Best SSDs: $110 To $200
Best SSD for ~$110: Performance Boot Drive
|Crucial m4||64 GB|
|Sequential Read||415 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||95 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||.150 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||.065 W|
Even if you aren't planning to upgrade to a SATA 6Gb/s-capable motherboard quite yet, the 64 GB m4 offers good SATA 3Gb/s performance. Of course, it's really designed to plug into third-gen SATA controllers, though, enabling read speeds in excess of 400 MB/s.
We've heard readers complain that SSDs based on SandForce's technology are affected by performance degradation when they're forced to operate on incompressible data. That's mostly an issue for folks moving lots of media-oriented information or employing a form of active encryption, such as TrueCrypt. The behavior of Crucial's drive doesn't change based on the data it handles.
Best SSDs for ~$150: Single-Drive Configuration
|Kingston SSDNow V+100||96 GB|
|Sequential Read||230 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||180 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||3.6 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||0.05 W|
If you want to use your SSD for more than simply installing an operating system and a few apps, the 90 GB capacity point is your next stop. Kingston specifically sells the 96 GB SSDNow V+100 to address that market.
Although this drive uses a Toshiba controller, it performs roughly on par with SandForce's first-gen logic, which you can also find at this price range. The V+100 isn't the fastest drive around, but it does give you more capacity. Thus, it's no surprise that our choice at this price point has more to do with price per gigabyte than performance.
Best SSDs for ~$180: Single-Drive Configuration
|OCZ Agility 3||120 GB|
|Sequential Read||525 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||500 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||2.7 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||1.5 W|
There are some decent deals for 120 GB second-gen SandForce SSDs right around $180. Everything in this range still centers on asynchronous flash memory, but it's hard to beat the price per gigabyte and performance offered by these drives.
Be aware that 120 GB first-gen SandForce SSDs are also being sold in this price range, so you need to make sure that you're purchasing second-gen SandForce hardware if you really want a good deal on elevated performance.
Mobile Users: Honorable Mention for $190: System Drive (OS + Programs)
|Intel SSD 310 (mSATA)||80 GB|
|Sequential Read||200 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||70 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||0.15 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||0.075 W|
The 40 GB SSD 310 only uses half of its available NAND channels, and it costs too much to be a value contender in the desktop space. The performance of the 80 GB model feels much closer to the X25-V in a much smaller form factor. If our recommendation was based on price alone, this wouldn't make our list. But mSATA lets you keep your notebook's high-capacity SATA-based hard drive too, which means you get the best of both worlds.