Best SSDs For The Money: May 2012

Best SSDs: $300 To $400

Best SSDs for ~$300: 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 $30-$50 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

Mushkin 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 phased out earlier this year. 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
  • _zxzxzx_
    Great how Tom's hardware has an article on this every month :)
  • Other Comments
  • DjEaZy
    ... my vertex 3 still strong...
  • barracks510
    vertex=75 or 65 dollars. shows both
  • mayankleoboy1
    what about Vertex4 drives?
  • acku
    Anonymous said:
    what about Vertex4 drives?

    I need to retest the 256 GB Vertex 4 because of weird results. Couldn't make it in time this month. Definately will be in next month's feature.

    Andrew Ku
  • _zxzxzx_
    Great how Tom's hardware has an article on this every month :)
  • vestibule
    Gotta love random deals on Newegg, I narrowly missed a 128 GB Crucial M4 for $110 a couple weeks ago, it was out of stock just seconds before I decided to get it. A week later they had a 256 GB one for $210 which is an even sweeter deal, it took days for that to be out of stock.

    Both were the newest version BTW, and I'm just holding on to the SDD for a bit for a build I'll do in a month or so.
  • iamtheking123
    "But if you look at performance over an entire month, you will find the 830 to be a faster performer"

    Still going to do 4x SSD's in raid 0 in my next build for the e-peen.
  • Anonymous
    darn, should have waited, I could have got double the space for $10 more, good to see SSD prices come down though
  • deepb
    Is there a reason why the Mushkin 90GB version is recomendded over the OCZ Agility 3 90 GB version as the OCZ one is available at Amazon for 85$
  • wmfoster2001
    Would the 180Gb Intel 520 SSD belong in Tier 2 or 3?
  • Anonymous
    There's a cheaper option for the 120GB drive:
    The only listed "Mushkin Enhanced Chronos Deluxe" is not available also.
  • juan83
    At 1$/GB i think is time to talk about raid 0, but i know little about reliability of this disks.

    2 x 90GB = 180GB and ~ 900 Mb/sec and spending 180$
  • notsleep
    i managed to snag a brand new samsung 830 128 gb for $119 a couple weeks ago for my new build. it's my very first desktop ssd. one of the best thing performance wise that i noticed in my new build was the ssd. :)
  • Anonymous
    Remember that with Raid 0 you lose TRIM functionality and performance will degrade overtime.
  • eddieroolz
    Bought a Crucial m4 128GB for $148CAD, then prices dropped to $128CAD this month. Ah well.
  • jaquith
    There are so many sales that it's impossible to justify "Best" based upon MSRP. I truly wish the maximum R/W wasn't listed in this review as the headliners, especially since IOPS (R/W) and 4K (R/W) are what's important -- not to mention Reliability, $/GB, and Warranty.

    Choosing the "Best SSD" per price range needs to be a weighted scoring.
  • RaidenSix
    Any particular reason the Corsair Performance Pro series was not included?
  • samuelspark
    deepbIs there a reason why the Mushkin 90GB version is recomendded over the OCZ Agility 3 90 GB version as the OCZ one is available at Amazon for 85$ [...] 637&sr=1-6

    Mushkin Enhanced Chronos has sychronous flash and offers much better performance, comparable to the Vertex 3.
  • Anonymous
    The Mushkin Enhanced Chronos has asynchronous NAND.
  • TheBigTroll
    mushkin chronos deluxe is awesome