Buyers’ Guide: The top SSDs on test from £130

Storage News

There is a wide range of SSDs to choose from and selecting the most appropriate drive can be a tricky choice.  Having a good look around can be very worthwhile, once you know what it is you need to look out for and doing so will ensure that you make a purchase that you’re going to be happy with until you’re ready for your next upgrade.  To help you be better equipped to pick the SSD you need, we’ve put together a short guide and taken a look at five SSDs from £130.

What you should look for

There are a few terms that will crop up fairly often and these are as follows: Future solids, controlling force, write amplification, memory size, performance, Read/write speed

Corsair Force 3 120GB SSD


1. Corsair Force 3 120GB – £130

Corsair’s new Force 3 continues to look like a great deal, even when the scrutiny begins. You get the  SF-2281 controller found in several much more expensive drives, meaning this drive will provide key performance for your needs as well as considerable longevity.  Also, the Corsair is very reasonably priced for a 120GB SSD powered by the latest SandForce SF-2200 controller and 25nm NAND flash memory.  The data compression from the DuraWrite is another fantastic point feature that is set to contribute greatly to reducing write amplification.  To put this in perspective, a typical installation of Windows 7 and Office 2007 involves 25GB of writes to a standard hard disk or SSD, but with DuraWrite, this is reduced to just 11GB.


2. Crucial M4 256GB – £290

Well noted for its reliability, memory size, and support, the Crucial M4 is better value for money than you might consider it to be at first glance.  It’s a rather impressive piece of tech due to its 6Gbps SATA support and 415MB/s read and 260MB/s write ratings, it’s eight-channel controller ( just like the SandForce SF-2200 ), and the input-output operations per second.  All of these features make it strong contender for real-world performance when you need it.


3. OCZ Vertex 3 240GB – £380

The new Vertex 3 240GB boasts sequential reads and writes of 550MB/s and 520MB/s respectively, which are pretty spectacular.  With those sort of figures, you’re left gawping at the awesome performance of the OCZ Vertex 3 drive.  The synchronous NAND memory modules that make up the drive are widely held as one of the best.  Solid state drive in terms of both compressible and incompressible file transfers is an additional boon.  Only the Vertex 3 has huge bandwidth reserves, which is a feature of considerable note.  It tops the performance tables across the board and along with its 240GB of memory; it makes a bold statement and is highly desirable.  This is at the top of the price range of devices covered so it’s no wonder that it’s a strong contender.


4. OCZ Agility 3 240GB – £315

This little piece of magic has an arsenal of top features.  These include a new SF-2200 controller, SATA 6Gbps support, read and write performance of roughly 500MB and a 240GB of solid state memory.  The Agility 3 makes do with asynchronous rather than synchronous NAND memory.


5. Intel 510 120GB – £204

Intel’s latest SSDs have faced stiff competition of late and whilst their heritage alone means that they are still a force to be reckoned with, many will say that they have a battle on their hands when it comes to the SSD throne.  This is forcing Intel into becoming more creative in the production of the SSD drives.  In this case, they have started going into buying in a third party SSD controller, giving them more time to get their house in order.  Now, onto the SSD drive, this 120GB version has a reduced capacity and a reduced read/write speeds of 450MB/s and 210MB/s.   Still, this is a pretty good drive for its price, performance and name.


I’ve whizzed through a range of SSDs here to give an overview of the sort of features and specifications to look for in choosing an SSD for yourself.  This will have been a pretty intensive course, so if you have any questions regarding anything covered here be sure to post a question in the comments.

Let me know what is your SSD manufacturer of choice or what SSD you’re currently using in your rig.