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Best SSDs: $300 To $400

Best SSDs For The Money: February 2012
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Best SSDs for ~$310: 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 performance-oriented flavor, Crucial's 256 GB m4 is a solid purchase. Last month, OCZ's 240 GB Vertex 3 put up stiff competition, but the m4 wins hands down thanks to a $50 price drop.

If you want to weigh each model's performance strengths, the comparison gets a little trickier. In a desktop environment, most data written sequentially tends to be compressible, favoring the Vertex 3. When it comes to reads, the two drives perform similarly. But once you take into account that the m4 also offers more user-accessible space and a lower price, we think Crucial's drive is the clear victor.

Best SSDs for ~$360: High-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 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 the 240 GB Vertex 3, while only commanding a 3% 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.

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