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Tom's Hardware's SSD Hierarchy Chart

Best SSDs For The Money: August 2011
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We understand that SSD prices make it difficult to adopt the latest technology. Maybe that's why you aren't too keen on blowing a couple hundred dollars on solid-state storage, especially when you can spend the same amount and buy four 2 TB hard drives or a high-performance processor. That's why it's important to put things into perspective.

Over the past five years, CPU performance has hit new and unforeseen heights, and processors are increasingly spending time waiting on data from hard drives. This is what makes storage today's most glaring bottleneck. Overcoming it requires an SSD.

As a point of comparison, a file operation completes 85% faster on a low-end SSD than it does on a high-end hard drive, but there is only an 88% speed difference between a high-end hard drive and a high-end SSD. That why you shouldn't let less aggressive benchmark results at the low-end deter you from making the switch. You don't have to have the best SSD to get great performance relative to a hard drive.

Many of you have been requesting some sort of SSD hierarchy chart, which we're finally going to start providing. However, there are multiple ways to rank SSDs. Performance rankings can change drastically based on the following:

  • seek distance (random versus sequential)
  • transfer size
  • queue depth
  • amount of data


We're going to rely on the information provided in our Storage Bench v1.0, as it ranks performance in a way that reflects average daily use for a consumer workload. This applies to gamers and home office users. The chart has been structured so that each tier represents a 10% difference in performance. Some rankings are educated guesses based on information from testing a model at a different capacity or a drive of similar architecture. As such, it is possible that an SSD may shift one tier once we actually get a chance to test it. Furthermore, SSDs within a tier are listed alphabetically.

There are several drives that we're going to intentionally leave out of our hierarchy list. Enterprise-oriented SLC- and 512 GB MLC-based SSDs are ignored due to the extreme price they command (and the difficult we have getting samples in from vendors). Furthermore, SSDs with a capacity lower than 60 GB are left off because of the budget nature of that price range.

SSD Performance Hierarchy Chart
Tier 1
Adata S511 240 GB
Corsair Force GT 240 GB
Mushkin Chronos Deluxe 240 GB
OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS 240 GB
Patriot WildFire 240 GB
Tier 2
Kingston HyperX SSD 240 GB
OCZ Vertex 3 240 GB
Tier 3
Intel SSD 510 250 GB
Mushkin Chronos Deluxe 120 GB
OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS 120 GB
Patriot WildFire 120 GB
Tier 4
Corsair Force 3 240 GB
Crucial m4 256 GB
OCZ Agility 3 240 GB
Tier 5
Intel SSD 510 120 GB
Tier 6
Adata S511 120 GB
Corsair Force GT 120 GB
Crucial m4 128 GB
Kingston HyperX SSD 120 GB
OCZ Vertex 3 120 GB
Tier 7
OCZ Agility 2 240 GB
OCZ Vertex 2 240 GB
Tier 8
Corsair Force 3 120 GB
Intel SSD 320 300 GB
OCZ Agility 3 120 GB
OCZ Solid 3 120 GB
Tier 9
Kingston SSDNow V+100 128 GB
Intel SSD 320 160 GB
OCZ Agility 3 60 GB
Tier 10
Crucial m4 64 GB
Intel SSD 320 80 GB
OCZ Agility 2 120 GB
OCZ Vertex 2 120 GB
OCZ Solid 3 60 GB
Other first-gen 120 GB SSDs
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  • 0 Hide
    jjb8675309 , August 26, 2011 4:19 AM
    got a crucial m4 a few months ago and love it what an improvement
  • -5 Hide
    Anonymous , August 26, 2011 7:40 AM
    Where is OCZ Vertex 3, is more faster than Adata and Crucial crap and it's only 200$
  • -6 Hide
    flong , August 26, 2011 8:15 AM
    The Crucial SSDs are interesting but they are slow compared to comparable Sandforce drives. The do well in 4k writes but are slower in all other benchmarks. I am not sure why they are recommended here. The Intel 310 is similarly slow and again and Intel has had recent reliability problems (the 8GB bug) and so they can no longer claim the to be the most reliable.

    So the Crucial and the Intel SSDs are again on this months list and I cannot follow the reasoning as to why. Here is a review of the M4 in today's Hardware Canucks. The 120GB Wildfire absolutely spanks the 256GB M4 in nearly every benchmark and it is half the size. The reviewer does say it is a good alternative to the 2281 Sandforce drives with Trim support - however the third generation Sandforce drives absolutely spank the M4 in almost every situation but non-Trim environments.

    The Kingston Hyper Extreme is now the fastest 120 GB SSD available. To be fair to Tom's, they haven't tested it yet.

