Best SSDs For The Money: October 2011

Best SSDs: $110 And Under

Best SSD for ~$50: Boot Drive

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 your current system. 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 this cheap SSD's read speed is still faster than a hard drive.

However, you are forced to adopt a dual-drive configuration. With only 16 GB, you can only use this SSD 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 relaying their bad experiences using drives that were too small for Windows to conduct its update operations. Be cautious if you use a drive this small for anything; capacity is sure to become a point of contention pretty quickly.

Best SSD for ~$70: Boot Drive

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. Even with the 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 this drive 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.

Best SSD for ~$100: Boot Drive

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 choice is 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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  • aznshinobi
    Kingston has truly stepped up their SSD game, Their HyperX SSDs are a huge step from where they were with their basic Kingston SSDs. Good Work.
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    This is EXACTLY the article I wanted, since I want to get an SSD soon! Great review, though a bit short... maybe could do boot time comparison?

    This 60GB OCZ Agility 3 seems like a great option and costs only $100... well, $156 'round here :( Still, it has the best read/write speeds for the price; anyone having issues with that drive? Don't want to run into some BS for that much money...

    Any other good drive for that money? The hierarchy chart has many models listed, but very few made it in the "Best" categories.
  • cumi2k4
    I don't get this sentence: "a file operation completes 85% faster on a low-end SSD than it does on a high-end hard drive, but there is only an 88% speed difference between a high-end hard drive and a high-end SSD"

    does this mean there's only 3% margin difference between low-end and high-end ssd?

    Also i don't get the chart...does this mean OCZ Agility 3 60 GB (tier 9) is worse than OCZ Agility 3 120 GB (tier 8) in speed? or is it just due to less capacity?

    (sorry this is my first time to foray into ssd...budget user here ;))
  • Anonymous
    Just bought Samsung 470 128GB on Newegg for $179.99.
    Great deal, if you ask me. And the speeds are absolutely amazing!
    Lucky me, sale ended day after I ordered mine. $229.99 at the moment.
    Seq read 200 MB/s
    Seq write 245 MB/s
    Rand read 28000 IOPS
    Rand write 15000 IOPS
  • sceen311
    I think breaking it down, Best buy for capacity would be > then for the money.
  • radium69
    Crucial M4 hands down ;)
    Reliability is #1 priority
    Don't forget that!

    Can we see some failure and RMA rates please!
  • flong
    Finally, an SSD hierarchy that actually matches the data of other professional reviewers with the exception of the M4. A much better job by TH for this article.

    However, the Muskin 120GB is the top dog for 120GB SSDs. It beats most 240GB drives including the Vertex 3 240GB in most benchmarks. This is phenomenal for a 120GB drive.

    I still don't get the obsession with Crucial M4 as it is slower than the top tier SSDs. I am not sure why it keeps getting recommended as it is not faster and there is no reliable data to show it is more reliable. Maybe someone can chime in and explain why TH chose the M4?
  • flong
    radium69Crucial M4 hands down Reliability is #1 priorityDon't forget that!Can we see some failure and RMA rates please!

    There are no comprehensive reliability studies for SSDs so why do you think that the M4 is more reliable than any other SSD? Also, if reliability is your top goal then Intel's SSDs supposedly are the most reliable though we have no data to confirm this factually.
  • flong
    ViciousDeliciousJust bought Samsung 470 128GB on Newegg for $179.99.Great deal, if you ask me. And the speeds are absolutely amazing!Lucky me, sale ended day after I ordered mine. $229.99 at the moment.Seq read 200 MB/sSeq write 245 MB/sRand read 28000 IOPSRand write 15000 IOPS

    The Kingston Hyer X is $179.99 on Newegg right now and it is more than twice as fast. What is the attraction to the Samsung 470? I am asking sincerely, not in a smart ass way.
  • thrawn1799
    Why is Samsung left off this list? Yes, I read about the reason they left off the 830 series but that still doesn't explain why the 470 is excluded.
  • Anonymous
    Like thrawn1799 said... Where are the Samsung SSD?
    The 470 are very good ones. And the new ones, 830.
    Good performance and the reliability is on pair whit Crucial M4.
  • chudei
    Best xxxxx for the money are my favorite articles. Keep up the good job Toms Hardware.
  • uruquiora
    well done Tom, thanks, this is exactly the kind of articles i like...
    I would love to see in // a reliability chart ... No mention has been made of all the BSOD problms on the vertex 3 series for instance...
    I understand Intel is the ultimate at the moment but apart from them, i'd love a pro and cons comparison, not only a $/capacity comparison...
  • wolfram23
    I'm rather surprised with those power consumption numbers. Takes a lot more juice (10x) for not a lot more performance (2x)
  • JohnnyLucky
    I'd like to see a real world blind test between the fastest and slowest ssd's. By that I mean real people doing real things with real software on pc's that are identical except for the ssd's.
  • dark_lord69
    Just wanted to say I really like these "Best SSD's for the Money" articles.
    Actually while I'm mentioning it I like video card and CPU ones too!
  • CaedenV
    Could we see the iops instead of the mb/s? I think that would help some of the questions people are having between different drive picks.
    Also, SSDs are hard to compare as they are build for different needs. Intel SSDs tend to be slow and expensive, but very reliable. Some smaller SSDs are great performers, but not for 'single drive use' as you put it. Other larger drives have great throughput (mb/s), but lower iops which is what makes an SSD a good boot/program drive (OCZ Solid/Agility/Vertex is a prime example of this). It would be less confusing to see more separation between the intended use of each drive and then review, rather than throwing them all in the same monolithic list and having a million price point tiers.
  • Anonymous
    flongThe Kingston Hyer X is $179.99 on Newegg right now and it is more than twice as fast. What is the attraction to the Samsung 470? I am asking sincerely, not in a smart ass way.

    I'm with you on this one. My monitoring of NewEgg customer reviews leaves me to believe that the smaller population of Samsung SSD owners (470) are experiencing much lower failure rates, albeit at a reduction of performance. Reliability > performance in my opinion. Apple and a few other OEMs have been using the 470 for a while and at least Apple has had good success with their reliability.

    I'm waiting for the Samsung 830. ;)
  • cadder
    Once again I shall step in as the SSD watchdog.

    I started at the bottom and looked up the user feedback on newegg for the recommended models. The BEST of these had at least 34% of the users that were extremely dissatisfied, the WORST had 66%, that's a full 2/3 of buyers, that were extremely dissatisfied with their purchases. I cannot understand how toms can recommend a product that 1/3 to 2/3 of buyers will be dissatisfied with. Intel, Crucial, Plextor and Samsung seem to have the best reliability, OCZ the worst.

    Research for yourself and think carefully before buying.

    OCZ Vertex Plus 60gb
    66% dissatisfied

    OCZ Agility 3 60gb
    40% dissatisfied

    OCZ Agility 3 120GB
    34% dissatisfied

    Adata S511 120gb
    44% dissatisfied

    Patriot Wildfire
    34% dissatisfied
  • cadder
    flongThere are no comprehensive reliability studies for SSDs so why do you think that the M4 is more reliable than any other SSD? Also, if reliability is your top goal then Intel's SSDs supposedly are the most reliable though we have no data to confirm this factually.

    There is nothing truly scientific, but the next best thing are the user feedback ratings on newegg. You can research what past buyers have said about the drives and make up your own opinion. If 10% of the feedback of one product is bad, and 66% of the feedback of another product is bad, which would you feel safe in spending your own money on? There has got to be a reason that 66% of feedback is bad, and I don't want to spend my money just so I can find out firsthand what that reason is.