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Best SSDs For The Money

Best SSDs For The Money
By

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.

June 2015 Updates

Last month saw several SSD reviews published. The Intel SSD 750 400GB delivered the goods when it comes to performance, but we're not fans of the smaller capacity compared to Samsung's 512GB SM951. The SSD 750 is faster than the SM951-AHCI in many tests, but things will soon change when SM951-NVMe devices ship next month. Our article that compares SM951-AHCI to SM951-NVMe to the 850 Pro shows exactly how much faster new PCIe-based storage is in relation to older SATA technology.

At Computex, we learned the controller Intel uses on the DC P3700 and SSD 750 supports LDPC advanced ECC. The show previewed several SSD updates, from new PCIe controllers ready to take over the market, to very low cost SSDs that will soon ship in OEM systems. Every major player is ready to tackle both the high and low end of the market: Marvell, Seagate SandForce, JMicron, Micron, Silicon Motion and Phison. Phison was the big winner though, with two important updates. The first was the S10 controller running with 2TB of capacity. On the other end of the performance scale, Phison displayed a new NVMe controller that scales to 1TB: the PS5007-E7. Several companies displayed NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4 controllers, but Phison was the only company ready to hand over the goods to reviewers. Several companies had the new PS5007-E7 in booths as well. This leads us to believe that new products are just around the corner. Of the products on display, G.Skill had the most polished, with the Phoenix Blade X

There are no changes to the charts this month. We expect some changes next month when new low cost SSDs come out of testing. We also expect some Samsung announcements soon, although the Samsung SSD Global Summit has been postponed due to the MERS outbreak in South Korea.

MORE: How We Test HDDs And SSDs
MORE: All Storage Articles

MORE: Latest Storage News

MORE: Storage in the Forums

Top Values In 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 SATA Recommendations

512GB SATA Recommendations

1TB SATA Recommendations

M.2 PCIe Recommendations

Best SSDs In Charts

MORE: How We Test HDDs And SSDs
MORE: Latest Storage News

MORE: Storage in the Forums

Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware, covering Storage. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Follow Tom's Hardware on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

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  • 0 Hide
    adamovera , June 21, 2015 11:48 PM
    Archived comments are found here: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/id-2634957/ssds-money-august-2012.html
  • 0 Hide
    CRamseyer , June 22, 2015 7:31 AM
    I've already been called out on Twitter about the 850 EVO vs. Extreme PRO pricing. The 850 EVO 250GB is down to around $80 look around.
  • 0 Hide
    TechyInAZ , June 22, 2015 8:51 AM
    Seeing those prices reminds me of the days a few years ago when 120GB SSD's were $120 and the 480GB SSD's were $480. Now 2+ years later they are less than half that price.
  • 1 Hide
    Frozen Fractal , June 22, 2015 12:29 PM
    That's it? Just few scrolls? Okay. (no complaints on this though)

    But, would've been better if 128GB or lower recommendations were listed. There's confusion (and I think more than 256GB & up) there too. And including steady state, degrade and recovery performance along with mixed workload charts would be a nice idea too imo.
  • 0 Hide
    CRamseyer , June 22, 2015 12:49 PM
    On the back end we are working on improvements to show more performance data. Everyone will be very happy with the new system once implemented.
  • 0 Hide
    samuelspark , June 22, 2015 1:03 PM
    How does the SM951 compare to to 850 EVO m.2 version?
  • 0 Hide
    CRamseyer , June 23, 2015 9:20 AM
    The 850 Pro is faster than the 850 EVO (even the m.2). In the article linked below you can see a comparison of the SM951 against the 850 Pro.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/samsung-sm951-nvme-versus-ahci-sata,4137.html

  • 0 Hide
    Omkarjtg , June 24, 2015 12:31 AM
    Umm, is there anything wrong with 128gb SSDs? Why aren't they mentioned here?
  • -1 Hide
    geopirate , June 24, 2015 2:05 PM
    Well 128gb SSDs are $80+ and are guaranteed to be slower than the $97 one listed here with 256gb. So, if you want to flush your money down the drain, don't expect them to support that....
  • 0 Hide
    alan1476 , June 25, 2015 9:26 AM
    Hi: If the Samsung 850 Pro 1TB and the Sandisk Extreme Pro 960gb were the exact same price, would your recommendations change?
  • 0 Hide
    Frozen Fractal , June 25, 2015 10:50 AM
    I guess yes. Recommendation would then favour 850 Pro.
  • 0 Hide
    CRamseyer , June 27, 2015 3:38 AM
    Mine wouldn't. The Extreme PRO stays fast when I slam the drive editing 1080P 60FPS video (very large video files) and the 850 Pro can slow down. Larger capacity drives (512GB and 1TB class) has more room to absorb the writes but if your drives are nearly full the Extreme PRO is faster.
  • 1 Hide
    cynic77 , June 28, 2015 12:00 AM
    Quote:
    Mine wouldn't.


    You didn't consider Opal 2.0/IEEE-1667 compliant, hardware encryption capability. That's where the Extreme PRO fails for me. If you don't need or want encryption, fine. However, I think it was silly for SanDisk not to offer hardware encryption on this drive for those that want it. If you use an SSD as a boot drive (or for document storage), you definitely want it encrypted. This is especially true on a laptop, which is easily lost or stolen. Software encryption on HDDs was extremely slow, but using BitLocker in Windows 8.x eDrive mode, it's nearly instantaneous. As such, I'll take the 850 Pro, thanks!
  • 0 Hide
    Omkarjtg , June 28, 2015 6:16 AM
    Quote:
    Well 128gb SSDs are $80+ and are guaranteed to be slower than the $97 one listed here with 256gb. So, if you want to flush your money down the drain, don't expect them to support that....


    I see, but that's not the case here in my country. The Samsung 840 EVO 120GB costs around $97, and the cheapest 250GB i.e Samsung 840 Series MZ-7TD250BW costs $198! That's double the price.
  • 0 Hide
    danielocdh , June 30, 2015 12:39 PM
    Why is kingston not included here? on all the comparisons I have seen kingston wins in performance.
  • 0 Hide
    CRamseyer , June 30, 2015 12:52 PM
    What Kingston drive wins in performance? Maybe you are reading sites that don't have access to Samsung SM951 products and they are show Predator against SATA products.
  • 0 Hide
    DacianH , July 2, 2015 1:26 AM
    The prices are down even with 40% for some SSDs compared to the presented ones. The article needs to be updated maybe?
    Anyway, if you want to make a decision from a Budget point of view, make sure you check the prices on Amazon instead of in this article.
  • 0 Hide
    fhorton50 , July 8, 2015 1:41 PM
    The 500mb EVO 850 were available on Ebay earlier today for $150
  • 0 Hide
    BARAYANDSHOP , July 9, 2015 4:00 AM
    This is wrong because you are comparing brands that are profitable to you Mygdaryd
  • 0 Hide
    michlle , July 12, 2015 8:55 PM
    does anyone know how the crucial series fare against those mentioned above?
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