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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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  • 1 Hide
    hmp_goose , December 29, 2011 3:29 AM
    Why is the m4-256GB considered "faster" then the Force 3-240GB?
  • 4 Hide
    acku , December 29, 2011 3:40 AM
    Compressible vs. Incompressible
  • 6 Hide
    alidan , December 29, 2011 6:09 AM
    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.
  • 4 Hide
    alidan , December 29, 2011 6:11 AM
    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
  • -8 Hide
    pocketdrummer , December 29, 2011 6:29 AM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    crisan_tiberiu , December 29, 2011 6:37 AM
    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...
  • -3 Hide
    drrrtyfgt , December 29, 2011 7:08 AM
    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.
  • 4 Hide
    tzhu07 , December 29, 2011 7:19 AM
    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.
  • 5 Hide
    kyuuketsuki , December 29, 2011 8:07 AM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 29, 2011 12:04 PM
    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 Hide
    CaedenV , December 29, 2011 1:19 PM
    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.
  • 2 Hide
    tsnor , December 29, 2011 2:19 PM
    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.
  • -1 Hide
    andywork78 , December 29, 2011 2:21 PM
    Yeah !! OCZ Vertex 3 ~!!!
  • 1 Hide
    sublime2k , December 29, 2011 3:22 PM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    ammaross , December 29, 2011 3:43 PM
    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
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , December 29, 2011 4:19 PM
    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?
  • 2 Hide
    ojas , December 29, 2011 4:32 PM
    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
  • 3 Hide
    zloginet , December 29, 2011 5:18 PM
    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...
  • 2 Hide
    pdxoutdoors , December 29, 2011 7:52 PM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    Hendel , December 29, 2011 10:38 PM
    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.
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