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Tom's Hardware's SSD Hierarchy Chart

Best SSDs For The Money: April 2012
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We understand that SSD prices make it difficult to adopt the latest technology. Maybe that's why you aren't too keen on blowing a few hundred dollars on solid-state storage, especially when you can spend the same amount and buy four 2 TB hard drives or a high-performance processor. That's why it's important to put things into perspective.

Over the past five years, CPU performance has hit new and unforeseen heights, and processors are increasingly spending time waiting on data from hard drives. This is what makes storage today's most glaring bottleneck. Overcoming it requires an SSD.

At the end of the day, the real-world characteristics between SSD don't differ by a large degree. The biggest change that you'll see will be from upgrading from a hard drive. That said, there are differences between SSDs, but they have to be taken as a whole sum. Within individual apps, you'll hardly notice the difference between a Vertex 2 and Samsung's 830, but if you look at performance over an entire month, you will find the 830 to be a faster performer.

The hierarchy chart below relies on information provided by our Storage Bench v1.0, as it ranks performance in a way that reflects average daily use for a consumer workload. This applies to gamers and home office users. The chart has been structured so that each tier represents a 10% difference in performance. Some rankings are educated guesses based on information from testing a model at a different capacity or a drive of similar architecture. As such, it is possible that an SSD may shift one tier once we actually get a chance to test it. Furthermore, SSDs within a tier are listed alphabetically.

There are several drives that we're going to intentionally leave out of our hierarchy list. Enterprise-oriented SLC- and 512 GB MLC-based SSDs are ignored due to the extreme price they command (and the difficult we have getting samples in from vendors). Furthermore, SSDs with a capacity lower than 60 GB are left off because of the budget nature of that price range.

In order to simplify the landscape, we're going to omit brand names for those vendors leveraging SandForce. There are simply too many to list. At a given capacity, performance breaks down based on memory type, and this is their order of performance, from highest to lowest.

  1. SandForce controller with Toggle DDR NAND (Mushkin Chronos Deluxe, Patriot Wildfire, OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS, OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G)
  2. SandForce controller with Synchronous ONFi NAND (OCZ Vertex 3, Corsair Force GT, Kingston HyperX/HyperX 3K, Intel SSD 520)
  3. SandForce controller with Asynchronous ONFi NAND (OCZ Agility 3, Corsair Force 3, Mushkin Chronos, Patriot Pyro, OWC Mercury Electra 6G)
SSD Performance Hierarchy Chart
Tier 1
240 GB second-gen SandForce SSDs with Toggle NAND
Samsung 830 SSD 256 GB
Tier 2
240 GB second-gen SandForce SSDs with Sync ONFi NAND
Tier 3
Crucial m4 256 GB
OCZ Vertex 4 512/256 GB
Samsung 830 SSD 128 GB
120 GB second-gen SandForce SSDs with Toggle NAND
Tier 4
240 GB second-gen SandForce SSDs with Async ONFi NAND
Tier 5
Crucial m4 128 GB
Tier 6
Samsung 470 SSD 256 GB
120 GB second-gen SandForce SSDs with Sync ONFi NAND
Tier 7
240 GB first-gen SandForce SSDs
Tier 8
Intel SSD 320 300 GB
Samsung 470 SSD 128 GB
Samsung 830 SSD 64 GB
120 GB second-gen SandForce SSDs with Async ONFi NAND
Tier 9
Crucial m4 64 GB
Kingston SSDNow V+100 128 GB
Intel SSD 320 160 GB
60 GB second-gen SandForce SSDs with Async ONFi NAND
Tier 10
Intel SSD 320 80 GB
120 GB first-gen SandForce SSDs
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