Best SSD for under $200
Posted in: Tec Blog

Best SSD for under $200

24 September 2012. Prices correct on amazon.com at time of writing.

SSD (Solid State Drive) prices have been falling dramatically in recent months, so the objection that they are pricey and have a low capacity is increasingly failing to hold water. I have decided to look at three top brand names in this competitive field to see what is on offer as prices approach the $200 mark.

SAMSUNG 830 Series 2.5-Inch 256GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) MZ-7PC256B/WW ($196.83)

First up we have Samsung’s consumer level offering with the 256GB model slipping in under our price point. At only 0.28” thick this is a sleek little drive that will fit snugly into laptop or ultra-slim PC cases. While it is impossible to test without years of day to day use, Samsung’s own test results for this drive’s reliability (always a big problem with early SSD drives) are very encouraging, showing a 64 year lifespan for the SSD 830 (calculated on 10 GB written onto it each day), which if true is very impressive.

This reliability should also be further helped by the bundled SSD Magician software which keeps the firmware up-to-date and performs various system optimisation and management tasks to keep everything running smoothly. Unfortunately, the Samsung’s 830’s reliability is not matched by its performance which, while acceptable for an SSD at this price point, is not going to wow anyone.

  • Competitively priced
  • Impressive claims to reliability
  • Slightly lacklustre performance (e.g. sequential read /  write speeds up to 520 /400 MB/s)

Intel 520 Series Solid-State Drive 180GB SATA 6 Gb/s 2.5-Inch – SSDSC2CW180A310 ($189.99)

Offering less drive for the money than its closest competition with only 180GB on offer, the Intel 520 has garnered an enviable reputation for reliability. This is in no small part thanks to the integrated SandForce SF-2281 controller, which has a proven track record for strong performance. Another point in the Intel 520’s favour is its speed which, while nowhere near as impressive the OCZ Vetex’s performance, remains solid.

  • Low capacity compared to the competition at this price point
  • Proven track record for reliability
  • Good performance (e.g. sequential read /  write speeds up to 550 /520 MB/s)

OCZ Technology 256GB Vertex 4 Series SATA 6.0 GB/s 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive (SSD) VTX4-25SAT3-256G ($189.99)

OCZ is something of a newcomer in the field of high-tech electronics but has become something of a pioneer of solid state technology, and the Vertex 4 series is its flagship product. Let’s say up front that this is a fast drive, with a boasted 120,000 IOPS (Input / Output Operations per Second), easily outpacing its competition.

In addition this, the Everest 2 controller chipset ensures consistent performance regardless of the level of data compression, which is a weak point with Intel’s SandForce controller. As has been noted on the subject of reliability, only time will really tell how long a solid state drive will last in day to day use but OCZ does not have the reputation of Intel’s SandForce based offering. However, OCZ do seem very optimistic about the longevity of these drives as it has increased the warranty from 3 years to 5, which should bring customers a lot of peace of mind.

  • Very fast  (e.g. sequential read /  write speeds up to 560 /510 MB/s)
  • Competitively priced
  • 5 year warranty

Conclusion

The clear winner here is the OCZ Vertex Series 4. With 255GB of storage, blisteringly fast performance and a 5 year warranty, what’s not to like?