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Best SSDs For The Money: June 2012

Best SSDs: $110 And Under

Best SSD for ~$50: Boot Drive

Corsair Nova 2 (Check Prices)

Corsair Nova 230 GB
Sequential Read280 MB/s
Sequential Write250 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)1.3 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.2 W

The slow phase-out of SSDs based on SandForce's first-gen controller hardware is prompting really good prices on those products, since it costs almost as much to manufacture drives armed with a second-gen chip. As a result, Corsair's 30 GB Nova 2 serves as our entry point on the charts this month. 

A word of caution about the way Corsair words its specs, though: this 30 GB SSD's sequential write performance is overstated at 250 MB/s. The company provides a single performance number for all of its capacities. We know that's not accurate, though. Its actual write performance should max out closer to 100 MB/s or so.

Although the raw throughput of a low-capacity SSD might be as great as as larger model, it's still a lot more responsive than a mechanical hard drive, and that's what you can actually "feel." The 16 GB Kingston S100 we recommended previously was only large enough to hold Windows 7 32-bit. Windows 7 64-bit requires 20 GB, so shifting up to 30 GB gives you a little more freedom. There's not enough space to install much else; however, if you manually manage your spare capacity, booting from a low-capacity SSD can significantly improve system responsiveness.

Best SSD for ~$65: Boot Drive

OCZ Agility 3 (Check Prices)

OCZ Agility 360 GB
Sequential Read525 MB/s
Sequential Write475 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)2.7 W
Power Consumption (Idle)1.5 W

According to Ten 60 GB SandForce-Based Boot Drives, Rounded-Up, comparing the out-of-box performance of entry-level drives based on SandForce's second-gen controller reveals very few differences.

What we do know, however, is that synchronous NAND enables slightly better numbers than asynchronous memory in certain situations. Because it does, in fact, employ asynchronous NAND, OCZ's Agility 3 isn't the fastest model available. But when it's priced at $65, you do get a reasonable amount of capacity for operating system files and a handful of critical apps.

Best SSD for ~$90: System Drive

Mushkin Enhanced Chronos (Check Prices)

Mushkin Enhanced Chronos90 GB
Sequential Read560 MB/s
Sequential Write510 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)3 W
Power Consumption (Idle)1 W

Many of us find it inconvenient to manually track where apps and data reside across multiple drives. Higher-capacity SSDs cost more, but they also offer the luxury of worrying less about where stuff goes, letting you simply enjoy the speed and responsiveness of flash-based storage. We consider 90 and 96 GB drives the baseline for installing an operating system and all of your important apps without getting excessively expensive. From there, user data goes on a larger and more cost-effective magnetic disk.

Kingston was one of the first vendors to make this capacity popular, and other vendors have quickly followed suit. Mushkin, though, impresses this month with its 90 GB Enhanced Chronos leveraging SandForce's second-gen technology. At only $1/GB, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better deal under $100.

  • mjmjpfaff
    On the "Best SSDs: $200 To $300" page there is a typo in the "Best SSDs for ~$270: Gaming Option 256 GB" option. In the chart it says it is a 240gb SSD but it is a 256gb SSD. I'm sure its just a typo...
    Reply
  • bim27142
    Is this accurate?
    Samsung 830 240 GB
    Sequential Read 560 MB/s
    Sequential Write 525 MB/s
    Power Consumption (Active) 3 W
    Power Consumption (Idle) 1 W
    Reply
  • hmp_goose
    I never noticed before, but does the Samsung 830 really change power consumption as capacity grows?
    Reply
  • DjEaZy
    ... and... still... my Vertex 3 is strong... by the prices now, i maybe buy a nother one for RAID 0...
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    ^
    bet you cant tell the difference between RAID0 SS's and a single SSD without benchmarking.
    Reply
  • acku
    mjmjpfaffOn the "Best SSDs: $200 To $300" page there is a typo in the "Best SSDs for ~$270: Gaming Option 256 GB" option. In the chart it says it is a 240gb SSD but it is a 256gb SSD. I'm sure its just a typo...
    Fixed! Thanks for being so cool about everything. :)

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    Tom's Hardware
    Reply
  • Pawessum16
    I think this is definitely your best article in the "Best SSD's For the Money" series. I can finally agree with the majority of your recommendations, and even though you don't explicitly state it, I feel like you finally took user feedback on reliability into consideration for the different recommendations. i.e. fewer OCZ recommendations, and no ridiculous pedestal recommendations for Intel's ridiculously overpriced ssd's that provide nothing over the likes of Crucial and Samsung.
    Two thumbs up!
    Reply
  • acku
    We'll I always try. Not saying I'm always right. There simply are too many SSD vendors out there. It's hard to cover them all. But I'm glad you like the changes. :)

    I think for some people the confidence that Intel is going to back your play should something go wrong means a lot. Not saying it's worth the premium, but for some people, it is. That said, I do like the idea of game bundles. I think it's a great way to get more value from an SSD.

    Cheers
    Andrew Ku
    Tom's Hardware
    Reply
  • palladin9479
    I love my Samsung 830 256GB's. I got one for my main gaming box awhile back, liked its performance and eventually bought a 2nd one for my DV6z notebook.
    Reply
  • erunion
    The product name and link for your $115 drive is in error. The drive is actually the Chronos Deluxe MX.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226318

    Your link shows virtually every Mushkin drive except that one.
    Reply