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Best SSDs: $300 To $400

Best SSDs For The Money: June 2012
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Best SSDs for ~$360: Performance & Capacity Option

Crucial m4 (Check Prices)

Crucial m4
512 GB
Sequential Read
500 MB/s
Sequential Write260 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
0.28 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.10 W

High-capacity SSDs are starting to become more accessible as their prices slide into affordable price points. At $360, Crucial's 512 GB m4 is a very tempting bargain. Update (6/28/2012): The m4 just jumped back up to $400, where it's still an attractive purchase for well under $1/GB.

A 512 GB drive is plenty, even in mobile environments, where you're typically limited to just one SATA-based device. The math works out to just over $0.70/GB, which is really expensive compared to a hard disk, but really good for an SSD. More important, you really don't have to worry about running out of space on it unless you have a library of full-length movies in HD to cram in.

Best SSDs for ~$400: Honorable Mention, High Capacity mSATA

Mushkin Atlas (Check Prices)

Mushkin Atlas
240 GB
Sequential Read
560 MB/s
Sequential Write530 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
2 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.7 W


Intel's SSD 310 was phased out earlier this year. Fortunately, other SSD vendors have have stepped in to address mSATA-based SSDs since our original look at the interface. Although we haven't yet had the chance to test Mushkin's Atlas, and therefore cannot officially recommend it, we're willing to give competing mSATA-based solutions a shot.

Mushkin's Atlas is particularly interesting because it's really the first mSATA SSD that we've seen employing SandForce's second-generation controller, making it a SATA 6Gb/s stunner. In comparison, OCZ's Noci and Intel's SSD 313 (successor to SSD 310) still employ SATA 3Gb/s controllers.

In the past, every mSATA SSD we saw used only half of its available NAND channels, which is why we didn't substitute mSATA drives for 2.5" SSDs on the desktop. But Mushkin seems to have addressed throughput by using speedy 24 nm Toggle NAND from Toshiba, resulting in performance specs identical to its 2.5" Chronos Deluxe series. That's impressive in our book. mSATA lets you keep your notebook's high-capacity SATA-based conventional disk, facilitating access to the best of both worlds.

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  • 1 Hide
    mjmjpfaff , June 28, 2012 5:19 AM
    On the "Best SSDs: $200 To $300" page there is a typo in the "Best SSDs for ~$270: Gaming Option 256 GB" option. In the chart it says it is a 240gb SSD but it is a 256gb SSD. I'm sure its just a typo...
  • 1 Hide
    bim27142 , June 28, 2012 5:30 AM
    Is this accurate?

    Samsung 830 240 GB
    Sequential Read 560 MB/s
    Sequential Write 525 MB/s
    Power Consumption (Active) 3 W
    Power Consumption (Idle) 1 W
  • 1 Hide
    hmp_goose , June 28, 2012 5:31 AM
    I never noticed before, but does the Samsung 830 really change power consumption as capacity grows?
  • -5 Hide
    DjEaZy , June 28, 2012 5:33 AM
    ... and... still... my Vertex 3 is strong... by the prices now, i maybe buy a nother one for RAID 0...
  • 8 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , June 28, 2012 5:51 AM
    ^
    bet you cant tell the difference between RAID0 SS's and a single SSD without benchmarking.
  • 2 Hide
    acku , June 28, 2012 6:27 AM
    mjmjpfaffOn the "Best SSDs: $200 To $300" page there is a typo in the "Best SSDs for ~$270: Gaming Option 256 GB" option. In the chart it says it is a 240gb SSD but it is a 256gb SSD. I'm sure its just a typo...


    Fixed! Thanks for being so cool about everything. :) 

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    Tom's Hardware
  • 0 Hide
    Pawessum16 , June 28, 2012 7:00 AM
    I think this is definitely your best article in the "Best SSD's For the Money" series. I can finally agree with the majority of your recommendations, and even though you don't explicitly state it, I feel like you finally took user feedback on reliability into consideration for the different recommendations. i.e. fewer OCZ recommendations, and no ridiculous pedestal recommendations for Intel's ridiculously overpriced ssd's that provide nothing over the likes of Crucial and Samsung.
    Two thumbs up!
  • 3 Hide
    acku , June 28, 2012 7:05 AM
    We'll I always try. Not saying I'm always right. There simply are too many SSD vendors out there. It's hard to cover them all. But I'm glad you like the changes. :) 

    I think for some people the confidence that Intel is going to back your play should something go wrong means a lot. Not saying it's worth the premium, but for some people, it is. That said, I do like the idea of game bundles. I think it's a great way to get more value from an SSD.

