Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Best SSDs: $110 To $200

Best SSDs For The Money: January 2012
By

Best SSD for ~$110: Performance Boot Drive

Samsung 830 (Check Prices)

Samsung 830
64 GB
Sequential Read
520 MB/s
Sequential Write160 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
.11 W
Power Consumption (Idle).08 W

We know that SSDs based on SandForce's DuraClass technology demonstrate different behavior depending on the data with which they're presented. That is to say incompressible data like media-oriented files and actively-encrypted partitions isn't handled as elegantly as compressible information.

In contrast, the behavior of Samsung's drive doesn't change based on the data it handles. And, as if to illustrate its all-around performance, this SSD won our 2012 Recommended Buy Award in a recent 60/64 GB SSD round-up.

Mobile Users: Honorable Mention for $120: System Drive (OS + Programs)

OCZ Nocti (Check Prices)

OCZ Nocti (mSATA)
60 GB
Sequential Read
280 MB/s
Sequential Write260 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
1.5 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.3 W


Intel's SSD 310 seems to be in short supply, as we can't find it for sale at any major retailer. Fortunately, since our first look at the mSATA interface, other SSD vendors have have stepped in to fill that space. Although we haven't yet had the chance to test OCZ's Nocti, and therefore cannot officially recommend it, we're willing to give competing mSATA-based solutions a shot. Just bear in mind that this product is based on a lower-end second-gen SandForce controller only capable of 3Gb/s speeds. Moreover, it employs MLC-based NAND.

Every mSATA SSD we've seen (including the Nocti) only uses half of its available NAND channels, which is why we wouldn't ever substitute a drive like this for a 2.5" SSD on a desktop. But our inclination here is based on form factor, not performance. mSATA lets you keep your notebook's high-capacity SATA-based conventional disk, facilitating access to the best of both worlds.

Best SSDs for ~$140: Performance 90 GB

OCZ Vertex 3 (Check Prices)

OCZ Vertex 3
90 GB
Sequential Read
550 MB/s
Sequential Write500 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
3 W
Power Consumption (Idle)1.65 W

Wow. This is one of the best deals we've seen on solid-state storage. In the past, paying $140 meant you were stuck with an SSD armed with asynchronous memory, even if that was enough money to buy you into the second-gen SandForce controller club.

The result, of course, was that you'd end up at the bottom of the performance hierarchy compared to the other SF-2200-based drives. OCZ seems to be extra aggressive this month, though, and we're seeing a Vertex 3 (with synchronous NAND) in the lower stratum of the price band. Though it's only selling for that price at Newegg, we wouldn't hesitate to jump on this deal.

Best SSDs for ~$185: Performance 120 GB

OCZ Vertex 3 (Check Prices)

OCZ Vertex 3
120 GB
Sequential Read
550 MB/s
Sequential Write500 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
3 W
Power Consumption (Idle)1.65 W

Choices are limited on a tight budget. In our opinion, you're better off buying two smaller SSDs or saving up for a more expensive drive like OCZ's 120 GB Vertex 3, which earned our 2011 Recommended Buy award. Previously, we recognized the functionally-equivalent Adata 120 GB S511, which is also still a great deal. But aggressive pricing this month has the OCZ offering a few dollars cheaper on Amazon, which is why you see the company surfacing yet again on our list.

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 38 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 2 Hide
    compton , January 24, 2012 3:11 AM
    The 830 is a very impressive specimen, and the newer Marvel + Toggle NAND drives are excellent as well. But I want a big plate of Cherryville, and I was hoping the NDA would lift tonight...

    The best value in a new drive is probably whichever SF2281 with sync NAND is cheapest, but avoid the 60GB models. The price/performance mix at the 64GB level is the 830. At higher capacities it's a toss-up though.
  • 6 Hide
    sincreator , January 24, 2012 3:31 AM
    I think that reliability should be a big factor in all the categories. I've read from numerous sites that the M4 crucial drives and Intel drives are the most reliable, and I also know that the sandforce drives have a firmware update that fixes the issues that once existed. What I don't know and what alot of other people don't know is how reliability stands up between all the drives. Would be interesting to find out though, I guess after 3 or 4 years we'll start finding out.
  • 0 Hide
    sincreator , January 24, 2012 3:33 AM
    I almost forgot...Why is it that SSD drives typically only have 3 year warranties, and higher end conventional spinning drives get 5 years? Anyone?
  • 0 Hide
    Dacatak , January 24, 2012 4:01 AM
    SuperTalent has been selling a 64GB SSD rated at 540/490 MB/s read/write for under $110 for a while now, yet this is never mentioned for some reason. Shouldn't this take the Samsung 830's position at the $110 mark?
  • 1 Hide
    lunyone , January 24, 2012 8:25 AM
    Where does this SSD below fit into the equation?
    $130-140 shipped ~$1.16/GB
    SanDisk Ultra SDSSDH-120G-G25 2.5" 120GB SATA II Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
  • 0 Hide
    lashabane , January 24, 2012 8:39 AM
    lunyoneWhere does this SSD below fit into the equation?$130-140 shipped ~$1.16/GBSanDisk Ultra SDSSDH-120G-G25 2.5" 120GB SATA II Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

