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Best SSDs For The Money: April 2012

Best SSDs: $110 To $200

Best SSD for ~$120: Performance System Drive

Kingston HyperX 3K (Check Prices)

Kingston HyperX 3K90 GB
Sequential Read555 MB/s
Sequential Write510 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)2.11 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.46 W

SandForce-based SSDs come armed with one of three memory interfaces: Toggle-mode DDR, synchronous, and asynchronous. Although controllers are often said to play the biggest part in defining an SSD's performance, the type of flash memory used has a large effect, too. In fact, when you compare SandForce-based SSDs, the drives with perform well without breaking the bank. As a result, we find that Kingston's 90 GB HyperX 3K is a solid choice.

Best SSDs for ~$140: Performance 120 GB

SanDisk Extreme (Check Prices)

SanDisk Extreme120 GB
Sequential Read550 MB/s
Sequential Write510 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)0.6 W
Power Consumption (Idle)?

While SanDisk was a little slow to jump on the SandForce bandwagon, its new Extreme SSDs impress and join the ranks of Kingston's HyperX 3K, Patriot's Wildfire, and Mushkin's Chronos Deluxe. All four employ Toggle NAND and really help extract the best performance from SandForce's second-generation controllers. Fortunately, what SanDisk lacked in punctuality it makes up for with attractive pricing.

As the lowest priced 120 GB Toggle-mode SF-22xx SSD, we're recommending SanDisk's 120 GB Extreme for those who want performance and capacity. As we said, 90 GB is a floor of sorts for getting an OS and important apps onto an SSD. But 120 GB provides enough space to add personal files and big game installs to the mix.

Best SSDs for ~$160: Performance 128 GB

Samsung 830 (Check Prices)

Samsung 830128 GB
Sequential Read520 MB/s
Sequential Write320 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active).15 W
Power Consumption (Idle).08 W

We know that SSDs based on SandForce's DuraClass technology demonstrate different behavior depending on the data with which they're presented. That is to say incompressible data like media-oriented files and actively-encrypted partitions isn't handled as elegantly as compressible information.

In contrast, the behavior of Samsung's drive doesn't change based on the information it handles, and the 830-series drives are arguably the fastest MLC-based offerings available, generally outpacing Crucial's m4. If you look at retail prices, the 830 costs just as much as the m4, too, making Samsung's SSD the better deal.

Best SSDs for ~$190: Budget 180 GB

OCZ Agility 3 (Check Prices)

OCZ Agility 3180 GB
Sequential Read520 MB/s
Sequential Write320 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active).15 W
Power Consumption (Idle).08 W

There are a lot of good deals under $200 for enthusiasts looking to get the most capacity for their dollar. Although the 180 GB Agility 3 doesn't quite achieve the magic $1/GB boundary, it gets pretty darned close. As such, we're recommending it as a remarkable value.

  • for me reliability & gigabyte/$ are the only criteria that should matter for most consumers looking for SSDs .
    especially 1st time buyers.
    Reply
  • eddieroolz
    I think I'd be going with a Crucial m4 for its superb reliability.
    Reply
  • hellfire24
    i agree that crucial drives are not the fastest but they are a great value with high quality and reliability.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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 …
    Reply
  • 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 investment.....it 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
    Reply
  • slomo4sho
    How is the reliability on the Samsung drives?
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • noobnerd
    call me when they're 50 cents per gig. i r broke
    Reply
  • SkyWalker1726
    Agility 3 User , boots fast , Read/Write Fast :)
    Reply