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Best SSDs: $300 To $400

Best SSDs For The Money: May 2012
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Best SSDs for ~$300: Performance & Capacity Option

Samsung 830 (Check Prices)

Samsung 830
256 GB
Sequential Read
520 MB/s
Sequential Write400 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
0.12 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.08 W

At the 240/256 GB capacity point, Samsung's 830 is the fastest model in our internally-generated trace, outpacing the 256 GB m4 by roughly 20%. Yet, getting this performance advantage requires that you pay an extra 15%. SandForce-based drives make for a good comparison, too, but the 256 GB 830 outperforms OCZ's 240 GB Vertex 3, while only commanding a $30-$50 premium.

For some people, that's a justifiable reason to spend a little more money on Samsung's prosumer-oriented SSD. Others might find it smarter to set aside that cash for a faster processor. In our opinion, you should try to balance performance as much as you can.

For most enthusiasts, this really tops out the budget, especially since we imagine that you'll want even more storage for user data, necessitating a couple of 1.5 or 2 TB hard drives. There are larger SSDs out there, but the performance picture really doesn't get much better.

Best SSDs for ~$400: Honorable Mention, High Capacity mSATA

Mushkin Atlas (Check Prices)

Mushkin Atlas
256 GB
Sequential Read
560 MB/s
Sequential Write530 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
2 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.7 W


Intel's SSD 310 was phased out earlier this year. Fortunately, other SSD vendors have have stepped in to address mSATA-based SSDs since our original look at the interface. Although we haven't yet had the chance to test Mushkin's Atlas, and therefore cannot officially recommend it, we're willing to give competing mSATA-based solutions a shot.

Mushkin's Atlas is particularly interesting because it's really the first mSATA SSD that we've seen employing SandForce's second-generation controller, making it a SATA 6Gb/s stunner. In comparison, OCZ's Noci and Intel's SSD 313 (successor to SSD 310) still employ SATA 3Gb/s controllers.

In the past, every mSATA SSD we saw used only half of its available NAND channels, which is why we didn't substitute mSATA drives for 2.5" SSDs on the desktop. But Mushkin seems to have addressed throughput by using speedy 24 nm Toggle NAND from Toshiba, resulting in performance specs identical to its 2.5" Chronos Deluxe series. That's impressive in our book. mSATA lets you keep your notebook's high-capacity SATA-based conventional disk, facilitating access to the best of both worlds.

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Top Comments
  • 12 Hide
    _zxzxzx_ , May 29, 2012 6:46 AM
    Great how Tom's hardware has an article on this every month :) 
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    DjEaZy , May 29, 2012 5:23 AM
    ... my vertex 3 still strong...
  • 2 Hide
    barracks510 , May 29, 2012 5:27 AM
    vertex=75 or 65 dollars. shows both
  • 4 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , May 29, 2012 6:00 AM
    what about Vertex4 drives?
  • 5 Hide
    acku , May 29, 2012 6:42 AM
    Quote:
    what about Vertex4 drives?

    I need to retest the 256 GB Vertex 4 because of weird results. Couldn't make it in time this month. Definately will be in next month's feature.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
  • 12 Hide
    _zxzxzx_ , May 29, 2012 6:46 AM
    Great how Tom's hardware has an article on this every month :) 
  • 2 Hide
    vestibule , May 29, 2012 7:13 AM
    Gotta love random deals on Newegg, I narrowly missed a 128 GB Crucial M4 for $110 a couple weeks ago, it was out of stock just seconds before I decided to get it. A week later they had a 256 GB one for $210 which is an even sweeter deal, it took days for that to be out of stock.

    Both were the newest version BTW, and I'm just holding on to the SDD for a bit for a build I'll do in a month or so.
  • -2 Hide
    iamtheking123 , May 29, 2012 8:50 AM
    "But if you look at performance over an entire month, you will find the 830 to be a faster performer"

    Still going to do 4x SSD's in raid 0 in my next build for the e-peen.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 29, 2012 9:07 AM
    darn, should have waited, I could have got double the space for $10 more, good to see SSD prices come down though
  • -2 Hide
    deepb , May 29, 2012 9:08 AM
    Is there a reason why the Mushkin 90GB version is recomendded over the OCZ Agility 3 90 GB version as the OCZ one is available at Amazon for 85$ http://www.amazon.com/Agility-2-5-Inch-Midrange-Performance-AGT3-25SAT3-90G/dp/B005MYFHYS/ref=sr_1_6?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1338281637&sr=1-6
  • 0 Hide
    wmfoster2001 , May 29, 2012 10:10 AM
    Would the 180Gb Intel 520 SSD belong in Tier 2 or 3?
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 29, 2012 11:23 AM
    There's a cheaper option for the 120GB drive:
    http://www.amazon.com/Mushkin-Chronos-2-5-Inch-Solid-MKNSSDCR120GB/dp/B005CGFU4I/ref=pd_sim_sbs_pc_1/177-0683581-1054634
    The only listed "Mushkin Enhanced Chronos Deluxe" is not available also.
  • -2 Hide
    juan83 , May 29, 2012 12:17 PM
    At 1$/GB i think is time to talk about raid 0, but i know little about reliability of this disks.

    2 x 90GB = 180GB and ~ 900 Mb/sec and spending 180$
  • 1 Hide
    notsleep , May 29, 2012 12:32 PM
    i managed to snag a brand new samsung 830 128 gb for $119 a couple weeks ago for my new build. it's my very first desktop ssd. one of the best thing performance wise that i noticed in my new build was the ssd. :) 
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , May 29, 2012 12:51 PM
    Remember that with Raid 0 you lose TRIM functionality and performance will degrade overtime.
  • 1 Hide
    eddieroolz , May 29, 2012 1:44 PM
    Bought a Crucial m4 128GB for $148CAD, then prices dropped to $128CAD this month. Ah well.
  • 6 Hide
    jaquith , May 29, 2012 2:00 PM
    There are so many sales that it's impossible to justify "Best" based upon MSRP. I truly wish the maximum R/W wasn't listed in this review as the headliners, especially since IOPS (R/W) and 4K (R/W) are what's important -- not to mention Reliability, $/GB, and Warranty.

    Choosing the "Best SSD" per price range needs to be a weighted scoring.
  • 3 Hide
    RaidenSix , May 29, 2012 2:06 PM
    Any particular reason the Corsair Performance Pro series was not included?
  • 3 Hide
    samuelspark , May 29, 2012 3:03 PM
    deepbIs there a reason why the Mushkin 90GB version is recomendded over the OCZ Agility 3 90 GB version as the OCZ one is available at Amazon for 85$ http://www.amazon.com/Agility-2-5- [...] 637&sr=1-6


    Mushkin Enhanced Chronos has sychronous flash and offers much better performance, comparable to the Vertex 3.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 29, 2012 3:29 PM
    The Mushkin Enhanced Chronos has asynchronous NAND.
  • 2 Hide
    TheBigTroll , May 29, 2012 3:41 PM
    mushkin chronos deluxe is awesome
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