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Best SSDs: $110 And Under

Best SSDs For The Money: April 2012
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SSDs prices continue to fall, and we're updating our list of recommendations to reflect those changes. This month, the best deals are found in the $200-350 range. In particular, keep an eye out for 240 GB SSDs priced closer to $1/GB than we've ever seen.

Best SSD for ~$55: Boot Drive

Corsair Nova 2 (Check Prices)

Corsair Nova 2
30 GB
Sequential Read
280 MB/s
Sequential Write250 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
1.3 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.2 W

Since the beginning of our Best SSD For The Money series, Kingston's 16 GB S100 monopolized our most entry-level SSD position. Things are changing this month, though, as vendors try to unload their first-gen SandForce-based models. It costs almost as much to manufacture drives based on the controller company's second-gen hardware, which is significantly faster. The result of this phase-out is creating a few really good deals, and that's why we're switching over to Corsair's 30 GB Nova 2.

Although the Nova 2 gets our recommendation, we have to caution you about Corsair's specs. Sequential write performance for this 30 GB drive is overstated at 250 MB/s. The company provides a single performance number for all of its capacities, but we know that's not accurate. Actual write performance should max out closer to 100 MB/s or so.

The speed of a low-capacity SSD might not compare well to larger models, but it's still going to be significantly better than installing your operating system on a hard drive. Our previously-recommended 16 GB Kingston S100 only worked as a Windows 7 32-bit boot drive due to the OS' space requirements. Windows 7 64-bit requires 20 GB, so shifting up to 30 GB gives you a little more freedom. There's not enough space to install much else; however, if you manually manage your space, booting from a low-capacity SSD can significantly improve system responsiveness.

Best SSD for ~$75: Boot Drive

OCZ Agility 3 (Check Prices)

OCZ Agility 3
60 GB
Sequential Read
525 MB/s
Sequential Write475 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
2.7 W
Power Consumption (Idle)1.5 W

According to Ten 60 GB SandForce-Based Boot Drives, Rounded-Up, comparing the out-of-box performance of entry-level drives based on the company's second-gen controller reveals very few differences.

What we do know, however, is that synchronous NAND enables slightly better numbers than asynchronous memory in certain situations. Because it does, in fact, employ asynchronous NAND, OCZ's Agility 3 isn't the fastest model available. But when it's priced at $75, you do get a reasonable amount of capacity for operating system files and a handful of critical apps. Moreover, OCZ's SandForce-based SSD does well with regard to power efficiency, too. So, it's getting our recommendation this month.

Best SSD for ~$105: System Drive

Kingston SSDNow V200+ (Check Prices)

Kingston SSDNow V200+
90 GB
Sequential Read
535 MB/s
Sequential Write480 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
3.23 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.57 W

Many of us find it inconvenient to manually track where apps and data reside across multiple drives. Higher-capacity SSDs cost more, but they also offer the freedom to worry less about where stuff goes, and to simply enjoy the speed and responsiveness of flash-based storage. We consider 90 and 96 GB drives the baseline for installing an operating system and all of your important apps without getting excessively expensive. From there, user data goes on a larger and more cost-effective magnetic disk.

Kingston seems to agree, which is why its 96 GB SSDs have been such a success. Other vendors sell products at a similar capacity point, but among the 90 GB SSDs leveraging SandForce's second-gen technology, the V200+ impresses us with the lowest price tag.

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Top Comments
  • 12 Hide
    eddieroolz , April 26, 2012 4:49 AM
    I think I'd be going with a Crucial m4 for its superb reliability.
  • 12 Hide
    Anonymous , April 26, 2012 4:47 AM
    for me reliability & gigabyte/$ are the only criteria that should matter for most consumers looking for SSDs .
    especially 1st time buyers.
Other Comments
  • 12 Hide
    Anonymous , April 26, 2012 4:47 AM
    for me reliability & gigabyte/$ are the only criteria that should matter for most consumers looking for SSDs .
    especially 1st time buyers.
  • 12 Hide
    eddieroolz , April 26, 2012 4:49 AM
    I think I'd be going with a Crucial m4 for its superb reliability.
  • 4 Hide
    hellfire24 , April 26, 2012 4:55 AM
    i agree that crucial drives are not the fastest but they are a great value with high quality and reliability.
  • 4 Hide
    kyuuketsuki , April 26, 2012 5:00 AM
    Those Mushkin drives that consistently sit at or under the $1/GB mark are simply killer. If I had some money to burn, I'd have already popped a 240GB one in my system.
  • 1 Hide
    hmp_goose , April 26, 2012 5:43 AM
    I'm still lost, after all these months: Why are there drives with higher prices listed after the Chronos Deluxe?

