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Best Solid State Drives

Selection Of The Best Value, Performance And Capacity Solid State Drives

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Mar 11 2014 - Solid state drives may still not equal traditional drives in terms of their capacity or price but they do offer some solid performance and reliability now. If you are looking at getting a drive for your laptop or desktop PC, check out which drives I think are the best for their value, performance and capacity. Please note that solid state drives should really only be used with computers running Windows 7 and higher or Mac OS X 10.7 and higher for best results.

Best Value - Crucial M500 240GB

Crucial M500 SSD
©Micron Technology

Value is best defined by the price per gigabyte in a storage device. This used to be held by smaller capacity drives but now higher ones are starting to offer roughly the same cost per gigabyte. With a price of $120 and a capacity of 240GB, the Crucial M500 ends up with just $.50 per gigabyte to offer a solid value. In addition to offering a nice capacity for the price, the drive also offers some solid performance thanks to its custom Marvell controller with roughly 500MB/s read speeds and 250MB/s write speeds. If you are looking for a higher capacity with nearly the same cost per gigabyte, then the Samsung 840 EVO 500GB comes in with a $.54/GB cost with a price of around $270.

Best Performance - Intel 730 240GB

Intel SSD 730 Series
©Intel

Performance in solid state drives is reliant upon the memory chips, the drive controller and what interface version it uses. The highest performance drives now require that the systems have a SATA III or 6.0 Gbps interface on the computer and drive. Intel's new 730 series drive uses a new controller and is essentially a rework of their enterprise class drive with higher clock speeds and more power consumption to boost performance. Read speeds are very high at nearly 500MB/s but write speeds do tend to suffer a bit. The downside is the price is high at roughly $250 but they do back it with a five year warranty. A much more affordable alternative that provides almost the same level of performance is the Samsung 840 EVO 250GB that costs just $140 but has just a three year warranty.

Best Capacity - Samsung 840 EVO 1TB

Samsung 840 EVO SSD
©Samsung

If you want the most capacity possible out of a drive and aren't too concerned about costs, then the Samsung 840 EVO 1TB drive is an obvious choice. This drive uses a new type of triple cell NAND to offer higher density memory chips. Performance is still quite good thanks to the use of the new Turbo Write capabilities from the Samsung memory controller. Speed can reach up to 540MB/s for reads and 520MB/s for write operations. Pricing for the drive is up there though at roughly $520. If you don't mind giving up a bit of performance and storage space, the Crucial M500 960GB drive is a bit more affordable at $460.

Best Smart Response Tech Cache - SanDisk Ultra Plus 64GB

SanDisk Ultra Plus SSD
©Sandisk

A number of PCs that use Intel processors and chipsets can accelerate a hard drive with a solid state drive through a caching system called Smart Response Technology. Essentially, a small SSD drive up to 64GB in size can be used as cache for frequently used data to improve performance. In this size range, the SanDisk Ultra Plus 64GB drive offers a good level of performance especially with data reads that are critical for the caching system as writes are typically still restricted to the speeds of the hard drive it is caching. The only downside is pricing is still around $75 which isn't great at a per GB rate. In fact, a good alternative is to buy something like the Sandisk Ultra Plus 128GB drive for just $30 more and have both a 64GB cache plus an extra 64GB of fast storage space.

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