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Best SSDs: $200 To $300

Best SSDs For The Money: December 2011
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Best SSDs for ~$200: Performance 120 GB

OCZ Vertex 3 (Check Prices)

OCZ Vertex 3
120 GB
Sequential Read
550 MB/s
Sequential Write510 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
3.62 W
Power Consumption (Idle).66 W

Choices are pretty limited between $175 and $215. In our opinion, you're better off buying two smaller SSDs or saving up for a more expensive drive like OCZ's 120 GB Vertex 3, which earned our 2011 Recommended Buy award. Previously, we recommended the functionally-equivalent Adata 120 GB S511, but aggressive pricing this month has OCZ on a roll, which is why you see the company surfacing yet again on our recommendation list.

Best SSDs for ~$205: Performance Alternative 128 GB

Samsung 830 (Check Prices)

Samsung 830
128 GB
Sequential Read
520 MB/s
Sequential Write320 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
.15 W
Power Consumption (Idle).08 W

Samsung's 830-series SSDs are arguably the fastest MLC-based consumer drives, generally outpacing Crucial's m4.

Best SSDs for ~$225: Premium Performance Option

OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS Edition (Check Prices)

OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS
120 GB
Sequential Read
550 MB/s
Sequential Write550 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
3 W
Power Consumption (Idle)1.65 W

OCZ's Vertex 3 Max IOPS Edition is on par with Patriot's Wildfire and Mushkin's Chronos Deluxe. These are some of the are the fastest 120 GB SSDs we've ever tested. All three demonstrate what SandForce's newest controller can do when matched up to Toggle Mode flash.

If you're willing to pay a little more per gigabyte to get better performance, we highly recommend one of these drives. However, OCZ is the cheaper option this month, as the Max IOPS Edition is $40 less expensive than the WildFire and Chronos Deluxe.

Best SSDs for ~$275: Reliable Option

Intel SSD 320 (Check Prices)

Intel SSD 320
160 GB
Sequential Read
270 MB/s
Sequential Write165 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
0.15 W (Typical)
Power Consumption (Idle)0.1 W (Typical)

We continue to believe that Intel's SSDs are the most reliable you can buy. Our opinions are shared by data center managers in the enterprise world, who we've polled about their own experiences with solid-state technology. Almost exclusively, they let us know that they lean on Intel drives.

As such, we recommend Intel's 160 GB SSD 320 for anyone willing to sacrifice the performance of a SATA 6Gb/s interface in favor of a more mature controller with several new firmware-enabled nods to data security. The ability to map up to one die's worth of failed blocks to redundant flash is an example. Additionally, on-board capacitors keep the drive running for long enough to write cached data to nonvolatile memory in the event of a power loss.

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