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Best SSDs: $200 To $300

Best SSDs For The Money: April 2012
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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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