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Best SSDs For The Money: March 2015

Best SSDs For The Money: March 2015
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As CPU performance hits new and unforeseen heights, processors increasingly spend time waiting on data from hard drives. This is what makes storage today's most glaring bottleneck, and overcoming it requires an SSD. At the end of the day, the real-world differences between SSDs in a desktop environment aren't altogether large. The most noticeable performance increase occurs when you go from a hard disk to just about any solid-state drive.

With that said, there are measurable attributes separating one SSD from another. But you'll need to approach a purchasing decision as the sum of many parts. Within individual apps, you'll hardly notice the difference between most SATA 3Gb/s and faster SATA 6Gb/s drives. It's the more taxing workloads that make a faster device worth owning.

So, if you don’t have the time to read the benchmarks, or if you don’t feel confident enough in your ability to pick the right drive, fear not. Every month, we publish a simple list of the best SSDs for the money across the full spectrum of capacities.

March 2015 Updates

March is an important month for client storage. The products introduced at CES in January are hitting our lab, and the CeBIT announcements should start rolling out soon. From here, we look forward to Computex in June, when PCIe-based products will flood the premium performance market with NVMe in tow.

Last month we reviewed Samsung's SM951 PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD, the first high-performance m.2-based SSD offered in 2015. It's the fastest consumer drive available. But it's still rare. Enthusiasts looking to tap the PCIe bus for high-speed storage can turn to the XP941 in 128, 256 and 512GB capacities for around $1/GB or less. However, waiting for the SM951 in those capacities is worthwhile, we think.

Crucial made a lot of noise at CES with the introduction of two new client families: BX100 and MX200. The BX100 utilizes Silicon Motion's SM2246EN controller, which took the market by storm a year ago. Crucial and SanDisk are the first NAND flash fabs to adopt the controller, giving Silicon Motion a big win.

The MX200 sounds like an MX100 replacement, but Crucial tells us that both products will coexist for the time being. Like the MX100, the MX200 uses a Marvell controller. Its big change involves the flash on its PCB. Crucial moved to Micron 16nm NAND and brought in a new SLC cache layer to buffer data writes. This increases performance in many workloads and also helps endurance. 

Phison also has several new design wins with its new S10 controller (Corsair's Neutron XT, Patriot's Ignite and Mushkin's Striker are all selling online). Kingston will have a 2.5" model soon as well. The S10 uses advanced ECC technology to increase endurance with three-bit-per-cell (TLC) flash, though early products based on the drive are using two-bit-per-cell memory. The S10 is still missing some advanced features that Phison plans to introduce later at the firmware level.

Along with new editors comes new testing methodologies. Check out How We Test HDDs And SSDs for more information about how the latest storage devices are evaluated at Tom's Hardware.

MORE: Storage in the Forums

Top Values In SATA SSDs

About Our Recommendations

  • We only recommend SSDs we've actually tested.
  • There are several criteria we use to rank SSDs. We try to evenly weigh performance per dollar at each capacity tier and recommend what we believe to the best drive based on our own experiences and information garnered from other sources.
  • The list is based on U.S. prices from online retailers. In other countries or at retail stores, your mileage will most certainly vary.
  • These are new SSD prices. No used or open-box offers are in the list.
  • Our picks should be valid throughout the month of publication, but SSD pricing is especially competitive, and a $15 difference can be the reason why one SSD makes the list, while another does not.
  • Prices and availability change on a daily basis, but the embedded green links provide real-time pricing

256GB SSD Recommendations

512GB SSD Recommendations

1TB SSD Recommendations

Best SSDs In Charts

MORE: How We Test HDDs And SSDs
MORE: Storage in the Forums

Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor at Tom's Hardware, covering Storage. Follow him on Twitter @chrisramseyer and on Facebook. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

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  • 0 Hide
    adamovera , March 16, 2015 11:56 PM
    Archived comments are found here: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/id-2463736/ssds-money-august-2012.html
  • 7 Hide
    blackmagnum , March 17, 2015 12:15 AM
    Sandisk Extreme is the Performance King! Where's Samsung?
  • 1 Hide
    CRamseyer , March 17, 2015 12:32 AM
    A close second. The Extreme PRO delivers better latency under heavy workloads.
  • 1 Hide
    Nuckles_56 , March 17, 2015 1:47 AM
    Looks like samsung really lost out this month as they don't have a single SSD there at all
  • 0 Hide
    CRamseyer , March 17, 2015 1:50 AM
    We're starting to see some waves on 850 Pro pricing. We'll have to see where all of the drives are next month.
  • 1 Hide
    SessouXFX , March 17, 2015 2:13 AM
    I have the 240GB Extreme Pro. It's money in the bank.....
  • 0 Hide
    mapesdhs , March 17, 2015 3:17 AM

    I obtained a 240GB Arc 100 recently, was surprised how well it performed. Full archive of test images here for
    AS-SSD, CDM, HDTachRW and Atto (many more models to test when I can find the time).

