Best SSDs For The Money: October 2011

Best SSDs: $110 To $200

Best SSD for ~$110: Performance Boot Drive

Crucial m4
64 GB
Sequential Read
415 MB/s
Sequential Write95 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 Write180 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 Write500 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 Write70 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.

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62 comments
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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.
    2
  • 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.
    0
  • 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 ;))
    0
  • 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
    0
  • sceen311
    I think breaking it down, Best buy for capacity would be > then for the money.
    0
  • radium69
    Crucial M4 hands down ;)
    Reliability is #1 priority
    Don't forget that!

    Can we see some failure and RMA rates please!
    8
  • 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?
    0
  • 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.
    -4
  • 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.
    1
  • 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.
    0
  • 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.
    2
  • chudei
    Best xxxxx for the money are my favorite articles. Keep up the good job Toms Hardware.
    3
  • 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...
    0
  • wolfram23
    I'm rather surprised with those power consumption numbers. Takes a lot more juice (10x) for not a lot more performance (2x)
    -1
  • 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.
    1
  • 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!
    0
  • 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.
    0
  • 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. ;)
    0
  • 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
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227738
    66% dissatisfied

    OCZ Agility 3 60gb
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227725
    40% dissatisfied

    OCZ Agility 3 120GB
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227726
    34% dissatisfied

    Adata S511 120gb
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820211551
    44% dissatisfied

    Patriot Wildfire
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820220599
    34% dissatisfied
    3
  • 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.
    2