    While I respect these choices, the only one I agree with is the recommendation of the Patriot Wildfire or the Mushkin Extreme for an enthusiast. The fact that they use more expensive high quality RAM sells me to them. However the Kingston Hyper 120 GB is testing as significantly faster in pro reviews and it is cheaper.
  • -1 Hide
    flong , August 26, 2011 8:17 AM
    Sorry, I did not post the link for the review, it is here:

    http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canucks-reviews/45718-crucial-m4-256gb-ssd-review.html
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 26, 2011 10:45 AM
    Right Now the OCZ Agility 3 is $164.99 after MIR at Newegg http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227726 and TigerDirect for $159.99 http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=557372&CatId=5300. However not for the faint of heart, you will need to do some firmware update most likely, but if you like tinkering....
  • 3 Hide
    Max_DTH , August 26, 2011 11:46 AM
    Guys, what do you think about idea of SSD's in RAID 0?
    2x Crucial m4 64GB in RAID 0 vs Crucial m4 128GB - the same capacity, the same price.
    2x Crucial m4 128GB in RAID 0 vs Crucial m4 256GB - the same capacity, RAID is $75 more expensive.
    RAID would have higher failure rate, but I suppose that in both cases peformance would be higher (with two 128GB a lot I guess, because 256GB is not much faster than 128GB).
    I'm talking here about Intel's build in RAID e.g with P67 (RAID card would made thing pointless price-wise). Can it handle such SSD RAIDs getting most out of it?

    I know, that recommending RAID is not the same as recommending SLI/Crossfire, but is it worth considering when space and ports are not a problem (in my case actually they are, but I would cope with that for noticable price/performance ratio improvement :) )?
  • 0 Hide
    greenrider02 , August 26, 2011 12:39 PM
    @Max_DTH, I'm doing two 96GB Kingston SSDNow V100+ drives in RAID0 and I've had success. At $215 for a total 192 GB I could not resist. It's not that you will have problems, it's just a risk. You have to make sure you have updated firmware and RAID controllers, and be ready to do a fresh install of your operating system. Since I keep all my data on storage drives and just put OS+programs+games(with Steam backups on the storage drives) on the RAID drives, I have no qualms with wiping the drives and starting over. It only takes a few hours. And I did get an error in my RAID forcing me to do this. From what I understand, most errors in your array will not be a dead drive and can be solved by wiping the array and rebuilding it.

    So I recommend giving it a try. Good luck!

    To the article: I don't know about recommending the OCZ Agility2 240GB, as, looking at newegg reviews, it seems that most capacities of the Agility2 and Vertex2 are prone to failure compared to their competitors
  • 0 Hide
    cknobman , August 26, 2011 12:50 PM
    Wow grammatical and spelling errors are terrible in this piece, was it even reviewed?
  • 3 Hide
    Lutfij , August 26, 2011 12:55 PM
    ^ forget about it being reviewed, you now have a chart to look at to compare your buy against other SSD's...talk about being greatful!
  • -1 Hide
    Scotty99 , August 26, 2011 1:23 PM
    Sooo i just got an e-mail from newegg and these SSD's are on sale for less than 1 dollar per GB, problem is they have no reviews and i would like your guys opinion on these:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227738&nm_mc=EMC-IGNEFL082611&cm_mmc=EMC-IGNEFL082611-_-EMC-082611-Index-_-SSD-_-20227738-L0A

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227739&nm_mc=EMC-IGNEFL082611&cm_mmc=EMC-IGNEFL082611-_-EMC-082611-Index-_-SSD-_-20227739-L01C

    Also, would it be a better idea to get two of the 60gb's for raid, or just get the 120?

  • 0 Hide
    banthracis , August 26, 2011 1:53 PM
    @flong you obviously read a different review than the rest of us. Straight from the hardware canucks article

    Quote:

    The benchmark and real world performance numbers ... make the M4 a much better option than the Performance 3 in nearly every situation. It also ends up being a very good alternative to SF2281-based drives for people who have TRIM-enabled OSes.

    A combination of power and performance across a wide swath of operating environments will make the Crucial M4 a great choice for many consumers. But the most important selling point here is price. The 256GB version of this drive retails for significantly less than many comparable enthusiast level SF2281 drives and also undercuts similar Marvell-based SATA6G SSDs as well. And what’s not to like about that?

    http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canucks-reviews/45718-crucial-m4-256gb-ssd-review-13.html

    Real world results shows very little difference between the best and worst SSD's with the only exception being large file transfer times, but who the heck buys an SSD to store large amounts of media files on it?

    Wildfire 120gb is $2.30 per gb after MIR.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820220599

    M4 240gb is $1.29 per gb right now.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148443

    If anything, given the minimal real world difference, it's the wildfire and other SF drives that look like horrendous deals.
  • 4 Hide
    cadder , August 26, 2011 4:25 PM
    I think we focus too much on the speed of the SSD's. A drive that transfers 230MB/s and has very small access times might not sound good compared to a drive that transfers 550MB/s, but it is very much faster than rotating hard drives. But even at that much speed more than a rotating hard drive it doesn't make that much difference to the speed of the computer. From 230MB/s to 550MB/s might be difficult for the computer user to actually detect.

