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Best SSDs: $200 To $315

Best SSDs For The Money: October 2011
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Best SSDs for ~$205: Performance 120 GB

Adata S511 Series
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 Adata's 120 GB S511. While this drive has received less press than the Vertex 3, it's functionally the same. In our recent SandForce roundup, we gave the 120 GB Vertex 3 our 2011 Recommended Buy award due to better pricing. But we've also seen Adata drop its price by $35 since then. As a result, this month's recommendation goes to the 120 GB S511.

Best SSDs for ~$205: Performance Alternative 128 GB

Crucial m4
128 GB
Sequential Read
415 MB/s
Sequential Write175 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
.150 W
Power Consumption (Idle).085 W

The 128 GB m4 recently got our 2011 Recommended Buy award, which is one of the reasons it makes our list this month. If you prefer something SandForce-based, you still can't go wrong with that previously-mentioned Adata S511 drive.

Based on our Storage Bench v1.0, the 128 GB m4 performs ~44% faster than its 64 GB variant, while only offering 11% less performance than its 256 and 512 GB big brothers. The extra capacity is what you're paying for, sure. But it's good to know that buying up higher in the stack also gives you more speed, too.

Best SSDs for ~$270: Premium Performance Option

Patriot Wildfire
120 GB
Sequential Read
555 MB/s
Sequential Write520 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
?
Power Consumption (Idle)?

The Patriot Wildfire and Mushkin Chronos Deluxe are two of the fastest 120 GB SSDs that we've ever tested. Both 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, both drives come highly recommended. The Wildfire seems to be available for $10 less than the Chronos Deluxe, which is why it's getting our pick this month.

Best SSDs for ~$300: Reliable Option

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)

Despite our recent piece contending that SSDs aren't necessarily more reliable than hard drives simply because they lack moving parts, we continue to believe that Intel's SSDs are the most reliable. Our opinions are shared by data center managers in the enterprise world, who we interviewed for that story. 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 6 Gb/s drive in favor of a more mature controller with several new firmware-enabled concessions for data security. The ability to map up to one die's worth of failed blocks to redundant flash is one such improvement. 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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  • 2 Hide
    aznshinobi , October 14, 2011 4:28 AM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , October 14, 2011 5:45 AM
    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 Hide
    cumi2k4 , October 14, 2011 5:54 AM
    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 Hide
    Anonymous , October 14, 2011 6:14 AM
    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 Hide
    sceen311 , October 14, 2011 6:40 AM
    I think breaking it down, Best buy for capacity would be > then for the money.
  • 8 Hide
    radium69 , October 14, 2011 7:46 AM
    Crucial M4 hands down ;) 
    Reliability is #1 priority
    Don't forget that!

    Can we see some failure and RMA rates please!
  • 0 Hide
    flong , October 14, 2011 9:50 AM
    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?
  • -4 Hide
    flong , October 14, 2011 9:52 AM
    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.
  • 1 Hide
    flong , October 14, 2011 9:54 AM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    thrawn1799 , October 14, 2011 12:39 PM
    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.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , October 14, 2011 1:09 PM
    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.
  • 3 Hide
    chudei , October 14, 2011 1:35 PM
    Best xxxxx for the money are my favorite articles. Keep up the good job Toms Hardware.
  • 0 Hide
    uruquiora , October 14, 2011 2:13 PM
    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...
  • -1 Hide
    wolfram23 , October 14, 2011 2:16 PM
    I'm rather surprised with those power consumption numbers. Takes a lot more juice (10x) for not a lot more performance (2x)
  • 1 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , October 14, 2011 2:21 PM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    dark_lord69 , October 14, 2011 2:30 PM
    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 Hide
    CaedenV , October 14, 2011 3:46 PM
    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 Hide
    Anonymous , October 14, 2011 3:53 PM
    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. ;) 
  • 3 Hide
    cadder , October 14, 2011 4:38 PM
    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
  • 2 Hide
    cadder , October 14, 2011 4:41 PM
    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.
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