budget SSD is all you need because drives like this one offer read speeds that outpace conventional disks.

However, you are forced to adopt a dual-drive configuration. With only 16 GB of capacity, the S100 only works as a Windows 7 32-bit boot drive (64-bit requires 20 GB). All of your programs and personal files need to be installed on a secondary hard drive. We've also had readers write in conveying bad experiences using drives that were too small for Windows to conduct its update operations. Be cautious if you use an SSD this small; capacity is sure to become a point of contention pretty quickly.

Best SSD for ~$75: Boot Drive 

OCZ Vertex Plus (Check Prices)

OCZ Vertex Plus
60 GB
Sequential Read
185 MB/s
Sequential Write90 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
1.5 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.5 W

OCZ's Vertex Plus series is based on the Indilinx Barefoot controller with a slightly tweaked firmware. Despite its improved software, you should have realistic expectations of what Indilinx's older controller can do. The Vertex Plus achieves better performance than a hard drive, but it falls into the lower half of the SSD performance hierarchy. Note that sequential read performance is somewhat slower than the similarly-priced 30 GB Vertex. But, armed with two times the capacity and featuring a slightly better sequential write speed, it's a fair trade-off.

For those willing to accept the caveats of SandForce's compression technology, Patriot's 32 GB Torqx 2 is also offered at a similar price. Though, we should point out that the company is overstating sequential write performance at 230 MB/s by providing a single specification for all capacities. Actual sequential writes speed of this smaller drive hovers around 100 MB/s.

Best SSD for ~$100: Boot Drive

OCZ Agility 3 (Check Prices)

OCZ Agility 3
60 GB
Sequential Read
525 MB/s
Sequential Write475 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
2.7 W
Power Consumption (Idle)1.5 W

At ~$100, your choices are limited to a slew of 60 GB first-gen SandForce drives, Intel's 40 GB SSD 320, and OCZ's 60 GB Agility 3. Even if you don't own a 6 Gb/s-enabled motherboard, we're still going to recommend the Agility 3 because of its ability to fully saturate a SATA 3Gb/s controller, whereas those other two options can't.

Furthermore, the Agility 3 uses asynchronous ONFi 1.0 NAND that can also be found in competing SSDs, such as Corsair's Force 3. To that end, if you see another 60 GB second-gen SandForce SSD at a cheaper price, go with the less expensive option. The difference in real-world performance is relatively small.

If you only have $100 to spend and you're eying a caching-based solution, skip over this MLC-based SSD and look to Intel's 20 GB SSD 311 instead. The small size doesn't matter, since the cache operates transparently; you should be more concerned with the fact that the 311 centers on SLC NAND flash, improving its performance relative to this larger alternative.

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31 comments
    Your comment
  • Why is the m4-256GB considered "faster" then the Force 3-240GB?
    1
  • Compressible vs. Incompressible
    4
  • hey toms, I don't know if it's just me, but with the GPU hierarchy chart, I don't know where each of the GPU's comes in performance wise, but with the SSD one, I have next to no clue.

    If possible in future charts could you add a second column that would tell you about how many megabytes per second read and write is, and how many input output operations per second it does. You don't have to do it for every drive just every tier.

    I believe this would help a lot.
    6
  • alidanhey toms, I don't know if it's just me, but with the GPU hierarchy chart, I don't know where each of the GPU's comes in performance wise, but with the SSD one, I have next to no clue.If possible in future charts could you add a second column that would tell you about how many megabytes per second read and write is, and how many input output operations per second it does. You don't have to do it for every drive just every tier.I believe this would help a lot.


    sorry about that I'm using Dragon, it's still not completely used to the way I talk, and I don't catch everything. I correct this sentence

    but with the GPU hierarchy chart, I pretty much know where each of the GPU's comes in performance wise
    4
  • 256gb is still too little to be useful. And at $375, it's still absurdly overpriced.

    Unfortunately, HDDs are ridiculously overpriced as well, so this is essentially a terrible time to buy storage.
    -8
  • I am a fan of Tom's but when i decided to buy the Kingston Hyper X 120 GB Sata 3 SSD i did not take this chart in mind :). I was thinking between the Kingston and the Mushkin Chronos 120 GB SSD... Corsair and OCZ were out of the question..Intel aswell because the ridiculous price...
    0
  • At $110 the Crucial m4 is an absolutely terrible choice in value/performance, especially when there's the Super Talent TeraNova 64GB: http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=FTM06N325H

    The write speeds are so much higher with the TeraNova than with the m4 that it's almost embarrassing to compare the two at the same price range.
    -3
  • I just recently jumped on the SSD bandwagon after years of using a 5400RPM drive, and let me tell you SSD tech truly is a LEAPFROG advancement in technology. No small steps here.

