We’ve ranked the top 10 SSDs by price per gigabyte, performance, reliability, and warranty. We looked at 256GB drives only, but keep in mind that each model we present here has other sizes; you can just click our orange product links to see what is available. Some of the best SSDs on the market come from Samsung, Sandisk, OCZ, and Intel. Our review describes what each SSD is ideal for, such as office applications, video editing, gaming, and more.
This Kingston is the cheapest drive on our list, and there is good reason for it. It’s slower than other SSDs because it uses an older controller and doesn’t take advantage of modern SSD caching technologies. All the same, it is easily ten times faster than a standard hard disk drive. If you want a cheap entry level drive to replace the dreadfully slow 5400rpmer that came with your laptop then here you are. It doesn’t get cheaper than this, but if you want a 20% boost in performance check out number 9 on our list. It will cost a few dollars more. Want a near two fold increase in performance for just ten cents more per gigabyte★ Check out the Samsung 840 EVO at number 2 in our list. Want the cheapest SSD possible★ OK, this is it.
This is probably the very best value on the list at an absolutely tiny 45 cents per gigabyte of space at a respectable 500MB/s read/write max. Basically this is the same as the Intel 530 series at 33% less of a cost. However, you also get less warranty and possibly a less reliable drive. Since this drive is far less proven than on the market regarding stability than Intel’s mainstream level drives we keep it somewhat low on the list. Still, it’s an absolutely great entry level drive for non mission critical systems. If you just want a spare drive to sync with your cloud service, or use as a backup then you can not go wrong with this one.
This is a pretty great performer at a decent price. While its performance is pretty close to top notch, its price is currently not at part with other great performers and there is the issue of the proprietary controller which could use a little field testing in the world. Otherwise it has great modern memory and low power consumption making it pretty nice for laptops. Application load times seem to be a sweet spot with this drive, which is an important benchmark for most. However, because of its unknown long term reliability and its cost we kept it at seven on our list.
While this is the best overall performance drive on our list, it is so expensive that we couldn’t rank it very high. So who is this drive for★ Video editors, software developers, and people who use workstations that frequently move tons of data. This is not going to make a huge difference for gamers, everyday users, basic office work, and etc. It is extremely fast, uses Intel’s third generation controllers, and costs a ton of money. If you have the money and have to have the fastest, then go for it. Otherwise you can get a much better deal with the OCZ Vector, Samsung 840 EVO, or Sandisk Extreme II (our top 3).
The M550 is a higher performing successor to the M500, using Marvell’s relatively new 88SS9189 controller as opposed to the M500’s 88SS9187. This pretty simple upgrade is essentially going to boost sequential read speeds by about 50MB/s and and sequential writes by about 100MB/s. That’s a pretty decent gain for a small price increment. Still the M550 is an average performer at best, and really should be considered a great mainstream drive and not much more. It has an average 3 year warranty, slightly better than average speeds, and a great price which is what keeps it on our top 10 list.
Although not the fastest drive on the market, Intel’s new SSDs are near perfect for professional workstations or offices because of their focus on reliability and the leading five year warranty. It uses the always reliable Sandforce 2281 controller and modern 20nm NAND memory. It has higher read performance than write performance, so it works great for most office applications. While there are faster and cheaper SSDs on the market, we believe this is the best option for professional use because of its warranty and proven hardware. It also comes with a free mounting kit for desktops, and uses very little power making it also ideal for laptops.
Getting in to the top 4 our list really begins to focus on speed, and we start that focus with the OCZ Vector 150. This incredibly fast drive uses OCZ’s very own controller named Barefoot 3. This controller is not only meant to provide blazing fast speed, it also is meant to keep the drive running for a very long time. The controller will actually monitor bad flash memory within the drive and stop using it over time. Along with low heat 19nm NAND and the custom chipset, you are looking at 90,000 IOPS for both random reads and writes. In every day terms, this translates in to 500 MB/s read/write times with both compressible and non-compressible data.
Sandisk’s Extreme series SSDs exist to satisfy one type of customer, those interested in speed. SanDisk, who has long manufactured great flash memory, is well positioned to offer fast speed at a low price since they do not have to buy memory chips from another manufacturer. They use Marvel’s newest controller, the 88SS9187-BLD2. This controller matched with their own 19nm MLC flash storage combines to create explosive benchmarks including a 570.5MB/s speed index. While the price on this drive is slightly high, if you are out to get the fastest mid-range solution on the SSD market, this is your drive.
This drive just can not be beat for price to performance ratio. It performs nearly at the same level as the 840 pro but costs close to half as much. In some benchmarks it even performs better. While it can not claim the same market proven reliability, it certainly can give massive performance gains to just about any computer. This disk features a second level cache to speed up communications between it’s controller and the memory. The only other SSD to do this currently is the Sandisk Extreme II and III series. This SSD is the clear winner of best bang for your buck regarding speed.
The all around best SSD on the market is the Samsung 850 Pro series. This series still offers more speed and reliability than any other mid-range SSD. Since Samsung makes their own components (memory and chips) they can afford to put higher end products in their SSD. For example, this SSD uses Samsung’s own tri-core chip to move your data around their own 21nm flash memory. Another reason we rank this as the best SSD is because it is market proven. For over a year this model has exhibited incredibly low failure rates and as further proof of it’s reliability Samsung has hardly released any firmware updates for the drive showing that the software was written properly from the start. This is the ultimate SSD for those who want near perfect, headache free, performance.