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Best SSDs: $110 And Under

Best SSDs For The Money: February 2012

Best SSD for ~$50: Boot Drive

Kingston SSDNow S100 (Check Prices)

Kingston SSDNow S100
16 GB
Sequential Read
230 MB/s
Sequential Write75 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
2.26 W
Power Consumption (Idle)1.08 W

Kingston's SSDNow S100 series is really intended for industrial use, and we're told that you'll find these drives in toll booths, Redbox machines, and ATMs. While this is not a performance-oriented SSD, it is a decent choice that can breathe new life into an aging machine. Most of us tend to write less data than we read. If you want a quick way to speed up your home rig, a budget SSD is all you need because drives like this one offer read speeds that outpace conventional disks.

However, you are forced to adopt a dual-drive configuration. With only 16 GB of capacity, the S100 only works as a Windows 7 32-bit boot drive (64-bit requires 20 GB). All of your programs and personal files need to be installed on a secondary hard drive. We've also had readers write in conveying bad experiences using drives that were too small for Windows to conduct its update operations. Be cautious if you use an SSD this small; capacity is sure to become a point of contention pretty quickly.

Best SSD for ~$65: Boot DriveĀ 

Patriot Torqx 2 (Check Prices)

Patriot Torqx 2
32 GB
Sequential Read
270 MB/s
Sequential Write230 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
5.3 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.5 W

Most first-generation SandForce-based drives are slated to disappear soon. That's because it costs almost the same to manufacturer second-gen SandForce-based hardware. The process of this phase-out is creating a few really good deals, though.

This month, Patriot's 32 GB Torqx 2 is a bargain when you consider it sells for the same price as the 30 GB Vertex Plus based on the older Indilinx Barefoot controller. Just one word of caution: Patriot is overstating the sequential write performance of this drive at 230 MB/s because it provides a single spec for all capacities. As we know, that's not how SSDs work. The actual number should be closer to 100 MB/s or so.

Best SSD for ~$80: Boot Drive

Crucial m4 (Check Prices)

Crucial m4
64 GB
Sequential Read
415 MB/s
Sequential Write95 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
0.15 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.065 W

Crucial dropped the price on its 64 GB m4 by $20 between last month and now, making it cheaper than Mushkin's 60 GB Chronos ($85) and OCZ's 60 GB Agility 3 ($90). In most situations, that makes the m4 a better buy. Really, though, that recommendation depends on how you're using your system.

From a performance standpoint, the 64 GB m4 boasts superior random and sequential read speeds compared to SF-22XX-based SSDs with asynchronous memory like the 60 GB Agility 3 (read our 60/64 GB SSD round-up for more). On the other hand, the m4's write performance falls behind the Agility 3. But given our experiences with benchmarking real-world traces, read specifications remain the most important component of any consumer-oriented SSD.

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  • -1 Hide
    andy5174 , February 28, 2012 4:15 AM
    How could Intel 520 be omitted in Hierarchy Chart? It's currently the most reliable and the absolute no. ONE SSD !
  • -1 Hide
    b8453942 , February 28, 2012 4:17 AM
    Here's another resource if you're planning to buy value for money ssds

    This website tracks the daily prices of SSD's to find the best value for money drives on the market. Check You can also view the daily price charts for comparisons

    Here's the #1 ranked drive at the moment 256GB OCZ Synapse priced at $209.99 or $0.82 per gigabyte.

  • 0 Hide
    hmp_goose , February 28, 2012 4:26 AM
    Why does the $300~400 page even exist when that Chronos Deluxe kicks soooo much ass?
  • 2 Hide
    b8453942 , February 28, 2012 4:44 AM
    Opps here's the correct link
  • 0 Hide
    compton , February 28, 2012 5:44 AM
    The 240GB Mushkin Chronos D is a hell of a deal. I have the 120GB version, but I'm thinking about stepping up to the 240.
  • 5 Hide
    belardo , February 28, 2012 9:18 AM
    Reason to buy the intel 320 or 520 drives? RELIABILITY. Check Newegg and other online complaints... constant BSOD, performance drops, TRIM not available or working right, out-right failure... especially from OCZ. I've set up X25M in many systems without a hitch. And in some benchmarks, especially random - the X25M still holds its own.

