This month brings a long overdue update to our best SSD list. We say goodbye to older 64GB-class models, portable drives and USB keys, cut down our number of picks, and implemented a far more concise article format that focuses on internal SATA SSDs.
As CPU performance hits new and unforeseen heights, processors increasingly spend time waiting on data from hard drives. This is what makes storage today's most glaring bottleneck, and overcoming it requires an SSD. At the end of the day, the real-world differences between SSDs in a desktop environment aren't altogether very large. The most noticeable performance increase occurs when you go from a hard disk to just about any solid state drive.
There are measurable attributes that separate one SSD from another. But you'll need to approach a purchasing decision as the sum of many parts. Within individual apps, you'll hardly notice the difference between most SATA 3Gb/s and faster SATA 6Gb/s drives. It's the more taxing workloads that make a faster device worth owning.
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, fear not. Every month, we publish a simple list of the best SSDs for the money across the full spectrum of capacities.
November 2014 Updates
A quick look at the big table below reveals two companies dominating our picks for November. Crucial comes in strong with its MX100 value-oriented SSD, while the Samsung 850 Pro continues to exert itself as the performance leader.
The pricing on the Crucial MX100 is compelling. SSDs are still a long ways from the per-gigabyte cost of hard drives, but it's easy to snag a smaller SSD boot drive when you're looking at 256GB of space for just over £75. Additionally, Crucial includes power loss protection and hardware encryption to sweeten the deal, plus drive imaging software from Acronis.
Too bad the company didn't come out with a 1TB version of the MX100. Then again, at these prices, you could simply pick up two MX100 512GB SSDs and run them in RAID 0. Yeah…it's time to get a little creative. In that 1TB SSD class, we added Crucial's M550 1TB in as our budget-oriented buy.
As for the Samsung’s foray into V-NAND, the 850 Pro’s performance excellence easily keeps it in place as our top pick for 2.5" SSDs. Alongside its speed, we also note that when it comes to power management, the 850 Pro surpasses its competition in our DevSlp (device sleep) testing, making Samsung's flagship a probable favorite for mobile users.
For this month’s recommendations, we're also including the 840 EVO in its mSATA form. We covered that drive earlier this year, and not much has changed aside from a recent firmware update that addresses a drop in performance over time.