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We've added more SSDs to our database and observed a number of significant price changes in the past month. As a result, this months recommendations undergo a notable revamp. And to those of you waiting for a hierarchy table at the end, it's here!
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.
Wow, what a month. A couple of weeks ago, we published Investigation: Is Your SSD More Reliable Than A Hard Drive? This turned out to be one of our most popular storage articles.
There's no debating whether SSDs offer blistering performance. That that doesn't really matter if you can't trust the device holding that important information. When you read about Corsair's Force 3 recall, OCZ's firmware updates to prevent BSODs, Crucial's link power management issues, and Intel's SSD 320 that loses capacity after a power failure, all within a two-month period, you have to acknowledge that we're dealing with a technology that's simply a lot newer (and consequently less mature) than mechanical storage.
The idea has always been that fewer moving parts translate to greater reliability, but that's not supported by research from NAND experts or failure rates in the field. Based on all the information we have so far, it appears that SSD failure rates model those of hard drives.
Of course, our study largely ignores two other issues that were brought up in the comments section: shock resistance and write endurance. We consider these to be separate from media reliability, which was our primary focus. Shock resistance is a form of durability, and when it comes to mobile devices, there is no comparison. SSDs are vastly superior when it comes to reliable operation in extreme environments. That's why solid-state technology is used by space and aircraft. So, if you have a notebook, SSDs are an excellent way to introduce a performance boost and provide a little security against accidental drops. As for write endurance, we showed why it shouldn't be your top concern. Just look pack to the first page of the reliability story if you missed it.
In the end, our investigation shouldn't deter you from adopting solid-state technology; we're still bullish on SSDs overall. For those who want to take that first step, we highly recommend reading Crucial's m4 SSD Tested At 64, 128, 256, And 512 GB and Second-Gen SandForce: Seven 120 GB SSDs Rounded Up. To sum them up, the 120/128 GB capacity point continues to be what we consider a sweet spot, where you get the best performance without overspending. That's why Crucial's 128 GB m4 and OCZ's 120 GB Vertex 3 took our 2011 Recommended Buy awards.
Some Notes About Our Recommendations
A few simple guidelines to keep in mind when reading this list: