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60/64 GB SSD Shootout: Crucial, Samsung, And SandForce

Crowning An Entry-Level SSD Performance King

Don't automatically assume that, some day, inexpensive SSDs will overshadow the value of hard drives. Although disk drives are currently more expensive than they were a few months back, it's still difficult to argue against paying seven cents per gigabyte for conventional storage space.

In the face of expanding digital media collections, we need the scalability that expansive disks make accessible. So, let's just call it a given that your next enthusiast-oriented build will include at least one hard drive. And if the disk isn't physically inside that machine, we'll assume it's parked within a gigabit-connected storage appliance surrounded by several other hard drives instead.

Surely, that takes the pressure off of your decision to boot from an SSD. Yeah, a 256 GB solid-state device would be nice. But you can get those same great boot times we demonstrated on the previous page from a 60 or 64 GB SSD for a lot less money. We recommend 120 GB as the best-balanced capacity point. However, even half that much space is enough for Windows and a few performance-sensitive applications.

Although the 60/64 GB SSDs we tested today under-perform higher-capacity models, they're still clearly very fast. So, if you have just enough room in your budget to take a first step into the world of SSDs, we're able to comfortably recommend Samsung’s 64 GB 830 as the model to most consistently impress us throughout testing (and that's why it's getting our Tom Hardware's 2012 Recommended Buy award).

Pricing down at this entry-level segment is very similar from one SATA 6Gb/s SSD to the next. We’ve seen the 64 GB m4, 64 GB 830, and both types of 60 GB SandForce-based drives selling between $120-130. Yet, Samsung’s solution delivers much better performance most often.