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Best SSDs: Budget

Best SSDs For The Money: January 2012
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Welcome to the year's first SSD recommendations. We updated our list to reflect recent price drops on second-gen SandForce-based hardware. There are several good deals in the budget range. Prices are falling, so we're letting you know!

Best SSD for ~£90: Performance Boot Drive

Samsung 830

Samsung 830
64 GB
Sequential Read
520 MB/s
Sequential Write160 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
.11 W
Power Consumption (Idle).08 W

We know that SSDs based on SandForce's DuraClass technology demonstrate different behavior depending on the data with which they're presented. That is to say incompressible data like media-oriented files and actively-encrypted partitions isn't handled as elegantly as compressible information.

In contrast, the behavior of Samsung's drive doesn't change based on the data it handles. And, as if to illustrate its all-around performance, this SSD won our 2012 Recommended Buy Award in a recent 60/64 GB SSD round-up.

Mobile Users: Honourable Mention for £95: System Drive (OS + Programs)

OCZ Nocti

OCZ Nocti (mSATA)
60 GB
Sequential Read
280 MB/s
Sequential Write260 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
1.5 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.3 W


Intel's SSD 310 seems to be in short supply, as we can't find it for sale at any major retailer. Fortunately, since our first look at the mSATA interface, other SSD vendors have have stepped in to fill that space. Although we haven't yet had the chance to test OCZ's Nocti, and therefore cannot officially recommend it, we're willing to give competing mSATA-based solutions a shot. Just bear in mind that this product is based on a lower-end second-gen SandForce controller only capable of 3Gb/s speeds. Moreover, it employs MLC-based NAND.

Every mSATA SSD we've seen (including the Nocti) only uses half of its available NAND channels, which is why we wouldn't ever substitute a drive like this for a 2.5" SSD on a desktop. But our inclination here is based on form factor, not performance. mSATA lets you keep your notebook's high-capacity SATA-based conventional disk, facilitating access to the best of both worlds.

Best SSDs for ~£120: Performance 90 GB

OCZ Vertex 3

OCZ Vertex 3
90 GB
Sequential Read
550 MB/s
Sequential Write500 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
3 W
Power Consumption (Idle)1.65 W

Wow. This is one of the best deals we've seen on solid-state storage. In the past, paying this kind of money meant you were stuck with an SSD armed with asynchronous memory, even if that was enough money to buy you into the second-gen SandForce controller club.

The result, of course, was that you'd end up at the bottom of the performance hierarchy compared to the other SF-2200-based drives. OCZ seems to be extra aggressive this month, though, and we're seeing a Vertex 3 (with synchronous NAND) in the lower stratum of the price band. Though it's only selling for that price at Newegg, we wouldn't hesitate to jump on this deal.

Best SSDs for ~£140: Performance 120 GB

OCZ Vertex 3

OCZ Vertex 3
120 GB
Sequential Read
550 MB/s
Sequential Write500 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
3 W
Power Consumption (Idle)1.65 W

Choices are limited on a tight budget. In our opinion, you're better off buying two smaller SSDs or saving up for a more expensive drive like OCZ's 120 GB Vertex 3, which earned our 2011 Recommended Buy award. Previously, we recognized the functionally-equivalent Adata 120 GB S511, which is also still a great deal. But aggressive pricing this month has the OCZ offering a few dollars cheaper on Amazon, which is why you see the company surfacing yet again on our list.

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