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Best SSDs For The Money: April 2012

Best SSDs: $110 And Under

Best SSD for ~$55: Boot Drive

Corsair Nova 2 (Check Prices)

Corsair Nova 230 GB
Sequential Read280 MB/s
Sequential Write250 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)1.3 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.2 W

Since the beginning of our Best SSD For The Money series, Kingston's 16 GB S100 monopolized our most entry-level SSD position. Things are changing this month, though, as vendors try to unload their first-gen SandForce-based models. It costs almost as much to manufacture drives based on the controller company's second-gen hardware, which is significantly faster. The result of this phase-out is creating a few really good deals, and that's why we're switching over to Corsair's 30 GB Nova 2.

Although the Nova 2 gets our recommendation, we have to caution you about Corsair's specs. Sequential write performance for this 30 GB drive is overstated at 250 MB/s. The company provides a single performance number for all of its capacities, but we know that's not accurate. Actual write performance should max out closer to 100 MB/s or so.

The speed of a low-capacity SSD might not compare well to larger models, but it's still going to be significantly better than installing your operating system on a hard drive. Our previously-recommended 16 GB Kingston S100 only worked as a Windows 7 32-bit boot drive due to the OS' space requirements. Windows 7 64-bit requires 20 GB, so shifting up to 30 GB gives you a little more freedom. There's not enough space to install much else; however, if you manually manage your space, booting from a low-capacity SSD can significantly improve system responsiveness.

Best SSD for ~$75: Boot Drive

OCZ Agility 3 (Check Prices)

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

According to Ten 60 GB SandForce-Based Boot Drives, Rounded-Up, comparing the out-of-box performance of entry-level drives based on the company's second-gen controller reveals very few differences.

What we do know, however, is that synchronous NAND enables slightly better numbers than asynchronous memory in certain situations. Because it does, in fact, employ asynchronous NAND, OCZ's Agility 3 isn't the fastest model available. But when it's priced at $75, you do get a reasonable amount of capacity for operating system files and a handful of critical apps. Moreover, OCZ's SandForce-based SSD does well with regard to power efficiency, too. So, it's getting our recommendation this month.

Best SSD for ~$105: System Drive

Kingston SSDNow V200+ (Check Prices)

Kingston SSDNow V200+90 GB
Sequential Read535 MB/s
Sequential Write480 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)3.23 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.57 W

Many of us find it inconvenient to manually track where apps and data reside across multiple drives. Higher-capacity SSDs cost more, but they also offer the freedom to worry less about where stuff goes, and to simply enjoy the speed and responsiveness of flash-based storage. We consider 90 and 96 GB drives the baseline for installing an operating system and all of your important apps without getting excessively expensive. From there, user data goes on a larger and more cost-effective magnetic disk.

Kingston seems to agree, which is why its 96 GB SSDs have been such a success. Other vendors sell products at a similar capacity point, but among the 90 GB SSDs leveraging SandForce's second-gen technology, the V200+ impresses us with the lowest price tag.

  • for me reliability & gigabyte/$ are the only criteria that should matter for most consumers looking for SSDs .
    especially 1st time buyers.
  • eddieroolz
    I think I'd be going with a Crucial m4 for its superb reliability.
  • hellfire24
    i agree that crucial drives are not the fastest but they are a great value with high quality and reliability.
  • kyuuketsuki
    Those Mushkin drives that consistently sit at or under the $1/GB mark are simply killer. If I had some money to burn, I'd have already popped a 240GB one in my system.
  • hmp_goose
    I'm still lost, after all these months: Why are there drives with higher prices listed after the Chronos Deluxe?

    Honorable Mentions for laptop use? The price premium surely doesn't cover 16GB of extra capacity …
  • sirencall
    I got an OCZ Agility III for my aging laptop and made that thing into a screamer and boots faster than my cell phone. I paid 150 for it and it is 120gb so I think it was a pretty sweet deal and a great also managed to double my battery life somehow lol. What I want to see is a review of msata SSD's for those who have a mobo with a built in msata port since its hard to find a which ones would fit the board since there are various types that are not true msata and thus result in wasted money
  • slomo4sho
    How is the reliability on the Samsung drives?
  • ikyung
    Currently using an M4 on my laptop and the Samsung 830 which I got couple months ago in my desktop. Both are superb devices.
  • noobnerd
    call me when they're 50 cents per gig. i r broke
  • SkyWalker1726
    Agility 3 User , boots fast , Read/Write Fast :)