    It doesn't matter what you use a computer for, it's time everyone make the switch already.
    4
  • Pocketdrummer256gb is still too little to be useful.
    Too little for what? It's plenty to hold the OS and, for most people, their entire library of programs, games, etc. No, you don't want to store your Blu-ray rips, ISOs, home video/picture collections, and iTunes library on an SSD, because those take up a lot of room and don't really benefit much from the improved I/O.
    And at $375, it's still absurdly overpriced.
    FFS could people get past the $/GB thing. Yes, we all want it to be cheaper, but that doesn't make it overpriced.
    5
  • Thanks Tom's, this article hurts. I now feel that I live in a Tier 10 world. Now when I fire up my rig, I will feel inadequacy. How many levels up will you notice a difference in performance Is a good question? (considering you have the 6gbs connection on your mobo.
    0
  • I picked up an OCZ Solid 3 60GB for my wife's 'office' computer over the summer when they were on sale+rebate, and even as a Tier 10 device on the speed charts it is still a smoking fast drive compared to a traditional HDD, and it is plenty of space for win7, office, browsers, and some other productivity software. Personally I am holding out of a faster/larger drive to come down in price for my rig rebuild, but for those of you with a home/family PC that is getting slow there is nothing better than a cheap 60GB SSD, and then dedicate your old system HDD to be your Documents drive. So long as you already have a duel core processor and 4GB of ram, and SSD is the best single purchase you could make to bring things up to date.
    0
  • Hi,

    I love the best cpu/price and best gpu/price articles.

    I love the SSD performance hierarchy at the end of the article, but can't really use the article itself. The best $200 SSD could be the fastest one without concern for size, or the largest one available without concern for speed. You do say you try to weight performance and size evenly, but I'm not sure that helps anyone.

    Maybe you could pick a few size points (60-boot, 120-single dive, 240-large drive, or whatever) and then give the best SSDs at different price points within size. Then the recommendation becomes 'If you want to spend $100 for a boot drive buy this, if you want to spend $60 for a boot drive buy that'.

    If someone asks me 'whats the best SSD to use to replace the 100GB spinning disk in my laptop?' the current format really doesn't help me answer.
    2
  • Yeah !! OCZ Vertex 3 ~!!!
    -1
  • Why do I keep seeing Vertex Plus recommended by Tom's when it gets absolutely horrible reviews everywhere else? From what I've read just about anywhere, I wouldn't place important data on it even if you paid me to do it.
    1
  • Ajflick42Thanks Tom's, this article hurts. I now feel that I live in a Tier 10 world. Now when I fire up my rig, I will feel inadequacy. How many levels up will you notice a difference in performance Is a good question? (considering you have the 6gbs connection on your mobo.

    Read the article and look at the performance charts relative to HDDs. The difference in performance (on scale with hdds) between low-end SSDs and high-end SSDs is 3% (88%-85% faster than HDDs). So even at Tier10, you're still better off than any HDD owner. (if you bought into the hidden Tier11 of craptastic SSDs with
    0
  • I’m wondering why the Adata S511 240 GB is in tier 2, but the Adata S511 120 GB is in tier 6? They both use synchronous flash and their read right speeds are the same. Why the different tiers?
    1
  • alidanhey toms, I don't know if it's just me, but with the GPU hierarchy chart, I don't know where each of the GPU's comes in performance wise, but with the SSD one, I have next to no clue.If possible in future charts could you add a second column that would tell you about how many megabytes per second read and write is, and how many input output operations per second it does. You don't have to do it for every drive just every tier.I believe this would help a lot.

    +1
    2
  • tzhu07I just recently jumped on the SSD bandwagon after years of using a 5400RPM drive, and let me tell you SSD tech truly is a LEAPFROG advancement in technology. No small steps here.It doesn't matter what you use a computer for, it's time everyone make the switch already.


    LOL, a 7200rpm fast drive would have been a LEAPFROG for you too...
    3
  • Just FYI, there's a typo in the last sentence of the first paragraph of this article, "Prices are falling, and we keep you informed."

    I think that you wanted to have the word "will" in there.

    Also, I agree very much with tsnor's suggestion about organizing the review in a more helpful manner. Budget is important, but function (size + speed) is more important when you're considering investing in a new drive.
    2
  • No Corsair Force 3 Series 180gb?
    Its $250 and hit's the sweet spot between
    120gb drives that still feel a little too small for holding your Applications
    and 240+gb drives that are just tooooooo expensive.
    0