    Cheers
    Andrew Ku
    Tom's Hardware
  • 1 Hide
    palladin9479 , June 28, 2012 8:58 AM
    I love my Samsung 830 256GB's. I got one for my main gaming box awhile back, liked its performance and eventually bought a 2nd one for my DV6z notebook.
  • 0 Hide
    erunion , June 28, 2012 9:04 AM
    The product name and link for your $115 drive is in error. The drive is actually the Chronos Deluxe MX.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226318

    Your link shows virtually every Mushkin drive except that one.
  • 0 Hide
    radon_antila , June 28, 2012 9:08 AM
    ackuI think for some people the confidence that Intel is going to back your play should something go wrong means a lot. Not saying it's worth the premium, but for some people, it is.


    This is true for enterprises, certainly. Essentially, if the data is more valuable than the storage, the Intel SSD is worth the premium. For everyone else, the Crucial and Samsung SSDs are better value propositions.
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , June 28, 2012 11:55 AM
    Two points and a question:
    1. Yes, please incorporate reliability into your ratings. I've had 2/4 Sandforce drives I bought fail, so I will choose an alternate.
    2. I like my Samsung 830, although I am not getting its claimed performance. I suspect it is because I'm running an AMD system, even though it's a 990FX. As the article points out, the performance of a SSD beats the snot out of a mechanical HDD.
    Finally, and this article wouldn't be the place to cover it, but I'd like more information on the performance of SRT using a 64GB SSD along with a mainstream (i.e. not "green") HDD. Does such a system generally perform closer to the speed of a SSD, or more like just a fast HDD?
    Thanks.
  • 0 Hide
    pinkfloydminnesota , June 28, 2012 12:10 PM
    Microcenter has ocz 4 gen's for $100 to $120 for the 128 GB size.
  • 1 Hide
    LordConrad , June 28, 2012 2:33 PM
    Why recommend the Mushkin Enhanced Chronos 90GB when you can get the 120GB version for $3 more?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226236
  • 0 Hide
    LordConrad , June 28, 2012 2:50 PM
    jtt283 Yes, please incorporate reliability into your ratings. I've had 2/4 Sandforce drives I bought fail, so I will choose an alternate.

    Reliability is subjective and Track Records are just statistics. I've installed 4 SandForce drives, each in a different computer, and never had a single problem. The computers include one desktop and two laptop PCs and one Mac Mini, all of which continue to work without problems.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 28, 2012 2:59 PM
    Geez I just bought a 256G Samsung 830 for $190. Newegg. Cool
  • 1 Hide
    josejones , June 28, 2012 3:18 PM
    There's a distinction between the "Mushkin Enhanced Chronos Deluxe" DX version and the MX version:

    Mushkin vs. Intel SSD
    http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/284841-32-mushkin-intel
  • 1 Hide
    Isaiah4110 , June 28, 2012 4:13 PM
    The ~$115 recommendation "Mushkin Enhanced Chronos Deluxe" has some incorrect information. The drive referenced here is actually the "Mushkin Enhanced Chronos MX" (model MKNSSDCR120GB-MX, currently selling for $115 on Newegg). This drive isn't a "Toggle-mode SF-22xx-based SSD", but actually uses "synchronous mode NAND flash" according to Mushkin's website.

    http://www.mushkin.com/Digital-Storage/SSDs.aspx

    The 120GB version (model MKNSSDCR120GB-DX) of the Chronos Deluxe SSD, which actually uses Toggle-mode flash memory, currently sells for $190 on Newegg (and roughly the same everywhere else).
  • 0 Hide
    grody , June 28, 2012 4:20 PM
    OCZ Agility 3 90GB for $55:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227757

    I'm sure most people check newegg anyway, though.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 28, 2012 5:12 PM
    With the SSD price drop/war right now, I'm in dilemma of choosing btw Corsair, Kingston and OCZ for 120GB SSD (~$90). Which of these are best for this price point?
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