    I just built two systems with the 320 in one and the 520 in the other, otherwise same mobo Z68 Mobo and i5-2500K CPU. Both booted into Win7 in about 24 seconds (power on) / 11Sec after POST. Run a benchmark afterwards and the 520 is much faster in many categories, but not much better than the 320 in random read... but the i520 can do everything with much less CPU utilization. (0~4%) compared to the i320's 4~35%!

    Intel has excellent SDD tools... which OCZ doesn't have, period. I worked on a rather new system with an OCZ, went to their site for utility tools... nothing.

    Intel also includes a 3.5" bracket and cables (okay $5~10 worth of goods), a CD and a big-ass sticker that says Speed Demon. The removable plastic retainer is handy for different size drive bays. (intel doesn't include smaller screws when its removed... scotch tape works)

    In the store I bought the latest SSDs, they have a basket full of 128GB $110 OCZ Petrol drives in cheap plastic... I don't think anyone would bother to steal them. (The intels are in a cage) - Yep, I'd take the $200 i320 SATA II over the $110 SATA 3 OCZ Petrol... the reviews for that drive are bad... very very slow drives with very fast failure rates. Lots of DOA and lots of deaths 1~50 days of use.

    OCZ, trying to make a few bucks selling cheap drives ends up crapping on their own brand name. Something intel and Samsung try very hard to NOT do.... making crap is a way to drive away customers.

    Intel drives, not the very fastest... but 5year support, minimal failure makes them worth every penny.
    Read the horror stories on newegg.
  • 2 Hide
    Ragnar-Kon , February 28, 2012 12:20 PM
    belardoIntel drives, not the very fastest... but 5year support, minimal failure makes them worth every penny.Read the horror stories on newegg.

    I agree, 5 year support is hard to beat, and Intel drives are definitively the most reliable.

    My second choice (and the drive I have) is Crucial's M4 line. Yes they had some BSOD problems in the past, but they rolled out a firmware update to fix that awhile back. Now I find them as the next-best option to Intel's SSDs.

    I personally avoid OCZ drives like the plague, as well as any other SandForce-based drives. If I'm going to be spending that much money per GB, I want it to be rock solid.
  • 2 Hide
    cknobman , February 28, 2012 12:30 PM
    I have no complaints from my Corsair Force 3 120GB SSD that was only $135. Going 6 months strong with not a single BSOD.

    Sorry but Intel is just not worth that big of a price difference. If they were at least a little more competitive I would be willing to pay a few extra bucks but not 150-170% more. Frack that.

  • 2 Hide
    CaedenV , February 28, 2012 1:11 PM
    120GB Chronos has a 3 year warranty and costs $143
    120GB Intel 520 has a 5 year warranty and costs $225

    Assuming SSDs drop in price by 50% and doubble performance every 2 years (which may be a little optimistic on performance, but should not be too far out of the ballpark on cost), you could buy the cheap drive now, plus a 2nd much faster and potentially much larger drive for ~$50-70 in 3 years and still cost less than the Intel drive did in the first place. For home/small business use this is a much better way to go, but always back up your system drive (even if you are on a traditional HDD).

    For business/enterprise where things are more 'mission critical' and down time costs thousands of dollars per hour, the Intel drive is still the way to go. The idea is not that you would not replace the drive within 5 years (because you probably will), but that you would replace the drive on your time table instead of when the drive fails on you and you need to replace it.
  • 0 Hide
    BattleshipLorenzen , February 28, 2012 1:56 PM
    Another vote for Corsair Force 3 120GB. Paid $160 - $30 MIR (approved) = $130 back in December. And although their rebate company isn't great, Corsair is known for paying rebates themselves if the company screws you (and you have your copies of the form with UPC stapled, etc., of course).

