Best SSDs For The Money: January 2012

Best SSDs: Entry-level

Best SSD for ~£50: Boot Drive

Kingston SSDNow S100

Kingston SSDNow S100
16 GB
Sequential Read
230 MB/s
Sequential Write75 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
2.26 W
Power Consumption (Idle)1.08 W

Kingston's SSDNow S100 series is really intended for industrial use, and we're told that you'll find these drives in toll booths, Redbox machines, and ATMs. While this is not a performance-oriented SSD, it is a decent choice that can breathe new life into an aging machine. Most of us tend to write less data than we read. If you want a quick way to speed up your home rig, a budget SSD is all you need because drives like this one offer read speeds that outpace conventional disks.

However, you are forced to adopt a dual-drive configuration. With only 16 GB of capacity, the S100 only works as a Windows 7 32-bit boot drive (64-bit requires 20 GB). All of your programs and personal files need to be installed on a secondary hard drive. We've also had readers write in conveying bad experiences using drives that were too small for Windows to conduct its update operations. Be cautious if you use an SSD this small; capacity is sure to become a point of contention pretty quickly.

Best SSD for ~£60: Boot Drive 

OCZ Vertex Plus

OCZ Vertex Plus
60 GB
Sequential Read
185 MB/s
Sequential Write90 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
1.5 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.5 W

OCZ's Vertex Plus series is based on the Indilinx Barefoot controller with a slightly tweaked firmware. Despite its improved software, you should have realistic expectations of what Indilinx's older hardware can do. The Vertex Plus achieves better performance than a hard drive, but it falls into the lower half of the SSD performance hierarchy. Note that sequential read performance is somewhat slower than the similarly-priced 30 GB Vertex. But, armed with two times the capacity and featuring a slightly better sequential write speed, it's a fair trade-off.

For those willing to accept the caveats of SandForce's compression technology, Patriot's 32 GB Torqx 2 is also offered at a similar price. Though, we should point out that the company is overstating sequential write performance at 230 MB/s by providing a single specification for all capacities. Actual sequential writes speed of this smaller drive hovers around 100 MB/s.

Best SSD for ~£80: Boot Drive

Crucial m4

Crucial m4
64 GB
Sequential Read
415 MB/s
Sequential Write95 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
0.15 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.065 W

At ~£90, your choices are limited to a few remaining 60 GB first-gen SandForce drives, OCZ's 60 GB Agility 3, and Crucial's 64 GB m4. In our opinion, the m4 is the better buy.

As we discovered in our recent 60/64 GB SSD round-up, it boasts superior random and sequential read speeds compared to second-gen SandForce-based SSDs like the Agility 3 with asynchronous memory. Admittedly, the 64 GB m4's write performance falls behind the 60 GB Agility 3. However, given our experiences with benchmarking using real-world traces, read specifications remain the most important component of any consumer-oriented SSD.

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