    Ian.

  • 0 Hide
    unityole , March 17, 2015 4:12 AM
    i got 2 sammy 850 pro in raid 0 and sandisk extreme pro in raid 0 in same machine with same clock rate/ram, the later definitely a tad faster and more snappy when multi tasking. tad faster as in less than 1-2 seconds lol.
  • 0 Hide
    Redline Tat Ann Loa , March 17, 2015 4:40 AM
    Sandisk Extreme PRO only for performance? Are you kidding?
  • 0 Hide
    The_Trutherizer , March 17, 2015 4:56 AM
    Its nice to see that SSD's prices have basically halved since I bought mine. And since performance is a subjective thing people should bear in mind that even relatively low performance SSDs still perform well enough to blow your hair back. But of course also that a system drive does not need much more than 256GB at present. Only enterprises really need massive storage with massive speed all in one.
  • 0 Hide
    PraxGTI , March 17, 2015 7:21 AM
    I think it is crazy that Toms rarely looks at Intel Solid State drives. We have done many SSD deployments and frankly nothing has been as reliable long-term as Intel. They are at a slightly higher price point, but it is due to a clear gap in quality between the average "consumer" drive and an Intel drive.
  • 0 Hide
    TNT27 , March 17, 2015 8:11 AM
    would the 250gb 850 evo be better? if i get it ~ 100$ (96$ where i live right now)
  • 0 Hide
    CRamseyer , March 17, 2015 9:37 AM
    There is a lot to cover over the next few weeks.

    I do test Intel SSDs and you will find Intel products in the reviews as comparison products. When Intel releases a new drive we will have it day 1. Intel does have a very low return rate that dates back quite a while. Other companies have also released return data that shows low return rates but none that data back as far as Intel's release.

    There is a comment that says users don't need more than 256GB at present. Not all users are the same. Three of us in the house just downloaded the new Battlefield last night. The game downloads 31GB of data and then installs the game. Tack on a few other modern games and it's easy to chew through a terabyte drive.

    In the same vein, not everyone uses their computer the same way. In our new SSD reviews we show different workloads so we can point out what drives work best at light and heavy workloads. Some of our advanced testing will show things not always on the surface and not always spoken about in FOB reviews that most are used to reading. Every test we publish has some degree of preconditioning involved. Seemingly routine tests like measuring sequential read and write speeds will show performance closer to what you will come across in your computer.
  • 0 Hide
    Chris Droste , March 17, 2015 10:14 AM
    the Crucial MX100 is ridiculously good for the money when it comes to SSDs. I was paranoid about the life of the chips since it's only crucial doing 16mm while most others are mixing and matching 19, 20, even 25mm Flash which early on seemed a lot more robust. Something about the Crucial stuff thankfully is they don't seem to suffer the same P/E penalties the other manufactures do. I got my 512GB for $209 out the door at the local Micro Center last year and other than an occasionally lose SATA cable i couldn't be happier.
  • 0 Hide
    zodiacfml , March 17, 2015 10:51 AM
    Nice...now that they're affordable and reasonably priced, I have set my eyes on the m.2 drives. I'm also on wait and see on NVMe.
  • 0 Hide
    josejones , March 17, 2015 11:00 AM
    "March is an important month for client storage. The products introduced at CES in January are hitting our lab, and the CeBIT announcements should start rolling out soon. From here, we look forward to Computex in June, when PCIe-based products will flood the premium performance market with NVMe in tow."

    Are you saying we have to wait until June before SSD's with NVMe for consumers will be available? If so, then, what's this countdown clock from Intel all about then as it ends at the end of March claiming "The next revolution in solid state drives is coming in ... 14 days

    http://www.intelgamingpromo.com/intel15b/ssd/notice?s=myce
  • 0 Hide
    josejones , March 17, 2015 11:04 AM
    M.2 and SSD's 20 to 40 Gbps with NVMe
    http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1843654

    http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/280390-32-sata-satae/page-2
  • 0 Hide
    ilter , March 17, 2015 12:08 PM
    I excited about samsung pls analys that.
  • 0 Hide
    unityole , March 17, 2015 3:56 PM
    850 pro still very decent though
  • 0 Hide
    unityole , March 17, 2015 3:58 PM
    samsung is terrible, well they like to use high performing number to mask whatever other little issues/problem they have.
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