    I think the most important rating for SSD's right now should be the reliability. For instance look at the recommendation above for the OCZ Agility 3 60GB. My contention is that 39% of the users on newegg are dissatisfied with this drive. I could never consider purchasing a product where 39% of the users hated it. Another recommendation above is the Adata S511 120GB. It has similar user review statistics but there may not be enough reviews for the statistics to be valid.
  • -1 Hide
    Taracta , August 26, 2011 4:50 PM
    Are the read/write speeds given for the drive size shown? If not, WHY NOT?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 26, 2011 5:37 PM
    What no OWC products? Hardly comprehensive...
  • -1 Hide
    youssef 2010 , August 26, 2011 6:02 PM
    scotty99Sooo i just got an e-mail from newegg and these SSD's are on sale for less than 1 dollar per GB, problem is they have no reviews and i would like your guys opinion on these:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 227738-L0Ahttp://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 27739-L01CAlso, would it be a better idea to get two of the 60gb's for raid, or just get the 120?


    Get the 120GB Vertex 3. I recommend you stay away from Indilinx controlled drives. Also, as the article mentioned, 120Gigs is the sweet spot of performance and price
  • -1 Hide
    flong , August 26, 2011 6:02 PM
    banthracis@flong you obviously read a different review than the rest of us. Straight from the hardware canucks articlehttp://www.hardwarecanucks.com/for [...] ew-13.htmlReal world results shows very little difference between the best and worst SSD's with the only exception being large file transfer times, but who the heck buys an SSD to store large amounts of media files on it?Wildfire 120gb is $2.30 per gb after MIR. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6820220599M4 240gb is $1.29 per gb right now.http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6820148443If anything, given the minimal real world difference, it's the wildfire and other SF drives that look like horrendous deals.


    You have a point - especially about cost. If cost is the primary concern, then the M4 256 GB is the best choice.

    That being said - go back and check the benchmarks. The 120GB Patriot Wildfire absolutely spanks the 256 GB M4 in almost every benchmark - which is kind of embarrassing for a 256 GB drive. Will a user notice the difference? Maybe if they are used to a faster SSD. The new Kingston Hyper blows the doors off of the Wildfire and it is $256 on Newegg.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820139601

    The Kingston 120 GB SSD just flat out embarrasses the M4 as far as speed in every benchmark and it is $130 less (but it is only 120GB)

    Since we have the SATA III standard, I would like my SSD to push that standard as far as speed. The M4 doesn't. Still I can see why people like it - jeeesh $390 for a 256 GB SSD is cheap. To be fair I did acknowledge the conclusion of the review in Hardware Canucks in my above post - but I disagree with some of their points
  • -1 Hide
    larkspur , August 26, 2011 6:31 PM
    Max_DTHGuys, what do you think about idea of SSD's in RAID 0??


    Tom's has reviewed SSD RAID performance scaling here: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-raid-iops,2848.html

    Enjoy!
  • 1 Hide
    larkspur , August 26, 2011 6:35 PM
    Hi Tom's! Thanks for putting the SSD hierarchy chart in there. I was thinking it would also be really useful to add a column to that chart for controller type. A possibility?
  • -1 Hide
    banthracis , August 26, 2011 6:38 PM
    @flong
    The article is title best SSD for the money though.

    Sure some people want the absolute best damn the cost and if this article was title best performing SSD's out there, your argument is valid.

    However, in a best SSD for the money article, an average 20% performance increase on artificial benchmarks for a 78% price increase per gb makes no sense.
  • -1 Hide
    buzznut , August 26, 2011 7:23 PM
    Max_DTHGuys, what do you think about idea of SSD's in RAID 0?2x Crucial m4 64GB in RAID 0 vs Crucial m4 128GB - the same capacity, the same price.2x Crucial m4 128GB in RAID 0 vs Crucial m4 256GB - the same capacity, RAID is $75 more expensive.RAID would have higher failure rate, but I suppose that in both cases peformance would be higher (with two 128GB a lot I guess, because 256GB is not much faster than 128GB).I'm talking here about Intel's build in RAID e.g with P67 (RAID card would made thing pointless price-wise). Can it handle such SSD RAIDs getting most out of it?I know, that recommending RAID is not the same as recommending SLI/Crossfire, but is it worth considering when space and ports are not a problem (in my case actually they are, but I would cope with that for noticable price/performance ratio improvement )?


    One word: Trim. Or the lack thereof. This is the number one reason not to recommend raid for SSD's because trim can not function for raided SSDs. So what? Performance degradation, otherwise why pay extra for an SSD if its not for performance edge.
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