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Best SSDs: Budget

Best SSDs For The Money: February 2012
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Best SSD for ~£85: 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 behaviour 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 behaviour 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 SandForce controller only capable of 3 Gb/s speeds. Moreover, it employs MLC-based NAND.

Every mSATA SSD we've seen (including the Nocti) uses only 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 ~£130: Performance 90 GB

Corsair Force GT

Corsair Force GT
90 GB
Sequential Read
555 MB/s
Sequential Write505 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
2.5 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.6 W

Last month, OCZ broke new ground by pricing its 90 GB Vertex 3 at £120. In 2011, you could also get a second-gen SandForce-based drive, but you had to buy a lower-end model like the Agility 3, armed with slower asynchronous memory. Compare that to the Vertex 3, which employs more performance-oriented synchronous memory.

Prices shuffled around a bit this month with the 90 GB Force GT drops to £130. Based on the fact that the Corsair is now cheaper than the Vertex 3 in the U.S., Corsair gets our recommendation (Editor's Note: Just an FYI, in the UK, the Vertex is currently priced at £120 on Dabs). When it comes to SandForce-based drives, don't dwell too long on the vendor specifically. At the end of the day, NAND is what determines the performance of these drives, not the brand manufacturing them. Both the Force GT and Vertex 3 employ synchronous memory, which makes them functionally equivalent.

Best SSDs for ~£130: 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

Although OCZ loses its recommendation for the 90 GB Vertex 3, the 120 GB Vertex 3 also dropped in price in the U.S. That's pretty good in light of the fact that slower drives based on asynchronous memory, such as Adata's 120 GB S510, sell for around the same price. As a result, the 120 GB Vertex 3 with its synchronous memory easily wins our approval.

On a side note, this is the same SSD that earned our 2011 Recommended Buy award, and it's easily one of our favourite SSDs. It performs near the top of the 120 GB SandForce-based crowd, and 120 GB is just enough to let you install your operating system and several apps without worrying about available capacity.

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