Best SSDs: $300 To $400
Best SSDs for ~$320: Performance And High-Capacity Option
Corsair Force GS (Check Prices)
|Corsair Force GS||360 GB|
|Sequential Read||555 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||530 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||4.6 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||0.6 W|
There's a roughly $150-$200 price gap between 240/256 GB SSDs and larger 480/512 GB models. If you're willing to split the difference, Corsair's 360 GB Force GS might be worth considering. Priced at roughly $0.88/GB, you're still getting a lot of performance for a relatively attractive price.
For those not familiar with this drive, it's Corsair's recently-announced competitor to OCZ's Max IOPS, Patriot's Wildfire, and Mushkin's Chronos Deluxe. All four drives leverage SandForce's second-generation controller along with Toggle-mode NAND to achieve some of the fastest speeds that we've seen in the lab. But Corsair's 360 GB Force GS should be an attractive solution if you're looking for slightly more capacity, but aren't interested in slapping down $400 or more to jump up to 480/512 GB.
Best SSDs for ~$350: Honorable Mention, High-Capacity mSATA
Mushkin Atlas (Check Prices)
|Mushkin Atlas||240 GB|
|Sequential Read||560 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||530 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||2 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||0.7 W|
Intel's SSD 310 was phased out earlier this year. Fortunately, other SSD vendors have have stepped in to address mSATA-based SSDs since our original look at the interface. Although we haven't yet had the chance to test Mushkin's Atlas, and therefore cannot officially recommend it, we're willing to give competing mSATA-based solutions a shot.
Mushkin's Atlas is particularly interesting because it's really the first mSATA SSD that we've seen employing SandForce's second-generation controller, making it a SATA 6Gb/s stunner. In comparison, OCZ's Noci and Intel's SSD 313 (successor to SSD 310) still employ SATA 3Gb/s controllers.
In the past, every mSATA SSD we saw used only half of its available NAND channels, which is why we didn't substitute mSATA drives for 2.5" SSDs on the desktop. But Mushkin seems to have addressed throughput by using speedy 24 nm Toggle NAND from Toshiba, resulting in performance specs identical to its 2.5" Chronos Deluxe series. That's impressive in our book. mSATA lets you keep your notebook's high-capacity SATA-based conventional disk, facilitating access to the best of both worlds.
Best SSDs for ~$400: Performance And Max Capacity Option
Crucial m4 (Check Prices)
|Crucial m4||512 GB|
|Sequential Read||500 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||260 MB/s|
|Power Consumption (Active)||0.28 W|
|Power Consumption (Idle)||0.10 W|
High-capacity SSDs are starting to become more accessible as their prices slide into affordable price points. At $400, Crucial's 512 GB m4 is a very tempting bargain.
A 512 GB drive is plenty, even in mobile environments, where you're typically limited to just one SATA-based device. The math works out to just over $0.78/GB, which is really expensive compared to a hard disk, but really good for an SSD. More important, you really don't have to worry about running out of space on it unless you have a library of full-length movies in HD to cram in.