There isn't much happening in the SSD world right now, but prices continue to shift. Some are up, while others are down. Fortunately, most still fall under £0.75 per gigabyte. We're updating our recommendations for March in light of the recent movements.
Detailed solid-state drive specifications and reviews are great—that is, if you have the time to do the research. However, at the end of the day, what an enthusiast needs is the best SSD within a certain budget.
So, if you don’t have the time to read the benchmarks, or if you don’t feel confident enough in your ability to pick the right drive, then fear not. We at Tom’s Hardware have come to your aid with a simple list of the best SSD offered for the money.
Samsung's 840 Pro and OCZ's Vector really push the SATA 6Gb/s interface to its limits. Frankly, it's hard to imagine getting much more performance from today's storage interfaces. Enthusiasts who need more speed in the desktop space can explore RAID, go with a PCI Express-based SSD (though that market remains a niche with a big premium on it), or wait for SATA Express.
With the ratification process for SATA Express only just begun, where can SSD vendors look to set themselves apart now? Today, pricing is where we most commonly look (once we're comfortable enough with a drive's reliability to put it in our own systems, of course). Even as SSDs continue falling under £0.75/GB, solid-state storage is still way pricier than conventional magnetic hard drives. For as long as that disparity exists, tiered subsystems will make the most sense, matching some smaller quantity of NAND-based storage with a larger disk.
For the folks currently using conventional storage in an older machine, we can't say enough about upgrading to an SSD for at least Windows and your most performance-sensitive applications. That's a great way to breathe new life into a system that seems to be increasingly slow. A reader recently wrote in to me, letting me know about a Core 2 Duo-based desktop he upgraded with a 256 GB m4. He says he's happy enough with the performance that a planned platform upgrade is getting pushed back six months. The experience with an SSD is really that different. Don't just take our word for it; you'll never look back.
Some Notes About Our Recommendations
A few simple guidelines to keep in mind when reading this list:
- If you don't need to copy gigabytes of data quickly or load games in the blink of an eye, then there's nothing wrong with sticking with a mechanical hard drive. This list is intended for people who want the performance/responsiveness that SSDs offer, and operate on a specific budget. Now that Intel's Z68 Express chipset is available, the idea of SSD-based caching could come into play for more entry-level enthusiasts, too.
- There are several criteria we use to rank SSDs. We try to evenly weigh performance and capacity at each price point and recommend what we believe to the best drive based on our own experiences, along with information garnered from other sites. Some people may only be concerned with performance, but that ignores the ever-present capacity issue that mobile users face ever-presently. Even on the desktop, other variables have to be considered.
- Prices and availability change on a daily basis. Our picks will be valid the month of publication, but we can't extend our choices very far beyond that time frame. SSD pricing is especially competitive, and a £10 difference can be the reason why one SSD makes the list, while another does not. As you shop, use our list as a guide, but always double-check for yourself.
- The list is based on some of the best U.S./UK prices from online retailers. In other countries or at retail stores, your mileage will most certainly vary.
- These are new SSD prices. No used or open-box offers are in the list; they might represent a good deal, but it’s outside the scope of what we’re trying to do.