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Best SSDs For The Money: February 2012

Best SSDs: $110 And Under

Best SSD for ~$50: Boot Drive

Kingston SSDNow S100 (Check Prices)

Kingston SSDNow S10016 GB
Sequential Read230 MB/s
Sequential Write75 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 232 GB
Sequential Read270 MB/s
Sequential Write230 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 m464 GB
Sequential Read415 MB/s
Sequential Write95 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.

  • andy5174
    How could Intel 520 be omitted in Hierarchy Chart? It's currently the most reliable and the absolute no. ONE SSD !
  • b8453942
    Here's another resource if you're planning to buy value for money ssds

    This website tracks the daily prices of SSD's to find the best value for money drives on the market. Check You can also view the daily price charts for comparisons

    Here's the #1 ranked drive at the moment 256GB OCZ Synapse priced at $209.99 or $0.82 per gigabyte.

  • hmp_goose
    Why does the $300~400 page even exist when that Chronos Deluxe kicks soooo much ass?
  • b8453942
    Opps here's the correct link
  • compton
    The 240GB Mushkin Chronos D is a hell of a deal. I have the 120GB version, but I'm thinking about stepping up to the 240.
  • belardo
    Reason to buy the intel 320 or 520 drives? RELIABILITY. Check Newegg and other online complaints... constant BSOD, performance drops, TRIM not available or working right, out-right failure... especially from OCZ. I've set up X25M in many systems without a hitch. And in some benchmarks, especially random - the X25M still holds its own.

    I just built two systems with the 320 in one and the 520 in the other, otherwise same mobo Z68 Mobo and i5-2500K CPU. Both booted into Win7 in about 24 seconds (power on) / 11Sec after POST. Run a benchmark afterwards and the 520 is much faster in many categories, but not much better than the 320 in random read... but the i520 can do everything with much less CPU utilization. (0~4%) compared to the i320's 4~35%!

    Intel has excellent SDD tools... which OCZ doesn't have, period. I worked on a rather new system with an OCZ, went to their site for utility tools... nothing.

    Intel also includes a 3.5" bracket and cables (okay $5~10 worth of goods), a CD and a big-ass sticker that says Speed Demon. The removable plastic retainer is handy for different size drive bays. (intel doesn't include smaller screws when its removed... scotch tape works)

    In the store I bought the latest SSDs, they have a basket full of 128GB $110 OCZ Petrol drives in cheap plastic... I don't think anyone would bother to steal them. (The intels are in a cage) - Yep, I'd take the $200 i320 SATA II over the $110 SATA 3 OCZ Petrol... the reviews for that drive are bad... very very slow drives with very fast failure rates. Lots of DOA and lots of deaths 1~50 days of use.

    OCZ, trying to make a few bucks selling cheap drives ends up crapping on their own brand name. Something intel and Samsung try very hard to NOT do.... making crap is a way to drive away customers.

    Intel drives, not the very fastest... but 5year support, minimal failure makes them worth every penny.
    Read the horror stories on newegg.
  • Ragnar-Kon
    belardoIntel drives, not the very fastest... but 5year support, minimal failure makes them worth every penny.Read the horror stories on newegg.I agree, 5 year support is hard to beat, and Intel drives are definitively the most reliable.

    My second choice (and the drive I have) is Crucial's M4 line. Yes they had some BSOD problems in the past, but they rolled out a firmware update to fix that awhile back. Now I find them as the next-best option to Intel's SSDs.

    I personally avoid OCZ drives like the plague, as well as any other SandForce-based drives. If I'm going to be spending that much money per GB, I want it to be rock solid.
  • cknobman
    I have no complaints from my Corsair Force 3 120GB SSD that was only $135. Going 6 months strong with not a single BSOD.

    Sorry but Intel is just not worth that big of a price difference. If they were at least a little more competitive I would be willing to pay a few extra bucks but not 150-170% more. Frack that.

  • CaedenV
    120GB Chronos has a 3 year warranty and costs $143
    120GB Intel 520 has a 5 year warranty and costs $225

    Assuming SSDs drop in price by 50% and doubble performance every 2 years (which may be a little optimistic on performance, but should not be too far out of the ballpark on cost), you could buy the cheap drive now, plus a 2nd much faster and potentially much larger drive for ~$50-70 in 3 years and still cost less than the Intel drive did in the first place. For home/small business use this is a much better way to go, but always back up your system drive (even if you are on a traditional HDD).

    For business/enterprise where things are more 'mission critical' and down time costs thousands of dollars per hour, the Intel drive is still the way to go. The idea is not that you would not replace the drive within 5 years (because you probably will), but that you would replace the drive on your time table instead of when the drive fails on you and you need to replace it.
  • BattleshipLorenzen
    Another vote for Corsair Force 3 120GB. Paid $160 - $30 MIR (approved) = $130 back in December. And although their rebate company isn't great, Corsair is known for paying rebates themselves if the company screws you (and you have your copies of the form with UPC stapled, etc., of course).

    No BSOD. Win7 64 login screen ~7-8 seconds after POST with i5-2500k at stock speed. I love my SSD.