    Honorable Mentions for laptop use? The price premium surely doesn't cover 16GB of extra capacity …
  • 1 Hide
    sirencall , April 26, 2012 6:33 AM
    I got an OCZ Agility III for my aging laptop and made that thing into a screamer and boots faster than my cell phone. I paid 150 for it and it is 120gb so I think it was a pretty sweet deal and a great investment.....it also managed to double my battery life somehow lol. What I want to see is a review of msata SSD's for those who have a mobo with a built in msata port since its hard to find a which ones would fit the board since there are various types that are not true msata and thus result in wasted money
  • 3 Hide
    slomo4sho , April 26, 2012 6:42 AM
    How is the reliability on the Samsung drives?
  • 2 Hide
    ikyung , April 26, 2012 7:51 AM
    Currently using an M4 on my laptop and the Samsung 830 which I got couple months ago in my desktop. Both are superb devices.
  • 2 Hide
    noobnerd , April 26, 2012 8:22 AM
    call me when they're 50 cents per gig. i r broke
  • 2 Hide
    SkyWalker1726 , April 26, 2012 8:54 AM
    Agility 3 User , boots fast , Read/Write Fast :) 
  • -5 Hide
    __-_-_-__ , April 26, 2012 9:13 AM
    crucial m4 better then samsung 830?!?!? WHAT A JOKE. wonder how much crucial paid toms. I upgraded from a crucial to a samsung and I can see clearly the improvements.
  • -9 Hide
    Anonymous , April 26, 2012 9:47 AM
    ssd drives now still do not give the bang for buck in terms of capacity compared to HDDs..
  • 1 Hide
    blackbirden , April 26, 2012 10:05 AM
    Does Toms have any idea how well the Plextor M3 Pro series performs compared to the rest of the crowd,
    it seems a bit intresting. But i cant tell from reviews ,
    some shows very exelent performance others not so good.

  • -3 Hide
    ubercake , April 26, 2012 12:36 PM
    SSDs are kind of ugly. This is one of those monthly articles that could use one of the Tom's models to spice it up a bit.
  • 1 Hide
    catchphrase , April 26, 2012 1:18 PM
    Recently bought an Intel 820 120GB from Newegg, on sale for under $140. It's now the boot and gaming drive for a Core Duo system. In my opinion, even operating on SATA3, it has proven a very effective upgrade.
  • -5 Hide
    catchphrase , April 26, 2012 1:18 PM
    Recently bought an Intel 820 120GB from Newegg, on sale for under $140. It's now the boot and gaming drive for a Core Duo system. In my opinion, even operating on SATA3, it has proven a very effective upgrade.
  • 2 Hide
    Onus , April 26, 2012 1:32 PM
    I'd like to see more focus on reliability. I've had to RMA 2/5 SSDs, and lost some data when they died. I added a Samsung 830 recently, and I hope it holds up; it is backed up weekly onto a mechanical drive.
  • 2 Hide
    grizzlebee , April 26, 2012 2:03 PM
    As Kyuuketsuki said, I'd go with the Mushkin for $1/GB. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226236
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , April 26, 2012 2:12 PM
    Mushkin Chronos Deluxe 240gb for CAN$199 after MIR... just ordered one... for once we are getting some deals. http://www.ncix.com/products/?sku=62972&vpn=MKNSSDCR240GB%2DDX&manufacture=Mushkin%20Enhanced&promoid=1058
  • 0 Hide
    inflexion , April 26, 2012 2:38 PM
    I was fortunate enough to pick up a Crucial M4 128gb last month for $1 per gigabyte to my doorstep a little over a month ago. I have been using it as my primary drive in my work laptop and I have been very impressed. Good performance and rock solid. I would recommend if you can find it in that price range. I wanted the Samsung 830 that Toms recommends this month. I am in the market for 2 more 128 gb drives and maybe I can get one for $1 a gig in the coming months.
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