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Best SSDs For The Money: August 2011

Best SSDs: $200 To $315

Best SSDs for ~$215: Performance 120 GB

Adata S511 Series120 GB
Sequential Read550 MB/s
Sequential Write510 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)3.62 W
Power Consumption (Idle).66 W

Choices are pretty limited between $175 and $215. In our opinion, you're better off buying two smaller SSDs or saving up for a more expensive drive like Adata's 120 GB S511. While this drive has received less press than the Vertex 3, it's functionally the same. In our recent SandForce roundup, we gave the 120 GB Vertex 3 our 2011 Recommended Buy award due to better pricing, but we've seen Adata drop its price by $25 since then. As a result, this month's recommendation goes to the 120 GB S511.

Best SSDs for ~$250: Performance 128 GB

Crucial m4128 GB
Sequential Read415 MB/s
Sequential Write175 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active).150 W
Power Consumption (Idle).085 W

The 128 GB m4 recently got our 2011 Recommended Buy award, which is one of the reasons it makes our list this month. If you prefer something SandForce-based, you still can't go wrong with that previously-mentioned Adata S511 drive.

Based on our Storage Bench v1.0, the 128 GB m4 performs ~44% faster than its 64 GB variant, while only offering 11% less performance than its 256 and 512 GB big brothers. The extra capacity is what you're paying for, sure. But it's good to know that buying up higher in the stack also gives you even more speed, too.

Best SSDs for ~$300: Reliable Option

Intel SSD 320160 GB
Sequential Read270 MB/s
Sequential Write165 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)0.15 W (Typical)
Power Consumption (Idle)0.1 W (Typical)

Despite our recent piece contending that SSDs aren't necessarily more reliable than hard drives, simply because they lack moving parts, we continue to believe that Intel's SSDs are the most reliable. Our opinions are shared by data center managers in the enterprise world, who we interviewed for that story. Almost exclusively, they let us know that they lean on Intel drives.

As such, we recommend Intel's 160 GB SSD 320 for anyone willing to sacrifice the performance of a 6 Gb/s drive in favor of a more mature controller with several new firmware-enabled concessions for data security. The ability to map up to one die's worth of failed blocks to redundant flash is one such improvement. Additionally, on-board capacitors keep the drive running for long enough to write cached data to nonvolatile memory in the event of a power loss.

Best SSDs for ~$300: Performance Option

Patriot Wildfire120 GB
Sequential Read555 MB/s
Sequential Write520 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)?
Power Consumption (Idle)?

The Patriot Wildfire and Mushkin Chronos Deluxe are two of the fastest 120 GB SSDs that we've ever tested. Both demonstrate what SandForce's newest controller can do when matched up to Toggle Mode flash.

If you're willing to pay a little more per gigabyte to get better performance, both drives come highly recommended. The Wildfire seems to be available for $10 less than the Chronos Deluxe, which is why it's getting our pick this month.

  • 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?