    No BSOD. Win7 64 login screen ~7-8 seconds after POST with i5-2500k at stock speed. I love my SSD.
  • 0 Hide
    gsacks , February 28, 2012 2:04 PM
    The 128GB version of the M4 also dropped in price last month as is generally available for around $160. At least is was at the time that I decided to buy. I can't say how it performs, because I haven't installed it yet.
  • 0 Hide
    OntarioHero , February 28, 2012 2:16 PM
    Cheaper sandforce alternatives don't seem to last as long as their warranties do. For power users who keep regular clones of their drives, SSD dying once in a while is probably not a big deal, but for regular lazy bloke like myself who only have 1 desktop system and no spare drives, and don't do regular backups, spending the extra $100 and getting an intel drive buys so much peace of mind.
  • 0 Hide
    jaquith , February 28, 2012 3:08 PM
    Best SSD for the money entirely depends on the PRICE to CAPACITY/....PERFORMANCE the DAY you're BUYING the SSD. I've seen what I wanted go up $50 in one day and it's nearest competitor go down by $50 the same day, plus Rebates. $100 savings sure influences my choices on consumer SSD's. Obviously, daily pricing complicates the hell out 'choosing' the 'best' ; assuming money still matters and to me it does!

    Take the $100 saving and buy a better GPU, CPU, HSF, etc. The vast majority of folks couldn't tell the fastest from the slowest SSD 9/10 times. Nor am I recommending purchasing a sub-par aka unreliable SSD. IMO - 1. Reliability 2. Capacity per price, and don't bother with an SSD smaller than 120GB; if one's 550MB/s 120GB @ $190 and another is 500MB/s 180GB @ $190 then get the larger capacity if it's reliable, and don't get hung-up with 550MB/s vs 500MB/s -- reality is it's all about 4KB random R/W -- not ATTO fastest oddball sized R/W speeds.
  • 0 Hide
    josejones , February 28, 2012 4:22 PM
    Where is the very best place to purchase that Intel 520, 120G "Cherryville" from in order to get the best price? Is it Newegg or that ssdtracker website?

    I have to play it safe and go with an Intel SSD for our small business. I'd rather get a cheaper one but, I can't afford to get cheap on reliability and lifespan.

    I've never had an SSD before so I'm curious about basic maintenance. What all do I need to know before getting my first SSD?
  • 0 Hide
    balister , February 28, 2012 5:25 PM
    When are you guys going to finally update your read speed on the Crucial M4s? After the M002 firmware, the read speed went to 500 MB/s, it hasn't been at 415 MB/s for over 10 months now.
  • 0 Hide
    OntarioHero , February 28, 2012 5:29 PM
    I've never had an SSD before so I'm curious about basic maintenance. What all do I need to know before getting my first SSD?

    Make sure AHCI is enabled in bios, and install Windows 7. That's it. Windows 7 will automatically install in correct partition alignment, enable TRIM, disable defrag etc. You don't have to do any extra work.

    Some people may tell you to do further maintenance (disable indexing, page files, etc), but that's absolutely unnecessary.
  • 0 Hide
    ph1sh55 , February 28, 2012 5:43 PM
    The chronos deluxe is already OOS at both newegg and amazon (and price rose on amazon). Call it the tom's hardware effect
  • 0 Hide
    dcompart , February 28, 2012 8:34 PM
    It's exciting to see the Mushkin Chronos Deluxe on the list. I bought one while back during the awesome Xmas and New Years sales (saved well over $300 on my build with rebates) and couldn't be happier with the drive and bought another for a family member's build. Great drive! I hope my checks in the mail Mushkin!
  • 0 Hide
    A Bad Day , February 28, 2012 9:24 PM
    It would be nice if the price per gigabyte was listed. Although for some people who also take in consideration of the performance, the price per gigabyte would be useful for the budget spenders as the slowest SSDs runs in circles around the fastest HDDs.
  • 0 Hide
    tsnor , February 28, 2012 10:45 PM
    comptonThe 240GB Mushkin Chronos D is a hell of a deal. I have the 120GB version, but I'm thinking about stepping up to the 240.

    Consider also buying another 120gb for a 2 X 120GB in raid0 array... should be faster and a smaller price for you. Most MBs have raid0 support baked in.
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