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Best SSDs: $110 To $200

Best SSDs For The Money: April 2012
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Best SSD for ~$120: Performance System Drive

Kingston HyperX 3K (Check Prices)

Kingston HyperX 3K
90 GB
Sequential Read
555 MB/s
Sequential Write510 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
2.11 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.46 W

SandForce-based SSDs come armed with one of three memory interfaces: Toggle-mode DDR, synchronous, and asynchronous. Although controllers are often said to play the biggest part in defining an SSD's performance, the type of flash memory used has a large effect, too. In fact, when you compare SandForce-based SSDs, the drives with perform well without breaking the bank. As a result, we find that Kingston's 90 GB HyperX 3K is a solid choice.

Best SSDs for ~$140: Performance 120 GB

SanDisk Extreme (Check Prices)

SanDisk Extreme
120 GB
Sequential Read
550 MB/s
Sequential Write510 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
0.6 W
Power Consumption (Idle)?

While SanDisk was a little slow to jump on the SandForce bandwagon, its new Extreme SSDs impress and join the ranks of Kingston's HyperX 3K, Patriot's Wildfire, and Mushkin's Chronos Deluxe. All four employ Toggle NAND and really help extract the best performance from SandForce's second-generation controllers. Fortunately, what SanDisk lacked in punctuality it makes up for with attractive pricing.

As the lowest priced 120 GB Toggle-mode SF-22xx SSD, we're recommending SanDisk's 120 GB Extreme for those who want performance and capacity. As we said, 90 GB is a floor of sorts for getting an OS and important apps onto an SSD. But 120 GB provides enough space to add personal files and big game installs to the mix.

Best SSDs for ~$160: Performance 128 GB

Samsung 830 (Check Prices)

Samsung 830
128 GB
Sequential Read
520 MB/s
Sequential Write320 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
.15 W
Power Consumption (Idle).08 W

We know that SSDs based on SandForce's DuraClass technology demonstrate different behavior depending on the data with which they're presented. That is to say incompressible data like media-oriented files and actively-encrypted partitions isn't handled as elegantly as compressible information.

In contrast, the behavior of Samsung's drive doesn't change based on the information it handles, and the 830-series drives are arguably the fastest MLC-based offerings available, generally outpacing Crucial's m4. If you look at retail prices, the 830 costs just as much as the m4, too, making Samsung's SSD the better deal.

Best SSDs for ~$190: Budget 180 GB

OCZ Agility 3 (Check Prices)

OCZ Agility 3
180 GB
Sequential Read
520 MB/s
Sequential Write320 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
.15 W
Power Consumption (Idle).08 W

There are a lot of good deals under $200 for enthusiasts looking to get the most capacity for their dollar. Although the 180 GB Agility 3 doesn't quite achieve the magic $1/GB boundary, it gets pretty darned close. As such, we're recommending it as a remarkable value.

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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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