Best SSDs: $110 And Under
Best SSD for ~$50: Boot Drive
Kingston SSDNow S100 (Check Prices)
|Kingston SSDNow S100||16 GB|
|Sequential Read||230 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||75 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||2.26 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||1.08 W|
Kingston's SSDNow S100 series is really intended for industrial use, and we're told that you'll find these drives in toll booths, Redbox machines, and ATMs. While this is not a performance-oriented SSD, it is a decent choice that can breathe new life into an aging machine. Most of us tend to write less data than we read. If you want a quick way to speed up your home rig, a budget SSD is all you need because drives like this one offer read speeds that outpace conventional disks.
However, you are forced to adopt a dual-drive configuration. With only 16 GB of capacity, the S100 only works as a Windows 7 32-bit boot drive (64-bit requires 20 GB). All of your programs and personal files need to be installed on a secondary hard drive. We've also had readers write in conveying bad experiences using drives that were too small for Windows to conduct its update operations. Be cautious if you use an SSD this small; capacity is sure to become a point of contention pretty quickly.
Best SSD for ~$65: Boot Drive
Patriot Torqx 2 (Check Prices)
|Patriot Torqx 2||32 GB|
|Sequential Read||270 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||230 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||5.3 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||0.5 W|
Most first-generation SandForce-based drives are slated to disappear soon. That's because it costs almost the same to manufacturer second-gen SandForce-based hardware. The process of this phase-out is creating a few really good deals, though.
This month, Patriot's 32 GB Torqx 2 is a bargain when you consider it sells for the same price as the 30 GB Vertex Plus based on the older Indilinx Barefoot controller. Just one word of caution: Patriot is overstating the sequential write performance of this drive at 230 MB/s because it provides a single spec for all capacities. As we know, that's not how SSDs work. The actual number should be closer to 100 MB/s or so.
Best SSD for ~$80: Boot Drive
Crucial m4 (Check Prices)
|Crucial m4||64 GB|
|Sequential Read||415 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||95 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||0.15 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||0.065 W|
Crucial dropped the price on its 64 GB m4 by $20 between last month and now, making it cheaper than Mushkin's 60 GB Chronos ($85) and OCZ's 60 GB Agility 3 ($90). In most situations, that makes the m4 a better buy. Really, though, that recommendation depends on how you're using your system.
From a performance standpoint, the 64 GB m4 boasts superior random and sequential read speeds compared to SF-22XX-based SSDs with asynchronous memory like the 60 GB Agility 3 (read our 60/64 GB SSD round-up for more). On the other hand, the m4's write performance falls behind the Agility 3. But given our experiences with benchmarking real-world traces, read specifications remain the most important component of any consumer-oriented SSD.