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Best SSDs

Best SSDs
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This month brings a long overdue update to our best SSD list. We say goodbye to older 128GB-class models, and pave the way for new m.2 PCIe SSDs that we start listing next month.

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 large. The most noticeable performance increase occurs when you go from a hard disk to just about any solid-state drive.

However, there are measurable attributes separating 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.

Updates

It's been several months since we last updated this article, and the industry has changed in many ways since then. We've seen some nice NAND flash innovations, lithography shrinks and the first new memory technology introduced in over a decade. Meanwhile, retail products have changed as well. SATA SSDs introduced at Computex are finally tricking out, while Samsung's SM951-NVMe is available as well. Samsung's retail NVMe solution, the 950 Pro, has entered the pre-sale stage with deliver dates not too far out.

We have a change in our best picks today, with the Intel SSD 750 1.2TB taking the top spot for performance PCIe — an honor that has just as much to do with capacity as it does performance. The Samsung 950 Pro 256GB slips into the value PCIe SSD pick with impressive performance at a sub-$200 price point.

It's difficult to believe that our SATA value and performance picks have held for so long, yet each month we try to find a better product of equal or higher customer value, and we keep coming up short. The Samsung 850 EVO fluctuates in price week after week. It seems like once a month Buy.com gets in around 5,000 drives and undercuts every other merchant. But within a week, the drives are sold out, and prices shoot back up.

While the Mushkin Reactor 1TB is still a great value at $330, if you get lucky enough to find an 850 EVO 1TB for the same price or less, scoop it up since the Samsung offers superior latency, software and warranty.

The SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD is still our top performance pick for SATA SSDs. Time has been really good to this drive, and the prices continue to decline even though it offers the best heavy workload performance of any SATA SSD. The Samsung 850 Pro is a close second, but we're still bullish on the SanDisk. We're not too sure how much longer this drive will be available, as Western Digital just purchased SanDisk and the A19 flash will get replaced by new, unproven 15nm soon.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are big shopping days in America, but it also marks the annual price reduction for solid-state drives. For the last three years, prices went down right around this time and never recovered. Don't jump on the first hot deal unless it's exactly what you want. From now until CES in January, companies will blow out drives at very low prices to make way for new models coming at the start of the year.

And remember, nothing says I love you more than a new NVMe SSD.

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  • 0 Hide
    Adela Pop , 21 March 2014 10:48
    Great overview! It seems that Samsung is getting more and more attention and I think it deserves it. I would definitely prefer Samsung 840 Evo over Crucial M500. It´s true that the differences in performance are not huge between the two, but overall Samsung 840 Evo seems more reliable and it has lower power consumption:http://versus.com/en/samsung-840-evo-500gb-vs-crucial-m500-480gb
  • 0 Hide
    dickh81 , 27 March 2014 19:25
    Intenso also makes a 256 SSD drive. I wonder why that is not on your list.
  • 0 Hide
    nowasus , 22 April 2014 14:07
    I would rather see the "best of..." in a category that considers function instead of price. That way, the user may select proper utility (performance) vs his budget. For example if I am a win7pro64 user with general computer home usage, what would be my best bet for a system SSD to support various amateur level functions (media, graphics, office) with a traditional SSD with AF capabiliy.

    This way I could better choose my price range.
  • 0 Hide
    goozaymunanos , 22 April 2014 14:39
    i'll take a 512GB Sansung SSD over a 480GB Crucial for £10 extra all day and night.
  • 0 Hide
    Plusthinking Iq , 19 May 2014 22:14
    samsung makes the worst ssd when you look at the big endurance test. just goggle it ppl. have very bad experiece with samung products and must implore that no one buy the brand, phones, tv and ssd. its like sony, circling the drain.
  • 0 Hide
    asianteekay , 9 July 2014 14:06
    Quote:
    samsung makes the worst ssd when you look at the big endurance test. just goggle it ppl. have very bad experiece with samung products and must implore that no one buy the brand, phones, tv and ssd. its like sony, circling the drain.


    Being a large all encompassing company has both advantages and disadvantages being that it can leverage its own in-house supplies for components and technologies. And bulk discounts and special order specifics chips. I suspect these SSD have little to no provisioning and there for more likely to fail than compared say a Crucial (512GB 840 Evo v. 480 M550) That's really no reason not to boycott their display panels used in TVs and monitors. Much like Sony does very well in audio but not so well in the PC market.
  • 1 Hide
    Jonathan Cave , 29 November 2014 12:43
    Quote:

    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.


    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-raid-benchmark,3485-13.html

    There is no real world benefits to RAID 0 for SSD's according to your own article. Can the editor of this document clarify?
  • 0 Hide
    dottorrent , 26 December 2014 02:24
    Seems like Samsung is the most successful SSD manufacture to date. May even take OCZ for legendary status.
  • 1 Hide
    Shneiky , 14 April 2015 16:18
    "samsung makes the worst ssd when you look at the big endurance test. just goggle it ppl."

    How about you google it?

    http://techreport.com/review/27062/the-ssd-endurance-experiment-only-two-remain-after-1-5pb

    "The 840 Pro and remaining HyperX are already on their way to 1.6PB."

    1.6 PB from a consumer SSD is not something that you can consider "bad endurance". Even the 840 Evo wrote 300 TBs without error and died at 900TBs which is quite reasonable for a cheap SSD.
  • 1 Hide
    daglesj , 14 April 2015 16:32
    Pointless till they add the BX100.
  • 0 Hide
    sam_p_lay , 6 May 2015 17:00
    Quote:
    "samsung makes the worst ssd when you look at the big endurance test. just goggle it ppl."

    How about you google it?

    http://techreport.com/review/27062/the-ssd-endurance-experiment-only-two-remain-after-1-5pb

    "The 840 Pro and remaining HyperX are already on their way to 1.6PB."

    1.6 PB from a consumer SSD is not something that you can consider "bad endurance". Even the 840 Evo wrote 300 TBs without error and died at 900TBs which is quite reasonable for a cheap SSD.


    He could be referring to the 840 EVO.

    http://www.techspot.com/article/997-samsung-ssd-read-performance-degradation/
  • 1 Hide
    fusk , 26 July 2015 05:55
    What about 128gb drives ?
  • 1 Hide
    fusk , 26 July 2015 06:11
    Or ~128gb as i see some 120gb drives as well in that range.
  • 0 Hide
    Henry Thewin , 27 November 2015 01:16
    Um,, for Performance Picks, you chose the Sandisk Extreme Pro 512GB. Are you sure it uses 3D V-NAND technology? The only drive seen with that tech is the Samsung 850 series, not seen Sandisk use that yet and I can't find any info from anywhere it uses. That may be a typo but a serious one.