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After Valentine's Day, SSDs prices fell once again, and we updated our list to reflect those changes. This month, the best deals are found in the $200-300 range, and there's one bargain in our list for a 240 GB SSD that you simply will not want to miss.
Detailed solid-state drive specifications and reviews are great—that is, if you have the time to do the research. However, at the end of the day, what an enthusiast needs is the best SSD within a certain budget.
So, if you don’t have the time to read the benchmarks, or if you don’t feel confident enough in your ability to pick the right drive, then fear not. We at Tom’s Hardware have come to your aid with a simple list of the best SSD offered for the money.
Earlier this month, Intel launched its second prosumer-oriented SSD. Dubbed the SSD 520 (check out Intel SSD 520 Review: Taking Back The High-End With SandForce for more), the successor to its SSD 510 leverages an SF-2281 controller, which means that Intel joins a large crowd of vendors building drives based on SandForce's technology. Great, right?
But what makes this SSD any different from the others (which incidentally already benchmark very similarly)? If you only look at performance, there's not a lot different. The SSD 520 is on par with OCZ's Vertex 3. No shocker there. We already know that two SF-22XX based SSDs deliver the same performance, so long as they share a similar memory interface. Both the Vertex 3 and SSD 520 employ synchronous NAND.
It’s true that vendors like Intel can make their own optimizations, and indeed the company claims that its firmware is all its own. Overall, though, those tweaks are outweighed by firmware elements that all SF-22XX-based SSDs have in common. After all, it's SandForce's engine. And that's why we see so many similarities reflected in the benchmark results.
So, if performance isn't an attribute associated with the brand you buy, how do you sort through the mountain of SandForce-based SSDs?
Intel, specifically, claims to use higher-quality NAND skimmed from the top bin of IMFT's production. If you were previously a little nervous about the cost-cutting measures competing vendors take to compete more aggressively on price, Intel's move could be reassuring. Conveying further confidence is Intel's five-year warranty, which easily bests the three-year coverage on most other SSDs.
You do pay more for the promise of superior support, though. At the low end, a 60 GB SSD 520 runs $2.25 per GB. In contrast, OCZ's Vertex 3 is only $1.63 for the same amount of capacity. That's a fairly tough sell. After all, we haven't seen any evidence of NAND endurance issues from other SandForce-based SSDs.
Some Notes About Our Recommendations
A few simple guidelines to keep in mind when reading this list: