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Best SSDs: $300 To $400

Best SSDs For The Money: January 2012
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Best SSDs for ~$300: High-Capacity Option

OCZ Agility 3 (Check Prices)

OCZ Agility 3
240 GB
Sequential Read
525 MB/s
Sequential Write500 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
2.7 W
Power Consumption (Idle)1.5 W

If you are willing to spend more to get a better deal, you're going to want more capacity, and a recent price drop on OCZ's 240 GB Agility 3 immediately caught our attention. This month, you're being asked to pay $300 for 240 GB, which comes out to $1.25 per gigabyte. That's 9% less than last month's 240 GB Force 3 at $315.

Now, we've seen a few first-gen SandForce drives priced a few bucks cheaper at the same capacity point. However, even if you don't own a 6 Gb/s-capable motherboard, we still recommend the Agility 3 because of its ability to fully saturate a SATA 3Gb/s controller, whereas older solutions options can't.

Best SSDs for ~$360: Performance & Capacity Option

Crucial m4 (Check Prices)

Crucial m4
256 GB
Sequential Read
415 MB/s
Sequential Write260 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
.15 W
Power Consumption (Idle).10 W

If you're looking for a higher-capacity SSD with a more performance-oriented flavor, we're torn between Crucial's 256 GB m4 and OCZ's 240 GB Vertex 3. Both hover around the same price and offer similar performance. Last month, our decision was simple. The 256 GB m4 and 240 GB Agility 3 were comparably-priced, and the m4 won without contest. Things got more interesting this month, though, thanks to price drops by OCZ on the Vertex 3 line.

Now we're weighing the pros and cons a bit more carefully, as both drives are clearly performance leaders. In a desktop environment, most data written sequentially tends to be compressible, favoring the Vertex 3. When it comes to reads, the two drivers perform similarly. But once you take into account that the m4 also offers more user-accessible space, we think Crucial's drive takes a victory.

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.

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