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Best SSDs For The Money: August 2011

Best SSDs: $110 And Under

Best SSD for ~$50: Boot Drive

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 your current system. 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 this cheap SSD's read speed is still faster than a hard drive.

However, you are forced to adopt a dual-drive configuration. With only 16 GB, you can only use this SSD 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 relaying their bad experiences using drives that were too small for Windows to conduct its update operations. Be cautious if you use a drive this small for anything; capacity is sure to become a point of contention pretty quickly.

Best SSD for ~$70: Boot Drive

OCZ Vertex30 GB
Sequential Read210 MB/s
Sequential Write75 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)2.0 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.5 W

OCZ's Vertex series is based on the Indilinx Barefoot controller. That doesn't make it a bad SSD family, but you should have realistic expectations of what Indilinx's older controller can do. You'll still achieve better performance than a hard drive, but this drive falls into the lower half of the SSD performance hierarchy.

Best SSD for ~$100: Boot Drive

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

At ~$100, your choice is limited to a slew of 60 GB first-gen SandForce drives, Intel's 40 GB SSD 320, and OCZ's 60 GB Agility 3. Even if you don't own a 6 Gb/s-enabled motherboard, we're still going to recommend the Agility 3 because of its able to fully saturate a SATA 3Gb/s controller, whereas those other two options can't.

Furthermore, the Agility 3 uses asynchronous ONFi 1.0 NAND that can also be found in competing SSDs, such as Corsair's Force 3. To that end, if you see another 60 GB second-gen SandForce SSD at a cheaper price, go with the less expensive option. The difference in real-world performance is relatively small.

If you only have $100 to spend and you're eying a caching-based solution, skip over this MLC-based SSD and look to Intel's 20 GB SSD 311 instead. The small size doesn't matter, since the cache operates transparently; you should be more concerned with the fact that the 311 centers on SLC NAND flash, improving its performance relative to this larger alternative.

  • jjb8675309
    got a crucial m4 a few months ago and love it what an improvement
  • Where is OCZ Vertex 3, is more faster than Adata and Crucial crap and it's only 200$
  • flong
    The Crucial SSDs are interesting but they are slow compared to comparable Sandforce drives. The do well in 4k writes but are slower in all other benchmarks. I am not sure why they are recommended here. The Intel 310 is similarly slow and again and Intel has had recent reliability problems (the 8GB bug) and so they can no longer claim the to be the most reliable.

    So the Crucial and the Intel SSDs are again on this months list and I cannot follow the reasoning as to why. Here is a review of the M4 in today's Hardware Canucks. The 120GB Wildfire absolutely spanks the 256GB M4 in nearly every benchmark and it is half the size. The reviewer does say it is a good alternative to the 2281 Sandforce drives with Trim support - however the third generation Sandforce drives absolutely spank the M4 in almost every situation but non-Trim environments.

    The Kingston Hyper Extreme is now the fastest 120 GB SSD available. To be fair to Tom's, they haven't tested it yet.

    While I respect these choices, the only one I agree with is the recommendation of the Patriot Wildfire or the Mushkin Extreme for an enthusiast. The fact that they use more expensive high quality RAM sells me to them. However the Kingston Hyper 120 GB is testing as significantly faster in pro reviews and it is cheaper.
  • flong
    Sorry, I did not post the link for the review, it is here:
  • Right Now the OCZ Agility 3 is $164.99 after MIR at Newegg and TigerDirect for $159.99 However not for the faint of heart, you will need to do some firmware update most likely, but if you like tinkering....
  • Max_DTH
    Guys, what do you think about idea of SSD's in RAID 0?
    2x Crucial m4 64GB in RAID 0 vs Crucial m4 128GB - the same capacity, the same price.
    2x Crucial m4 128GB in RAID 0 vs Crucial m4 256GB - the same capacity, RAID is $75 more expensive.
    RAID would have higher failure rate, but I suppose that in both cases peformance would be higher (with two 128GB a lot I guess, because 256GB is not much faster than 128GB).
    I'm talking here about Intel's build in RAID e.g with P67 (RAID card would made thing pointless price-wise). Can it handle such SSD RAIDs getting most out of it?

    I know, that recommending RAID is not the same as recommending SLI/Crossfire, but is it worth considering when space and ports are not a problem (in my case actually they are, but I would cope with that for noticable price/performance ratio improvement :))?
  • greenrider02
    @Max_DTH, I'm doing two 96GB Kingston SSDNow V100+ drives in RAID0 and I've had success. At $215 for a total 192 GB I could not resist. It's not that you will have problems, it's just a risk. You have to make sure you have updated firmware and RAID controllers, and be ready to do a fresh install of your operating system. Since I keep all my data on storage drives and just put OS+programs+games(with Steam backups on the storage drives) on the RAID drives, I have no qualms with wiping the drives and starting over. It only takes a few hours. And I did get an error in my RAID forcing me to do this. From what I understand, most errors in your array will not be a dead drive and can be solved by wiping the array and rebuilding it.

    So I recommend giving it a try. Good luck!

    To the article: I don't know about recommending the OCZ Agility2 240GB, as, looking at newegg reviews, it seems that most capacities of the Agility2 and Vertex2 are prone to failure compared to their competitors
  • cknobman
    Wow grammatical and spelling errors are terrible in this piece, was it even reviewed?
  • Lutfij
    ^ forget about it being reviewed, you now have a chart to look at to compare your buy against other SSD' about being greatful!
  • Scotty99
    Sooo i just got an e-mail from newegg and these SSD's are on sale for less than 1 dollar per GB, problem is they have no reviews and i would like your guys opinion on these:

    Also, would it be a better idea to get two of the 60gb's for raid, or just get the 120?