    You should check out their oh so informative video on their website:

    sandisk-solid-state-drive

    I wasn't able to find any info anywhere in regards to what kind of flash memory it uses so no clue where it would stand in the charts.
    Based on size and pricing, I would imagine it being tier 9 or 10
  • 2 Hide
    jammur , January 24, 2012 11:46 AM
    Are you sure the crucial m4 256GB is really better than the 240GB OCZ Agility 3. The reads and writes MB/s in your table are both SIGNIFICANTLY lower. So I'm paying ~$60 more for an extra 16GB that are A LOT slower. Is that right?
  • 6 Hide
    RealBeast , January 24, 2012 12:40 PM
    sincreatorI think that reliability should be a big factor in all the categories. I've read from numerous sites that the M4 crucial drives and Intel drives are the most reliable, and I also know that the sandforce drives have a firmware update that fixes the issues that once existed. What I don't know and what alot of other people don't know is how reliability stands up between all the drives. Would be interesting to find out though, I guess after 3 or 4 years we'll start finding out.

    The best information that I've found on ssd reliability is a study of a large etailer and its returns (all drives had over 500 sales) and they update the table a couple times a year HERE. Intel and Crucial really stand out in their reliability measure.
  • 0 Hide
    Nintendo Maniac 64 , January 24, 2012 1:11 PM
    No love for the OCZ Onyx 32GB? Its read performance is about only half as fast as the Kingston 16GB, but the write speed is about the same and has twice as much space.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227510

    It also seems to be one of, if not OCZ's most reliable SSD. (all of their other models are under par reliability-wise)
  • 0 Hide
    sincreator , January 24, 2012 1:15 PM
    RealbeastThe best information that I've found on ssd reliability is a study of a large etailer and its returns (all drives had over 500 sales) and they update the table a couple times a year HERE. Intel and Crucial really stand out in their reliability measure.


    Thanks for that. :)  Pretty interesting write up for sure. I was really surprised to see Asus motherboards have 4 out of the top 6 returned motherboards, and not just their low end boards either.lol. I also thought that Corsair would of beat out Antec/Thermaltake in the PSU department...I guess not. Either way I guess we have to take those figures with a grain of salt though since it's just information from one e-tail outlet, and not the numbers from the companies themselves. It's not like they would share the real numbers anyway though. haha.
  • 0 Hide
    ctbaars , January 24, 2012 1:45 PM
    Get a Tier 1 SSD for the same price as a Teir 3's recommended here. While the sale lasts. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226226
  • 1 Hide
    rmpumper , January 24, 2012 2:11 PM
    I don't get it, maybe someone can help:
    - why do they label the SSD's differently, i.e. "Performance Boot Drive" or "System Drive (OS + Programs)" - what's the difference in real world? Does that mean that you can't use Samsung 830 for software/games or something?
  • 0 Hide
    LukeCWM , January 24, 2012 2:35 PM
    Any word on the SATA 3 replacement?
  • 1 Hide
    jaquith , January 24, 2012 2:48 PM
    LukeCWMAny word on the SATA 3 replacement?

    SATA Express will increase the speeds to 8Gb/s and 16Gb/s. My best guess is 2013 at the earliest.

    The 180GB Corsair Force Series GT CSSD-F180GBGT-BK has an excellent Cost/GB : Performance, I just ordered a couple the other day.
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , January 24, 2012 3:24 PM
    Interesting, Realbeast. As an admitted Antec fanboy, the PSU results don't really surprise me, but WD return rates going up fully explains why they are decreasing their warranty coverage. It looks like they've decided they are no longer interested in my business. Once I start buying drives again, I'll keep it to Samsung and/or Seagate.
    Hopefully some Newegg managers are seeing this; I'd love to see something similar done with Newegg return rates (although I suppose that might cost them all or most of their Diablotek and Logisys PSU sales).
  • 0 Hide
    josejones , January 24, 2012 3:45 PM
    When will the PCIe SSD Interface support PCIe 3.0?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 24, 2012 4:36 PM
    What about OCZ's Octane (with the new firmware)? Not enterprise...

    And whether or not the SSDs have native encryption or not is very important - since they can't be erased. This should certainly be included in the chart.
  • 1 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , January 24, 2012 5:58 PM
    "When will the PCIe SSD Interface support PCIe 3.0?"

    PCI-e 3.0 slots require the use of an Intel Ivy Bridge CPU. Currently there are no Intel Ivy Bridge CPU's. It's going to be a while before the new standard is fully implemented.
  • 3 Hide
    Pawessum16 , January 24, 2012 6:53 PM
    I'm sorry but with no weight on reliability for these drives, this review makes absolutely no sense. It also doesn't make sense when you give an honorable mention to a drive for mobile use just because it has 2x the write performance when the "performance" drive above it gets 10x better power consumption. I think most of us here know that if you want to buy an SSD, go to Newegg, list the drives in order of rating, and go from there. PS from user reviews I've seen Intel is no longer the holy grail of reliable drives. They're highly overpriced and putting a recommendation on them is questionable (at most honorable mention worthy). I've seen pretty good consistent reviews from other drive makers, and OCZ seems to be consistently the worst in reliability. Then again this all comes from a person with no first hand experience, but from others' experiences, it appears to me.....
  • 2 Hide
    deanjo , January 24, 2012 7:43 PM
    Without comparitive benchmarks of the drives with data that can and can't be compressed this article is useless as not everyone's uses for these drives are the same. Someone using it for a boot drive and someone using it for video editting for example have very different requirements.
Display more comments