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Best SSDs: $200 To $300

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 SSDs for ~$230: Budget 240 GB

Mushkin Enhanced Callisto Deluxe (Check Prices)

Mushkin Enhanced Callisto Deluxe
240 GB
Sequential Read
285 MB/s
Sequential Write275 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
?
Power Consumption (Idle)?

If you value capacity over performance, keep an eye out for first-generation SandForce drives selling at bargain prices. Just be aware that several manufacturers switched from 34 nm to 25 nm NAND mid-way through their product cycle, resulting in products with less capacity. This left many of our readers with a bad impression when certain vendors didn't articulate the transition (see The OCZ Vertex 2 Conspiracy: Lost Space, Lost Speed?). After all, who wants to pay more for less capacity?

In response, Mushkin sells two Callisto Deluxe models with different names to differentiate the drives with 25 nm NAND from those equipped with 34 nm flash. The -DX suffix identifies the latter (for example, MKNSSDCL240GB-DX), while -DX2 indicates the former.

The -DX models are generally preferred for their better endurance specs, which is why Mushkin's 240 GB Callisto Deluxe with 34 nm flash gets our recommendation this month.

Best SSDs for ~$250: Premium Performance Option

Mushkin Chronos Deluxe (Check Prices)

Mushkin Chronos Deluxe
240 GB
Sequential Read
560 MB/s
Sequential Write520 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
3 W
Power Consumption (Idle)1 W

Two months ago, Mushkin's 120 GB Chronos Deluxe sold for $200. Now, we can purchase the 240 GB model for $250.

Although that's a comparison of two different capacity points, price per gigabyte drops from $1.67 per GB to $1.04. Pretty sweet, right? Considering that the Chronos Deluxe is on par with OCZ's Vertex 3 MAX IOPS and Patriot's Wildfire, this SSD is a great choice for those who want capacity and performance at a low price.

Best SSDs for ~$300: Performance Option

Crucial m4 (Check Prices)

Crucial m4
256 GB
Sequential Read
500 MB/s
Sequential Write260 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
0.15 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.10 W

If you're looking for a higher-capacity SSD with a performance-oriented tilt, Crucial's 256 GB m4 is a solid purchase. SF-22xx-based SSDs continue to sell for the lowest prices. However, Crucial's m4 gives you raw performance on a more consistent basis.

If you want to weigh each model's performance strengths, the comparison gets a little trickier. In a desktop environment, most data written sequentially tends to be compressible, favoring drives like the Vertex 3. When it comes to reads, the two drives perform similarly. But once you take into account that the m4 also offers more user-accessible space and a lower price, we think Crucial's drive is the clear victor.

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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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