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Best SSDs For The Money: January 2012

Best SSDs: $110 To $200

Best SSD for ~$110: Performance Boot Drive

Samsung 830 (Check Prices)

Samsung 83064 GB
Sequential Read520 MB/s
Sequential Write160 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active).11 W
Power Consumption (Idle).08 W

We know that SSDs based on SandForce's DuraClass technology demonstrate different behavior depending on the data with which they're presented. That is to say incompressible data like media-oriented files and actively-encrypted partitions isn't handled as elegantly as compressible information.

In contrast, the behavior of Samsung's drive doesn't change based on the data it handles. And, as if to illustrate its all-around performance, this SSD won our 2012 Recommended Buy Award in a recent 60/64 GB SSD round-up.

Mobile Users: Honorable Mention for $120: System Drive (OS + Programs)

OCZ Nocti (Check Prices)

OCZ Nocti (mSATA)60 GB
Sequential Read280 MB/s
Sequential Write260 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)1.5 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.3 W

Intel's SSD 310 seems to be in short supply, as we can't find it for sale at any major retailer. Fortunately, since our first look at the mSATA interface, other SSD vendors have have stepped in to fill that space. Although we haven't yet had the chance to test OCZ's Nocti, and therefore cannot officially recommend it, we're willing to give competing mSATA-based solutions a shot. Just bear in mind that this product is based on a lower-end second-gen SandForce controller only capable of 3Gb/s speeds. Moreover, it employs MLC-based NAND.

Every mSATA SSD we've seen (including the Nocti) only uses half of its available NAND channels, which is why we wouldn't ever substitute a drive like this for a 2.5" SSD on a desktop. But our inclination here is based on form factor, not performance. mSATA lets you keep your notebook's high-capacity SATA-based conventional disk, facilitating access to the best of both worlds.

Best SSDs for ~$140: Performance 90 GB

OCZ Vertex 3 (Check Prices)

OCZ Vertex 390 GB
Sequential Read550 MB/s
Sequential Write500 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)3 W
Power Consumption (Idle)1.65 W

Wow. This is one of the best deals we've seen on solid-state storage. In the past, paying $140 meant you were stuck with an SSD armed with asynchronous memory, even if that was enough money to buy you into the second-gen SandForce controller club.

The result, of course, was that you'd end up at the bottom of the performance hierarchy compared to the other SF-2200-based drives. OCZ seems to be extra aggressive this month, though, and we're seeing a Vertex 3 (with synchronous NAND) in the lower stratum of the price band. Though it's only selling for that price at Newegg, we wouldn't hesitate to jump on this deal.

Best SSDs for ~$185: Performance 120 GB

OCZ Vertex 3 (Check Prices)

OCZ Vertex 3120 GB
Sequential Read550 MB/s
Sequential Write500 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)3 W
Power Consumption (Idle)1.65 W

Choices are limited on a tight budget. In our opinion, you're better off buying two smaller SSDs or saving up for a more expensive drive like OCZ's 120 GB Vertex 3, which earned our 2011 Recommended Buy award. Previously, we recognized the functionally-equivalent Adata 120 GB S511, which is also still a great deal. But aggressive pricing this month has the OCZ offering a few dollars cheaper on Amazon, which is why you see the company surfacing yet again on our list.

  • compton
    The 830 is a very impressive specimen, and the newer Marvel + Toggle NAND drives are excellent as well. But I want a big plate of Cherryville, and I was hoping the NDA would lift tonight...

    The best value in a new drive is probably whichever SF2281 with sync NAND is cheapest, but avoid the 60GB models. The price/performance mix at the 64GB level is the 830. At higher capacities it's a toss-up though.
    Reply
  • sincreator
    I think that reliability should be a big factor in all the categories. I've read from numerous sites that the M4 crucial drives and Intel drives are the most reliable, and I also know that the sandforce drives have a firmware update that fixes the issues that once existed. What I don't know and what alot of other people don't know is how reliability stands up between all the drives. Would be interesting to find out though, I guess after 3 or 4 years we'll start finding out.
    Reply
  • sincreator
    I almost forgot...Why is it that SSD drives typically only have 3 year warranties, and higher end conventional spinning drives get 5 years? Anyone?
    Reply
  • Dacatak
    SuperTalent has been selling a 64GB SSD rated at 540/490 MB/s read/write for under $110 for a while now, yet this is never mentioned for some reason. Shouldn't this take the Samsung 830's position at the $110 mark?
    Reply
  • lunyone
    Where does this SSD below fit into the equation?
    $130-140 shipped ~$1.16/GB
    SanDisk Ultra SDSSDH-120G-G25 2.5" 120GB SATA II Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
    Reply
  • lashabane
    lunyoneWhere does this SSD below fit into the equation?$130-140 shipped ~$1.16/GBSanDisk Ultra SDSSDH-120G-G25 2.5" 120GB SATA II Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)You should check out their oh so informative video on their website:

    sandisk-solid-state-drive
    I wasn't able to find any info anywhere in regards to what kind of flash memory it uses so no clue where it would stand in the charts.
    Based on size and pricing, I would imagine it being tier 9 or 10
    Reply
  • jammur
    Are you sure the crucial m4 256GB is really better than the 240GB OCZ Agility 3. The reads and writes MB/s in your table are both SIGNIFICANTLY lower. So I'm paying ~$60 more for an extra 16GB that are A LOT slower. Is that right?
    Reply
  • RealBeast
    sincreatorI think that reliability should be a big factor in all the categories. I've read from numerous sites that the M4 crucial drives and Intel drives are the most reliable, and I also know that the sandforce drives have a firmware update that fixes the issues that once existed. What I don't know and what alot of other people don't know is how reliability stands up between all the drives. Would be interesting to find out though, I guess after 3 or 4 years we'll start finding out. The best information that I've found on ssd reliability is a study of a large etailer and its returns (all drives had over 500 sales) and they update the table a couple times a year HERE. Intel and Crucial really stand out in their reliability measure.
    Reply
  • Nintendo Maniac 64
    No love for the OCZ Onyx 32GB? Its read performance is about only half as fast as the Kingston 16GB, but the write speed is about the same and has twice as much space.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227510

    It also seems to be one of, if not OCZ's most reliable SSD. (all of their other models are under par reliability-wise)
    Reply
  • sincreator
    RealbeastThe best information that I've found on ssd reliability is a study of a large etailer and its returns (all drives had over 500 sales) and they update the table a couple times a year HERE. Intel and Crucial really stand out in their reliability measure.
    Thanks for that. :) Pretty interesting write up for sure. I was really surprised to see Asus motherboards have 4 out of the top 6 returned motherboards, and not just their low end boards either.lol. I also thought that Corsair would of beat out Antec/Thermaltake in the PSU department...I guess not. Either way I guess we have to take those figures with a grain of salt though since it's just information from one e-tail outlet, and not the numbers from the companies themselves. It's not like they would share the real numbers anyway though. haha.
    Reply