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Best SSDs: $300 To $400

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 ~$330: Performance & Capacity Option

Samsung 830 (Check Prices)

Samsung 830
256 GB
Sequential Read
520 MB/s
Sequential Write400 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
0.12 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.08 W

At the 240/256 GB capacity point, Samsung's 830 is the fastest model in our internally-generated trace, outpacing the 256 GB m4 by roughly 20%. Yet, getting this performance advantage requires that you pay an extra 15%. SandForce-based drives make for a good comparison, too, but the 256 GB 830 outperforms OCZ's 240 GB Vertex 3, while only commanding a 3% premium.

For some people, that's a justifiable reason to spend a little more money on Samsung's prosumer-oriented SSD. Others might find it smarter to set aside that cash for a faster processor. In our opinion, you should try to balance performance as much as you can.

For most enthusiasts, this really tops out the budget, especially since we imagine that you'll want even more storage for user data, necessitating a couple of 1.5 or 2 TB hard drives. There are larger SSDs out there, but the performance picture really doesn't get much better.

Best SSDs for ~$400: Honorable Mention, High Capacity mSATA

Muskin Atlas (Check Prices)

Mushkin Atlas
256 GB
Sequential Read
560 MB/s
Sequential Write530 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
2 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.7 W


Intel's SSD 310 was recently phased out. Fortunately, other SSD vendors have have stepped in to address mSATA-based SSDs since our original look at the interface. Although we haven't yet had the chance to test Mushkin's Atlas, and therefore cannot officially recommend it, we're willing to give competing mSATA-based solutions a shot.

Mushkin's Atlas is particularly interesting because it's really the first mSATA SSD that we've seen employing SandForce's second-generation controller, making it a SATA 6Gb/s stunner. In comparison, OCZ's Noci and Intel's SSD 313 (successor to SSD 310) still employ SATA 3Gb/s controllers.

In the past, every mSATA SSD we saw used only half of its available NAND channels, which is why we didn't substitute mSATA drives for 2.5" SSDs on the desktop. But Mushkin seems to have addressed throughput by using speedy 24 nm Toggle NAND from Toshiba, resulting in performance specs identical to its 2.5" Chronos Deluxe series. That's impressive in our book. mSATA lets you keep your notebook's high-capacity SATA-based conventional disk, facilitating access to the best of both worlds.

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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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